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Questions and Answers [Number 2] "You are a good, great man...who in your short weekly e-mails to me... have transformed my attitude...towards musicmaking...thank you"...... Alan McLaughlin Make Hits

Whether you are looking for a&r men, agents, auditions, co writers, information about contracts, demos. This is where you start your journey to write a hit record, make money from music, make millions from music. You will become the master at marketing music. You may be a musician in the music industry, you may be performing, you may be after a recording contract, record deal. 'The Serious Writers Guild' is where you get all the inside info on all of that plus recording studios, songwriting, songwriting tips.

If you are a songwriter with the talent to write a hit song, write a hit tune, write a number one, then this is for you.

Unsigned band? You won't be for long!


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'One Minute With Dec' - quality tips, tricks and know how in one minute..the widest read weekly music Ezine on the Net

One Minute With Dec Dec's advice :
Get in touch personally. Email to discuss what you want to achieve in music.

Below are the Best Questions and Answers on theMUSIC NET...real worries and real doubts, suspicions answered by DEC. You may hate Dec or LOVE him but can he help you? DEC helps all those who ask! Can he help you? Just email him.

Quick Reference: check the numbers of the questions then scroll to the answer.....why not ask your own question? This is only a tiny indication of what you can get from:

(1) "How much would it cost (roughly) to have someone record a simple acoustic demo of a song?"

(2) "I need your advice on a particular guitar sound."

(3) "I can slip into a big Show Biz party and get some action, what do you think?"

(4) " I have this track like Nsync and am looking for the best people to approach with it?

(5) "I have a hard time coming up with lyrics and lyric subjects, have any tips?

(6) "Should we start our career with a 'cover'?"

(7) "What tracks do you recommend for a good example of harmony and vocal arrangement?"



Hi Dec.

Liked your 'thank you note/look forward to seeing you idea'. So simple, but how many people do it? I suppose that's why it's effective.

As an much would it cost (roughly) to have someone record a simple acoustic demo of a song. I know I'm probably asking the length of a piece of string!


Answer from Dec

"So simple, but how many people do it?"

It is THE most stunning idea in the world...just so old fashioned! MOST of the Members pick up on it and it turns their lives around...I always write a quick note to each venue we appear at...most times they will put it up on a notice board, the theatre entrance (on an easel), the boss will have it copied and sent to each when we arrive the hospitality is stunning....

Every few months I check it out by not sending a note...hospitality...zilch...problems...heaps! with our crew..NIL....

Warners/Butlins/Pontins/Haven now have a stipulation on their contracts that artistes MUST send a note to their venues two days prior to each my idea has been nicked BIG TIME!


You must know that Stuart (our mutual friend) got me to do a demo for him....

The resulting demo knocked his socks off...I don't think he has recovered yet! I would have to say though that he didn't follow it up. As you will see, in my writings, there is a certain 'business like' way of approaching the proper Record/Publishing people...but I know that Stuart is far too busy (and too rich) to be bothered...I wondered whether he was 'hungry' enough.

A piece of string...yes! Talk to me....there are so many 'imponderables' (my God that's a big word!). Acoustic what...guitar, keyboard? How many voices?

As you will have picked up from my stuff, the 'pre-demo' is so important, because a guy like me (or guys in the Record/Publishing Companies) can smell a Hit at two hundred paces. Most of the stuff recorded by bands/writers/performers is what we call 'vanity recording', although they would never admit it.

They always feel that some sort of 'magic' is imparted by a major production in a major studio....NOT!

The song is the HIT. If someone walked up to you in a bar two years ago and sang 'Genie in a Bottle' (the biggest hit of last year) you immediately would have said: "Wow, where did you get that song?"

THE most important point to remember is that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES go near a studio without a producer. Most studios look at the size of the check book first. The studio owners/studio engineers couldn't produce a rabbit out of a magician's hat, let alone a Hit demo/record.

Call me...I'm in the studio all day tomorrow mastering an album [that's when the 'black magic' is applied] but I'll be here Saturday.




Serious Writers Guild

"where the 'lil guy gets the same chance as the big guy"



Hi Dec,

While I'm here I need your advice on a particular guitar sound. Got a little guitar riff I want to slide in after the intro & my creative juices keep saying 'Hank Marvin' but however I fiddle about I can't quite get exactly what I want.

Any hints?

Many thanks,


Answer from Dec

Hank is a pal of mine, and through the Sixties/Seventies we were always trying to improve our guitar 'live' sound....I remember us dissconnecting the second speaker in our amps thinking that would 'overload' them ....WRONG!

Then we had the brilliant idea of turning the amps backwards, away from the audience so we could use more volume and thus 'overload'....WRONG!

Jim Marshall had that sorted right from the 'off'...but his amps were big and unwieldy. And had to be played LOUD. I used Selmer...Hank used Vox.

Hank didn't do anything spectacluar to get his 'sound'...just like Brian's the way he plays. Give Brian any guitar and any amp...leave him alone for twenty minutes and he will have the whole deal sounding exactly like the 'Brian May' we love and adore.


Fender Strat., whammy bar, Vox amp., Watkins tape delay, Echorec, Binson (Hank progressed through those) or nowadays ANY decent delay unit will give you a passable Hank sound.


If Craig David used it, everybody would go; "WOW!" If R Kelly used it or Timbaland, then it would be heard on every Hip Hop record for the next two years...but if YOU use it...forget it! It is so instantly 'dated'. You see, most of the top guys in the Record Companies are my generation....and we were all there when that sound was 'hip'...nowadays it is a total NO - NO!

So be warned.



Serious Writers Guild

"where the 'lil guy gets the same chance as the big guy"



Hi Dec.

That guy who said his stuff still sounded the same as before he joined the Guild must be bloody talented if all your advice didn't change anything. I think the best discription for the progress I've made is that I used to think I was good but I came across as a 'B' movie but now I know It's fantastic & it sounds like 'Ben Hur'!

Could you let me know where all the "Big Nobs" hang out, especially if there's some sort of awards thing thats held at any of them, 'cos then I can at least be on the premises as a guest of the hotel.

Thanks as ever for all your help, I've had a wonderful journey this year taking your advice - pretty soon it'll be time for the really good bit!

Answer from Dec

"That guy who said his stuff still sounded the same as before he joined the guild"

Who said that?

If it's true, then the reasoning is that 'You actually have to do' what I say.....

A word in your ear:

All that stuff about slipping into Do's, Show Biz parties and stuff....really doesn't work! Why not go properly, do it properly and be respected for doing it properly.

I repeat.......there are tons of Show Biz functions on, every night of the week in most Cities of the country.

It's not a game of deceit and subterfuge...slipping a tape in an MD's pocket while he has a pee in the loo.....this is an adult business for adult businessmen. Don't ever believe those stories you read in NME and Mix Mag.....the real business is done by having the right the right time...performed by the right people.....and presented in the proper business-like way to a Record Company Businessman who RESPECTS you.......and he will not respect you if you 'slip' into a 'do'.

Make sense?

I was at a major one on last Sunday, invited to another on this Saturday (can't go, I'm in concert) son asked me to go to the Brits there is no shortage.

It ain't a game! [mind you, it is to!]



Serious Writers Guild

"where the 'lil guy gets the same chance as the big guy"



Hi Dec.

First of all many thanks for all the info in your Serious Writers Guild. Things have improved dramatically in the last year. From having nothing going on I now have several holds and cuts coming up next year and have even found a publisher in Nashville for the first country song I have ever written in my life ( I normally do pop).

Best advice:

  1. The vocal arrangement, so bloody obvious once someone tells you

  2. Proper letterheads
  3. Reading the 'Celistine Prophecy', spooky but true!
  4. Listen to whats going on now.
  5. No long intros

There's loads more of course but these things immediately spring to mind.

One silly question please:

You mentioned in grade 7 approaching production companies, and buying the showcase guide which I have done. Are you talking about the producer management section (you mentioned DMC) or just the producer section. I have this track like Nsync and am looking for the best people to approach with it.

Thanks in advance

Barry Marks

Answer from Dec

There are two points here...

What I mean is that you should NEVER go near a studio without the best producer you can afford... PROVIDED the pre-demo sounds like an absolute Number ONE.

Producers and production companies are always looking for HITS. They are inundated with 15 years out of date cr*p (just like I am inundated with it). So a good producer will jump at the idea of producing a Number One . I am currently looking for material for a new project starting I would like to hear a Potential Number One from you!

In two months of hard search I have ONE track that is a potential.

The other point is to NEVER send anything to ANYONE unsolicited. It will be binned immediately. Under no circumstances send anything by attachment (the worst crime!). Our system was log jammed yesterday for ONE HOUR AND EIGHT MINUTES by an idiot sending through an attachment of 8, 376, 837 bytes! When it eventually downloaded the format was unreadable! What do you think we felt?

So there you have it...

It's all about the pre demo being HIT POTENTIAL before you spend one cent on it. Otherwise you are just creating 'self gratification' vanity recordings. And that is strictly for the 'music for their own pleasure' amateurs

Happy Christmas



Serious Writers Guild

"where the 'lil guy gets the same chance as the big guy"

Heard enough?

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Hey Dec.

I'm starting up a metal band but my biggest problem is that I have a hard time coming up with lyrics and lyric subjects, have any tips?


Answer from Dec

Hi Brandon....

There is a great phrase in the Music Industry/Songwriting Industry:

"Why create mediocrity when you can copy genius"

A very true statement and one which is accepted and practiced by most successful songwriters.

There are very few 'usable' words and 'usable' phrases that have not been used before in great songs. So most lyrics of successful songs today are regurgitated lines from previously successful songs...when used out of context they sound great and 'new'. For instance, if you take the second line from song (a) then the third line of song (b) and then the sixth line of song (c) etc......see where I'm coming from?

Provided the stuff rhymes ....and even that is not that inportant today....if they are synonistic (sound nice and similar) then you you have a great 'new' lyric. The object of the exercise is to aim for repetitivness and lyrics that are smooth, gorgeous and 'lovely'....even in a metal song (metal is dead, by the way!...Sorry!)

Keep your ears open at all times...and have a mini tape machine to hand ALWAYS! You never know when you are going to hear a great 'start point' for a song....the famous instance was the Paul MacCartney question to his chauffeur: "Are you working hard?"..."Eight days a week!"

Even the evening news on TV, an Al Pacino film....preachers are great for lines that will spark a great song...

Finally always remember that ladies (and women listen to lyrics much more than men) will always love the 'Love me up, lick me down' lyrics...the 'I love you' 'Touch me' lyrics....whatever you do, do not write abtruse: "save the trees, save the whales" lyrics....nobady gives a sh*t...tough words but true as regards lyrics.

The 'protest' song is long dead...I always say write one quick, and get it out of the way.....throw it in the bin immediately.

The 'less' words the better...the more 'repetitiveness' the better....remember that POP music is DEFINITELY NOT 'poetry put to music' is delicious lyrics put to exciting, dancable toons that are memorable the first time you hear them...and that means repeating the same line A LOT!

Of course, your pals will not agree with this....but how much have they made out of their lyrics?



Serious Writers Guild

"where the 'lil guy gets the same chance as the big guy"


(6) Should we start our career with a 'cover', say an old Carpenters Dad thinks it's a great idea and will give us an instant Hit

Answer from Dec

'Covers' have traditionally been the 'easy' way to get a deal...mainly because if a toon has got a track record then it takes one bit of the 'worry' away for the record company.....HOWEVER.....they also like to know that there is a 'source' of new material, because that is where the 'serious' money my immediate advice to anyone in this business is TO WRITE.

'Start points' are the most valuable part of a hit toon...even if it's one line...."Eight Days a Week" was Paul MacCatrney's chauffeur's reply when he asked him was he working too hard. So you see, it can be just one gobsmacking line that inspires a 'classic'.

Most 'today' Hits are the result of a great 'start point' and the bunch of folk in the Studio pitching in ideas...the 'solitary' writer hardly exists today. Check out the credits on any 'today' record.

Never be embarrassed or afraid to share your 'start points', they are the stuff that fortunes are made of. I did a cruise with a very ancient Sandy Powell....we had dinner....he told me how much he loved Kaye, his wife of 50 years...he said: "Do you know Dec, if she ever left home, I'd go with her"....So I wrote a song: "I Wanna go with you when you Go"....simple stuff this songwriting really...and the manual is played every Sunday 4-7pm on most Radio Stations throughout the's called The Chart Show.



Serious Writers Guild

"where the 'lil guy gets the same chance as the big guy"



Hi Dec

Just dropping a line to ask: as I am a vocalist (mainly!) you mentioned a good example of vocal arrangement was SWV. What tracks do you recommend for a good example of harmony and vocal arrangement?

Thanks in advance, have a great Christmas and a cool new year!



Answer from Dec


The simple answer is : almost every track that hits the top ten at the moment.

The Destiny's Child track from 'Charlies Angels' is probably one of the best around at the moment.

Craig David stuff is excellent and shows that the old idea that solo artits should just have a single voice with maybe just a smidgeon of back vocals is long gone.

I always mention SWV as they were the originators of the current trend toward massive, intricate vocal arrangement.

Whitney also (through her Gospel Choir background) shows that the solo voice is gone forever. Interestingly she gets credits now for her vocal arrangements. Whereas NSync have most written for them...check out the last track on their most recent album 'No Strings Attached'.

As I have said so often it is the single biggest difference between 'bedroom' demos and professional Chart recordings.

I hope this helps



Serious Writers Guild

"where the 'lil guy gets the same chance as the big guy"



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