Today's Music Gateway Meets is a feature on Simon Brobyn, who's recently had an interesting turn of events within our platform. One of his songs; "Sound of the Summer" (written in collaboration with Jonathan Essex), has just been released by Pull n Way - an Electro Pop duo from Zürich. We've had a chat with Simon to get an insight into how this release arose, and for an insight into his experience as a songwriter.
"...you have to be prepared to invest in yourself in order for people to take you seriously..."
Exciting news; you recently got your song signed! Tell us more about how that came about.
Andy Prinz Publishing of Zurich in Switzerland posted a project on Music Gateway, for which I felt one of my songs called “Sound Of The Summer” (a co-write with a producer named Jonathan Essex with whom I work) would be appropriate. Although the song was not quite suitable for the project in question, Andy Prinz came back to me saying it would be ideal for a girl group he was due to be launching. So never be surprised about how things can work out!
How was the experience of working with Andy?
I found that working with Andy Prinz was very easy. He helped me through signing the contract and was happy to answer any questions that I had (and I can be a pest!). I didn’t employ a lawyer as it was a Single Song Agreement based on a standard SUISA (the Swiss equivalent of the PRS) contract, so I was able to understand the content. Through previous day jobs, my work necessitated me understanding terms and conditions, so I was comfortable doing it this way. Despite being incredibly busy, Andy keeps me informed and up to date with what is happening as regards my song. He is a guy that seems to make things happen. As the song is now exclusively signed to Andy Prinz Publishing on a worldwide basis, I have had to remove it from my Music Gateway profile.
How are you finding the Music Gateway platform?
I find Music Gateway a very good source for leads and being able to pitch for projects. As a songwriter, I feel that there is a lot of variety with regard to projects that I can pitch on. Due to technological advancements over the last few years the Music Industry (like many other industries) has undergone significant change and Music Gateway seems to have embraced this fact. The process of pitching is very easy indeed, and the team keep you informed through all stages of the process.
Tell us a bit about yourself, and your background in music?
I have always been involved in music on one way or another as far back as I can remember. I started out having piano lessons at an early age which gave me a love for music, especially composing little tunes. As I got older and started listening to all sorts of pop music and became fascinated as to how songs were written, and wondered how these “magical people” came up with such great ideas.
I taught myself to play guitar, and in my late teens joined various bands as guitarist/vocalist, playing cover versions of songs. I always thought that covering a song meant doing your own version, rather than faithfully replicating the original recorded version, but that didn’t always go down too well. After a few years I realised that I much preferred writing original material and was not enjoying the performance side of things, so I decided to concentrate on writing songs and stopped performing.
What are you currently working on?
Since deciding to concentrate on songwriting, I have had many rejections and false starts which has made me more determined to succeed. I am now working with a couple of professional producers/songwriters and a music production/publishing company with many “irons in the fire”. I like my demos to be the finished product which is why I work with industry professionals to get the best possible result.
I do not write in a specific genre other than “pop”, and whatever label people want to put on the finished product is fine by me. My main concern is that the lyrics and melody stand up to scrutiny; if you strip away the production, the song will still be there. I work on the philosophy that my next song has to be better than the previous one I have written - you never stop learning and improving.
Above, you can watch a teaser of "Sound of the Summer", which has been put with a montage of footage from their trip to MIDEM this year.
What advice would you give to fellow Music Gateway members?
I can only really offer advice as a songwriter as opposed to being an artist, producer or member of a band.
When pitching songs make sure they are relevant to the lead - don’t send an EDM track to someone looking for a rock song just because you think it's a great song - all you are doing is wasting everybody’s time. I am not afraid to read through a Music Gateway Project and decide that it is not for me rather than pitch on it out of desperation. Most projects provide reference tracks anyway. Try not to get too upset when you get rejected (it's never a nice feeling!) as this is part of being a songwriter and is not personal. I believe even Pharrel Williams had "Happy" rejected by Cee Lo Green's team.
It is best to work with a producer, or two, as well as working with other writers and artists. A good producer should have the ability to take your home demo to a new level and turn it into the finished product using great singers/musicians, giving your song a current sound and making it more attractive. Even though I can sing, play guitar and keyboards, I always have my demos done this way. It is not necessarily as expensive as one might think; you have to be prepared to invest in yourself in order for people to take you seriously. Always remember that the song (melody and lyric) needs to be as strong as possible - the best producer can’t make a “silk purse from a sow’s ear”. I usually write various draft versions of a song before committing to the final demo. Personally, I would advise songwriters not to dictate what you want a producer, vocalists and musicians to do, as this could restrict their creativity and you may not get the best possible result. I give free rein on how my song is to be produced and have yet to be disappointed… quite the opposite in fact!
Always listen to objective, constructive criticism (friends and family will always like what you do). Listen to great songs, old and new, as a great song will last forever. When writing a song, do not try and write one that sounds like the most recent hit, as this can come across as an inferior copy. Instead, take inspiration from various hits. I spend time just listening to songs, focusing on melody, lyrics and phrasing. I recently read an interview with a highly successful songwriter who said that songwriters should write songs that they themselves would like to hear in the charts, rather than try, for example, to copy Adele’s latest hit.
Find interesting stimulus
Reading various books on songwriting is useful, but won’t give you the magic formula to write a hit song otherwise we'd all be doing it! It can give you various techniques and tips to help you write better songs. Never be afraid to experiment and always keep any ideas you have (technology makes that very easy) as you never know how useful they might be in the future. Remember; ideas for songs can come from anywhere; conversations, films, books, newspapers, magazines, something that happened to a friend, and I'm sure there are many other sources I have yet to discover.
Take your time
Don’t try and force a song. If things aren’t working, then take a break (go for a walk, mow the lawn, watch a film - basically an activity to take your mind away from songwriting for a while). I enjoy keeping fit, and a trip to the gym is great for this as all I can think about is having enough energy to keep going!! I have also heard people say that when they have “slept on it”, a solution to a particular problem (not just songwriting) can present itself - something to do with your subconscious mind being relaxed (I read that somewhere!). Make sure you enjoy what you are doing and don’t settle for second best.
You can hear "Sound of the Summer" in full below or on other streaming/a la carte platforms here!
An introduction to Pull n Way...
Pull n Way is a Swiss Electro Pop duo, who got together in the Spring of 2016. They entered the industry as a trio with an interesting reflection of how the industry is an ever changing environment. Alma, Jana & Mylène met each other on Instagram and signed a deal shortly after. Their debut single was released late October, 2016, entitled "Let You Go", and has created some exciting ripples within their home country. The group have had great support and exposure via newspapers, Swiss TV, web and radio/airplay. Just before the release of "Breathe", the trio became a duo, the song reflects that within the lyrical content, focusing on loss and friendship, and it’s ballad style."Breathe" was written by a songwriting team, who are based in Australia. Jana & Mylène are currently working towards their next releases; singles and an album, which is set to be ready by the end of Summer 2017.
Pull n Way's music video for one of their songs; Breathe
We really enjoyed catching up with Simon, and getting an insight into how our members have had wonderful success stories via Music Gateway - we're delighted to hear of the good news that our platform has brought.
We feel as though Simon's story highlights some of our favourite aspects of the site; the benefits of collaboration, and the many doors of opportunity for new work. It's been great to see that although Simon's pitch wasn't directly chosen for the project that he applied for, he still stood out as someone that was creating great work, and was contacted because of that. There are so many opportunities out there, and we never know where the next success story will come from. Simon's process really highlighted that for us, so keep pitching, and keep working hard.
If you're yet to be a member, you can sign up here, and start your journey of collaborations and pitching.