What’s a songwriter? What’s a song?

What's a songwriter?
A songwriter. Or a song performer.

I write and record music. I’ve been doing it – slowly and often torturously – for 15 years. Recent output has been almost prolific by my standards, and the process of writing and recording has accordingly taken over an unhealthy portion of my headspace.

As Joe Pugg says of his podcast, thinking about songwriting, talking about it, analysing it – it’s all a cast-iron excuse not to be doing what we should really be doing. Which is of course writing songs.

A mixed bunch

In my experience of talking to others about songwriting – or at least getting others’ opinions from interviews and the like – there’s a vast range of definitions of what songwriting is. And what a songwriter is. And probably even what a song is.

The Handball Rule (part III)

handball, World Cup play-off, Ireland, France
You been shootin’ yer mouth off, boy.

Well <meek chuckle> I have been moderately outspoken on the current handball rules and suggestions for updates, I admit. So it’s probably about time I put my proposals to the test.

Let’s have a look at some example situations – both imaginary and legendary – to see how THE NEW RULES would’ve been applied.

From the depths of my mind

Defensive wall

Paint the picture, Rich.

A player in a defensive wall turns his back on a free-kick, and jumps with his hand in the air. The ball strikes it on its way towards goal.

The Handball Rule (part II)

Handball, FIFA, referee
Reflecting on part 1 of my study of the very rule that makes football football, and outlining THE NEW RULE.

I’m not sure FIFA are a million miles away with their assessment of what constitutes a handball, and how offenders should be punished. I think it’s perhaps the referees (or the Head Referees) and the pundits that are furthest from the mark.

But nevertheless there’s still a mess ruining the beautiful game, and I’m feel I am divinely sent to clear it up. Read on, Gianni Infantino (and Massimo Busacca).

When does handling a ball count as handball?

The Handball Rule (part I)

Koscielny, handball, referee, FIFA

I wrote most of this article a couple of years ago but never got round to posting it. In July 2018, it seems more relevant than ever.

The World Cup’s finished. And the Community Shield, unbelievably, is a mere fortnight away.

You’d probably have expected the majority of football rule/refereeing chat to be about VAR (even though it’s not coming to the Premier League yet). But no. Instead we’re talking about the oldest of rules, the one that actually kind of defines football.

Songs of the year

Without ever considering formalising it, I’ve had a favourite song of the year pretty clearly marked since about 2009. So, as I’ve now been furnished for a full year with Spotify’s ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist (what I’ve always wanted, really), I thought I’d make a bit more of a thing of it. Here are five songs released in 2017 that tickled my fancy.

(NB. a number of favourites from this year’s ‘Discover Weekly’s weren’t actually released in 2017, much to my dismay. Happily, there were plenty of belters to choose from anyway.)

Hand Habits – Sun Beholds Me [Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void]

Burgers on board!

One for the Londoners.

Something to redress the balance – why should pregnant women get to hog the cool-badge limelight?

Perhaps you’re an expectant father. Perhaps you’ve just completed an impressive eating challenge. Perhaps you’re suffering in a carb-coma. Or perhaps you just feel you deserve a seat on the train/bus more than those lean and athletic-looking twenty-somethings do.

Hit me up if you want one. I’ve got about a million.

Denim

Releasing and promoting music

I finished recording some music earlier this year, and self-released it as an EP. You’ve no doubt heard it, having seen the poster campaign, been flooded with emails and had your social media accounts wallpapered in adverts.

No?

Oh. Err… here it is anyway…

Yeah… so the thing is I probably didn’t make a great job of promoting the release. Having sorted the music, I looked for a guide to releasing it, and didn’t find one that was quite relevant. I suppose that shouldn’t be a massive surprise – the way music’s consumed has changed so much and so quickly. And the way you release and promote music made by a youthful gigging indie band, a bedroom-based grime artist, and an alternative lo-fi doom metal act are probably very different.

Got somethin’ to say?

Everyone’s petrified of a potential customer, employer or collaborator heading to their website’s blog or their Twitter feed and finding three years of inactivity. It just doesn’t look good.

But I’m well aware that business priorities rarely promote kicking back, reading mags and blogs, having a think about the big wide world, and penning half a dozen thought pieces over the course of a couple of days. Work tends to get in the way.

And employing someone purely to publicly commentate on your behalf sounds risky and, well, expensive.

There’s another way. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it. And it is good.

Analyse The Analysts – EURO 2016

QualityIt’s that special time. The season’s finished. The year ends with an even number. Telly is shit.

It can only mean… it’s time for a load of fat ex-pros, fat club managers and soon-to-be-fat injured footballers to analyse a major football tournament for us.

I’ll do my best to keep track of the insights, bad shirt choices and Colemanballs over the next 30 days, occasionally using the hashtag #analysetheanalysts. I nearly chose #commentatorcommentary. But just to be clear, I didn’t. Excuse the odd missed match – I’ve got girlfriend’s-cousin’s-wedding or some such tomorrow (unbelievable), and I really ought to do some proper work now and again – but I’ll be inviting others to chip in and fill in the gaps.

Beer brand-building

IMG_3635Beer brand-building

Sometimes as a copywriter you are asked to write about something boring and paid reasonable money for it.

Sometimes as a copywriter you are asked to write about something interesting and paid nothing for it.

This is a tale, fortunately for you, reader, comfortably within the second of these categories.

My mate started brewing beer. Like a teenager does. He bought the same kits. He delivered the same foul, often extremely potent, results.

Then he took it seriously.

He sought out the proper equipment. He multiplied suggested ingredient quantities by two, and then five and ten. He paid complete attention to sterilising advice.