From the first days I discovered I loved music, the creative side of my head has craved writing it as well. Over the years I’ve written a lot of junk (“practice material”, I call it!), but also found that – with time – I actually got some tunes that I enjoyed, and gave others enjoyment too.
Just about every serious musician loves the idea of hearing themselves be part of a song on radio or tv. This applies even more to songwriters.
In 2019, the music industry in Nova Scotia expanded their grant assistance programs to include songwriters/producers. It suddenly put the cost of making an album within reach, and the more I thought about it, the more I felt I had waited long enough to see if my abilities had any commercial worth.
I’ve dusted off about 4 dozen of my compositions I feel have merit, and set to work building each song track by track, instrument by instrument. I’ve also set up a spreadsheet to keep track of the tasklist for each song, musicians, contacts, and other info. I”m using a home recording software app called Mixcraft to do the actual recording and editing, and also finding musicians online that are helping to lay down initial tracks to get thing underway.
I’m playing as many of the instruments as I can myself, including bass, guitars and some keyboard.
I’m hoping to have all the instrument tracks in place by summer, at which point I’ll focus on recording all the vocals from singers that have joined the project.
I hope to have all vocal tracks completed by year end, at which point everything goes to a recording studio to be mixed and mastered – at a likely cost of $5,000+. If I get the grant – and odds look very good – the grant will cover 75% of that cost.
Then, it’s release, promotion, and seeing what happens. Hopefully, something will catch the eyes and ears of people that have some power in the music industry!
- self-taught guitar starting at age 12, joined first ragtag band at 14
- joined first commercially successful rock/dance band (Refined Rock Show) at age 15, as lead guitarist, along with my older brother Gary, who started on rhythm guitar and later switched over to bass. Wrote/cowrote a few originals that the band did, and recorded rough demos.
- after high school, studied classical guitar at Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, with the aim of getting into a university music degree program.
- co-ordination issues that started in my early teens got worse, and I was finally diagnosed with a hereditary disorder called “Wilson’s Disease” when I was 18 (along with my older sister). In short, the body doesn’t get rid of excess copper properly, and the copper ends up depositing in places such as the base of the brain, causing permanent damage to cells and interfering with electrical nerve signals going to muscles. Sort of like radio static.
- gave up the dream of a music degree and career, but continued to play in local dance bands in my 20’s and 30’s. Also tried a few music projects that flopped. Stopped playing in bands in my 40’s, and my guitars collected dust for the most part. Wrote various songs throughout, a few actually performaed in the bands.
- in my 50’s and 60’s, I found that my song-writing had seemed to mature somewhat, and I went back and reworked songs that seemed to have initial promise, but had major flaws. Learned how to operate home recording software, and started laying tracks to songs I felt still had potential.
- in 2019, I heard about a new grant program to help songwriters/producers, and finally made the decision “now or never”. So I laid the foundations for the project (website, domain, plans, etc.) and began work.
Absolutely. I’ll work with you to find one or more songs that will fit well with your talent, and figure out how to record you and add you to the song(s)
No. The project’s costs are being funded by sources such as my own savings, music grants, and donations.
Yes and yes. SOCAN has guidelines on registering song participation credits, and they also directly handle royalty payouts – if any – to the individual musicians listed for a song.
SOCAN = The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, a Canadian performance rights organization that represents the performing rights of more than 135,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers.
The home recording industry has exploded with the invention of easy-to-use recording software, and low cost HQ microphones and interfaces. If you don’t have a setup of your own, chances are there are several people in your community that do. Asking for help on Facebook is an excellent way of finding someone who can help you do an HQ recording as a favor.
I’m also happy to co-ordinate bringing my recording gear to you if needed, in planning my travels.
- I had material covering so many genres (rock, country, classical, pop, kids), it was hard to pick which genre to try out first
- I’m 66 with a smoking history. The odds aren’t quite as favorable for me to do a scheduled rollout of songs over a period of years.
- Many of the musicians and singers I’ve worked with, and have invited to be part, are in my age group. I’m trying to give as much chance as possible to include them.
My goal is to have the instruments and vocals as professionally recorded as possible, and getting a recording studio to do final mixing and mastering will hopefully make everything radio-ready at commercial quality.
The production, of course, won’t be at the exceptionally high quality level of music from popular artists that have wide fan bases. The level of expertise, and production budgets at this level go way beyond home-recording capabilities.
But the quality will be as close as possible.
I’m encouraging as much Canadian content as possible – especially from Nova Scotia and the Atlantic provinces (to try for local music awards), but this doesn’t mean excluding anyone from outside the country. If you want to participate, I’d love to have you be a part – no matter what nationality.
- # of songs: approx 50
- Genres: rock, country, pop, classical, easy listening, kids/holiday
- Instruments: drums, bass, guitars (acoustic, electric and classical), piano, keyboards (organ, synth, strings), and misc. instruments such as bagpipes, harmonica, and more
- Instrument arrangements: performances based on original demos (most recorded decades ago) will be specifically mentioned in the credits. Otherwise, arrangements by other artists are mostly crafted by them, after direction and consultation with me about what effects I’m hoping to achieve.
- Songs written by: Bernd Hansen (me), with a few collaborations as noted.
- Total project cost: $6k – $10k (the NS Music grant, if approved would reimburse up to $3750)
- Completion date: estimated Dec 2020
- Project goals (hopeful):
- get radio play
- win a music award
- sell a song to an established artist
- have a song go a bit viral
- have a song used in a film or other production
- get hired to write material for an artist or production
- make enough money from the results of the project to make it all worthwhile