This article, “He Did What?!?” originally appeared in my weekly newsletter but I wanted to share it again here. Don’t receive my newsletter? Sign up here (the blue box on the right) and get the weekly news delivered to your inbox.
Back in the prehistoric days of pitching songs on cassette tapes, there was a protocol. There was a certain way one was supposed to fold the lyric sheet and even a specific (and correct) way to wrap the lyric sheet and cassette with a rubber band. I promise I am NOT making this up!
Obviously lyric sheets are a very important part of the pitch, but in my professional experience perhaps, not always.
This incident years ago in a pitch meeting with a major producer (who, I might add, is STILL a major producer) sealed my decision. After being ushered into his office and exchanging pleasantries, I handed him a neatly packaged cassette tape with the lyric sheet folded just so and correctly attached with a bright blue rubber band. (Before you even ask, YES, of course, the tape was cued so that once the play button was engaged the intro would start with no annoying dead air. I AM a professional, after all!)
As the four bar intro played he opened the lyric sheet, scanned it briefly and then, OMG!!! Before the first verse even started he hit eject! YES, HE FREAKIN” HIT EJECT and looked at me calmly and said, “This won’t work.”
Incredulous, I asked, “Whaaat?” and he said, “I read ahead.”
So, in my most professional manner, I accepted the tape, lyric sheet and rubber band from him, shook his hand and left.
As I exited the building, I thought, “Did that just happen?” Confirming that it did indeed just happen, I made up my mind to never offer a lyric sheet unless it was specifically requested.
For years I have had songwriters argue with me about lyric sheets. Some insist that I ALWAYS share the lyric sheet with the song and some listen to this story and allow me to use my professional discretion.
My reasoning is simple. Songs are created to be experienced aurally. From beginning to end. They are intended to have the lyric and story unfold naturally, elegantly; like a story.
Songs are not created to read the lyric sheet and jump ahead.
Who…ya gonna call?
I hope you find this as helpful and get the point that, as a professional, I am looking out for your best interests. Even when we agree to disagree.