What do Rodney Jerkins, Anthony Hamilton, Evanescence co-founder Ben Moody and other top songwriters have in common? An ability to produce and write songs in several genres, and create new business opportunities around their work.
The three joined Grammy nominee Chris Daughtry, producer/songwriters Polow da Don and Brian Howes, rapper Fat Joe and two members of Hinder at the second annual BMI/Los Angeles Times “How I Wrote The Song” panel in Los Angeles on Saturday (Feb. 9).
Jerkins, who produced Janet Jackson’s new dance single “Feedback,” has recently worked with acts as diverse as Natasha Bedingfield, the Pussycat Dolls, Ludacris and Lil Wayne, in addition to R&B and gospel artists. He also produced “One,” Enrique Iglesias’ theme song for soccer’s European Cup this summer, as well as music from Korean artists Seven and Rain. “I want people to see my versatility,” Jerkins told Billboard.biz before the panel. “I try to encourage writers and producers to tap into things overseas as well. The world is so much bigger than just here.”
Jerkins is close to signing a new label deal, but is working on an advertising-supported Web site where he can distribute his new songs. “I want to create ways to get music to the consumer faster,” says Jerkins. “If I go into the studio tonight, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have that song tonight. Why should it wait six months for a record company to promote it?…I want to be the content provider.”
R&B singer Anthony Hamilton told Billboard.biz that he may put out an EP via his label, Jive, with help from Starbucks and iTunes.
Hamilton wrote “Nowhere Fast” for country star Josh Turner “as a thank-you for him liking my music,” he told the panel. But at Turner’s insistence, they recorded it as a duet. “I’ve always loved country,” said Hamilton. “I grew up watching Hee Haw.”
Also at the panel, Hinder collaborator Howes sampled a track by Rev Theory, the first group he’s produced on his new joint venture with Interscope, Van Howes Records. First single “Hell Yeah” goes to radio next month, with a sound Howes says evokes Guns ‘N Roses and Metallica: “dangerous but credible.”
Fresh off of working on Celine Dion’s latest album, producer and songwriter Moody plans to release Montana-based singer-songwriter Hana Pestle on his own label later this year. He has also been in the studio with former DC Talk vocalist Michael Tate on Tate’s secular solo project. “We’re going to take the five songs that we have and shop him a new deal,” Moody told Billboard.biz. He describes the album as “almost like Marvin Gaye kind of soul…it’s going back to when pop was not a bad word. No drum machines or shit like that. We’ve got the horn section that played on Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstitious.’”
As for how they wrote their songs, the panelists’ inspiration ranged from an actual conversation with an ex-girlfriend (Hinder’s “Lips Of An Angel,” which they performed acoustically with Howes), to a real-life rivalry between Brandy and Monica on “The Boy Is Mine.”
“I had to take out ad-libs to make it even,” recalled Jerkins of having to give the two equal time on the track. “We remixed the record seven times before we got it right.”