Welp, today is indeed a milestone! This is officially Flypaper’s 2,000th post.
In just a few weeks Flypaper will grow older than the modern era of humanity.
That’s a lot of content, representative of a lot of people’s voices and input over a lot of years. I’m thrilled that we both made it this far and that we’re continuing to grow, thrive, and best of all, help musicians grow and thrive. And that’s thanks to every single author, editor, partner, and guest writer who has contributed to Soundfly’s humble blog over the years.
So to celebrate this exciting milestone, we asked longstanding members of our writer community to share their favorite articles published on Flypaper or some words of reflection about their experiences being part of this great project.
Please enjoy this personal, navigational digest, in no particular order of appearance (because, come on, who has time for that?) — and here’s to the next 2,000 posts!!
This listicle by Alper Tuzcu has been so useful for outlining ways to think about melody in songwriting; especially for folks who haven’t delved into much music theory. Alper writes succinctly and I feel like I owe him a royalty for this piece I’ve forwarded it to my students so many times! He explains the compositional jargon-ese simply using excellent and current examples of real life hits. They demonstrate his points clearly for students who may not have heard the right word for a technique, but boy, they’ll know it when they hear it. This has been an empowering piece of work. Cheers Alper!
I first began writing for Flypaper way back in 2016. A good friend of mine introduced me to Jeremy, and the rest is history — we were instantly on the same wavelength and soon I was cranking out blog after blog (well over 40, at last count) for a fast-growing website! Looking back over my contributions has been a blast, from tips on whether artists need a producer, to new and emerging faces of various genres, to Bach’s coffee opera, to forgotten Black and female composers, to unusual and exciting moments in music history. I hope it’s all been as fun to read as it was for me to write. One of the things I’m most proud of is the joyful and thoughtful way Flypaper informs its readers — from budding musicians and artists to seasoned veterans. Every article on the site brings a fresh new take on well-trod information or comes out of left field with brand new topics. My career as a blogger certainly wouldn’t be the same without Flypaper (or you, readers!) and I’m proud to have been a part of its history.
“Perfecting Your Music Production Workflow” by Kam Lal
Kam Lal’s piece is one of my favorite Flypaper articles because I have implemented all of Kam’s tips, and each of them has sped up my production workflow. The DAW templates included in the article are helpful with getting the mundane tasks out of the way, such as naming channels, and bussing plugins. One of my favorite tips from this article is saving different versions. It is really easy to hit save and move on to the next thing. Creating a system for labeling versions, revisions, and bounces has been super helpful for me when collaborating and keeping track of edits. Kam’s whole article is full of gems that are worth investigating!
I wrote my article, “Tips and Tricks for Working the Merch Table at Live Shows” before the pandemic began. First of all, the article was published on day 1 of my first post-pandemic tour with Ghost Funk Orchestra, with lots of merch in tow! In some ways I was just starting to get to know the band members well, and the article was a hilarious and unexpected way to unveil my hustler alter-ego. We ended up selling out of our merch on that tour. A few months later, I attended a Youth in a Roman Field show — Claire is a close friend and my bandmate in San Fermin, and I was admiring her new merch setup which looked beautiful and had all sorts of interesting things in it. I commented on it and she said “Yeah! My manager emailed me this article on Flypaper and told me to check it out for ideas. And then I realized YOU wrote it!” We shared a huge laugh.
“4 Myths Musicians Believe About Succeeding in the Music Industry” by Krizel Minnema
Choosing a favorite Flypaper article is next to impossible. Seriously, there are just too many good ones! But, one that stands out to me is this oldie but goodie from 2018. The reason I love this one is because it just speaks so much truth. There’s no sugar-coating, and it gets to the heart of what, even four years later is still true — that there is no quick path to success. No “right move” that puts you on the fast lane to fame and fortune. And, best of all? You can create the career you want yourself. This article even has tips for that. There’s a reason it’s a fan favorite!
“The Best Way to Promote a Release Last Minute” by Angela Tyler
I’ve really enjoyed the many Soundfly articles on aspects of music that quite frankly I’m not super familiar with myself. For example, I found Angela’s article on last minute promotion very useful for two reasons: firstly, as a person (and artist) who’s always late, I personally relate to this. It has happened to me that I was much more excited about the song than the dreaded promo work needed just prior to release. And secondly, this advice is simple and doesn’t feel overwhelming at all, which works for everyone.
“How to Convey These 8 Emotions Using Chords and Harmony” by The Soundfly Community
There’s a lot of feeling that comes through just the performance of music, and Soundfly has always been keen on exploring the depths of complexity and emotion when it comes to the composition and tools used to bring a song to fruition. This article with ideas as to how one can convey emotion within a chord progression shows that just like with life outside of music, there’s so many ways to say one specific thing.
“How to Write a Character Leitmotif” by Dante Fumo
This article was very helpful in outlining how to write a character leitmotif, as well as when and where to use it. Fumo explains the importance of simplicity in making a leitmotif memorable, giving two iconic examples being the theme from Jaws and the “Imperial March” from Star Wars. The author emphasizes the importance of not overusing a leitmotif so the theme doesn’t lose its impact throughout the film or concept album. He also explains how to make different leitmotifs blend with one another. I found his guidelines to be most beneficial, and I highly recommend this article to anyone interested in this type of musical narrative!
The sheer hubris of this article is something to behold. Quantifying so many aspects of songwriting into a potential hit-writing roadmap is a gloriously ambitious project, and only Dean Olivet was brave enough to tackle it. The whole piece reads like a “State of the Charts” pop-hit symposium that any musician or musicologist could find both useful and entertaining, striking a perfect balance between intrepid nerdy data gathering and quirky reflections and takeaways. I love reading stuff like this!!
I really like this article because, as an artist, it gets me thinking beyond my music itself, and more about the stories that informed its creation and that I want to tell. The questions posed in the article help me think more deeply about why I might have written a song and how it might connect with the listeners on an emotional level. What I’ve noticed is that developing a narrative is not only great for marketing yourself as an artist, but also for releasing targeted songs that vibe better with the listeners. Stepping out of my artist mind and looking at the songs from a distance allow me to think about how I can incorporate the songs into the daily life experiences of the listeners.
“‘Underdubbing:’ the Power of Getting Rid of Stuff” by Aaron Trumm
This idea of trimming things down instead of packing more into them particularly resonates with me. It always seems everyone is trying to add more and more to all their productions, but the benefits of simplicity and clarity are often missed when you do this. I’ll often have clients ask: “what more can I add to this track?” And my response is usually: “have you thought about what you could remove?” Taking away the unnecessary clutter sometimes reveals the hidden gem underneath it all.
I’ve greatly enjoyed having the opportunity to write posts for Flypaper over the past several years. It’s amazing how many things we take for granted in our understanding, viewpoint, or experience with them until we actually sit down and write about them. I now find myself sometimes explaining things to my own clients using the wording from an article I put together for a post on Flypaper. And reading posts from the other amazingly talented folks who write for Flypaper has offered excellent insights into other aspects of music and sound that I hadn’t previously considered. It’s a great team to be part of!
I’ve always loved analyzing pop music; but I could never do it in the way that academic journals required, encoding the ideas in language that limited the audience to academics. I wanted to reach anyone who was curious — people like me — which is why writing for Flypaper has been so amazing. I get to think about music and write about it. The team here is enthusiastic about all my ideas. And Jeremy’s the first editor I’ve worked with who makes sure all my musical examples look beautiful. But the best part is being part of a community of people who get as worked up about musical ideas as I do. (Thanks to the esteemed Ethan Hein for introducing us!)
This article is pure silliness, but it’s so fun to discover a hilarious new instrument, and Aaron Martin’s enthusiasm for the actual musical potential of this very gimmicky, plastic toy holds is so infectious. Reading the article makes you want to get up and hit pots and pans, and start exploring what kinds of sounds you can make when you decide to earnestly look for musical potential in the everyday things all around you. Plus, the joy you feel when you discover other people using Otamatones out in the world is a delight. This video made my day.
I’m so thankful for being given the opportunity to contribute a small slew towards Flypaper’s 2000 posts, congrats y’all! Writing for Flypaper has helped open so many doors for me, including several podcast interviews, script writing gigs for PBS, and even a shoutout in Rolling Stone. Also, how’s this for anecdotal synchronicity, just last week I was hired as the new music teacher for the FAIR School for Arts in downtown Minneapolis. Among other things, they were quite impressed with my “We Analyzed Every Dang Song That Cracked the Billboard Top 5 in 2018” article on Flypaper. Many thanks to Martin Fowler for music-fact-checking those, what a chore! Alright y’all, let’s take it to 3k!
“On the Underappreciated Achievements of Otis Blackwell” by Dan Reifsnyder
If ever there was a story perfectly emblematic of the systematic exploitation of Black musicians, Otis Blackwell’s is it. I was really glad to see that Dan had written about this, especially since only days before I was listening to Otis’s version of “Don’t Be Cruel” alongside Elvis’s and marvelling at how sickeningly close the performances were, and wondering just how much less Otis earned for it than Elvis. Thanks, Dan, for letting us know and for continuing to shine light on this.
Writing for Soundfly these past few years has been incredibly fulfilling both in a creative and educational way. It’s helped me to focus my thoughts while sharing knowledge on topics of interest, and Soundfly has provided me with a wonderful creative outlet to get my ideas down. I’ve enjoyed researching deeper into various topics and learning more myself along the way. I’ve found documenting my experiences on my music journey and sharing advice to be very therapeutic and enjoyable. Here’s to many more years of writing!
In my tenure as Editor-in-Chief here at Flypaper Industrial Enterprises, I’ve edited over 90% of these 2,000 articles so there’s absolutely no way I could choose a “favorite” among them. But Kiri Sparks’ touching reflection of her experience creating her first ever song with the help of her mentor, and the emotional struggles with confidence, trauma, and Imposter Syndrome she dealt with along the way, is a piece that I come back to year after year for so many reasons. If you’re reading me talking about this, you need to stop and click through to this article now and read her words, and please don’t forget to listen to her song too. Kiri’s “Forgive You” is honestly one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard; it says so much and it achieves so much, and it does so quietly, which is something only those lacking in self-confidence can really grasp. Kiri’s experience starting and finishing her first entire track with guidance from a mentor was a huge moment in her life, it opened up the floodgates of creativity and expression in a powerful way. And for us here at Soundfly, it became one of the high water marks of so much effort and care put into this mentorship program to ensure that the model worked and that we could confidently guarantee progress and results on behalf of any student. To this day, I send Kiri’s article to tons of people that ask me “what Soundfly is really about.”
There’s no sensible conclusion that could be drawn from any of this except, well, that we’ve put out some fascinating and deeply useful content over the years if you happen to be a musician (or musically curious).
If you want to stay informed and updated on everything that Soundfly and Flypaper has to offer, you can sign up for our weekly newsletter here.
Thanks so much for reading, and see ya soon!