‘Songwriting picked me,’ says Walt Aldridge

Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame 2017 inductee talks to Country Aircheck

Walt Aldridge shared his thoughts about how he evolved from a recording engineer to a major hit writer in this interview from the Sept 25 issue of Country Aircheck, where you can find the original story. More about Aircheck at the foot of this article. Walt is a great songwriter and has always been generous with his time, sharing his experience and knowledge of the music industry and the process of songwriting.

 * * *

Walt Aldridge

Alabama native Aldridge engineered more than 200 records during his time at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals and later, in Nashville. His cuts include Ronnie Milsap’s “There’s No Gettin’ Over Me,” Earl Thomas Conley’s “Holding Her And Loving You” and Tim McGraw’s “Some Things Never Change.”

I always had a fascination with making records. Writing songs allowed me to produce, play, sing on and engineer my demos. When I got started, the studio was a hallowed ground that you had to be invited to, or have a lot of money so you could rent one. So, by becoming a songwriter, it gave me the opportunity to do what I’d always been intrigued by – making music.

Rick Hall (right) signs Duane Allman as session guitarist at Fame, 1968. Photo: Getty Images

I remember walking into Fame and seeing the records hanging on the wall, thinking, “This looks like the set list for the band you were in, in sixth grade,” with “Mustang Sally,” “Land Of A Thousand Dances” – all these great soul records. Knowing you’re sitting where Duane Allman sat to play a guitar part on a Wilson Pickett record challenges you to dig deep and do your very best.

Rick Hall was my first my boss and mentor. Rick has always preached the preeminence of the song. Some of my favorite recordings are not technically or vocally the best, but they always connect and hit a nerve. Very often, you’ll have a fantastic singer with a great band and engineer, but if the song doesn’t hit that nerve with people, it doesn’t matter.

Songwriting picked me as opposed to me picking it. Tommy Brasfield was a writer in Nashville who was more experienced. He heard some of my songs and said, “You have a lot of ability, but I think I could help you frame your music more towards the radio.” If I ever did anything right, it was being open to that, rather than saying, “I like my music the way it is and I don’t need your help.”

No Getting Over Me

So Tommy and I started writing and eventually we wrote “No Gettin’ Over Me,” which was my first hit. That was back in the golden age of crossover, so it was a No. 1 Country record, a Top 5 Pop and No. 1 Adult Contemporary. After that hit I said, “Okay, it looks like I’m a songwriter – and a country songwriter, for that matter.”

My writing equipment is a guitar, a laptop and some kind of caffeine. I like to start in the morning when I’m fresh. But I’ve written all different ways.

“Power through writer’s block”

When I have writer’s block, I power through. So much of what we do is crafting, is a learned instinct. The old saying that sometimes inspiration comes after perspiration is very true. And you don’t know when the muse is going to visit.

Marty Stuart playing Hank’s guitar

One time I was writing with Marty Stuart and we were stuck. He said, “Why don’t we just swap guitars and see if that jogs anything loose?” I said, “Boy, this is a really cool old Martin guitar. What’s the story?” He said, “Well it was Hank’s guitar.” I said, “Hank Jr.?” He said, “No, that was Hank Sr.’s guitar.” I was holding the Holy Grail of guitars. “Your Cheatin’ Heart” could have been written on this guitar. So, I don’t know whether it’s imagined or whether there’s real energy coming from the wood and the wire. But different guitars inspire different moods and words.

I wish I’d written “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Every line in it is absolutely perfect. Couldn’t have been better.

A song’s demo is a critical part of it. You’re not only writing the lyric and melody, you’re often writing the guitar intro lick that’s going to be a hook. You’re writing the production, somewhat. On “Holding Her And Loving You,” we just didn’t get it on the demo. But somehow, Earl Thomas Conley and his producer Nelson Larkin were able to hear through the demo and imagine it. When they played us the record, it sounded like a hit. When you heard Earl sing it, you believed it.

“Write to express yourself”

You don’t write songs for the money or the gold records. You write because you want to express yourself in some way that you’re unable to express yourself otherwise. Getting this induction means my colleagues who have written some of my favorite songs – people whose opinions I value the most – are willing to say, “Hey man, you did good.” It’s quite a club to be voted into. I’m deeply honored.

~~~

Again, my thanks to Lon Helton and all at Country Aircheck for allowing me to reprint this article. I recommend that you visit this link to the Sept 25 edition of Country Aircheck to read the original article and see why Country Aircheck is a ‘must read’ for anyone involved in Country radio and the music industry. – Preshias.

Billboard charts adding YouTube plays?

Rights owners not happy with YouTube revenue

Billboard is rightly recognized as the Authority when it comes to music charts, and now it looks like the magazine could be adding YouTube plays into the way they calculate their charts.

Several online news sources, including hyperbot.com, are reporting that Billboard is, at the very least, ‘considering’ blending YouTube plays into their ‘spins + plays’ calculation. And this could possibly include user-generated clips rather than simply official-posted music.  However, as of today, it does not seem that Billboard and representatives of the major record labels have settled on what (if any) YouTube play data should be included in the charts.

YouTube’s ‘meagre payments’

The music industry is not exactly YouTube’s number one fan due to the meagre payments the online video giant pays out to recording artists, record labels and the owners of the songs’ copyrights.

In a report published by the GoDigital Media Group, a case is made for advertising-supported platforms such as YouTube paying a fixed CPM (cost per thousand views or streams) to rights holders. The report points out that Spotify pays approximately 75% more than YouTube for its advertising-supported model and 515% more for paid streaming.

Because labels (and many artists) feel they’re getting stiffed by YouTube, they don’t see much of a benefit in counting YouTube plays in the charts. Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s Global Head of Music, is apparently working hard to convince Billboard Editor John Amato that it’s a good idea despite rights owners’ reluctance, according to this posting at hyperbot.com.

The birth of Billboard

Billboard’s first issue, November 1, 1894

Billboard might seem like an odd name for magazine that publishes music charts, but there is a reason.  The publication first appeared in 1894 and covered the advertising and bill-posting industry: in other words, ‘outdoor’ advertising or billboards. With the growing popularity of phonographs and coin-operated juke boxes, Billboard began to cover the music industry and published its first ‘hit parade’ chart in January 1936.

Now, in addition to the Hot 100 and the Billboard 200, the magazine includes numerous ‘genre’ charts, including Country, R&B, Latin, Gospel/Christian, Rock, Dance and Electronic. Billboard has modified or updated the way it compiles its charts over the years to reflect new music delivery platforms.

Michael Ray helping animals in need

Collects animal shelter donations on 15-stop trek

Michael Ray with adopted dog Wrigley. Credit: Courtesy PAWS Chicago

I already knew Michael Ray was a great guy but he’s gone up even higher in my estimation as he proves how much he cares about animals that need a helping hand.

Inspired by his rescue dog Wrigley, Michael Ray has launched a special initiative, Wrigley Cares: Helping Animals In Need, just as he sets out on his “Get To You” Tour. The Gold-selling artist, whose latest single “Get To You” is currently climbing the charts, will collect donations with help from Zappos For Good and local animal shelters.

Wrigley Cares: Helping Animals In Need kicked off as Ray took the stage for the tour’s opening night in Tuscaloosa, AL. Since adopting Wrigley earlier this summer at Chicago’s Country Lakeshake Fest, Ray has been searching for impactful ways he and his fans can give back to rescued animals. Wrigley came to Michael from Paws Chicago, a no-kill animal shelter.

Changing lives of shelter dogs

“Wrigley is a huge part of my life – she’s on the road with us and she’s there for all the major moments,” shared Ray. “She changed my life back in June and I’m hoping we can change the lives of other shelter dogs by lending a helping hand.”

The Atlantic Records/Warner Music Nashville recording artist logged thousands of miles in 2017 and will wrap the year with his second headline tour. Already achieving two No. 1 singles, Ray’s anticipated lead single “Get To You” notched the most-added on the country airplay charts upon release and previews his forthcoming sophomore album.

Helping local shelters

Zappos for Good, the charity team at Zappos.com, will amplify Wrigley Cares by identifying local shelters in need and setting up donation stations at each tour stop. Concert attendees can drop supplies at the donation stations and receive a special discount code redeemable on Ray merchandise. All donations are welcome and each local shelter is specifically looking for: dry/wet dog and cat food in addition to new/slightly used towels and blankets which will be used to line shelter crates.

“We’re thrilled to work with Michael Ray and team to help support animal rescue,” said Steven Bautista, Head of Charity for Zappos.com. “We’re passionate about animal welfare and see this adoption event as an extension of our core, which is customer service.”

You can find out more about Michael Ray (and Wrigley!) and check out his full tour schedule here.

Midland’s debut single tops Airplay chart

“Drinkin’ Problem” first Number One for Midland

It was a five-man Number One party Wednesday afternoon: the three members of Midland and their two co-writers, jointly hosted by ASCAP and BMI.

Members of Midland at the Number One party, flanked by Shane McAnally (far left) and Josh Osborne (right). Photo credit: Preshias Harris.

They gathered with friends and music industry execs at The Sutler in Nashville to celebrate the band’s debut single which is also their first career Number One single. Titled “Drinkin’ Problem,” the track was originally issued on an EP and is now the lead-off single from their new album, ON THE ROCKS, released September 22.

“Drinkin’ Problem” was written by the three members of Midland, Mark Wystrach (lead vocals), Jess Carson (lead guitar & harmony vocals) and Cameron Duddy (bass & harmony vocals).  They share writing credits on the Number One with superstar writers Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne. (Osborne has fourteen Number Ones as a writer; McAnally has twenty-five Number Ones as a writer and eight as a producer!)

“Drinkin’ Problem” was produced by Osborne, McAnally and Dan Huff.

A ‘first’ for Big Machine, too

Notably, the song also scores another ‘First.’ It is the first debut single from a new act to top the Airplay charts for Big Machine Records and their roster of artists.

Commenting on how the song came about, Jess Carson said, “Three friends going in, all together. That was a lightning-rod moment.”

During the celebration, Huff said to Mark, Jeff and Cameron, “The fact that you have a very clear understanding of who you are makes me so proud to be part of this team.”

Co-producer Osborne said, “[We believed] somebody is gonna make this record with them and if we don’t, we are going to regret it.” He added, “The label allowed all involved to chase their passion.”

“This is soul music,” said McAnally. “I’m serious — it’s has a soul!”  He added, “Because it was embraced in a commercial sense, it’s wonderful. They didn’t have to compromise.making music. People are hungry for it.”

In addition to “Drinkin’ Problem,” ON THE ROCKS includes twelve more tracks, all written or co-written by members of Midland. The trio all hail from the town of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Midland’s follow-up single, “Make A Little,” is already impacting Country radio. On the CDXTRACtion chart for October 11, 2017, the new single was the “Most Added” song of the week, meaning it was added to the playlist of the most reporting radio stations.  You can find the video for “Make A Little” at YouTube here.

Midland are currently touring as part of the ‘CMT On Tour Presents Jon Pardi’s Lucky Tonight Tour’ (Surely this year’s most awkwardly-titled tour) and in early 2018 are scheduled to be part of The Breakers Tour with Little Big Town and Kacey Musgraves. See Midland’s full tour schedule here.

Jeff Stice takes Gospel to Japan

‘Mr. Piano Man’ plays at Hope Music Festival

When Gospel music artist Jeff Stice books a gig, it isn’t always a ‘local’ venue.  This week, he flew to Japan to be part of the Hope Music Festival in Tokyo. That’s around 6,600 miles from Edmonson County High School that he and I attended in Brownsville, KY, er, let’s say, ‘a few years ago!’

Jeff Stice

Jeff, a Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductee, took the Gospel to the people of Japan. As a part of the Hope Music Festival, Jeff participated in an event intended to draw people together through the magic of music in hopes that Christianity can be shared to those in attendance.

“Pastor Yurika Mitsui and his family reached out to me some time ago after I had met them at Louisiana Baptist University where I had performed at their Alumni breakfast,” Jeff said before he left on the trip. “They asked if I would come and be a part of the event, and I quickly replied ‘Arigato’ (which means ‘Thank you’ in Japanese).”

Jeff and his wife traveled to Tokyo, Japan on October 5, 2017, returning to the United States on the following Thursday. The Hope Music Festival was held on Monday, October 9, 2017 in Tokyo.

Music: the universal language

“Stacey and I are both excited and a bit nervous. Other than two or three words, we have no clue how to communicate with the people of Japan. They say music is the universal language, so I’m going to rely on that,” mentioned Jeff. “Only 2% of the country know anything about Christianity. I don’t believe this opportunity just happened. There is a divine reason, and we’re praying God will just use us so that He will get the glory from it.”

Jeff Stice album ‘I’m Gonna Keep On”

Jeff recently released his debut album for Daywind Instrumental, the Andrae Crouch tribute recording, I’M GONNA KEEP ON. The project was released earlier this summer to much critical acclaim.  Jeff is an accomplished musician, known as “Mr. Piano Man,” and for twelve years was a member of the Triumphant Quartet.

He was voted ‘Musician of the Year’ in 2007 by the Southern Gospel Music Guild, and received the ‘Favorite Musician of the Year’ award in 2009 and 2012 at the Southern Gospel Fanfare. In 2007, he was voted into the Edmonson County, KY, Music Hall of Fame and has received numerous other awards and recognitions, including Grammy and Dove Award nominations.

For more about Jeff Stice click here.

Bluegrass goes ‘Boo-Grass’ for October

Tribute to Merle Haggard to re-broadcast

Ronnie Reno

Bluegrass fans who have access to RFD-TV have a treat in store this month. Reno’s Old Time Music is reaching into its bag of “tricks” to “treat” fans to hauntingly good “boo-grass” throughout the month of October.

Tune in for a new episode of BLUEGRASS HALL OF FAME spotlighting inductee, the late Charlie Waller & The Country Gentlemen, FRONT PORCH GOSPEL and BEST OF BLUEGRASS.

Additionally, show host and SPBGMA Preservation Hall of Greats inductee, Ronnie Reno, will introduce a brand new series demanded by fans of the show. SUPER PICKIN’ will feature the best bluegrass pickers in the business for an all-instrumental show. Tune in this October for Part 1.

Merle Haggard Tribute

Merle Haggard

Finally, Reno’s Old Time Music will re-air the highly-demanded TRIBUTE TO MERLE HAGGARD to close out the month.

If that wasn’t enough good news, Reno’s Old Time Music is now available to over 18 million DIRECTV subscribers via the new RFD-HD platform in high definition, giving even more fans a chance to enjoy the fantastic October line-up.

Reno’s Old Time Music – October Lineup

Sept. 30 – Oct. 5: Best of Bluegrass

Charlie Waller

Oct. 7 – 12: Bluegrass Hall of Fame Series–

Charlie Waller & The Country Gentlemen

Oct. 14 – 19: Front Porch Gospel

Oct. 21 – 26: NEW SERIES–Super Pickin’ (Part 1)

Oct. 28 – Nov. 2: Tribute To Merle Haggard

“Reno’s Old Time Music” airs weekly in prime time on Saturday night at 7:00 P.M. Eastern and Thursday morning at 6:30 A.M. Eastern on RFD-TV and is sponsored by Derksen Portable Buildings, The Crooked Road-Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, Hadley’s Southern Kitchen and the Old Time Music Store (click HERE for more information and for exact times in your area).

For more information on Ronnie Reno or “Reno’s Old Time Music,” go to www.ronniereno.com.

Singing with someone else’s lungs

Transplant gives voice back to singer

You’re a gifted singer with your voice at its peak and a promising future ahead of you. And then the doctors break some terrible news: You need a double lung transplant.

For anyone, that news would be shocking.  But for a singer, that could also mean the end of all of one’s hopes and dreams.

Charity Tillemann-Dick. Photo: John Armato

That was the news given to opera singer Charity Tillemann-Dick in 2009, and she has told the story surrounding that momentous event in a new book, ‘The Encore: A Memoir in Three Acts’(available here at Amazon and all major retailers). On September 30, she spoke to NPR’s Scott Simon about the frightening news, the surgery and the aftermath. You can hear and read the moving interview at NPR’s website here.

She told Simon that she almost died during the transplant surgery – she flat-lined twice – and the doctors left her chest open for two weeks. She was in a coma for 34 days and it was months before she could breathe on her own.

“My voice was gone”

She told Simon, “When I woke up from the surgery, I saw the nurses and my mother, and I was just so profoundly grateful to be alive and I opened my mouth to say ‘thank you’ and nothing came out. My voice was gone.”

Charity underwent both the usual post-surgical therapy and also vocal training: learning to sing with somebody else’s lungs.

“There’s something very mystical about singing. Because we all have these two tiny little flaps of skin in our throat, but some people can’t really sing at all,” Charity told Simon during the interview. “And some people sound like angels when they do it, you know? [Laughs.] And no one really knows why!

“And I think that for me, singing with someone else’s lungs, it never lets me forget that I’m not the one who’s in charge — whether you call it fate or chance or God, that we all have a reason that we’re here; we all have a song to sing, whether it’s musical or not. And I am very conscious of the fact that I am one of the human embodiments of my organ donor’s life.”

“We’re usually one another’s angels”

Imagine: singing with someone else’s lungs. As she stood backstage, ready for her debut at the Lincoln Center, all she could think about was the person she had never met who generously pre-planned the donation of their organs for transplant.

Charity’s amazing experience, and the many people whose skill and selfless generosity gave her a new lease on life, have had a profound effect on her. In the interview, she said, “I think sometimes we want winged figures to bring us miracles, but I think in life we’re usually one another’s angels.”

Transplants saved my life, too

The subject of organ donation is very important in my own life.  I’m alive today thanks entirely to kidney transplants, firstly from my father, Sheldon, and then from my sister Tishia.  My brother Ken’s life was saved with a kidney donated by a stranger who had pre-planned their organ donation, and my friend Jim is healthy today due to a liver transplant.

To learn more about organ donation and how you might save a life, go to this informational U.S. Government website.  By registering as a donor, you could give up to 8 people a second chance. Did you know that 20 people die every day due to the shortage of available organ donors and more than 116,000 Americans are awaiting transplants right now? Please become a donor!

October ‘Inside Track on Music Row’ posted

Big & Rich, Craig Wayne Boyd, EXILE and more

My column, ‘Inside Track on Music Row,’ is America’s longest-running monthly country music column, and here’s a ‘heads up’ to let you know that the full October 2017 column is now posted at my other website, I Know Country.  Meanwhile, here’s a taste of a few items from the column…

Big & Rich are doing it for the party!

Big & Rich, Did It For the Party

Big & Rich have released their sixth studio album DID IT FOR THE PARTY, guesting on several national TV shows and a major media blitz. They will also be the musical guest on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” October 2.

The new project features 13 new songs, all produced by Big Kenny and John Rich. Fans, who are dubbed the “Freak Parade,” can order the album now on Apple Music / iTunes, Amazon and Google Play, as well as pick up a CD at major retailers nationwide through a partnership with TWIX®.

In addition to the lead single “California,” the album is classic Big & Rich, featuring a combination of upbeat anthems like the “Congratulations (You’re A Rockstar)” and “No Sleep,” while also showing their softer side with the heartfelt tribute to their sons, “My Son” featuring The Isaacs. Thirty Tigers and The Orchard are handling marketing and distribution for the album. Tour dates and more at bigandrich.com

Craig Wayne Boyd’s TOP SHELF

Craig Wayne Boyd, Top Shelf

Fans who pre-order Craig Wayne Boyd‘s new album, TOP SHELF, will receive an instant download of Boyd’s never-before-heard new single, “Stuck In My Head.” The album will be released everywhere Oct. 27 by Copperline Music Group and is available for pre-order at iTunes.

Those who pre-order can also receive Boyd’s “We Sweat” through instant download from September 29, and will receive the track “Better Together,” which Boyd co-penned, on October 13. TOP SHELF has been described as ‘a musical kaleidoscope – a whirl of celebration, heartbreak, the sweet pain of love, and the comfort of faith’s embrace.’

During his rise to fame after winning Season 7 of NBC’s “The Voice,” Boyd’s “My Baby’s Got a Smile on Her Face” debuted at No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart, becoming the second song (following Garth Brooks’ “More Than a Memory”) to achieve that level of chart success. More at craigwayneboyd.com.

EXILE’s ‘Fan Appreciation’ show set for Oct 17

EXILE

EXILE will stage a fan appreciation concert at the Wildhorse Saloon October 17. Soon-to-be announced special guests will help the band kick off the road to their 55th anniversary “No Limit Tour” in 2018.

Partnering with WSM-AM for the free show, Exile is set to perform at 6 p.m. CT with special guests starting at 4 p.m. CT. Concert details at WildhorseSaloon.com. 2018 will be the 55th anniversary for the band, which formed in Richmond, KY. Since beginning in 1963 the band has had No. 1 hits on both the pop and country charts, achieving ten No. 1 hits on the country chart. Today, the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame members continue to tour performing their greatest hits and fan-favorite on-the-road songs from over the years. More at Exile.biz and Facebook/Twitter.

A personal note: Growing up in Kentucky, in the late 70’s to the mid 80s, a day didn’t go by without hearing Exile on the radio. So to be able to celebrate their ’55 years in the business’ kick-off concert is like one item marked off my bucket list!

Read the complete column, and an archive of many previous columns, at iknowcountry.com and check out my music Q&A book, “I Know Country!”

Logan Mize inspires singers, songwriters: Never give up

New video series: “Somebody to Thank”

If you’re a singer or songwriter and thinking that you should forget your dream and go get a ‘real’ job, take heart from Logan Mize’s story.

Click to watch Logan Mize’s new “Somebody to Thank” video

His new album, COME BACK ROAD, notched up a Top 20 debut on Billboard and iTunes’ All Genre charts, but his personal road has not been an easy one, filled with roadblocks that would have stymied lesser beings.

Logan, a native of Clearwater, Kansas, came to Nashville with the goal of becoming a success in the music business.  But that success seemed to slip from his grasp at every step of the journey. He was turned down again and again by every music publisher and record label on Music Row.

Logan Mize. Photo: Montgomery Lee

To make ends meet, he took on day jobs, including driving a party bus and even a dump truck, while writing songs and playing club dates wherever he could snag them. Then in 2010, several years after arriving in Nashville, he signed a publishing and record deal with Big Yellow Dog Music, and a booking deal with a major agency.

Many artists would look at those contracts and figure they’d achieved their goal, but Logan knew that this was only the beginning. He spent the next seven years playing seemingly every venue in every town across the United States, building his fan base at every stop along the way.

Use the power of social media

Logan understands the power of social media. In 2016, he undertook a solo acoustic tour, promoted entirely via social media, traveling more than 20,000 miles in less than two months in a 1989 station wagon that he named ‘Glenn.’

He ran his own sound and lights at each show, performing 3-hour sets, before packing everything back in the car and moving on to the next venue.  He knew that every stop along the way added to his fan base, and each fan was a potential buyer of his music and would probably spread the news to their own social media contacts.

Thankful to those who have helped

As well as knowing the importance of sheer hard work in developing his music career, Logan is also deeply thankful to those who have helped him along the way. He has now partnered with Budweiser to create a new monthly video series based around his song, “Somebody to Thank.”

“It is so important that we always remember and give thanks to those who helped us get to where we are,” he said. “Even the smallest gesture of gratitude can make a big difference in someone’s life.”

A new video will be released monthly via Logan’s YouTube channel and Facebook spotlighting the relationships built around the struggles, gratitude and opportunities that have helped shape Mize into who he is as a person, artist, husband and father. He hopes it will also remind everyone to always say thank you to those who were a part of one’s journey.

Persevere despite the setbacks

There are two lessons that can be learned from Logan’s story. Firstly, if you believe in your music, persevere. Keep going, despite the setbacks and treat each roadblock as a ‘learning experience’ while you steadfastly follow your dream.  It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

Secondly, take charge of your own destiny.  Don’t put your career entirely in the hands of others. Certainly, seek guidance and develop business alliances with those who can help you, but understand that only you can make the decisions and take the steps to achieve your goals.

COME BACK ROAD includes the hit single “Ain’t Always Pretty” which has been featured on major playlists across digital streaming platforms garnering over 25 million streams on Spotify alone.

More information at loganmize.com and on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

How you can help music people hit by hurricanes

MusiCares reaches out to victims of Harvey & Irma

Musicians, singers and songwriters are among the many thousands of people hurt by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. But a hand is reaching out to help them, and you, too, can help.

photo: MusiCares/Getty Images

Trying to make your way in the music industry can seem like a lonely and precarious pursuit, living from gig to gig, royalty check to royalty check. Simply paying the rent or finding money for medical bills can be an ongoing struggle. When disaster strikes – in the form of hurricanes, tornadoes and floods – music people can face personal catastrophe.

MusiCares is there to help music people in need. In addition to their regular assistance programs, MusiCares has set up a special Hurricane Relief Fund, and you can donate at musicares.org/donate.

MusiCares provides safety net for music people

MusiCares is a charitable organization operated by the Recording Academy (The GRAMMY people) that provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares’ services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical, and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality.

I know personally several people who have been helped by MusiCares, and I can vouch for their integrity and the real assistance they provide.

ASCAP donates $25K to MusiCares

ASCAP rapidly donated $25,000 to MusiCares to help provide relief for members of the music community affected by the hurricanes.

“Our hearts go out to our members who must now recover from these catastrophic storms,” said ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams, in a press release a few days ago. “ASCAP has always believed in harnessing the strength of our collective community to build a stronger future for music creators. In that spirit, we are pleased to join forces with our friends at MusiCares in helping to rebuild a future for those members of our community who need our help putting their lives back together.”

Do you need MusiCares’ help?

Musicians and music professionals can request disaster relief by contacting the South Regional MusiCares office at 615.327.0050 or toll-free at 877.626.2748, or by submitting an application here.

Animals need our help, too

photo: The Humane Society of the United States

So many pets were separated from their owners by the hurricanes that animal welfare organizations need our help too. A story in USA TODAY outlined the steps being taken: The national effort being undertaken by the Humane Society of the United States, Wings of Rescue, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, GreaterGood.org, the Best Friends Animal Society and other organizations involves flying homeless dogs and cats who already populated Texas shelters to facilities in other parts of the country.

Those animals will go up for adoption in their new area while Texas shelters make room for pets who might wind up lost or abandoned in the wake of the hurricane and floods.

How to help pets in peril

To donate to the Humane Society of the United States, click here.

To donate to Wings of Rescue, click here.

To donate to Best Friends Animal Society, click here.

Don’t get scammed!

Whenever disaster strikes, some unscrupulous will come out of the woodwork to take advantage of innocent donors. It’s always advisable to only donate to well-known and accredited organizations such as MusiCares and other charities I’ve listed here.  If you are in doubt about how genuine a supposed charity really is, you can check if it is accredited by Charity Navigator, Charity Watch or the Better Business Bureau.

And all major charities working in disaster relief make a point of stating that money is the best donation for fast effective help, as warehouses quickly fill up with donated blankets, food and other items can divert resources away from more pressing work.

Please check out MusiCare’s website to see how you can help – or to find out how MusiCares can help you.