The story of Add A Lyric

The original idea for Add A Lyric came to me in the middle of a Taxi Road Rally convention about 3 years ago. If you haven’t been to one before, the Road Rally is a yearly event where thousands of musicians, producers, singers, songwriters, and lyric writers all gather to hear about best practices for the writing, recording & music submission to music libraries & Movie/TV music supervisors. Not only are the seminars a treasure chest of useful information, the Rally is also a great place to network with like-minded people who have similar goals.

As I was talking to one of the other attendees, who is a lyric writer, she asked if I’d had any success in submitting music. I told her yes, I’ve had a placement for one of the instrumental listings for a cooking TV show, and that I also do the music for a weekly TV show that wasn’t through Taxi. I told her my background of writing, producing and selling a Buy-out Music Library some 20 years ago and I was just getting back in to writing for TV and Movies.

As the conversation progressed she asked if I collaborated with other writers & wondered if I had anything “on the shelf” that needed lyrics & a melody added. I told her I didn’t really have anything like that because my focus was doing instrumentals, which has a tendency to fill up the space with instruments rather than leaving room for vocals and the arrangements aren’t always the verse-chorus type.

She started to lament about how difficult it is to find people to write with or even someone who already has music that needs lyrics. She had tried to locate people locally through trade mags and on-line by searching for lyricist backing tracks, songwriter backing tracks, unfinished songs, songs that need lyrics, songwriter collaborators and music for singers, but it only came up with a few options, and they were either custom work like “you send me your song idea and I produce a whole track” or they were people who wanted to co-write but had no clue about Copyrights, Publishing or how to market the completed track. This meant she’d end up doing all the work just to split the royalties with someone else. Yeah, there were people that did beats for singers or beats for rappers, but this was different, she needed other types of music beds like Rock, Jazz, Country, Folk, Reggae and Pop.

As I continued my weekend at the Rally, this topic came up again & again. Not only did people want to collaborate but what they really wanted was a resource for different musical styles, because some of the listings had really tight timelines and unless you have a huge catalog or you are a really fast writer/producer/engineer you are going to miss those opportunities. They too said they couldn’t find anything locally or on-line that fit the bill.

I figured there must be someone out there doing this already, so I tried my own searches. I tried singer backing tracks, add your lyrics to my song, tracks that need vocals, songwriter looking for lyricist, songs that need a singer, I even tried musicians who need lyrics and the results were slim.

I used the plane ride home to scribble some ideas down. The goals were simple, the music beds needed to have these attributes:

  • Easy to write lyrics to
  • Easy to sing a melody to
  • The recordings needed space for the vocals
  • Original tracks, not Karaoke
  • Lots of musical variety within the tracks
  • Just verses and choruses (Film & TV producers don’t like bridge or solo sections)
  • Enough selections so not everyone uses the same track(s)
  • Good quality
  • At a price point where the average writer can afford to buy multiple tracks
  • Simple Licensing, where the singer owns the new vocal track without any fees or red tape. In other words, you write the lyrics and use our music tracks to complete your song.
  • A web based way to easily search for the perfect track
  • An easy & quick way to download the track and start writing immediately

OK, this is starting to look doable, but it’ll take lots of work. Then it hit me. What if the key of the song is too high or too low for the singer? What if it’s too fast or too slow? Hmmm, we better add these to the music bed goals:

  • Multiple keys (higher & lower version)
  • Multiple tempos (faster & slower versions)

It was surprising how much a tempo variation can change the feel of a song. A mid-tempo song can quickly turn in to a Ballad if it is slowed down, even with the original instrumentation. And it can have some real pep if it is sped up a little. This was a good thing!

The more I thought about it, I realized a key ingredient was missing for the singer songwriter to think “outside the box”. And here is the game changer: What if every chord progression (song) was offered in multiple music genres? How cool would that be? Now, the lyricist can write for a certain music style and then bring those lyrics over to another music style in a matter of minutes. Winner!! So I added these to the backing tracks goals:

Whew! “Maybe this wasn’t going to be doable after all; this is a mountain of work!” I thought to myself. Then I realized yes, it is a huge amount of work, but it is something that can be done if broken down into bite size chunks and I shift my focus to it. So I took time off submitting tracks to the broadcast industry and focused solely on the Add A Lyric material. Two years later I was able to accomplish the primary goals and roll out it to the public. At the start we had a little over a 1,000 different tracks for writers to choose from, and we’ve got more cued up so we’ll be able to roll out new ones every week.

I just hope that somehow singers & lyricists are able to find us though, since I have no idea how someone would actually look up a company that creates backing tracks for lyric writers. Or do we say we create songs for lyric writers? Or call them unfinished songs? Unfinished music tracks? Or do we call it tracks that need vocals? Or maybe even do a post that says Singers needed for our original songs! Or, I guess we could just go the simple route and call it what it is: Add A Lyric 🙂


Happy Writing!

Monty Smith

Founder & Head Writer
Add A Lyric, LLC


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