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A long weekend in review! 

Billy and I travelled to Sydney on Friday for an extra long weekend a couple of weeks ago.

We spent a glorious couple of days in the Blue Mountains with our friends Allan and Marian Caswell, our tiny fur friends Coco and Kev and spent much time discussing whether it would get cold enough to snow (it didn't), Billy and I bought new hats from the home of Allan Caswell’s hats - Katoomba Hattery, then Marian and I checked out the Carrington (gorgeous!!!) while Billy spied a vintage record and hi fi store (typical – he can sniff them out at about 10kms)! 

How amazing does the Hydro Majestic look?  I can’t wait to get up there again when it’s open for business – pop on a good frock and head over for a cocktail or two!  It really does look amazing - the developers are powering  along and I think the first stage will be open towards the end of this year!

While we were in the mountains, we were also fortunate enough to hear a preview of Allan's new album "Sometimes When You Lose, You Win" now available on iTunes or via Allan or the Songwriters' Fighting  Fund.

It's no secret that Allan is an extremely gifted songwriter, it's been general knowledge around the traps since before "that song' appeared many years ago.  I have all of Allan's albums, and each of them speaks to me in profoundly different ways, but I have to say that "Sometimes When You Lose, You Win" will become  one of 'those' albums, the ones I  ‘always’ listen to just because they make me feel good. 

The title track, written together with Marian, is a heartfelt 'thankyou' to those people known and unknown who continue to support them in their battle with Sony and has a bit of a dig at the corporate machine.  This song, and “Just Like Big Tobacco” are songs that will resonate with anyone who has fought the ‘big guy’ – if you won; or if you  lost – these two songs will speak to you.

Really Stupid People  and A Little Weird Around Here (both written with Lachlan Bryan)are songs that reflect on the state of live music and changes to the way we live and play.  Musicians and music lovers alike will nod along in understanding.

I love When We Were Young and Stupid too – I remember being just like that! Surprisingly for an Allan Caswell record, there is not really a love song…unless you love Coffee!  And for those that don’t like to love at all there’s I Don’t Like People Much!

Allan’s voice is better than ever, and the instrumentation is top notch – there’s not a thing I can criticise.  Just a month from conception to the listener…this is top notch song writing delivered honestly and with passion….just as it should be.

Allan and I performed an intimate house concert on Sunday afternoon, at the home of my brother and his lovely wife and it was a great way to connect with supporters (new and old) and share our music!  If you think you could gather 10+ friends together for a house concert - let me know - perhaps we can arrange it. 

Sept 13 sees Allan conducting a songwriters' workshop and performing a house concert at my place in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne at  if you're interested please click the link or email me!

Reading the fine print! 

Do you read all the fine print associated with ALL the songwriting competitions you enter?

Here is a great reason why you should....

Stevie Nicks is looking for a new shawl... a designed can submit a design...and possibly win $2,000 to help create will be used in a photo shoot....then returned to get a digital pic and some words on her website....and great exposure to your talent.

While I love the thought of Stevie wearing a shawl designed and made by me...there are literally thousands available that Stevie could pick from...already designed and made! The competition is hosted on design "community" Talent House and there are some quite concerning "conditions" around entry....none the least of which is...

"By submitting User Content to us, simultaneously with such submission you automatically grant, or warrant that the owner has expressly granted, to us a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, fully sublicensable, and transferable right and license to use, distribute, publicly display, transmit, and publish the User Content (in whole or in part) on or in connection with the Website, the promotion of the Website, and/or the promotion of our clients" and/or promotional partners and their products or services."

and this disclaimer

"DISCLAIMER: When you submit a work to Talenthouse as an entry, you grant Talenthouse a limited license to use your work. You always own the copyright in your work. Talenthouse never owns the copyright in your work. If you are selected as a winner, then in exchange for a prize, you may be required 
to license or assign your work to the host providing the prize. If you do not want  to license or assign your work in exchange for a prize, an alternate winner will be selected and you will retain copyright in your work."

Right, if you don't want to give your work away - you won't win....sorry....but....

Which in my eyes seem to contradict.....but I'm no lawyer.  Seems you gave your work away when you entered....

Umm......if I designed a shawl that Stevie wore I sure as heck would want to be able to sell the design!!!! Not let someone else profit from it!

Hey, Stevie! It's my birthday soon, so I’m inviting you and some other bands to submit recordings of original songs for me. They’ve got to be original, not the same old stuff. If you’re selected, you’ll send me a quality studio recording of your song, you’ll get $2,000 for travel to come and play. But I keep the rights to your original song and any and all recordings. It’ll be great exposure right....oh and wear the shawl!!! Seriously I don't think Stevie's management has thought this through...nor have they researched the Talent House vehicle very well.....

PS songwriters should be very wary....some song competition fine print is very similar....ALWAYS read the fine print of both the competition AND the competition hosting platform(there are many).


Songwriters MUST get angry about this! 

This is a really long post and I apologise - but I think it's important enough to ask you to indulge me to read to the end!

Allan Caswell, is a successful and respected Australian songwriter who, for more than a decade has fought for the protection of one of his most famous compositions.You can read more about the case, here.

His song “On the Inside” (the theme for the television “Prisoner”) reached No.1 in Australia and New Zealand, No.3 in England and made the Country Charts in the USA (his own version was a top 20 country hit in Europe in 2004).

For more than a decade Allan has fought to protect the rights to his work "On The Inside" while his publisher SonyATV have sat on their hands and done nothing.  

Recently in the New South Wales Supreme Court, Sony convinced the judge presiding over the case (more about him later) that it was ok to acquire catalogues of songs from smaller publishers and then not adhere to the terms of the contracts with the writers of those songs. Sony also offered up to that court their belief that it was at "their discretion"  whether to take action, or as in this case....not.

Sony, when first notified of a possible infringement some ten years ago, hired a respected and knowledgeable musicologist (one they had used previously) that agreed that the two songs were so similar it was unlikely it was coincidental; then when they realised they were the publishers of both songs, shopped around till they found a musicologist that provided a response that better suited their needs.  They then attacked the integrity of the first musicologist in court?

The judge in the Supreme Court, expressed as to what a musicologist did (obviously didn't keep up with recent cases, Larrikin Vs Men at Work for example read up at Deakin University!) and expressed disappointment that he wouldn't get to speak with American Country Superstar Teddy Gentry (ONE of the FOUR writers of the infringing song) as he was looking forward to meeting him!  The judge also agreed with Gentry that as he lives in the mountains with limited access to TV, it is unlikely he would have been exposed to Allan's song, even though his band Alabama were no 1 on the chart at the same time Allan's song (sung by Patti Paige) was ALSO on the same chart!  Even though Gentry is only one of four writers credited with writing the offending song "Christmas in Dixie , any of them could have heard the tune and contributed it.

Why is this case important?
Most songwriters sign publishing contracts for two reasons:

1. to make the most of income opportunities
2. to protect their work

If this decision is allowed to stand without appeal, it means that realistically a publishing contract will offer no benefit to a songwriter at all; it will be a gift of a significant percentage of royalties and licensing earned to the publishing company with no protection or promise of income to the writer (and might I say little or no effort on their part).

It also means that companies like Sony can swallow up smaller publishing companies at will, making money from the contracts entered into in good faith, but not not having to honour any of the obligations contained therein,

This is not acceptable.

As songwriters we must understand what we are signing when we enter into these arrangements.  We must understand what words like "discretion" mean in relation to contracts.  We must no longer blindly accept what is placed in front of us as "that's just how it is".

How you can help

$10, 000 is required to cover the cost of the appeal. The case has already cost thousands of dollars but the appeal must go ahead!

You can support the appeal by:
  • buying the Christmas In Dixie/ On The Inside Medley on iTunes
  • buying an album (direct from Allan, and I have a few available if you're in Melbourne - email me!)
  • sharing the video below
  • pre ordering the brand new album “Sometimes When You Lose You Win”, which will be released in the next few weeks (email me).
  • contribute $25 or more and receive an Allan Caswell album or a pre order of the new album (email me for trust account details)
  • join The Songwriters' Fighting Fund on Facebook to keep up with all the news.
All the money contributed will be paid directly into the trust account to enable lawyers to run the appeal.

More information

A few  links where you can read all about it!

Storytellers 2015 

Planning for Storytellers 2015 is under-way and we have 50+ people expressed their interest so far - half of which I've never heard before except  for some sneaky you-tubing!  There's still time if you're even remotely interested and you might becoming to Tamworth in January 2015 - then you MUST email me on to register your interest!  Go it now!!!

Coming soon....Storytellers Radio 

“Storytellers Radio” is a show featuring songwriters talking about song-writing! It will not focus on one genre, however, Nia will seek out those writers who are lyrically strong, who have proven themselves as songwriters and are considered the best among their peers!  Each show will feature one Australian Songwriter talking about his or her songs, and also those songs and songwriters that have influenced them in their development.

Educational for the songwriters and captivating for the listeners, the show will allow the featured songwriter and opportunity to share knowledge and understanding of their own work, while drawing on the works of those who have inspired them!


Tamworth Country Music Festival 2014 

Another Tamworth Country Music Festival over for the year. After a VERY successful Storytellers, we booked the venue for the entire ten days of festival for 2015! so watch out - some great new events and amazing talent coming your way. The ONLY way to make sure you get the all the info about 2015 events is by joining the FB page and keeping a close eye out! email and I'll add you to the mailing list for 2015. All previous artists will be required to re-notify me of their interest.

A huge thank you to all the artists who made our 'little' events at the Ibis Styles Tamworth such a great success...I appreciate each and every one of you so much! We look forward to a bigger, better 2015 Tamworth Country Music Festival!!!

To the artists, we thank you for being who you are, for being flexible when we asked that of you, for being prepared and sharing such amazing talents with the audiences. Yes, it takes a lot of work to wrangle over 50 performers, but it was made so much easier by YOU!

Lynda Barnes, Sandy Rasmussen, Angus Gill, Cathy Dobson, Gretta Ziller, Sue Dyson, Connie Kis Andersen, John Scholten, John Smith, Rod Dowsett, Susan Lily, Brook Chivell/Anthony Emery, Nia Robertson, Nathaniel O'Brien, Sami, Cassie Hilbers, Bridget Galvin, Kaitlyn Thomas, Neilly Rich, Allan Caswell, Sandra Humphries, Bec Hance, Pete Smith, Lou Bradley, Henry Czerwonka, Jasper Hollis, Clancy Drive, Bowen & Clare, Michele Walker, Matt Henry, Melissa Robertson, Andrew Swift, Arty Red Socks, Guy Kachel, Gayle O'Neill, Peter Langston - MC, Katrina Burns, Aly Cook, Prairie Oysters Acoustic, Sonyta Trahar, Joshua Rennie-Heynes, Guy Kachel, Bernie Carsen, Wendy Wood, Walker, Josh Lovegrove, Chelsea Morgan, Amistat, Kiara Rodriguez, Mel McGillivray, Aaron Daniels Band, Forever Road, Pete Denahy, Ryan Sampson, Jessica-Jade, Allison Forbes.

A massive thanks and lots of love to @William McMartin and Beyond Therapy Productions for your patience and skill with the sound, the recordings and all things technical.

Also a huge thankyou to our sponsors Cranbourne Music and Roots of Music for your help in making it all possible!

To the City of Casey many thanks for your assistance with the Casey Rocks Tamworth Showcases - a HUGE success for both the artists, and Casey Arts Hour - Casey Radio 97.7FM! Thanks Bob, Wayne, Louise, Bryce for all your help too!

Thanks to the staff of the Ibis Styles Tamworth Towers too, especially, Mel, Nigel and Loretta for all your assistance....and the pillow!

So now the planning for 2015 begins!!!

October *ouch* 

Yes it's October so "pinch and a punch" or "white rabbit" whatever you prefer.  Another month of 2013 done and dusted!  You might be thinking that January is way off , but Tamworth Country Music Festival trying to sneak up on us, is like trying to sneak a sunrise past a rooster!  Can't be done!  We all know it's coming and we're all busy busting our tooshies to get things organised!

It's all systems go here in Nia-land, wrangling singer-songwriters/storytellers into an enormous Storytellers event.  FIFTY fabulous songwriters....can you believe it?  I am so excited to be able to  share the incredible talents of these wonderful creators with you!  This year, I've planned a special event for the youngsters - 18 and under and we have a whole show of young songwriters who will thrill you with their talents...the youngest so far is 12 and this little songwriter will amaze you too!

I've also been so very fortunate in obtaining financial assistance from two very wonderful sponsors in Roots of Music Aus and Cranbourne Music.  So please support them and appreciate them for their acknowledgement of original song writing and songwriters and acoustic music.  Huge thankyous from me as without you - we could never grow as we have this year!!!

So, keep an eye out for festival events, they're sprouting up all over the place, but remember to book some Storytellers shows into your schedule between  20-24 January 2014, IBIS Styles Tamworth Towers. 80-90 Ebsworth Street, Tamworth!