Briefly, the storyline reads like this: one-time rocker hangs up his guitar to grow a business and start a family. But, no surprise, the music inside him never really dies. After a time, he renews his commitment to songwriting and sets his site on Nashville, where great songs are prized above all else. “My dream never faded,” says Richard Schroder. “I knew I had to weave music back into my life.”
With renewed energy and fresh demos, Schroder sought guidance from experts in Music City. One colleague, songwriting coach Steve Seskin, a hitmaker who’s written for Nashville’s biggest names, considered Schroder the real deal. “His willingness to rewrite relentlessly set him apart from other singer/songwriters who settle for good rather than great.”
In this interview spotlight, we speak with Richard about motivations, challenges, the new project and more.
Full Q&A along with links and music below.
Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)
I am from Boston, MA and my music is Country (with Rock and Pop mixed in).
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to keep going?
I started playing guitar when I was 14 years old. I was at a friend’s house and he had just gotten a guitar. I knew immediately when I held the guitar in my hand that I had to learn how to play. That night he showed me how to play “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2. I was hooked and never looked back. It was one of the rare times in my life that I was 100% sure of what I wanted to do. I just fell in love with all things music like learning about new bands, going to shows, and blasting music in my car.
I played in a few rock bands with friends in high school, college and after. We put out a number of albums. I learned how to sing while playing in bands and then got into songwriting. Now I mostly focus on the songwriting aspect of music and I have been attracted to the Country genre for quite a while now.
Nashville in particular has had a huge impact on me. I’ve been spending more time there, and the people and the culture are very inclusive. I learned so much from associating myself with true professionals and with people that want to help me become a better songwriter. Nashville gave me a framework and a structure that I could write within and hone my creativity; I really needed that.
In terms of what motivates me to keep going… I guess it’s a sheer love of music. At this point in my life, I wake up often with a song in my head. Sometimes the same song may reappear often enough that I sit down to write it. With so many things going on in life I don’t have time to capture each and every one as they come about. So I need to be selective and work on the ones that I think have the most potential. Usually the songs come to me during the night and when I wake up in the morning, but I tend to sit down and work on them in the evening when the house is quiet. That said, I’m a guitar player at heart. The nice thing is that a lot of my songs start with some sort of guitar riff or idea. I can usually get the guitar feel that I want on an idea pretty quickly. The melodies come to me as well. The lyrics are the hardest part for me, and they can take dozens of rewrites and sometime years to finish.
How is this new release different than previous ones? Were you trying to accomplish anything specific?
This release is very different from my previous efforts. Before this I was a Rock musician in bands so I’ve switched genres and started to write the music on my own and work with studio musicians. Also, this is my first truly commercial effort where I placed a lot of emphasis on the craft of songwriting.
Prior to working in Nashville, I was really in the dark in terms of the creative process. So my previous efforts where not really that strong from a commercial perspective. I know there is more for me to learn and I look forward to that, but I know enough now to understand how songwriting works and how things play together.
This process has been a real learning experience. I actually recorded the album twice. I finished the album the first time and had it mastered; it was ready to be released. Right around the same time, I joined the Nashville Songwriter’s Association. I sent the songs to Nashville and got some feedback from top songwriters. It very quickly became apparent that the album was not finished. I had a lot to learn. I spent another two years learning about songwriting, spending time in Nashville, and rewriting all the songs and getting them into better shape. It was hard work, for sure, but I learned a lot in the process, and I’m a much better songwriter now.
Name one or two challenges you face as an indie musician in this oversaturated, digital music age? How has technology helped you (since we know it does help)?
The hardest part is the songwriting… to write something really great that can cut through all the noise is very difficult. At the end the of the day, I believe great songs win and if you don’t connect with an audience then it’s really the fault of the writer / musician. So the biggest challenge is writing great songs.
From there, the business side of music is just as important. For me the hardest part is being patient and resilient at the same time. It takes a lot of small victories to add up and get the music out there. It can feel overwhelming at times all the things you need to do as an indie musician. You wear a lot of hats. Trying to get your songs on the radio, written about in the press, distributed and performing live are all hard things unto themselves, much less all together.
That said, the newer distribution model with Spotify, iTunes, and Google Play is obviously a huge help to indie songwriters. Not having to worry about people being able to get to your music is a big relief.
The playing field that has taken music distributions place is social media. I’ve enjoyed learning as much as I can about Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SoundCloud and Spotify. It certainly is a big help to musicians but it’s a lot of work too. The ability to spread the word about music has never been easier but this also brings it’s own form of challenges. Now any band can put out music so there is a lot more music out there for listeners to sort through.
It comes back around to the songs. You need to write great songs to cut through to the listener and that is really hard work.
Where is the best place to connect with you online and discover more music?
Anything else before we sign off?
I just want to thank you for interviewing me and for your kind review of the record. I am so grateful for all the positive feedback I’ve received so far and for everyone who keeps listening!