Hookist Golden Rules & FAQs
WHAT IS HOOKIST?
Hookist is a collaborative songwriting platform & interactive creative experience where music’s most respected artists write original songs with their fans, line by line, over the course of several weeks, often for charity. It is part masterclass in songwriting & part music social network where fans, music lovers and aspiring artists get unprecedented insight and access into the creative process of the best songwriters of our times.
Hookist is a fun, supportive and interactive community where you can sharpen your writing skills while learning from truly master songwriters, get inspired by other Hookists and meet collaborators. In the words of mwriley2, Hookist is a “positive and nurturing online creative outlet” and Rosiebell calls it “my daily writing workout.”
Hookist is open to all levels of experience and we encourage you to vote, comment and spread the love with some thoughtful feedback on the lyrics other folks are submitting! Identifying what you think is really good in a lyric makes you better and makes somebody else feel good! Plus, it’s a great way to network, grow your own fanbase in an organic way and make friends!
Hookist is a startup and a labor of love founded by Meredith Collins & Terry Derkach. We are releasing new features all the time, so let us know if there is something awesome you think we should build!
Big thanks to Marty Dodson & Clay Mills from Songtown.com (an awesome resource for songwriters, which you should definitely check out!) for helping us flesh out important sections in this document.
Will I get discovered?
Social media platforms are generally not places that professionals go to “discover” talent. Yes, we’ve all heard the stories about people who were “discovered” on YouTube, but it is EXTREMELY rare and has a lot to do with the fact that they also had millions of followers BEFORE the big discovery ;~)).
The best way to get recognized by the industry and build a career is to do great work, engage with folks in a meaningful way & have a great attitude in every situation. Something good could come from submitting great lines at Hookist – and we have seen it happen – but that’s not the goal. Learning from the best in the business and sharpening your owns skills, while having fun and getting inspired by others, are the goals!
Conversely, and we hate to even bring it up because Hookist is such a good energy place, but having a bad attitude here will guarantee that no one wants to work with you again. Further, we reserve the right to vote people off the island.
RIGHTS & COLLABORATION
Do Hookists whose lyrics are chosen to be a part of the song share in the publishing?
Yes! You do share in the publishing if your lyric is chosen, but it is not a standard co-write because, as publishers and labels have emphatically told us, the Hookist experience is not at all standard and creates major challenges for them. We have shaken things up in the music biz, creating new opportunities for fans and artists, but if we ever want the songs to see the light of day and if we want to write with a certain caliber of artists, then we need to live within the rules publishers and labels have set.
For those reasons, we created Hookist Publishing, a daunting and potentially crippling task for a startup, bc we are committed to treating everyone’s work with respect. And getting everyone paid if the song makes money is part of that!
The bottom line is that publishers and labels will simply not allow their artists/songwriters to enter into legal agreements (which a copyright is) with the general public, and they definitely don’t want a whole lot of people on a copyright because it makes doing anything with the song so much more difficult, so Hookist Publishing will pay you directly if your lyric is chosen!
We explain everything in further detail and as transparently as possible in both English and the required, but very un-lyrical “Legalese” in our Terms and Conditions at the bottom of every page at Hookist, which everyone is required to agree to upon sign up — and which we practically beg people to read bc we want to be totally up front and make sure people understand and feel comfortable BEFORE they get involved.
Will my name appear on the song if it is chosen by the featured artist?
It depends where you mean. Your name WILL appear in many places in any reference to the song where its credits are listed on the Hookist platform and Hookist social media and press. And we push very hard to make sure that all chosen contributors names appear in the Liner Notes.
Your names will not appear on the copyright, but you WILL get paid when the song makes money! We break it all down for you in English and in “Legalese” in our Terms and Conditions, which are listed on every page at Hookist bc we want to be totally upfront and transparent. The bottom line is that publishers and labels simply will NOT allow their artists/songwriters to enter into legal agreements (which copyrights are) with the general public.
That’s why we created Hookist Publishing so that everyone can participate in a rev share and get paid! Unfortunately, having so many names on a copyright, and thus having a say in what is done with the song, just becomes too difficult and too cumbersome for publishers to do anything with, so if we had any other agreement, publishers would not allow their artists to participate. Take a look at our Terms & Conditions for a more detailed explanation.
The goal at Hookist is to write unique, impactful, thoughtfully crafted lyrics that speak YOUR personal truth.
What are the most important rules I need to know?
The only hard and fast rule at Hookist is that… there are no rules. Well, you do need to be respectful to other Hookists and our featured artists, but other than that, songwriting is a creative process and we want you to feel free to be…creative!
We also tell our featured artists the same thing. They are leading us on a creative adventure, and everything they do is in service of THE SONG. We let them know, in no uncertain terms, and we want YOU to know – that they are welcome to change their minds and change course at any time during a collaboration. Nothing is set in stone and anything goes. The guidelines & direction offered are just guidelines, so the artist COULD choose something that is completely outside the guidelines if s/he thinks it is the best line for the song. Songwriting is not an exact science, so please be prepared to be flexible and enjoy the ride!
All interpretations of the featured artist’s direction are welcome, and folks who submit outside the guidelines are welcome to do that, as well. They are not “fudging” anything or creating an uneven playing field. They are speaking their personal truths, while also taking a risk that their lyrics will not be anywhere close to what the featured artist wants.
Their choice doesn’t make your lyric any less likely to be chosen. In fact, there is a strong argument to be made that it makes it MORE likely to be chosen bc there are fewer lyrics meeting the stated goals.
How long should my lyrics be? Can I write the whole song?
Hookist is a COLLABORATION. We generally write one line or a couplet at a time, building on what has come before. It’s a bit like the telephone game, if you ever played that growing up, with a celebrated artist leading us. We don’t limit how much you can submit, but we can tell you that it’s a 140 character world and that longer lines get far fewer votes & comments, and DON’T get chosen 98% of the time. That said, every featured artist is different and you may just write the humdinger that gets chosen! It’s up to you!
What is a COUPLET?
The standard definition is two lines of verse, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme, that form a unit. Couplets CAN but do not have to rhyme. An AABB rhyme scheme is when the first 2 lines rhyme with each other and the 2nd 2 lines rhyme with each other. ABAB means the 1st and 3rd rhyme with eachother and the 2nd and 4th rhyme with each other. Choosing ABAB makes things more complicated bc you either have to submit 4 lines or leave a dangler, but it’s your choice!
That said, longer lines get far fewer votes and comments and DON’T get chosen 98% of the time at Hookist, but every featured artist is different — and you may just write the humdinger that gets chosen!
We want you to feel free to write from your heart and to be bold and experiment.
Can I collaborate with other Hookists? Yes & No
As it states in our Terms & Conditions (which every user is required to agree to upon sign up – did we mention that? ;~), and to avoid any confusion as to who wrote what, only submit lyrics that you personally wrote. If you are inspired by someone else’s lyric and your intention is for your lyric to come before or after another Hookist’s line, you can paste the lyric and the name of the writer in the comments under your lyric – tho the featured artist may or may not use it that way. It’s also good form to thank the Hookist whose lyric inspired you.
Don’t invite yourself in as a co-writer
You wouldn’t walk into a writing room and just start throwing out lyrics you would like to add to a stranger’s song. Don’t do that here. If you have an idea for someone else’s lyric, ask them in the comments under their lyric if they’re interested in hearing it, but don’t assume they want your help. Further and more importantly, don’t offer any line suggestions unless you are donating them.
If the person is interested in hearing your idea, then you can submit it in the comments UNDERNEATH their lyric. Do not submit their line with your changes under your name. That is a violation of our Terms & Conditions and grounds for being banned from Hookist.
I wrote the same line as someone else by mistake!
As a general rule, if two people submit identical lines and the line is chosen by the featured artist to be included in the song, the person who submitted it first will get the win. That said, in over 20 songs, we have never had that happen. If you find you have written something extremely similar to someone else’s line, best practice is to mention it in the comments under your line, and under theirs, as well, so they know it was unintentional.
**Please note – the same rule does NOT apply to common phrases, general ideas or concepts, so, please, read on…
Who “owns” common phrases, ideas and concepts?
No one. People can’t own common phrases, ideas or concepts. And the fact that you are the first person to post an idea or a common phrase in a Hookist collaboration doesn’t mean you can lay claim to every possible use of it. What is important – and what you can “own” – is what you do with it to make it special and make it your own.
Common phrases are common because they have been said many times before. And there is nothing wrong with using them. They are common because they sum up very common human feelings or experiences, which, of course, is very useful in a song. But none of us should really be surprised when others use them as well. Before deciding that someone is stealing your lyrics, google the phrase and see if it comes up. Then you know just how original it is. :))
The goal at Hookist is to write unique, impactful, thoughtfully crafted lyrics that speak YOUR personal truth. If you use a common phrase, be sure to make it your own in some memorable way and you will be golden!
Regarding general ideas and concepts, the same applies. The magic of your lyric is in the way you express yourself and the specific words you use, not in the general concept. If you write a lyric about the sky being baby blue today and someone else writes a lyric about the beautiful blue sky after a storm, they will not be considered the same because the words used, the order & the meaning are NOT the same. And, let’s face it, the idea of the sky being blue is not exactly original.
It’s the special sauce that YOU put into your lyrics that will make them resonate for people and the featured artist.
If the featured artist gives me feedback on my lyric, and I make revisions based on that feedback in the comments section under my lyric, will the featured artist go back and look at those revised lyrics, or do I have to resubmit it as a new lyric?
There is definitely a game element to Hookist and the strategy you employ is up to you. You might be in the great position of having lots of votes and comments and your lyric is at the top of the Most Popular list. If the featured artist reviews lyrics from that list, s/he might be interested to see what people are saying and if you made a revision. But if s/he reviews lyrics from the Most Recent list, s/he might not see your revision in the comments.
There are often thousands of lyrics being submitted, and while most featured artists try to review and even comment on as many as possible, neither is something we promise. If we did, as you can imagine, we would have to charge a whole lot more than $0.49! So does the featured artist go back and look at every lyric a second or even a third time to see if you made revisions? We definitely can’t promise that either.
The goal at Hookist is to submit thoughtfully crafted lyrics that fit perfectly with the melody and speak your personal truth. If the featured artist helps you make it better, then you get to decide if it’s worth it to you to resubmit or if you think you are in a strong enough position on The Charts and the lists that your revised lyric will get seen in the comments.
If you want to get higher up on The Charts, you can share your lyric on social media (by clicking the blue arrow next to your lyric) and invite your friends to vote for you! Either way, you get the benefit of direct feedback from an incredible songwriter which you can use going forward in all your writing!
VOTING & COMMENTING
When you comment on someone’s work, think about the way you say it. Would you like it if you received that comment? Be positive and encouraging. Try to suggest ways that people can make their lyrics better, instead of telling them all the ways they did something wrong.
Giving feedback is awesome and helps everyone grow, but we also want to be careful not to make folks feel judged or inhibit their creativity – especially since there are peeps with all levels of experience.
Respect each other, respect the craft, and never submit lyrics you didn’t write.
How do I get more votes & comments from the community?
Hookist is a collaborative & interactive creative community and music social network. Just like on FB and Instagram, the more you interact with others, the more others will interact with you!
Hookist is all about good energy & support. If you look at the comments people are making, they are very thoughtful and insightful, and the whole community is very supportive of one other. People value thoughtful feedback from others and they will appreciate yours, as you clearly appreciate theirs if you are looking for more ;~)).
And, of course, you can invite your friends to vote for you by sharing your lyrics on social media. That option pops up as soon as you click ‘submit’ or, in Lyric Submissions, click the blue arrow next to your lyric.
I only care if the featured artist comments or votes for me.
Then you’re missing a big opportunity! While the people voting are likely not top songwriters (tho they may be, as we sure have written with a lot of legends at this point), they ARE the people who BUY records (or stream them). And if your lines truly resonate with the masses, which is usually the goal for most songwriters ;~), they will get voted to the top. So Hookist is a killer opportunity to learn how people – yes, regular people who could easily become your fans, right here and right now, feel about your work. Invaluable feedback.
I voted for myself by mistake!
Why is that a mistake? If you don’t believe in you, why should anyone else! You wrote a great line that you’re proud of, right? Then celebrate with a vote for yourself! …But if you really want to remove it, then just click the star or lightning bolt again, and your vote will magically disappear!
How Hookist Works
Watch the Hookist How To Video or follow these steps:
- Watch the featured artist’s Inspiration Video on their song collaboration page to learn the theme for the song.
- Watch the featured artist’s Winner Video (next to the Inspiration Video – swipe if on a phone) to learn how much of the song has been established and the artist’s specific direction for the next line! Often the artist will SING the Song-In-Progress so it’s a fun video to watch!
- Scroll down to the Song In Progress on the same page & SUBMIT what you think will make the BEST next line!
- Use the blue arrow to share your lyric on social media and ask your friends to vote for you!
- Then vote, comment and get inspired by the lyrics other folks have submitted!
**Sign up for email notifications when a new winner is chosen or when your lyrics get some action on your profile page! And check out the stats and lyrics submissions of other Hookists on their profile pages!
MY PROFILE PAGE
I edited my profile page, but all I can see is a big blue button!
If you are logged in and on YOUR profile page, you will be offered the option to edit. When others visit your profile page, they will NOT be given the option to edit bc it is NOT their page. If you click the big blue edit button and then add info (or not), and click the save button at the bottom of that section, you will be shown what the public sees. You can also log out of Hookist to see what the public sees.
How do I upload/delete a photo?
- Make sure you are logged in & go to your profile page
- Click the big blue button under your name
- To upload a photo, click the Upload A Photo button and then the Select Files button in the center of the page. Then click Add Photo at the bottom right.
- To delete a photo, click the trash can in the bottom right of the photo. If you want to delete your profile photo, upload another photo and click the box in the upper right corner to make it your profile photo. Then go back to the photo you want to delete and the trash can will appear. Click it to delete.
- Regarding photos that are sideways, the photo editor on your phone or computer should be able to fix that – just look for the rotate option.
How do I change my profile photo?
The first photo you upload becomes your profile photo by default. Click the check mark in top right corner of ANOTHER photo to make it your profile photo.
SONG COLLABORATION PAGE
I submitted a lyric, but I can’t find it!
The default view of Lyric Submissions is by Most Popular, so if you just submitted, you probably have few or no votes. Click on Most Recent at the top of the Lyric Submission section and you will see your lyric, along with all the other lyrics that have been submitted for that song collaboration in reverse chronological order.
You are given the option to share your lyric on social media and invite friends to vote for you immediately after you click SUBMIT, and by clicking the blue arrow next to your lyric anytime. Once folks have voted for your lyric, it will also show up on the Most Popular list.
Why don’t you have an edit feature? Can I delete my lyric?
We’re actually creating a feature where you can review your lyric before you submit, as well as a delete feature.
We don’t have an edit feature bc, unfortunately, we found that people game the system and write entirely new lyrics when their original submissions receive little attention. Sad, but true. You can even see it in the comments now – and it’s NOT cool. Some people list many different versions of their lyrics to cover every possible angle that might resonate with the artist, rather than writing one good one that speaks THEIR personal truth.
Twitter doesn’t have an edit feature either so we feel like we’re in good company. ;~).
That said, you can mention a tweak you’d like to make to a lyric in the comments underneath it. If you want to delete something entirely, send a screenshot or photo of the lyric to email@example.com and we’ll delete it for you.
What are credits?
In order to submit lyrics, you must use credits, and you get 3 free credits just for signing up! We want your best work. Credits cost just 49 cents, so they definitely won’t break the bank, but we hope it’s just enough to encourage you to dig deep and actually CRAFT a lyric. Please don’t submit just any ole thang. We think you’ll agree that music (and life) is far more meaningful when you put a little effort into it!
Buy as many credits as you like, but remember, ALL SALES OF CREDITS ARE FINAL. Credits have no actual cash value and your purchase price cannot be refunded later. Credits can, however, be used to purchase any items or services Hookist offers or will eventually offer.
Why do you charge at all? Everything on the internet is supposed to be free!
“Free” on the internet usually means your info is being sold, which we do NOT do. “Free” on the internet also usually attracts trolls, who are not welcome at a good energy place like Hookist!
Paying a nominal fee like $0.49 not only keeps the majority of trolls out, but it also keeps the quality of submissions high, so we see people really putting their hearts into what they submit and they don’t write the dreck you might see on other social media. It also allows us to pay our featured artists a small stipend as a Thank You gesture and pay the electricity bills. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of $0.49 transactions to add up to much, and every penny we’ve ever made has gone back into making the experience ever cooler!
I’m trying to purchase lyrics, but I’m getting an error message!
Nine times out of ten, when a transaction doesn’t go thru, it is bc the info entered doesn’t match the info on file at your credit card company. Neither Hookist nor Braintree (which is a PayPal company and our transaction processor) decides which transactions go thru and which don’t. Your info is sent to your credit card company and your credit card company decides if the transaction will go thru, and then sends a yay or nay back to us. So, please, double check the info you entered or call your bank to confirm the info they have on file
*If you make 4 or more rejected transactions in an hour, you will need to wait another hour to try again.
Why isn’t the featured artist choosing my lyrics? They are so good! And I don’t like the lyrics s/he is choosing!
Sometimes your words will resonate with the featured artist and sometimes they won’t. It’s really that simple. And “winning” really shouldn’t be the goal.
Think of Hookist as your personal writing gym (thx to Hookist Extraordinaire, Rosie Bell, for coining that phrase). Hookist is a killer opportunity to keep your instrument sharp and open your mind to new perspectives. Hookist not only allows you to write songs you love, but also songs you might never think of writing, and the exercise makes you so much better.
When someone else wins, it doesn’t mean you lose. You are growing as an artist with every lyric you write!
And, remember, we are looking for supportive, positive energy here. Everyone is invited to submit lyrics and you can submit one or you can submit 1000. There is a reason it only costs $0.49 and there is a reason it’s NOT free. We do, indeed, want you to craft your best stuff, not only in the hopes of getting your lyric into the song and inspiring others, but also, and more importantly, so that you can feel proud of it.
Whether your lyric is chosen or not, your art should matter the most to YOU. If the featured artist chooses it, all the better, but please, write your lyrics for YOU.
I fear the community’s votes will influence the featured artist’s decisions! Professional songwriters of the caliber that lead collaborations at Hookist aren’t swayed by votes from the general public. They have big reputations to protect and their goal is to write songs they will be proud to put their names on, so they go with their gut, and nobody else’s opinion matters.
That said, featured artists can view lyrics in the order of Most Popular OR Most Recent, so they can see lyrics with lots of votes and lyrics with none. So don’t worry!
Other Hookists submitted earlier than me so they had the chance to get more votes!
As we mentioned above, the featured artists don’t choose winning lyrics based on the opinion of the general public. They are celebrated and very accomplished artists and they choose lyrics that speak to their hearts.
Nevertheless, how you participate is up to you. If you think you should submit early, then please do – and invite your friends to vote for you! On the other hand, some folks think they should submit at the last minute, and you are welcome to do that as well!
The bigger point is to write really good lyrics that speak YOUR personal truth. Those are the lyrics most likely to resonate with the community (and thus get lots of votes) and the featured artist.
The featured artist commented & voted on some Hookist’s lyrics, but not mine!
The featured artist definitely won’t comment on every lyric. There are just too many lyrics for her/him to comment on every single one — and if that were something we could promise, the price would have to be a whole lot steeper than $0.49 bc we would need to pay them for an awful lot more of their time. That said, for every comment the featured artist makes, their photo will show up next to the lyric’s comment bubble, so everyone can benefit from the insight the artist is offering!
The artist does have the ability to review lyrics by Most Popular and Most Recent, so s/he can see all the lyrics that have been submitted, whether they have votes or not.
We hope you will have tons of fun, be endlessly inspired and write many lyrical miracles at Hookist! And don’t forget to spread the love and give lots of feedback! Thanks so much for sharing your creativity with us!
Meredith & Terry