David Hawkins never imagined the personal impact that helping people record songs, would have on his customers when he got the idea from a dream one night. But nowadays this is one of the most rewarding aspects of his work.
At the time, he was not finding his office job very fulfilling, and as he could not find anything similar on the Internet, he started MakeYourPoemASong.com in 2008. This was an online-based service which offered his potential clients a vast array of choices including composer, genre, a male or female vocalist, and various types of instruments to help them turn their own poems into song. However, business did not take off right away.
“The business ran at a loss for a while because I didn’t have enough orders, and I wasn’t making any money due to lack of business skills and marketing,” Hawkins remembers.
Luck finally knocked on Hawkins’ door in fall last year, when he met West Chester native Richard Wilder. Wilder had been thinking about a second career, and after hearing about what Hawkins was doing, he got really enthusiastic about the idea and involved his former neighbor, Chris Wentz. Without Hawkins’ knowledge, the two men created a song through his website and sent it to Michael Rogers, Wilder’s friend and the National Director of Promotions at Curb Records in Nashville.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” said Rogers. “What they provide is a quality demo/finished product to someone who typically couldn’t afford a studio session to try and produce their music or put their words to music. I’ve already referred people.”
Finally, in February this year, Hawkins, Wilder, and Wentz signed a partnership deal and now run Songmaker Productions out of West Chester. Their site now has more than 80 customers, with 250 songs expected to be delivered this year, each costing between $279 and $479, significantly less than the traditional route which can cost as much as $5,000 per song.
However, the emotional impact this service has had on its customers is reward in itself. Timothy Gallagher used the poems written by his son, who he lost six years ago, to create an album and is finding the end result both therapeutic and enlightening.
“When words are put to music, every word becomes important,” he said. “I didn’t regularly read his poems, but I listen to the CD almost daily.”