Stand Tall, United – a 9.11 Tribute Song

New Lyric Video of a 2003 Album Track

Now that I’ve gotten adept at creating lyric videos, I felt today, 9.11.2022, was the right time to create and publish a lyric video for “Stand Tall, United,” a 9.11 remembrance song from my 2003 album “American Road.”

Here’s the video, which includes images of 9.11 memorials at Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange, NJ and Echo Lake Park in Mountainside, NJ.

Stand Tall, United (for 9.11) Lyric Video by Jason Didner

Here’s a TikTok video of me performing a verse and chorus of the song.

@jasondidner A tribute song to those whose lives were lost or changed by the terrorist attacks of 09.11.2001. I wrote this a week following that tragic day when I returned to New York City for work. #911rememberance #911song ♬ original sound – Jason Didner Music

Additionally, here’s a TikTok of me telling the story behind the song.

@jasondidner The story behind the 9.11 tribute song “Stand Tall, United” which was originally on my “American Road” album from 2003. I had written the song soon after the terrorist attack. #storybehindthesong #911songs #911tribute ♬ Stand Tall United (for 9/11) – Jason Didner

The song is on my 2003 album “American Road” which is on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music and all other streaming services.

Stand Tall, United (for 9.11) by Jason Didner - lyric video thumbnail
Stand Tall, United (for 9.11) – lyric video thumbnail
Stand Tall, United
(c) 2001, Lyrics and Music by Jason Didner
All Rights Reserved

Lyrics: 

In the New York rain, I walk, uncovered
If my city's crying, I want to feel her tears 
Mingle with mine
For the freedom that I took for granted
For the loss of life
We'll never be the same again

It's gonna take time for sorrow
It's gonna take pain to feel
It's gonna take patience to come back
It's gonna take strength to heal

We gotta stand tall, united
We gotta stand tall, united
For Adonai and for Allah
For Jesus and for Brahma
We've gotta stand tall, united

When the human call is to run from danger
Just a few, the brave
Here the call to run the other way
They were the guardians of our loved ones
Now the roles are changing
Heroes leave their loved ones to us

We've gotta see them through the sorrow
It's gonna take pain to feel
It's gonna take patience to come back
It's gonna take strength to heal

We gotta stand tall, united
We gotta stand tall, united
For Adonai and for Allah
For Jesus and for Brahma
We've gotta stand tall, united

In the nation's storm, I walk, uncovered
If America's crying, I want to feel her tears
Mingle with mine

How to Make TikTok Duets of Musical Performances (2)

Part 2 – Responding to other’s Videos as a Duet (Guest)

Continued from Part 1 – Creating a Video for Duets as Host

In my brief experience with TikTok, responding to videos created by others presents a different procedure from creating the original video. First, you’ll find videos you’d like to duet with. Then you’ll tell TikTok to start creating your duet version. From here, you turn on the mic, capture the video, label it and finally post it.

Finding Videos to Duet With

A creator doesn’t have to label a video “duet this”; they simply have to allow duets for the video in the app. And you can duet with anything under that condition – the original video does not have to contain music. But, a video deliberately labeled “duet this” is probably better set up for a duet – with parts where the creator left space for a guest to jump in and maybe even provided text-based direction to follow.

I’ve begun my search for host videos intended for duets by searching on the phrase “duet this” or the hashtag #duetthis. I found those first results a bit random (and a little thrilling when I found a compatible potential duet). I got more precise results looking for a song title or artist from my repertoire and the phrase “duet this.”

Searching for “wonderwall duet this” brought me this result by singer/guitarist Henry Honkonen.

@henryhonkonen C’mon, it’s Wonderwall, you HAVE to duet #foryou #singing #duet #viral #wonderwall ♬ original sound – Henry Honkonen

I like to use the Favorite button when I find a good potential duet video and want to make my part of the duet later. It’s also possible to categorize your favorites, so a “potential duets” category is useful.

Preparing the Duet

Before starting the duet, watch the video a few times. Get a feel for whether there are directions and what you’d like to do creatively with your part. Rehearse it a time or two.

Then, tap the Share button and then tap Duet.

To start a duet in TikTok, click the Share button and select Duet.

Note: If the Duet button is not present, the creator has not allowed duets for the current video.

Tips for Duet Capture Quality

Since you and the original duet artist will appear side-by-side, try to frame yourself proportionally to your host.

Also, it is vital that you use headphones. If the original sound plays through the phone’s speaker, the sound will bleed heavily into the phone’s microphone, creating an unwanted echo and a muddy background track. I prefer to use headphones without their own mic, as I tend to overload a headset mic with my loud voice. So, I use studio headphones for this.

Since my one Lighting port (iPhone 11) is taken up with my headset (with a Lightning adapter) I use the iPhone’s built-in mic for my part of an existing duet. I’m considering a Lightning splitter adapter, but would rather not end up with a convoluted network of multiple adapters.

Recording Your Part of the Duet

Don’t forget the Mic button! 🎤🤣

Once you’ve started the duet, you’ll need to turn your mic on in the app. On my first several duets I went straight to the record button and came up with silence on my end to show for it! Once you’ve turned the mic on, you can press Record and perform your part of the duet.

Tap the Mic button before you record. When finished recording, tap Volume and lower the Original sound (your mic level).

As soon as you’re done recording, proceed immediately to the Volume button! I’ve always found my recorded part to excessively loud!

Now, here’s where things can get a little confusing.

TikTok calls the part you just added the Original Sound and the host’s original part the Added Sound. There is a consistent reason for this. When you capture videos, what comes in through your mic is always considered the original sound. Any other tracks mixed with that are considered the added sound.

Anyway, you’ll need to turn the Original Sound down to a very low setting so you can actually hear both the host’s part and your part of the duet. This is where you get to do some sound mixing. Make sure both parts are recognizable.

Once you’re satisfied with the levels, create a large text label with the title of the track and, if you like, the word Duet. Remember, you’ll want this to appear on the thumbnail image so people who find the video will know what it is and want to watch.

Here’s the duet I created with Henry.

@jasondidner #duet with @Henry Honkonen #foryou Thanks Henry for creating this cool #DuetThis version of #Wonderwall by #Oasis ♬ original sound – Henry Honkonen

A Note about Camera Mirror-Image

By default, TIkTok captures your mirror image. Never before have I seen so many lefty guitarists since the advent of video capture from smartphones! If your T-shirt or banner have backwards writing because of this, you’ll need to invert the video image to project professionalism.

For me, this is only an issue when I’m the guest in a duet, because when I originate the video, I capture through my phone’s built-in camera app. When guesting, I must use the Inverted effect, which is a bit off the beaten path.

Note: When you find the Inverted effect, you can add it to Favorites to eliminate having to type to search for it in the future.

Before recording, tap Effects, search for Inverted and select it. Then tap the screen to counter TikTok’s mirror-image default.

Before capturing, tap the Effects button (to the left of the record button). Search for Inverted. Select the Inverted effect.

Then, tap your half of the screen, so your image is no longer mirrored. Instead, you will see what the camera actually sees. If you play guitar righty, you’ll look like a righty.

Important: The Inverted effect is only applied after you select the effect and then tap your image on the screen, which toggles the effect on/off.

Let me know how your duets are coming out!

Use the comments below to tell me about your progress with TikTok duets! You can also leave your handle and I’ll check out your videos. Have fun!

How to Make TikTok Duets of Musical Performances

Part 1 – Hosting a Duet

After listening to podcasts by Michael Brandvold and Ari Herstand, I became convinced that I was under-using TikTok. I promptly got to work to correct for that.

Singer-songwriter Jason Didner creates TikTok duets to connect with fellow musicians and fans.

In the opinions of these two experts in today’s Internet-driven music business, TikTok offers by far the most effective way for a musician to connect with a wider online audience. Its algorithm can spread a song far and wide. An artist stands to gain a following that’s difficult or expensive to come by any other way on the Internet.

I do not consider this a guarantee for a musician in my classic rock singer/songwriter niche. I do, however, have a keen interest to see if it raises awareness of what I’ve put so much heart into creating. Fellow musicians and potential fans can have meaningful fun really interacting with my music. This can help me fulfill the primary purposes of making music: to touch emotions and build community. This could also draw greater turnout to my streaming concerts and more interest in my mailing list and new releases.

Duet This!

Perhaps the most interactive power of TikTok lies in the duet feature. This powerful capability lets a musician (or any creator) invite other users to add their own performance to the first creator’s video in a split-screen view.

For a musician this can mean taking turns on verses, singing in harmony, adding a featured rap section, adding instruments to each other’s creations or even taking turns coming up with lyrics in open verses. It’s completely up to your imagination.

I’ve discovered particular challenges and learning on both the hosting and guesting side of a duet; I’ll break it down for you here.

Creating the Video

When you create a song to duet, you’ll need to consider whether you want to take turns on parts of the song, harmonize together, or both. Or you may choose to leave all that up to the guest, letting them surprise you.

If you have an arrangement in mind, you can add text boxes to provide lyrics and directions. I’ve found the most helpful text labels came in color codes, explaining when the host sings, when the guest sings and when both join in together.

In this illustration, blue indicates my vocal lines, the red is for my guest and the green is when we sing together in harmony.

You can arrange for any text box to enter and exit at any moment on the timeline, which makes lyric annotation work. With this in mind, make sure to create a song title text box. Position it toward the center of your video. On the timeline, arrange it to appear at the beginning. Use two fingers (pinch and zoom) to enlarge the title. The title will then appear in the thumbnail that shows in your collection of videos. We want to make sure it’s legible on a tiny little thumbnail image. Otherwise, users won’t know what your song is or that you’d like to invite a duet.

After you create a video and upload it into TikTok, make sure you’re allowing Duets. In fact you can further encourage duets by using the #DuetThis hashtag. Also, place a “Duet This” text box at the beginning of the timeline so it becomes part of the thumbnail. If someone stumbles on your video it’ll be more apparent to them that you want them to do a duet with you.

Sound and Video Quality Tips

An iPhone 11 serves as my device, so I’m not sure if my tips will differ from how TikTok works on an Android phone. I prefer to capture my original video on my camera first and then upload to TikTok. Using this method I get to concentrate more on capturing the performance. I avoid getting sidetracked with TikTok options while creating the video. I can get into those options with the finished video already in hand. Having a video already captured that can be posted at another time of day also has its strategic advantages.

A musician’s audio quality needs to shine in their TikToks. Our sound is our calling card! So, I plug a USB Snowball microphone into the phone’s Lightning port (with an adapter) in order to improve the sound quality over the built-in mic.

After capturing the video I use the phone’s Edit feature to trim the length at beginning and end. At this point I trim out the parts where I press the Record/Stop button. I use an LED light pointed at me. An LED stage light that changes colors is pointed over my shoulder. I have this 2nd light set to change colors in time with the music.

Here’s an actual “duet this” video I created in TikTok. Go ahead and press play. Learn all you can from it.

@jasondidner Let’s jam! Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead or Alive #BonJoviDuet #NewJersey #JerseyRock #Acoustic #LetsDuet #duetthissong ♬ original sound – Jason Didner Music

How You’ll Know if your Duet Has a Guest

It’s easy to miss an alert that your duet you created has a guest. If you’re quick, you’ll see it on the Inbox tab, and then in the Activities section. The thumbnail of the duet will serve as a link to the video your guest made with your video.

TikTok - Jason Didner shows how to find recent duets of your videos.
Tap Inbox > Activities to see recent activity with your content. Here you can find recent duets.

Here’s the response I got from Michigan-based independent artist Kris Pride

@krispridemusic #duet with @Jason Didner Music #bonjoviduet #deadoralive ♬ original sound – Jason Didner Music

When you find the duet by your guest, be sure to press the Share button and choose Repost so your followers get to see what your guest artist did with your duet.

If you think you missed duet activity, you can use the search bar on the home page to look for “duet of @[your username]”

In Part 2, I discuss being a guest in a TikTok duet, which I find to be a different kind of workflow with its own set of challenges and hacks.

In the comments below, let me know if these tips were helpful. Also let me know your best practices. Drop a link to your #DuetThis videos if you’d like.

New Single/Lyric Video: “Side Effects”

A Funny and Touching Song

My latest recording that I’ve completed is now available as a single on Bandcamp and all streaming platforms. This song has both humor and depth; and I really found myself channeling Elvis Costello vocally. It’s my take on pharmaceutical ads and disclaimers.

Here’s the track on Bandcamp.

Here’s the lyric video on YouTube:

Here’s a one-minute TikTok video where I perform the first verse and chorus:

@jasondidner New single #SideEffects to launch on Bandcamp and all streaming platforms Friday Sep 9. Here’s a special performance of the first verse/chorus. #SupportIndependentMusic ♬ original sound – Jason Didner Music

Here are the complete lyrics, co-written with my wife Amy:

You may wake up in the dead of night
Your mind needs rest, yet it's taking flight
It's hard to focus on the task at hand
‘Cause you’re dealing with a feeling you don’t understand
If you have any of the above
You may be feeling the side effects of love

You may notice thoughts racing through your brain
And you're seeing things that you can't explain
You skip through fields, dance along the shore
See your lover in a bathtub next to yours
If you have any of the above
You may be feeling the side effects of love

Love may keep you waiting
Keep you ringing for the nurse
Can change you for the better
Though your side effects seem worse

If you're on top of the world and you still feel blue
Ask your doctor if love is right for you
You should read the disclaimer by the asterisk
Still the benefits outweigh the risk
I'm the case study I'm speaking of
You can live with the side effects of love

I'm the case study I'm speaking of
You can live with the side effects of love

Prior to release, I had offered this single exclusively to my email subscribers.

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Singer/songwriter Jason Didner on the keyboard
Jason Didner on electronic keyboard
Jason Didner lyric meme for new song "Side Effects" 2022

New Single and Video: Patient Portal

The new song #PatientPortal is out now- and it’s one of the funnier ones that I’d been involved in writing. Amy wrote this with me after we dealt with way too many doctors’ offices and their web sites over the past several months.

You’ll also find it on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you stream your music.

#MedicalHumor #ITHumor #TechHumor

The Official Video

Here’s the official video for #PatientPortal. Just click the embedded video below and enjoy!

The Online Concert

I’ll give an online concert to mark this new release on Friday night August 12 at 7:30 PM Eastern-US.

Hop on over to https://livestreamercafe.com and sign in a few minutes before showtime. Then I can take your requests and we can interact more fully. You can also catch a simulcast of my performance live on Twitch, YouTube, Facebook or Twitter.

The Lyrics

Patient Portal
(c) 2022, Lyrics by Jason Didner and Amy Didner; Music by Jason Didner - All Rights Reserved

Verse 1:
I keep typing in my password 
Still the validation fails
One more strike and 
I'll be doing time in password jail

I just want to see my doctor
Is that too much to ask?
Enough watching spinning circles
No more unfulfillable tasks

I've been proving my identity
For all eternity

Chorus:
I'm a mere mortal
Trapped forever in a patient portal
Now patient is the hardest thing to be
I'm a mere mortal
Trapped forever in a patient portal
This portal sucks the soul right out of me

Verse 2:
They said this would be easier
But they only made it hard
My browser freezes when 
I upload my insurance card

Hey - didn't I just fill out this form
Only moments ago? 
The medication list I entered
Where the hell did that go? 

I’ll be answering this questionnaire 
For all eternity

Chorus:
I'm a mere mortal
Trapped forever in a patient portal
Now patient is the hardest thing to be
I'm a mere mortal
Trapped forever in a patient portal
This portal sucks the soul right out of me

Bridge:
This confusing creation
Keeps giving me the blues
This confounding contraption
That even my doctors
Don't know how to use

Chorus:
I'm a mere mortal
Trapped forever in a patient portal
Now patient is the hardest thing to be
I'm a mere mortal
Trapped forever in a patient portal
This portal sucks the soul right out of me

I'm a mere mortal
Trapped forever in a patient portal
I'm a mere mortal
Trapped forever in a patient portal
I'm a mere mortal
Trapped forever in a patient portal

The Single Artwork

Jason Didner's new single "Patient Portal," available at BandCamp, Apple Music, Spotify and wherever you stream music.
Single artwork: Patient Portal by Jason Didner

That Time I Misheard My Own Lyrics

Amy and I had written our first draft of the lyrics for “Patient Portal” and I headed downstairs to the home studio to record a demo. I programmed drums, added electric guitar and proceeded to sing.

However, on playback, I heard something a little different from what I sang.

The actual opening line was “I keep keying in my password.”

But what I heard on playback (after having added a bass track) was “I keep peeing in my pants. Word!”

This bit of unintentional blue humor made me change the lyric line to “I keep typing in my password.”

Presently, there’s only one way to hear this song prior to its release: Let me email it to you!

Get the funny new song "Patient Portal"

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Jason Didner's upcoming single "Patient Portal," available only to email subscribers at the time of this writing.

Use the comment section below to tell me your favorite misheard lyric.

Online Album Launch Concert Sat 7/30

7:30 PM Eastern-US on Live Streamer Cafe

Hey folks! I’ll give an online concert on Live Streamer Cafe Saturday night at 7:30 PM, celebrating the launch of “It’s a Jersey Thing!” I’ll perform the new album in track order and then welcome requests after that. Live Streamer Cafe is a fun, interactive virtual neighborhood coffeehouse, where the neighborhood happens to be the whole world! We’ll likely see attendees from America’s east coast, heartland, southwest, Canada and Italy, plus who knows where else?

Jason Didner to give a virtual album launch concert on Live Streamer Cafe Saturday 7/30/2022 at 7:30 PM Eastern-US

And here’s the official video for the album’s signature tune, “You Can’t Get There from Here in Jersey.” #ItsAJerseyThing

New song “Patient Portal” – Hear it Before It’s Released!

Amy and I have sure been through lots of medical ordeals before. And now, during the pandemic, we’ve been trapped in multiple patient portals as medical practices increasingly move their patient information online . They promised efficiency and convenience, but it hasn’t always worked out that way! We know!

So we wrote a funny song containing our gripes about it.

The chorus goes:

I'm a mere mortal
Trapped forever in a patient portal
Now patient is the hardest thing to be

It’s got an infectious ska groove that’ll make you dance as you gripe along with me!

So, enter your email below and I’ll immediately e-mail you a secret link to this new track.

Get the funny new song “Patient Portal”

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Here’s a TikTok of the chorus in my music recording software for you to sample:

Jason Didner's new single, "Patient Portal."
Jason Didner’s new single, “Patient Portal”

How to Legally License a Cover Song

I had a gut feeling that an album called “It’s a Jersey Thing” could benefit from a song written by none other than Bruce Springsteen. His tune, “Thunder Road,” held a special place in my live acoustic repertoire for decades. I’d get a pleasing reaction both in person and during all those online concerts necessitated by COVID-19. I had made a YouTube video in which I perform the song on vocals and acoustic guitar and then add some layers of piano and glockenspiel (bells).

Why Licensing?

In order to distribute a recording of a song someone else wrote or owns, you need to purchase a license. This ensures the rights holders get their share of the proceeds. Intellectual property law requires this whether you’re burning CDs to give away, emailing MP3s or selling an album containing the cover.

I wanted to include “Thunder Road” on my album that I intended to sell as a download and make available for streaming. Therefore, I needed to get it licensed first.

Licensing for Downloads and Discs

Jason Didner holding a CD of his new album "It's a Jersey Thing."

Originally I had not planned to get physical CDs made, as the current trend favors streaming and downloads. A fan convinced me to change my mind and get CD’s pressed (at least a very modest number of them).

I turned to Easy Song Licensing to provide me with the license to sell downloads of a cover song. The company asked me for the title, original artist and songwriter of the song I wanted to use. They asked how many downloads I predicted I’d sell/give away. I estimated a modest number. Bear in mind: if I reach my goal number, I can always purchase more licenses to cover more instances of downloads. I’d consider this a wonderful problem to have.

As I became convinced to press some CDs, I returned to Easy Song Licensing to license the number of discs.

You pay 9 cents per copy sold (or given away) whether digital download or CD – plus an administrative fee. The industry refers to this as a compulsory license. The more copies you can license, the more mileage you get out of that initial administrative fee. You may benefit from an ambitious approach if you have a plan. How will you sell all those copies? Lots of online gigs? Lots of in-person gigs?

Licensing for Streaming

You can upload your cover song for release on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon and other streaming services and get the licensing arranged at the same time. Using DistroKid, you can simply identify your song as a cover using the form you fill out to associate information with your upload. Then, DistroKid will settle up with The song’s rights holder based on number of times the song is streamed before paying you your portion of streaming royalties. DistroKid will also divide up download/purchase royalties on those platforms it distributes to. When it comes to streaming royalties, I like to say “They’re pennies, but they’re my pennies!”

Note: Bandcamp operates entirely outside those platforms that work with services like DistroKid. So you’ll need a licensing company like Easy Song if uploading your cover to Bandcamp.

What about YouTube Videos?

Since YouTube attaches ads to videos viewed by the general public (unless they subscribe to YouTube’s premium ad-free service) and makes money off those ads, it shares that revenue with the proper copyright holder of the song you’re covering. So if you clearly identify the songwriter or original artist and title of the song, YouTube will figure out the rights holder. Bear in mind, the rights holder can object to their song being covered and request that YouTube remove your cover. Just try covering the Eagles’ “Hotel California” and you’ll see what I mean.

Do you plan on recording and releasing a cover song? Which one? Tell us how you go about licensing it.