Zach Sorgen of NBC’s Songland on the Gear You Need to Succeed as a Singer / Songwriter and His Path to Success

Show Notes

Singer and songwriter Zach Sorgen who recently appeared on the hit NBC TV Show, Songland joins us to share about what equipment you need to buy to succeed as a singer/songwriter and his personal journey to success.

  1. Yes, yes, yes and yes! Thrivetime Nation on today’s show we are interviewing Zach Sorgen who recently appeared on the hit NBC TV show Songland! Zach, welcome onto the Thrivetime Show…how are you sir!?
  2. Zach, I realize that your career is heating up now, but I would like to start off at the very beginning. What was your life like growing up and when did you first discover your love of music?
  3. My understanding is that you started writing your first song around the age of nine…can you share with the listeners what the song was about and how you went about writing it?
  4. What was the first instrument that you learned to play?
  5. When did you first figure out that you wanted to pursue music full-time?
  6. On the show I heard you say that you have been writing about a song a day for the past 5 years…what do you do with all of the songs that you have written?
  7. How have you supported yourself as an artist up to now?
  8. How would you describe your experience of being on Songland?
  9. What was it like to work with Ryan Tedder?
  10. What was the best advice and coaching that you received from Ryan Tedder?
  11. Today, I’d love for you to share with the listeners about the kinds of projects that you are up to?
  12. If the listeners out there are looking to hire you to perform for their corporation or at an event that they are hosting what is the best way for them to get ahold of you?


Business Coach | Ask Clay & Z Anything

Audio Transcription

Guest Topic Banner Zach Sorgen Thrivetime Show

Now, Zach, you were selected by your song was selected by Ryan Tedder. What was it like working with him?

Man, Ryan better has been one of my idols since I kind of started doing it.

Phyllis energy, me soap present


some shows. Don’t need a celebrity in the writer to introduce the show, but this show dots to may eight kids co-created by two different women, 13 moat time, million dollar businesses. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the thrivetime show.

I’m doing quite well. How are you doing today?

Well, you improved my life by a, somewhere between two and 9% when you’re on the Songlines show, your performance was awesome. So I hope to improve your life by somewhere between two and 9% my friend told me, tell me about the excitement level of being on this show. How did that come to pass?

Man, I am so excited. It’s been such a dream. I have been getting love and messages from my orthodontist, from high school teachers and from all sorts of people who I haven’t spoken to in years and from a bunch of new people as well. So it’s been, it’s been totally wild. I’m just live ended up right now.

Now I know you’ve been doing a lot of work, uh, grinding or people can’t see the work you’ve been putting in. Um, so I’d like for you just to share as a way to maybe encourage some of the listeners out there who are also into music and songwriting. Um, how, what kind of work have you been doing to, uh, on a daily basis to turn your professional music career, you know, from a dream into a reality?

Totally. Well, you know, the music business is one of the most competitive out there, so it definitely takes a lot of hard work and you have to be passionate about it. That’s the only thing that’ll keep you going. But, um, I moved to LA about seven years ago and I’ve been writing a song and day, uh, since then some days, you know, instead of sort of starting a new one, I’ll finish an older song, but um,

a song a day and

you get to work yup. Song a day, you get to work with friends and everyone kind of brings a sets and maybe one person’s better with the lyrics. One person was better with the production or with the melody and you kind of all bang your heads against the wall until you find something. Cool. Cool.

You know, during your episode you shared a little bit about, um, the age at which you started writing your first song. But for the listeners who haven’t seen the show yet, can you share about when you started writing your first song?

Yeah. I started taking piano when I was seven and I think I was about nine years old when I made my first song. It was very randomly about a clown who had lost his smile and he was kind of reaching for his smile. It’s trying to get a smile back.

Do you know there’s not enough songs about clowns losing their smiles. Now you started at nine. Now did you ever want to quit the piano lessons could because your, your my, my son is here with me now. My son is, is a 12 and he’s listening in here and uh, you know, what, did you ever want to quit music lessons?

I definitely did. And uh, you just gotta power through it I think. I think, uh, you know, it’s really hard at first when you’re starting to learn and you have to practice and just like anything, it takes hard work. But uh, once you get to a certain point and you can kind of make up your own songs or you feel a little more proficient and play some cool songs, then it becomes a lot more fun. Right.

So, uh, Aubrey, Aubrey,

so just to keep going.

IS Aubrey are you there? Are you, are you miked up? Barbara, are you on the mic? Okay, Abra, you got to ask mr Zach sorgen here. Because you are a 12 year old guy. You’re playing taking piano lessons and drum lessons. What question do you have for the star from the hit show? Songline what, what do you have for Zach sorgen? What did you enjoy about piano?

You know what, Aubrey, it’s nice to talk to you and, uh, I think I enjoyed it only once I started being able to make up my own songs when I was kinda playing stuff from the book. It wasn’t as fun, but, uh, you got to power through that. And then once you can start just messing around and creating stuff on your own that you like, then it becomes a real blast.

Hmm. Now, Zach sorgen, um, you were selected by your, your song was selected by Ryan Tedder, uh, one of the producers of the show to, to sit down with you and to produce your song. And, and a little fun factoid for you, Ryan Tedder. I attended college at oral Roberts university and he lived right across the hall and down towards the elevators. And he performed at our wedding reception and he actually filled in, in a crisis DJ gig for me with my first company called DJ So I’ve seen Ryan, no, I’ve seen Ryan’s progression. I’m telling you. How old are you right now? There’s, there’s Zack,

um, I’m 29.

Um, if you look up Ryan’s progression in his history, I’m just telling you, I watched, um, I, you know, I get a chance to converse with him and, and, and interact with him and in college and, and see that guy was obsessed and he really didn’t start to get the big opportunities at the big breaks until his late twenties as well. Oh, what was it like working with him?

Man, Ryan center has been one of my idols

since, uh, since

I kind of started doing this. Um, he, I guess mainly because he has his band one Republic and they tour and then he also writes songs for other artists. And that’s kind of my dream job. I have a band called the the wild and, um, and I also want to work with a bunch of other artists and different styles. But, uh, working with Ryan was especially incredible because he’s just has so much energy. He’s so present with you and like, you know me, I kind of, I have to listen to his song a couple times. Maybe the first time I’d just get catching a vibe and the second time I’m really listening for the lyrics or the production. But he upon one listen, had a very clear vision of what he liked and what he didn’t like. And he had a bunch of ideas and I was just in awe of being able to sit in a room with him. So I was like, let’s go for it. Anything you want to try, you know, you can always go back to your original version, but let’s, let’s try everything.

I think that being present is a present, you know, I mean, as a business owner, entrepreneur, being present is a present as a songwriter. I’m sure that, can you explain to me what it means, what it felt like or what it looked like for Ryan Tedder to be present?

I mean he was just so engaged and you can tell there’s some people when you talk to them, they have this kind of aura about them and he was one of those people where as soon as I met him, even apart from knowing who he was and all his accolades and everything already, it’s just he was, he was very engaged. He was very honest and sincere and fun loving and we were joking around in a studio but also getting down to business and he has, you know, a very clear idea about you know, what he thinks is good or not and he has some great ideas about how to improve my song and that was just really cool working with him.

What tools do you use in your studio for the aspiring songwriters out there? Can you, can we just get into kind of the, you know, kind of into the nerdery? We’re a little bit, we have a lot of listeners out there. We’ve got a half million listeners are not as, and we don’t have nearly as many listeners as songland has viewers. But we have a lot of listeners and a lot of them are aspiring musicians. We’ve talked to quite a few of them. Um, from a technical perspective, if you can picture D do you like right now living in an apartment or do you have like a condo or a house or where, where do you call home?

I have a house, actually there’s five of us including uh, my girlfriend and I and three roommates.

So talk to me about some of the equipment gear you have to hack out some of your songs before you go into the studio. What kind of equipment do you try to keep near you to put together some of your songs when you’re doing a song a day, you know, before you can go to a, a studio and fully produce it out.

Totally. Well, lucky for me, we have a little back house, so I have the studio is actually right at the house, which makes it pretty convenient. But um, there’s a lot of my have bedroom, uh, studios. Um, so all you really need is to monitor speakers so you can get a kind of a left and a right mix.

Do you have a certain brand that you prefer? You have a certain brand you’re in, you’re into that you personally believe in or you used yourself?

Yeah, I have the Adams, uh, they’re, they’re on the less expensive side, but they’re very clear and pretty flat. So you’re not, um, you know, they’re not boosting the highs and the lows too much. It’s a pretty flat response, which means that they sound good there. It’s going to sound good in any system.

That’s awesome. Okay, so the Adam’s monitors, you got it.

Studio monitors and then I’m a piano player, so, uh, definitely have a little electronic keyboard and you can hook it up with a USB cable to your computer. Um, even people that are the art pianists actually, um, just to be able to mess around with some sounds and kind of tinker on the keys, that can really help. Uh, you can play a bass on the piano. You can play stamps on the piano bells. You can even do a drum.

What kind of keyboard do you like? How many keys do you have and what, what sort of keyboard do you like?

I have something called the profits, um, by Dave Smith, which is a really nice analog, uh, board that I just got, I’m really excited about. And that one has all the sounds kind of built into it. So you’re doing all the sound design, uh, within the keyboard itself. But, uh, you can get a mini keyboard, which is basically just kind of the shell, um, for relatively cheap at guitar center or whatever. And uh, and then you have your sounds actually in the computer and, uh, any, any mini keyboard is good. The Axiom, um, I, because I’m a piano player, I like to have a full 88 keys so I can reach the high notes and the low notes. But um, for, for people who are just starting out, I’d say just kind of like a, a little keyboard, even one or two octaves and you can jump it up, uh, up or down octave on the keyboard. And, uh, that’s a lot of fun just being able to mess around right there.

Now your uh, your, your voice is amazing and, and a lot of people say, man, you know, uh, it sounds like it is, it music is, his voice is incredible. And I know your voice is incredible, but is there a certain microphone that you prefer to, to sing into? Is there a certain mic that maybe our listeners should, should get? There’s so many kinds of Mike’s, I mean you have the slate mix that are really popular right now. You’ve got the SM 58, you know, you’ve got the [inaudible], there’s so many different kinds of minds. What, what’s, what’s it, Mike, that you’d recommend for all of our listeners out there that are looking to, you know, really record something of a value?

Well, you know, clay, when I was a, I had the same question myself and I just kind of Googled what be, what makes this Viansa use? And I saw that she uses the NOI, man, you 87. So that’s the one I got for, at first, I had looked up what Mike Michael Jackson used. And on thriller he used an SM seven V. so that was the one I got. But um, it turns out that Mike is only good if you’re belting, if you’re singing real loud. Um, it sounds great, but if you’re doing a soft vocal, more intimate than a, then you want to condense mic, like the, the UAT seven. I also really liked the manly, uh, Mike Black man. Les has, has kind of a base here tone.

Yeah. The annoyment Mike is like a $3,000 Mike, right? I mean, it’s roughly 3000 bucks.

Something around there. I got mine used on Craigslist for a, I want to say like 1,300 or something, but, uh, it’s been a good investment because, uh, you know, I’m, everything I’m recording, whether I’m pitching it or releasing it is going through that Mike and I actually run that Mike through the Avalon seven 37, which is a, um, preempt. So that kind of has some analog tubes as well. And then having that nice, um, input signals just makes the biggest difference when you’re listening to audio and whether people think your song is good or not, it actually helps if it, if it sounds good. So, um, I’m happy I made that investment.

Oh you’re, you’re, you are blowing my mind. Now somebody might, there might say, well how does he, as a singer songwriter, how do you raise a a thousand dollars? And it’s like, are we going, are we, we go going and go fund me here? Are you working as a waiter? You know, cause before you get a hit, you know how it is you. And even if you get, even if you get to a right on a pop star, we had Ross Golan on the show and even if you have a ride on a big album, but it’s not the one of the top 10 of one of the top one or two releases when the one with one of the top tracks, you might not make a lot of money on that. How have you been able to support yourself?

Yeah, unfortunately, uh, for songwriters right now, it’s very hard to make, to make a living. Um, I teach piano lessons, which has actually been very rewarding and, uh, and fun. And I get to watch the kids grow up and help, uh, younger people learn how to make music. So that’s been cool for me. Uh, there’s also a company called called sound better. And um, there, if you have a skillset, say you’re a singer with a mic or if you have a friend who has a studio, you can, um, people will post jobs they’re looking for. So they might need a singer on a track or they might need someone to mix their song or someone to master their song. Or they might say, Hey, I need someone to play some guitar. So it’s kind of a nice community and you can make a little bit of money that way.

Um, the other thing is if you do have good quality recordings, say, uh, my first band, we did a Kickstarter, we raised a couple thousand dollars and recorded 11 songs. And with that album, um, two of the songs ended up getting on the show. Nine Oh two one. Oh and that paid us, um, $6,000. So that was kind of, we started with the Kickstarter and then once we had some material to work with, then it was about sending those songs out to music supervisors and trying to get sinks is when you get your song in a commercial or TV show or a movie and that, that tends to pay pretty well.

Now, I want to respect your time, but I have two final questions for you. I’m on YouTube. If I go to your YouTube channel, Zack Sorgen. Um, there’s so much good stuff and if I, and if I were to click and I’m going to click right, I’m clicking, I’m a clicker. Hey guys, this is for the American idol audition. Here we go. Let me just go into the flavors. Let me take for just a second here real quick here. I just,

because it’s stuff that you’re not proud of,

blows my mind. The stuff that you’re [inaudible]

I could clearly do better.

Blows my mind. I don’t understand. You’re so good. It’s so good.

[inaudible] [inaudible]

so you’re going, that’s, that’s not my best. What is the song where you, what’s happening right now? What’s something on, on the video? If I go to your YouTube channel, what’s one thing right now that I need to listen to? I mean, is there, is there, as you’re in my blood cover, is it your, what gimme gimme some listeners want to check out.

Yeah. You know what it’s like, if you go to my band’s YouTube page, actually, it’s called wake the wild

wake. The wild. I’m going there right now. Yep.

Wakes the wild. We just put out a song last Friday. Um, but I’m very proud of and super stoked for. It’s kind of electronic pop, new disco, funky vibe and um, body language is great. Ritual is great. Superficial is the one we just put out,

superficial, superficial, and this, this is your one year ago and Hey, this is really good. This is, this is a move now what I’m going to do in violation of all rules, et cetera. I’m going to just play like, you know, just 15, 20 seconds. Okay. Because I want listeners just to do it just to hear enough to go. I want to hear it. I’m an entrepreneur. I built my business out of my dorm room and I want to get you exposure because you’re pouring your heart and soul into this and if I can help a thousand people or hopefully 500,000 people become a fan of yours, I want to do it. So let me just queue it up real fast here real fast. Let me just kind of,

thank you. Cool.

No, seriously. This is great. Your performance was great. Okay, we got the video playing here. By the way, videos are typically done best when you’re watching them. We’re going to listen to it here. This is good. All right, here we go.

Wake the wild, superficial. Check it out on YouTube. Here we go. Should we go to the course?

Go for it.

Here we go. Come on. Thrive nation. Check it out. Check it out. [inaudible]

man, that’s, that is hot. That is hot. Folks, if you listen, if you are out there listening right now and you have carpal tunnel, your risks don’t work. You’ve got super-intense arthritis, you’re like, Oh my gosh, clicking with my thumbs would be terrible. I don’t know how I can possibly get there on my phone or on my computer. Push through the pain, take some Novacane and check it out. Zach Sorgen the song is superficial. Zach, I’m going to give you the floor cause on the show, a heavily produced show, a great show like songland. A lot of times you don’t get a chance to maybe share that word of encouragement or your heart, you know, cause they’re cutting the commercials. There’s a lot going on and you to get the highlights. Can you, I would love to give you the floor and then I’ll let you get back to doing you. Um, what is one word of encouragement or one action step or him even an ask. Anything you want to share with our listeners, my friend? Do you have the mic?

Wow. Well thank you so much clay for this great energy and uh, thank you guys for listening. And I just want to say, go for it. Whatever you want to do in life, just don’t listen to the naysayers. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you you can’t do it or you’re not good enough because I really truly believe that anything you want to do, if you really want it and you gotta really, really want it. But if you just push for it and keep doing it every day with persistence, you can follow your dreams and get where you want to be.

Thrive nation, I you right now, if you’re listening right now and you’re within the, if you have the ability to put your hands together, let’s hear it for Zach.

It’s Oregon. You’re in your car right now. It’s kind of awkward cause it’s one on one right now. It’s just in your car. You’re laughing. I want ya

your hands together right there and I’m just telling you what we had right there was a bromantic interview with an incredible guest right there, Zach sorgen. Thank you so much for being on the show, my friend. You absolutely assistance, nearly have a, a touch on my family’s life. We watched that show faithfully and my kids are very inspired by what they’re hearing and it was encouraging to hear you and just a little bit of your story. So thank you so much.

I love that. And thank you for taking the time, Claire. You definitely made my day at least 12% better.

Hi man. Hey, you take care. Have a have a great rest of your evening. Thanks so much. All right, and now without any further ado,

[inaudible] Tim the world’s best business workshop led by America’s number one business coach for free by subscribing on iTunes and leaving us an objective review. Claim your tickets by emailing us proof that you did it, and your contact information to input thrive time [inaudible].


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