These are the very simple words of the very accomplished Andrew Fromm, and if you’re not sure who he is, you’ve probably heard of some of the notable artists he’s written songs for. Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Selena Gomez, Marc Anthony, Francesca Battistelli, and American Idol finalist Phil Stacey are just a few to note on Andrew’s roster. In more recent years, Andrew has also found success brokering the sales of catalogs for hit songwriters and producers with his company, Fromm Consulting LLC. As I talk with Andrew, I’m immediately drawn to his humbling demeanor. This is a guy who truly loves what he does, and who has continually placed himself in the right situations to achieve his success. All it started with was a little luck and a white grand piano…
CCM Indie: What finally brought you to your success – what was your big break?
Andrew Fromm: After doing Star Search [in 1994], I did open mic nights in New York City and met a friend who got a big record deal and publishing deal doing those open mic nights. At her birthday party, there was a white grand piano in the corner – I wound up playing this one song that I would sing all the time at those open mic nights. Low and behold, there happened to be a Jive Records executive there. He said, “I really want that song for this group that I’m working on called the Backstreet Boys. They’re huge in Europe right now and selling out arenas in Europe, but nobody knows them in the US.” That wound up birthing my songwriting endeavors. My first cut ever was a song that I wrote by myself, it was produced by Mutt Lange and it was on a 25 million-selling album called Millennium.
It’s been a huge blast to be involved with such an iconic record. I wound up having two songs on that album [“I Need You Tonight” and “Spanish Eyes”]. It’s a very exciting career but also very challenging, because how do you go from a 25 million-selling album to hoping something sells 100,000 records? (laughs) But it is what it is; you make do.
AF: I always say life has a bunch of seeds that are planted for you; it just depends on which one you want to cultivate. That’s always been my theory in life, and I chose the right seed. I was pursuing my college endeavors while I was doing these open mic nights. My passion was always music. I just didn’t know if I was going to be able to make a living in it. In those moments where I was doubting my abilities was when opportunity knocked.
Everybody has a gift, and I knew what my gift was when I was young. I just kept pounding the pavement and put myself in every position to try to advance myself in that gift. That’s really been my life lesson, and that still persists today. I write with other people and I learn something every time I write with somebody new.
AF: I love getting in the room with somebody new and trying to work alongside somebody. It’s like getting a new job everyday. Every once in a while, you really connect with a writer and you feel the chemistry. From a business perspective, I love to know what they’re thinking, what they’re wanting to do.
I like to be versatile. I don’t want to write just one kind of song over and over again. I’d rather become more knowledgeable in ways of writing music, and that’s always been my passion since I was a little kid.
AF: Music is ever changing; it’s usually cyclical though. As you can see, boy bands are coming back around. In country music, they have cycles where it’s a lot of females for a period of time, and now a lot of males are doing really well. It’s such a strange phenomenon. It’s the music industry chasing its own tail.
I think there are very few innovators who take huge risks because of the status of our industry right now – it’s very volatile. But the songwriting process hasn’t really changed. Other than the fact that technology has advanced and sounds are different, the process is still the same – you get together, you write a song and you hope for the best. I think now the pressure is to write with the artist and develop the artist. You want to be the hot guy or girl who’s writing hits – with the Kelly Clarkson’s of the world, and such. There’s a stronger chance you’ll wind up on a record if you can, and you generally hope to get to that level.
At the end of the day, our business evolves when people write great hit songs. It’s always about the music. Nowadays it takes a little extra because there are so many different channels music is being discovered through, but it still has to be a fantastic song and it will resonate.
AF: Word of mouth and talking to other songwriters is the most important part of that equation. Songwriters need a team around them. They need a great lawyer; they need a great publisher; somebody to help introduce them to people. Songwriters should be building social media more. I really feel like there is a tremendous amount of growth and strength in that department. Every songwriter or producer should be doing it. You’re building your brand.
AF: You have to want it so bad that you’d do anything for it. If you don’t, it’s going to be a long, hard road. There are artists out there who have a sense of entitlement. They think everything is supposed to be handed to them. Those are the ones who usually don’t make it nine times out of ten. There’s so much more you have to do now, especially with the social media aspect and having to build your fan base. Everyone wants a record deal or a publishing deal. Today it’s a lot harder. Labels don’t want to sign somebody who doesn’t build their following and do their [own] work already. You have to be out there plugging away, doing 200 shows a year even if it’s at the coffee house. Keep performing and better yourself on stage, so when that time comes that the executive is hearing about the buzz, then it’s a no brainer for them to follow you, to become fans and sign you.
I put everything on the line. I was doing whatever I could do to make ends meet so I could pursue my dream. Fortunately enough, that led me in the direction I was supposed to go.