John Braheny – Forever, the songwriters best friend – Part 2/3

John Braheny

On January 19, 2013, songwriters lost a good friend.  Affectionately dubbed “The Songwriters Best Friend”, John Braheny passed away at his home in the Los Angeles area after an off and on battle with prostate cancer spanning over 12 years.  He was 74.  After over 40 years of mentoring, coaching, consulting songwriters throughout North America, and releasing what most consider ‘the’ classic songwriters book, John left a big mark on songsmiths of every skill set.

He was a troubadour, a songwriter, an author, a teacher and a loving husband, father, and grandfather.  He was an ambassador for the songwriting community. He was active in many music industry and songwriter organizations.  This is part two of a three part chronicle of his life, his loves, and a few of his many accomplishments.  This writer owes a huge debt of gratitude to John’s wonderful wife, JoAnn Braheny, for her hours of reflective conversation during writing this article.


It was 1979.  Jimmy Carter was our President.  Our federal debt was an ‘overwhelming’ 800 billion. The city of Pittsburg owned both the Super Bowl and World Series Championships.  The Sugarhill Gang released the first commercial rap hit, “Rappers Delight,” bringing rap off the New York streets and into the popular music scene.  The music industry was still adapting to dramatic changes in the copyright laws in 1976.  And John met JoAnn.

JoAnn (Jaffe) had moved from her childhood home in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Geneva, Switzerland, then Paris, France, and then to the States in 1970, to live in Atlanta.  She worked at 4 radio stations, as a receptionist, secretary and a traffic director. Starting by doing commercial spots, she soon became the first full-time female disc jockey at an underground rock-n-roll station in Atlanta. Climbing the proverbial ladder, she later worked for a record company, in record promotion and then moved into the publishing division. When the record company eventually closed, she opened her own music publishing company, and became involved in the Atlanta Songwriters Association as the founding Secretary.

early john and joann

In October, 1979, famed Atlanta music publisher Bill Lowery (Lowery Music Group) helped to organize and sponsor the first Annual Georgia Music Week at Georgia State University. This is where JoAnn and John first met.

Top coaches, consultants and teachers were brought in from songwriters organizations around the country, including National Music Publishers Assn. (NMPA), the Songwriters Guild, Arizona Songwriters Assn., Nashville Songwriters Assn. (NSAI), and others. John Braheny was brought in to represent the Los Angeles Songwriters Showcase, a weekly event, (LASS) and a sister group, Songwriters Resources and Services which later became the National Songwriters Academy (NAS).

JoAnn recalls that several of the participants went to the Omni Hotel for dinner. “We talked about a million things that first night, but the conversation I remember most is, upon hearing that I was a music publisher, John asked, ‘Do you have a reversion clause in your contract?’ And I 

said, ‘What’s that?’ I had been trained in Nashville and at that time, they didn’t offer those.  They wanted to keep everything.’ 

He then asked me, ‘Do you split mechanical royalties?’ and I said, ‘I didn’t know you could do that.’

He then asked me, ‘Do you split mechanical royalties?’ and I said, ‘I didn’t know you could do that.’

‘Do you give advances?’ was his third question and I didn’t know you could do that either.’

Even though JoAnn had worked in publishing before, she wasn’t aware of those negotiating strategies John was inquiring about.

It was obvious to them that their meeting in Atlanta was ‘magic,’ and they quickly went from talking about the music business, to becoming fast friends. “It was as if we’d known each other all our lives.” recalls JoAnnn. Time went on, as did falling in love.

“It was as if we’d known each other all our lives.”

A few months later, John asked JoAnn if she would consider moving to Los Angeles. Soon after that, they moved in together. JoAnn worked in the music business (first full-time job was with Island Records) and becoming involved with the LA Songwriters Showcase. They were married in 1984, in Topanga Canyon, California.

john and joann 3308786608_55f2046ffb_oStriving even further to spread the word to songwriters about their business options and to create another “discovery opportunity” for their songs, John and partner, Len Chandler, created the Annual Songwriters Expo. For two decades, this was the largest songwriters event (over 1,000 attendees) in the country, with several simultaneously occurring classes and workshops, pitch sessions, vendors booths, and schmooze sessions, held at local university settings around the LA area. Two Expos were also held in Austin, Texas, and one in Vancouver, British Columbia, permitting songwriters from near and far to find each other and meet music publishers, record producers, managers, agents, authors and educators. These events were seminal in that many songwriters who came, returned to their respective cities and started their own songwriters organizations and events based on this model.

John carried on, even after the LA Songwriters Showcase merged with the National Songwriters Academy, and eventually closed in 1985, to work with songwriters worldwide. Either he was teaching classes at universities (many use his book, The Craft and Business of Songwriting, as a text), or giving workshops at various songwriters organizations around the country, or doing one-on-one consulting, either by phone, by Skype, or in person.

Click below to continue reading ….

John Braheny, Forever the Songwriters Best Friend, Part One
John Braheny, Forever the Songwriters Best Friend, Part Three


About Jeff Lodge

I have been a songwriter pretty much all my life, since Grandpa Mac gave me his drum set (ya, you try writing a song on an old Slingerland 5 piece). I learned guitar, played around with piano, and fell head first into a fervent passion for creating music. I wrote a ton as a kid, with limited skills and knowledge. When I 'grew up', I studied the craft of songwriting and recording. I crave to learn more. It's my goal with SongWritersHQ to provide valuable content that will educate, entertain, or the songwriter community. I include myself in that community because if I don't learn something about this wonderful craft every day, I'm unfulfilled. I hope SongWritersHQ is as fulfilling for you as it is for me. Jeff

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