What is a Song Shop song, really?

A Song Shop Song is a personalized song written for you, by me, about anything you want. You buy a song and then tell me what you want it to be about. I write the and when your song is ready, we upload it to a place where you can download it as an mp3 and it’s yours and yours alone.

How much does a song cost?

A shorter song is $75,and a full-length song is $150. It’s $205 for a song featuring my wife Sherri on back-ups. If you buy an EP (four or more full-length or half-length song shop songs) we’ll give you 10% off and you will have the option of creating a running theme throughout the record (kind of like a concept record) or not.

How long is each song? What do they sound like?

Song Shops are acoustic recordings done by me through a quality mike. Once and a while I’ll layer stuff a bit but more often then not I just perform them live for a very organic, emotionally resonant feel, (which is the most fun and easy) while still having them sound great. If you’ve heard any of my Painful Splits material, I record those songs and the Song Shop Songs the same way. The “vibe” of the song totally ranges based on what feelings your description provokes in me. They make be scream-filled, punk-ish, loud and dark or delicate and soft; bouncy and jubilant or aching and longing. You can (but don’t have to) specify what you’re looking for in that sense when you submit your description.

As for how long they are, a half-length song is usually between 1 and two minutes. A full length is generally between 2.5 and 4, but both vary and sometimes I tend to make the songs a bit longer. I’ve never received a complaint as to the length of the songs.

What is a "Featuring Sherri" song? How long are they?

"Featuring Sherri" songs are Song Shop songs featuring additional vocals by Max's wife, Sherri Dupree Bemis, of Eisley and Perma. Outside of her own band, you can hear Sherri's vocals featured on the last two Say Anything records, as well as singing with Max at www.permamusic.com. Max will write the lyrics and sing lead vocals on the songs, and Sherri will contribute backups, harmonies, and in certain cases, leads of her own. Either way, if you dig songs like "Cemetery" or "Overbiter", this is the option for you. For now, we're only offering the option to buy a full length song featuring Sherri, as it's the first time we've offered anything like this.

How long has Song Shop been around and how many songs have you written for it?

I started Song Shop in the summer of 2008. We’ve opened it around several times in a limited capacity. I started with a very small amount of songs, but soon realized I was able to actually write hundreds of songs per “wave” (we call each opening of Song Shop a wave). All together, we’ve sent out literally thousands of songs. Nuts!

What gave you the idea for Song Shop?

As people frequently download records illegally now, I was thinking about how a musician can present something that’s totally original and ACTUALLY MEANINGFUL (not to say original music isn’t meaningful but the act of buying it has been diminished). I asked myself: as a music fan what is something I would actually want that can’t be pirated? What is something that would touch my heart in a truly direct way?” My answer was “a song written by Dave Grohl”. I thought to myself “I would probably pay a thousand dollars to have my own Foo Fighters song about my life.” Before I conned him into writing music with me for free (we’re in a band together), I would have done the same for Chris Conley from Saves the Day. Though I don’t consider myself as talented as either Grohl OR Conley, I realized a lot of kids probably would value a song written about them by me (which is crazy to think about, but uncannily it’s true). I started dabbling in doing a few songs until I realized I had a strange ability to do lots of songs, and then I teamed up with my friend Aaron and Merch Direct who helped me turn this into a real, functioning small business.

How the @#@# do u write so many songs?

I consider myself a writer before anything, so I’ve spent years (trying) to master phrasing and rhyme, kind of like a medieval court minstrel or something. Melodies come first, but since I’ve written so many already, it’s become an acquired sort of muscle memory-ish ability of mine to be able to come up with a lot of stuff and still have it be worthy of a song and from the heart. Part of how I write songs is wanting to affect an impression right out of the gate with what I say (as you may have noticed with my Say Anything work) so being bluntly honest isn’t as hard as writing some weird veiled overly poetic stuff. It’s pretty much the only thing in my life that comes this easily to me, since I’m clumsy, neurotic and have A.D.D.

What should I have you write about?

Seriously, anything goes. Details are always very helpful, but less info (a line or two) can sometimes be just as inspiring, as it leaves me more room to expand upon the themes with my own word-play and vision; therefore you can have lots to say or a little to say and it will be equally helpful. Don’t feel “cheesy” for having me write you a love song; I adore doing so and try to make every one stand out and resonate. Don’t feel cliché for having me write a song about loneliness, angst, depression or mental health issues; the songs always reflect a part of my soul and I can write about it forever and in an infinite amount of ways. You DESERVE your song. Everyone’s problems and joys are epic to them and that’s why music makes people feel so much. Don’t be embarrassed, this is between you and me and I’ve led a really awkward, messed up life, so I’m up for anything. If there is something you know a loved one would want, you can express the type of person they are or what they mean to you and I will do my best to make the song something they’d love. Also, something silly and lighthearted is also just as valid as something dark or deep.

I don’t really have anything I want you to write about but I want a song for me.

That’s fine! Just let me know that and I’ll come up with something either completely out of my imagination or just put your name in it. Whatever you want.

Can I have you cover a song or sing guest vocals on my music instead of an original song?

Unfortunately, though you wouldn’t think so, both of these things take much more time than writing a song for me, so we don’t include them as an option in Song Shop. However, if you have lyrics you’ve written, I will change them around a bit and incorporate them into your song if you’d like. Just include them with your description and it’ll be like we collaborated on the song!

When and how often is Song Shop open?

As of now, I can only do Song Shop in a limited capacity because of my other obligations, and how long it stays open depends on how many people buy the songs, so I can’t say either definitively and would encourage you to join the mailing list when it’s closed and act quickly when the Shop opens.

What is the process of buying a song like? Where do I write what I want it to be about? What if something happens and I want to change my song info? How can I check the status of the song and how will I know when it’s done?

First you’ll select what kind of song you want, and then pay for it through PayPal. You’ll be emailed login info to a site where you can enter one or two paragraphs about what you want me to write about, and your phone number. You can then login back to this site any time to make sure your info is there or change the info, all the way up until when I do your song, when the status will change and your description will be locked. Once the song is done we’ll email you to notify you. At this time you can go back to the same site, download an mp3 of the song and it’s yours!

I’ve literally never heard of this kind of thing before! Is is this @#$ for real?

Ever since that one dude in a screamo band started selling fake computers to his fans over twitter (and literally ONLY after that happened), I’ve had a couple of misinformed people imply to me that Song Shop is a similar endeavor. Firstly, if you’re into my band, you can probably guess I’m not a big fan of thievery or corruption, not to mention that Song Shop has been running for almost half a decade and functioning legally and legitimately through a reliable company (Merch Direct and PayPal) and isn’t some weird bootleg operation.

Check out our testimonials section or do a YouTube search for all the kids who have and love their songs and you’ll see that both Merch Direct and me personally have painstakingly spent hours and hours making sure everyone gets serviced and we would never take advantage of that. Just the thought of someone feeling jipped gives me massive anxiety. When I open Song Shop, there is a special lump in my belly that basically just sits there until they’re all done. The fact that in some cases it may take a while for you to get your song doesn’t mean I’m a pirated MacBook selling scam artist either (see next question). I can’t express how much I value each one of those who give me the honor of writing a song for them.

How long does it take to receive a song? When does Max work on them?

The functional basis of Song Shop, as I’ve said many times, is patience. Some people get their songs in a day or even a few hours and it’s awesome to see people’s reactions to that. Some people get theirs in a few weeks, and some in a few months. It all depends on how many people bought songs and where you are in “line” in relation to that. If you bought your song as a gift, once you pay, you’ll be provided with a link to a “Song Shop Certificate” that you can present to that special someone on that day if your song isn’t ready by the date you need it. The certificate will let them know they have their very own song coming and what a Song Shop Song is. If you want to TRY and get the finished song by a certain date, say a wedding for your first dance, the more in advance you buy the song, the better chance of that happening, but I always recommend time sensitivity being a lesser factor.

These songs and this interaction are a HUGE, HUGE priority in my life. Once the shop is open, whether I’m on tour or not, I reserve special time almost every day to get a bunch of songs done. Very rarely, something makes it unable for me to do a song that day, or I take a couple days off, but I’m back at it again within no time. In three years of doing songs, we’ve never failed to get a song to a responsive Song Shop customer. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror if I were pumping out crappy songs for the money y’all pay me and would have instead named it “Song Factory”. When it comes to having to wait a bit for your song, the only thing I can say is that, having spoken personally to literally hundreds of kids who bought songs, all of them take the time to mention that the wait is nothing compared to how fulfilling an experience having your own song is.

What are the best things I can do as a Song Shop customer to keep things functional?

First of all, complete your song description as soon as you get your payment verification email or shortly after so I can attack your song as soon as I’m ready. Also PLEASE make sure emails from noreply@merchdirect.com or my email at gmail.com aren’t going into your spam folder. The only times we’ve ever hard a harder time getting someone their song is when contact information has changed without notifying us, people don’t answer our emails, or the evil SPAM folder gets involved. Either way we’ve set up our new online status system to avoid those email mishaps, so you can check the status of your song online whenever you want and download it directly from the site. Overall, keep in touch, be patient and look for the emails we send out to everyone who bought a song that will keep you updated about the status of this “wave” of Song Shop.

If I bought a song and have a question that isn’t answered on this site, whom should I contact?

Feel free to shoot an email over to at help@merchdirect.com when it comes to the functionality of the process, or if you have a personal concern you can reach me at youboughtarecord@gmail.com. The least productive thing you can do is tweet at me or about the process. Remember there are thousands of cases involved and I’m totally anxiety ridden in general so having someone complain about their particular issue publicly gives me a mini meltdown. I am ALWAYS down to try my best to address each and every customer personally if needed.