Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle: 2022 Collection

With the launch of Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle’s 17th annual compilation CD project, new features have been added to make the program more accessible. Because COVID-19 stresses are still a factor, deadlines have been stretched to make participation easier and fees have been adjusted to make the project financially feasible. 

The project includes two separate fees — a duping-participation fee ($85), and an hourly group rate recording and mastering fee ($30 per hour for each of the first three hours, $40 per hour for additional time). The fees must be paid separately. No additional fees are required, but some new features include optional upgrades available for a small fee. Scroll down for deadlines and complete participation requirements.   

Recording project partners

Mike Hickman of Electric Eye Recorders (512-785-2132,, located on Polish Hill, returns to produce and master the album. A member of Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle, Mike has produced the CD project since 2015.

Debbi Pace (, Songwriters Circle member, will return as graphic designer.

Nuvidia, a Kansas multi-media company, returns having pressed and printed the group’s CDs since 2006.

John Hayes (412-335-1446,, manager of Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle, has coordinated the CD project since its start in 2005.

Calliope: The Pittsburgh Folk Music Society, provides promotion.

Find information about Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle and its project partners at the following sites:, Facebook Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle,,,,,,

Project overview

The annual album project is a feature of Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle, an artist support group that holds monthly virtual and in-person meetings to exchange ideas, critique songs, discuss the songwriting process and promote camaraderie among its members..

The album series:

1) Provides songwriters with a safe, inexpensive, nurturing and educational recording experience with a veteran producer in a professional recording studio.

2) Provides incentive to write songs by creating an outlet for them.

3) Helps to foster community among participating songwriters.

4) Relieves stress associated with the recording process by eliminating such heavy decisions as selection of a producer and studio, mastering, selection of a manufacturing company, replication

or duplication options, graphic design and text, shipping, booking a venue, staging a CD release

event, media relations and promotion. Freed of those responsibilities, participating songwriters need only to make artistic decisions about their songs, pay the project’s fees and meet its deadlines.

5) Builds participants’ studio skills and confidence, and encourages further recording. When members are ready to pursue their own album projects, assistance is available on recording process details, contact numbers, collective advice, etc.

6) Provides a promotional tool for Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle and project participants.

Publishing rights, project fees

Participating songwriters retain all rights to their songs. The Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle CD is a work for hire. No mechanical or publishing royalties are due or paid. One thousand units are manufactured and divided equally among participants minus cutouts for promotional use and the sale of “group albums” (see below *). Participating artists can do whatever they want with the CDs they receive.

– DUPING-PARTICIPATION FEE: A one-time duping/participation fee of $85 is required by the deadline below. Payment serves as confirmation of intent to participate. The duping fee must be paid before access is provided to the group recording rate. Duping fees are deposited in a dedicated account until used for duping, printing, shipping and various group expenses. 

The duping-participation fee can now be paid electronically.

Codes are:

   PayPal @ElectricEyeRecorders (pay as Friends and Family only). 

   Venmo @Michael-Hickman-5


   Cash App $EERstudio

Duping fee can be paid by check or money order: Pay to project manager John Hayes (101 Daggette Dr., Buena Vista, PA 15018).

The duping-participation fee is fully refundable until the participant’s first recording session.

Separating the duping-participation fee from the recording fee assists in project management by documenting intent to participate early in the process, and protects Mike from misuse of the reduced group recording rate.

– RECORDING/MASTERING FEE: Electric Eye Recorders offers a special Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle CD project group rate of $30 for each of the first three studio hours, $40 per hour for additional time. 

The project minimum is two studio hours. Recording fees are paid to producer Mike Hickman, and only he may receive this payment. The fee for a participant’s first recording session must be paid at the start of the session, and payment per session is preferred unless other arrangements have been made. 

Payment can be made electronically through PayPal, Google Pay, Cash App or Venmo. See payment codes above. Recording session fees can be paid in cash, as well as by check or money order made out to Mike Hickman. 

Final project recording fees must be paid before the Shipping-Uploading deadline unless an alternate payment arrangement has been made with Mike. This protects Mike and Electric Eye from late payment, nonpayment and potential misuse of the special rate.

As is the custom at Electric Eye, clients pay only for studio time used in recording and mastering. There is no additional fee for performance services provided by the producer. Setup time for drum sets, etc., is considered billable session time. Mastering is done after the client approves the final mix, and billing is at the special group rate.

Studio accompanists other than Mike may be used at the participant’s request. Their payment, if any, is a private matter between the participant and the session player.


Song Licensing. We’re looking into the possibility of releasing next year’s project digitally only, with no or minimal CD production. It would reduce the cost to members and reflect common current usage of digital music with no physical units. Traditionally the annual Songwriters Circle compilation project is packaged in CD form and distributed as a single unit to members and through group CD sales with no publishing or licensing of individual songs. This year we’re going to experiment with the licensing of individual songs when requested by project participants. A fee may be charged for the service not to exceed the cost of the actual licensing (the service to be provided by group volunteers).

Videos. Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle is setting up a YouTube channel to aid in promotion of members’ songs. They will be able to post previously created videos supporting their Songwriters Circle CD songs and other examples of their work. For members who don’t have a video but would like to participate, group member Steve Gallo (songman22@gmail) has offered to create and post well-produced videos of Circle members’ songs for the YouTube channel. For a group rate of $50 paid by the participant, Steve will produce a basic video using the Songwriters Circle CD cover, a digital photo or by intercutting up to two video clips provided by the member or found by Steve. For video projects requiring additional time, consult Steve for pricing.    

WHERE THE MONEY GOES: Mike Hickman of Electric Eye Recorders is paid an hourly studio session fee for time used in producing and mastering. Debbi Pace is paid for CD cover graphic design. Nuvidia is paid for replication, printing, assembly and shipping. is paid for Internet promotion. Colo IP Networks is paid for website servicing. Steve Gallo will be paid by participants requesting his video production.

No portion of fees is paid to project manager John Hayes or group treasurer Tom Beckman, both Songwriter Circle members who donate their time to the group.

No portion of fees is paid to the Starlite Lounge, where monthly group meetings are held.

The duping-participation fee is deposited in a dedicated credit union account managed by John Hayes, then transferred to a dedicated bank account managed by Ton Beckman. There is no commingling of group money and outside money. 

Group members may be paid for special services including sound equipment rental, etc., with the approval of the group manager and treasurer. Group funds may be used to pay for expenses incurred by the group with the approval of the group manager and treasurer.

Records of all money receipts, transfers and expenditures are available to any member on

request to the group treasurer.

Project schedule and deadlines

It is important for participants to observe deadlines, set to insure advancement of the project. Members are encouraged to complete project junctures prior to the deadlines.

– March 3 LAUNCH: The project is discussed at the March Songwriters Circle meeting. Project

rules, fees, schedule and other details are subsequently provided to group members via hard copy, email links and postings on the Songwriters Circle website ( and Facebook page.

– June 18 DUPING-PARTICIPATION FEE DEADLINE: Payment of the $85 duping fee serves as confirmation of participation and provides access to the producer’s group recording rate. The fee is used for the manufacture of the CDs, shipping and misc. group expenses.

– July 2 SESSION SCHEDULING DEADLINE: By this date participants must have contacted Mike and scheduled an initial recording session. The session can occur earlier or later, but must be on Mike’s books by this date. To schedule sessions call Electric Eye at 512-785-2132. The session scheduling deadline advances the project and prevents a log jam of new sessions near the recording deadline.

– Jul. 30 FIRST SESSION DEADLINE: The participant’s initial recording session must be completed by this date. The deadline advances the project and prevents a log jam of new sessions near the recording deadline.

– Sept. 24 RECORDING DEADLINE: All recording must be finished. The recording deadline advances the project and accommodates the mastering deadline.

– Oct. 1 CREDITS TEXT DEADLINE: In order to insure the accuracy and timeliness of credits printed on the CD cover, the information is documented in two ways. Mike keeps a running log of all session performances, and songwriters are asked to submit their credits to John at by this date. 

Submit credits in the following format:: 

Song Title by Songwriter Name(s), (professional affiliation if any)

Lead singer name: vocal, instruments played. Musician name: instruments played. Musician name: instruments played. 

Please confirm name spellings before submitting. The credits text deadline accommodates the graphic design deadline.

– Oct. 15 MASTERING-GRAPHIC DESIGN DEADLINE: CD mastering and graphic design are


– Oct. 29 SHIPPING-UPLOADING: CD master and graphics are uploaded. Duping fee is sent

to Nuvidia.

– Nov. 26 DELIVERY: By this date, CDs are to be shipped to John. Distribution to participants


– CD RELEASE EVENT: Due to COVID-19 distancing and venue closings, date and location are pending.

– Jan. 14 CD PICKUP DEADLINE: Project participants must take receipt of their CDs by this date, or make special arrangements with John to receive their CDs later. Failure to

accept CDs by the pickup deadline could result in forfeiture of the CDs with no refund of duping fee

or recording fees. In such case, the participant’s CDs would become the property of Pittsburgh

Songwriters Circle and considered a group album*. This protects John from being used to

warehouse CDs for an extended period of time.

Project rules

Looks like a lot of rules and some sound trivial, but each rule was added the year after someone did or tried to do what the rule is intended to prevent.

This project is a showcase of songs written by members of Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle.

Participating songwriters (or one member of a co-writing team) must be a member of the group.

Membership is free, defined as having attended a meeting of Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle and

inclusion on the group’s mailing list. All members are eligible to participate in the project and

receive the special recording session rate. All members who pay the project’s fees and meet its

deadlines will be included on the album. Failure to meet a deadline or payment deadline without special arrangements could result in expulsion from the album project without refund, and group rate privileges may be rescinded. Electric Eye’s regular rates would then apply.

Each participant may place one song on the album. One song may be recorded at the special

rate. The special recording rate is available only for songs that are placed on the Songwriters

Circle album. If a song recorded at the special group recording rate is withdrawn by the

participant or excluded from the project for any reason, the special rate will no longer apply,

Electric Eye will be due the studio’s full recording rate for those sessions and the duping fee will not be


Songs must arrive at the studio in a state of full or near completion. As producer, Mike is

available to help with song structure, melody, lyrics and editing, arrangement, instrumentation,

studio craft, performance, mix, etc., and in that capacity is not given a songwriting credit. He is a

songwriter, however, and at the member’s request he can participate in the writing of the song,

which would entitle Mike to a co-writing credit. Members are encouraged to workshop songs

intended for the album project at a Songwriters Circle meeting.

All vocal and instrumental tracks must be recorded at Electric Eye. Pre-programmed beats and prerecorded music are not permitted. All mixing and mastering is done at Electric Eye. No recording of any kind is done outside of Electric Eye. This helps to maintain the character of the project as a songwriter-driven and studio-recorded album. It ensures artistic continuity, enhances the project’s educational mission and provides financial incentive for Electric Eye’s continuing participation. It is routine for Mike and/or session musicians to perform on some tracks with the participant’s consent. Mike may recruit and schedule session players at the participant’s request, but session musician payment, if any, is between the participant and the session player. 

One cancellation of a scheduled recording session is acceptable. Seventy-two hour notice

must be given for additional cancellations or the participant will be charged a $40 fee payable to

Mike Hickman.

In the weeks prior to the recording deadline, Electric Eye might not have time to accommodate

sessions for unfinished projects. Songs that are not finished by the recording deadline will not

be included on the album, the special group recording rate will no longer apply and the duping-participation fee will not be refunded.

Many participants present the annual CD as a gift to friends and families. Content is determined by the artist, but please keep the lyrics generally family friendly. A fair guideline is Federal Communications Commission broadcast standards.

Replication and packaging

A compact disc can hold about 70 minutes of signal. If the master exceeds the signal capacity of

one disc, Songwriters Circle may purchase a suitable configuration and packaging. In April, 2021, Nuvidia quoted Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle the following rates (noting at the time that the global market for CD and video parts and accessories had risen, and rates could change). 

1,000 Replicated CDs (1-disc) – Media, Offset/Screen Disc Printing, 4-panel 4/4 Insert, 4/0 Tray Card, Standard Jewel Case with Black Tray, Assembly, Over Wrap at $1.39 each (plus $20 for UPC Barcode) $1,390.

Additional cost for FedEx Ground Shipping (about $160-$180). 

1,000 Replicated CDs (2-disc set) – Media, Offset/Screen Disc Printing, 4-panel 4/4 Insert, 4/4 Tray Card, Double Jewel Case with Black swing arm tray, Assembly, Over Wrap @ $2.05 each (plus $20 for UPC Barcode) $2,050.

Additional cost for FedEx Ground Shipping (about $170-$190).

1,000 Replicated CDs (2-disc set) – Media, Offset/Screen Disc Printing, 6-panel 4/4 Insert, 4/4 Tray Card, Double Jewel Case with Black swing arm tray, Assembly, Over Wrap @ $2.19 each (plus $20 for UPC Barcode) $2,190

Additional cost for FedEx Ground Shipping (about $180-$200).

* Group albums

One thousand CDs are purchased. Those designated “group albums” — owned by the group and not by

individual participants — are cutout from the total to be used by the group for promotional

purposes, or sold or raffled to benefit Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle. Full physical compact discs are sold through CDBaby. Revenues from the sale or raffle of group albums are used for group-related expenses or applied to the following year’s Songwriters Circle album project.


John Hayes Project coordinator, group manager: (cell) 412-335-1446, 101 Daggette Dr., Buena Vista, PA 15018.

Mike Hickman Project producer, Electric Eye Recorders: 512-785-2132, 3347 Melwood Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15219 (Polish Hill).

Tom Beckman Group treasurer: