Biography



A lot has been written about Scott Cooley, most of it by Scott himself, and you're in for a treat to find such autobiographical material here at scottcooley.com.  This page displays several versions of Scott's bio, due to him taking advice that it was not a bad idea to revise it from time to time.



2019 Version

As a recording artist, Scott is particularly notable for being:
  • Among the first indie artists to sell music in prominent web music stores:  In the early 2000s, Scott was among the very first wave of independent recording artists to sell his music in major online music retailers such as CDs via Amazon and MP3 downloads via iTunes when independent aggregator services first began to offer inexpensive digital music distribution.
  • An innovator of a signature sound frequently described as "acoustic garage rock":  At the very least Scott has been a significant contributor to putting out recordings that feature the playing of rock and roll music on acoustic instruments with drums and bass.  Defying existing popular music conventions, Scott has somewhat pioneered a unique overall sound that features a variety of styles of music - mostly what would be classified as rock, but also including hints of blues, Americana, Caribbean, zydeco, folk, reggae, sea shanty, and surf rock - played on all acoustic instruments typically with minimalist drums, percussion, acoustic bass, backing vocals, and a concise instrumental break with tight arrangements in a variety of song forms and tempos.  That basic recipe is occasionally augmented by harmonica, marimba, ukulele and piano to add to the variety.  Intentionally sloppy, he avoids digital trickery to correct minor imperfections, preferring the real and honest results over computer-generated fake quality.  No auto-tune, drum loops or virtual instruments are ever used, and each track is recorded with a single microphone, then mixed and mastered with minimal effects application.  Overall you get a style of garage rock as if it were played on acoustic-only instruments, with some overlap with folk-punk, and although the speed and electricity of punk are missing, the lack of virtuosity and rebellious attitude are not.
  • Consistently prolific:  Since 2004, Scott has self-released a new official full-length album every other year in even-numbered years, and as of 2022, the total count of the catalog is at 10 such albums.  Each contains at least a dozen new, previously-unreleased originals, so the output offerings for sale have been released at a more frequent pace and with a slightly higer than average track count than the album and song output of more popular mainstream major-label artists.
  • A do-it-all-yourselfer:  Scott writes all the words and music for all of the songs, sings all the vocals, plays all the instruments (except occasional accordion by his lovely wife Lenore), produces all the songs, arranges all the songs, handles all of the recording, engineering, mixing, mastering, label management, CD packaging artwork, publishing, copyright registration, licensing administration, and submission for final distribution.  This has given Scott a great feeling of satisfaction.  Many solo artists simply play guitar and sing, then hire pros to do everything else, but Scott loves the great feeling of satisfaction of doing it all himself, like many do when they tackle their own home improvement projects instead of hiring pro plumbers or electricians, for example.

As a songwriter, Scott is particularly notable for being:
  • A writer of a few "regionally-popular" songs about his home state:  A few notable titles include "Smitten with the Mitten" a folk ballad intended to be considered as being designated as "one of" the state songs for his home state of Michigan;  "Mackinac Island" which is perhaps his most popular about a tourist destination in Lake Huron that features light-hearted humor; and "Coney" about an eating experience unique to the area.
  • A writer of several songs about sailing and skiing, two of his passions:  Most notably, these include "Shoreline Miles," "Haul Away On The Halyard," "Big Air," and "Mountain Time."
  • A writer of songs that demonstrate considerable variety and quality:  Despite have a signature sound due to a distinct singing voice and acoustic instrumentation choices, Scott has been able to write songs in a variety of song forms, tempos, time signatures, and genres with a variety of subject matter including serious, humorous, and heartfelt songs about love and relationships.  Most are positive and mid or up tempo, and demonstrate an intelligent & sophisticated, yet slightly rebellious perspective with an exceptional command of language due in large part to the bachelor's in English from Albion College he earned that included intense poetry and other types of creative writing, and working in a day job career as a professional writer for over twenty years.
  • A songwriting competition award-winner:  Scott is proud to have won a prestigious award in the annual Billboard Song Contest, a major and prominent contest sponsored by Billboard Magazine.  Sadly, it is now defunct, but he has the t-shirt to prove it.
  • A past member of the Mid-Michigan Songwriters Group:  Getting together with some of the best from the area for songwriter-in-the-round style song swapping when formerly a resident of that region of the state.
  • A past attendee at Lamb's Retreat for Songwriters:  Scott was honored to be able to attend, but also to participate as a performer at the premier camp-style event in Michigan that attracts the state's best songwriters such as Joel Mabus and The Accidentals to name a couple.  Scott not only played originals to great applause from the discerning audience of top writers, but also successfully delivered the well-received assignment song with accolades on the last day.
  • A writer with his own publishing company:  As the sole songwriter, publisher and master rights holder, Scott set up Scott Richard Cooley Music Publishing to administer his own copyrights, mechanical licences for cover versions of his songs, and synchronization licenses for his recordings.  He is also formally established with a CAE/IPI number with ASCAP for performance royalty collection, with over 100 registered songs; and other various royalty licencing services that collect on his behalf for streaming and download sales in online music retail sites and apps such as Spotify, YouTube Music, Apple Music and Amazon Music.  

As a musician, Scott is particularly notable for being:
  • A self-taught multi-instrumentalist:  Aside from one Intro to Guitar class his Senior year in college, Scott is completely self-taught.  After acoustic guitar, which included eventually learning to play lead guitar solos on his own with both a pick and a slide, he quickly progressed to teaching himself acoustic bass guitar, then hand percussion and drums of various sorts to get a stripped-down, yet full band sound.  Later he expanded that basic core band instrumentation further to include teaching himself harmonica, then marimba, then in recent years, he's added ukulele to several recordings and even some rudimentary piano, to augment it with sound variety.  Rather than practicing a lot and being really good at one or two instruments, he prefers the satisfaction of playing everything you hear.
  • A unique lead guitarist:  Quite a few of his songs include interesting, complimentary lead guitar fills to accompany rhythm tracks.  A majority of his recordings, however, include instrumental breaks that often include lead solos, often on acoustic guitar with a pick, but also acoustic Hawaiian lap steel with a slide, while less frequently with ukulele (when not employing harmonica, marimba, or piano).  Some stick to a straight melody line, others are more improvisational, while some include a blend of the two.  Scott is a believer in guitar solos acting as a climax of a song and being an important aspect of his overall musical style. Fans regard this as an underrated and exciting part of his recorded music.

As a singer, Scott is particularly notable for being:
  • Unafraid of the vulnerability that comes with making his singing public on recordings:  A warm relaxing baritone speaking voice known to have a calming effect on people translates interestingly to singing with passion and spirit.  Maintaining confidence in delivering his own songs with an admittedly unconventional vocal quality such as the way Bob Dylan does despite a lack of natural talent or formal voice training is something Scott is adept at.  In this way, it's highly possible cover versions of Scott's original songs by other artists may be more palatable to some listener's tastes who prefer a more mainstream, commercial style of vocal, but Scott never lets that reality deter him from singing on his own record releases.  Many fans find it to be more than adequate enough to deliver the gist of each song, and because of this have encouraged him to perform live more often.

As a performer, Scott is particularly notable for being:
  • A former member of notable groups, duos and stage-sharer with prominent musicians:  The "performed with" list includes duos Cobb & Cooley -who landed the coveted headlining apres-ski gig at a slopeside apres-ski bar the Sundance Saloon in Vail, Co; and Marr & Cooley who played together sporadically in prominent venues in both Colorado and Michigan;  bands The Bus Drivers, Surreal, Lake Effect, and Acoustic Jones; and formerly playing with now-established solo artist J. Scott Thompson, to name drop a few.  In each Scott was typically relegated to lead guitarist without many vocal duties.
  • Decidedly unseasoned:  It's perhaps unusual that a prolific songwriter and solo artist does not regularly perform in front of audiences.  With a preference for writing songs and recording them in available time, Scott has transitioned from playing in various bands and duos with both opening and headlining paid gigs in bars and coffee houses to someone who intentionally limits his performances to only a few appearances per year at most - a songwriting retreat, an annual festival, a private party or two, an occasional house concert, or even an open mic night to try out new songs on live audiences - but these are increasingly rare.  Memorizing his own songs is an issue he could overcome with dedication to practice, but chooses not to.  It's not that Scott can't entertain an audience with great stage presence, banter and sizing up then reacting to hold attention - he's done so on numerous occasions to great applause.  Nor is it his lack of singing ability, or overweight appearance - both of which he's admittedly a little self-conscious about when playing live.  It's simply that the songwriting and recording aspects of music he loves most are in his opinion the best use of his time due the intense passion he has for them.
  • Without a strong video presence:  Without the looks, vocal chops, and software-generated perfection most artists with music videos have, let alone the live performance footage, visuals have not a priority.  That said, there are a few self-produced videos featuring his music on YouTube - a lyric video, a picture video or two, a live stage performance or two - all of which he produced himself via free self-education available online.  He did appear as a featured solo artist playing live on a community access television station once on an episode of a show called “Songwriters Open Mic On The Road” in Harbor Springs, Michigan that aired in Ann Arbor.  Scott is aware the lack of a strong video presence online is an area for improvement, since it's an increasingly popular way people prefer to consume music these days.  On the other hand, Scott is an artist whose primary focus has always been on the quality of the songs themselves and on the listening experience of the studio audio recordings alone.

2018 Version

Cooley, Scott Richard (born June 21st, 1967 in Flint, Michigan) is a songwriter and musician who is not particularly notable in any way.  Due to the fact that he has never been a live performer who sought press coverage, no independent reliable media sources have ever published any works about him.  He has not ever participated in any sort of a concert tour.  

He did however appear as a featured solo artist playing live on a community access television station once on an episode of a show called “Songwriters Open Mic On The Road” in Harbor Springs, Michigan that aired in Ann Arbor. 

Although he has self-released via aggregator distributors several albums and many songs, none have ever appeared on any country's national music chart at all, let alone achieved any sales certifications. 

His albums have not ever been affiliated with any type of record label - whether it be major, important indie, or non-important indie.  

He has actually played in ensembles that featured musicians who later gained independent notoriety either as prominent members of other groups (Corbin Daugherty of Acoustic Circus) or as solo artists (J. Scott Thompson).  

Not only has he been listed as being influential as a songwriter by other songwriters, he has also been named as being influential as a DIY independent producer, performer and engineer of recorded garage rock music played on all acoustic instruments who was among the first to release recordings online through aggregator distributors when such a thing became possible.  

Riding the coat tails of Detroit-based garage rock revival bands of the early 2000s such as the White Stripes and the popular MTV show Unplugged, Scott brought together the spirit of other influential Michigan garage rock bands such as The Stooges, MC5, Question Mark and the Mysterians, and Grand Funk Railroad with the all-acoustic folk punk sound of the Violent Femmes.  

In the mid-2000s, Scott's early album releases in online music stores such as iTunes and Amazon helped to define what was later described as "Acoustic Garage Rock," and in doing so, made him a prominent representative of that style of music, particularly in the Great Lakes region where fans appreciated lyrical subject matter about the region.  

Also during this time period, he entered a now-defunct international songwriting contest sponsored by Billboard magazine and won an honorable mention t-shirt.  

One such song that is perhaps his most well-known is titled "Mackinac Island."  

Another called "Smitten With The Mitten" was said to be a candidate for consideration of being designated one of the state songs for the state of Michigan, and further, for consideration of use in public elementary school music classes for the purpose of teaching children the state symbols.  

Scott has been described as having a sound that is a blend of two of his biggest influences - Jimmy Buffett and the Violent Femmes - so you can imagine songs about boats and beaches and islands with a Carribbean flavor played on acoustic-only instruments in a stripped-down, minimalist band with hints of punk rock and Motown, delivered with whiny Midwestern vocals.  ;-) 

Emerging from a poverty-stricken area known for violence, unemployment and a lack of potable water taught Scott survival skills that have served him well in not giving up on a music career that has enjoyed steady, organic growth.

Scott's musical history, which began with taking Intro To Guitar as a Senior-year "blow off class" in college, evolved to playing lead guitar in blues and classic rock bands, performing as one half of an acoustic duo with an apres-ski gig at a ski area, to teaching himself to play new instruments such as harmonica, ukulele, bass, marimba, keyboards, drums & percussion, to the award-winning singer-songwriter and indie solo recording artist that he is today. 

Among the most impressive accomplishments are the fact that every two years since the turn of the century, Scott has released a new album of original songs on which he does everything you hear himself.  In all, the catalog includes well over 100 self-penned, produced and recorded originals performed with both a signature acoustic garage rock style, but with hints of tropical and Americana and a nice variety in song form, subject matter, tempo and even instrumentation.

On the positive side, the do-it-all-yourself home studio recordings are somewhere in between a rough demo tape and polished product from a professional studio and producer.  So some minor imperfections and a somewhat amateur quality keeps it refreshingly real compared to the slick, fake-sounding mainstream music of today.

Really good songwriting from someone raised on the popular music of the late 70s and early 80s with a great appreciation for America's best singer-songwriters and acoustic guitarists overcomes any lack of auto-tuning, programmed drum loops, or virtual instruments.  Each song gives you a raw version in which you can hear great potential that involving pros and investing money might realize;  and yet somehow, fans grow to appreciate and even prefer these under-produced versions the way they are.

Fresh out of the studio from completion of his 8th full-length studio album, Missing The Boat, Scott's plans include an exclusive annual festival in Northern Michigan in support of the release, and perhaps even getting out on a lake (albeit in someone else's boat - the only way to do it)!



Single Sentence Elevator Pitch Bio

Scott Cooley is an award-winning, non-performing songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist from Michigan who self-releases demo compilation albums in an acoustic garage rock style and aspires to sell songs to major label recording artists seeking songs to cut for their upcoming albums.





Unique Selling Point (USP)

Scott's songs sell based on word of mouth advertising, and they are the unique selling point.  Also unique is the fact that Scott is a one man show (demo production, publishing, licensing, etc.), and this site is a one stop shop for all such dealings.  Like some non-performing songwriters, Scott is a digital recording artist himself, and you can buy Scott's versions of his own songs on the Store page of this site, and in many other online stores.  The Home page displays two relevant sections:  'Who is Scott?', and 'What kinds of songs?'.  These sum it up pretty well, but you have to listen to the songs understand that the songs are not just great as recorded by Scott (which you can easily get hooked on), but they are also appropriate for today's star recording artists to record and release.  Check out the Samples page to listen to them, and the Licensing page to get a license to record them.

50 Words or Less Bio

Scott Cooley is a guy from Michigan who writes and records songs using an acoustic guitar as his primary instrument.  He is a self-taught musician who used to play lead guitar in some living room bands and duos who had some paying gigs at public venues when he was in his early twenties.  In his later twenties, he progressed to writing and performing songs solo at open microphone nights at coffee shops and bars.  From his thirties until now, he has continued to write songs and now records them and releases albums and songs for sale in online stores.  He has also entered a songwriting contest or two, and along the way has contemplated having studio musicians and vocalists record more professional sounding demos of his best songs for the purpose of pitching them to famous artists who are looking for songs to record, or to music supervisors on film projects who are looking for songs to place in films.
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Scott Cooley,
Sep 30, 2013, 9:25 PM