Hey Reddit!

I am hanging out today to answer questions on songwriting, rock n' roll, and anything else you might want to know from me. Probably most known for my work as a founding member of Survivor and The Ides of March, but I've also worked with bands like .38 Special, REO Speedwagon, Brian Wilson, and Cheap Trick.

Other than music, I wrote the book "Songwriting for Dummies" but won't point fingers at anyone here!

I have posted proof that I am really Jim Peterik on my Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/jimpeterik/

And also on my Facebook Page if you are more into liking: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-Peteriks-Official-Page/112701323497

Might take a break to record during the day but I’ll do my best to answer your questions for the next few hours!

UPDATE: This is fantastic. Going to record some acoustic tracks but I will be back in 30 minutes or so to answer more questions.
UPDATE #2: Thanks for all the questions today. Need to get back to recording today - so I think I am going to call it. Was a great 4 hours with you Reddit and hope to be back!

This was a rewarding experience, Reddit! For anyone who wants to stay in touch or up to date - I am available through my Facebook Page and my website. I share my music and concert footage on Facebook.

Comments: 1465 • Responses: 27  • Date: 

seablue777 karma

Do you still get nice royalties for "Eye of the Tiger"?

imyourvehicle850 karma

Did not see this one get voted up. I call my house and studio "The place that Sylvester Stallone built." I have been blessed by the song and rarely does a week go by when a request does not come in for a usage of the song for TV, commercial, or movie placement. So yes, it has been the gift that keeps on giving.

courthouseman114 karma

Yes, this. And also, how does the royalty payment schedule work?

imyourvehicle115 karma

I get paid by my publisher quarterly and also receive quarterly payments from ASCAP.

tyler1522444 karma

Why is it impossible to lose a boxing match if you come out to your song.

imyourvehicle435 karma

Haha! I think it is a combination of the beat, heart and soul of the song that makes people invincible.

[deleted]359 karma


imyourvehicle457 karma

Deb! She never rubs me the wrong way and is an amazing massage therapist. Will do.

DeadBacon299 karma

I've heard that the song is called "Eye of the Tiger" because you in fact have a tiger eye and a human eye. What does it feel like being part tiger?

imyourvehicle373 karma

Haha. This is just a common rumor. Two human eyes as far as I know.

Th4t_Irish_Guy270 karma

What is that one song that you wish you had wrote?

imyourvehicle578 karma

This is a great question. Probably "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys. Brilliant both lyrically and musically.

mkdz231 karma

What do you think of the Starbucks commercials that use your song?

imyourvehicle469 karma

I found the commercial funny. And an effective campaign - and I don't mind the residual checks showing up in my mailbox either!

MarsNeedsScars225 karma

How do you deal with being music history's greatest monster? Also, what do you think of Weird Al's "Rye & The Kaiser"?

imyourvehicle419 karma

Haha. I am big fan of his parody of Eye of the Tiger. Especially like the line "Stay away from the tuna, it smells fishy today." Almost did not grant a license to Al for this song but I am glad that Michael Jackson changed my mind.

juular227 karma

I would love to hear the story behind Michael Jackson changing your mind. Does this mean you met Michael?

imyourvehicle689 karma

I knew Michael through Bruce Swedien - who was Michael's long-time engineer. When Michael heard my song - "Gift of Song" - he said to Bruce "He is writing about me."

When Michael gave Weird Al permission to "Beat It" as the template for "Eat It" - he convinced me that this was a cool thing to do. Never regretted it for a minute.

wirralriddler143 karma

What do you think is your greatest work? Eye of the Tiger or something else? Also what do you think is your most underrated song?

imyourvehicle300 karma

I think that from an impact and popularity view - EOTT is the greatest. It seems that different generations can attach to the song and make it part of their own DNA.

Most underrated song - probably the ballad we wrote for Rocky III but it was never used in the film. "Ever Since the World Began" is the name of the song and it is on the Eye of the Tiger album by Survivor. Special meaning for me since it was the last song I played for my father before he passed.

littlemonster010129 karma

Is the other co-writer of "Eye of the Tiger" from Chicago? I knew a girl who claimed that her uncle wrote it.

imyourvehicle189 karma

Frankie Sullivan is the co-author and he is from Franklin Park - so your friend could be right!

Ilovebobbysinger122 karma

Awesome. Thanks for doing this.:)

How lucrative is songwriting today vs in the 80's?

Would you say that most songwriters are good poets?

What is the most important talent/quality to have as a songwriter?

imyourvehicle228 karma

Thanks for the questions.

Songwriting is still the best place to make money in the music industry. But the royalties from downloads are not the same as the royalties from albums and CDs. That said - airplay monitored by ASCAP and BMI still pay a full rate. So this is where you can still make money "like the 80s."

For poets - most songwriters have different skill sets. Elton John without Bernie Taupin, his lyricist, would not have been the Elton John we know. I like doing both lyrics and music but still think that collaboration is powerful.

To be a good songwriter - you really need to be a piece of blotter paper to all that is around you. Just soak up headlines, current events, one-line comments, and situations that you are part of. This is the most important thing for me - and where most of my songs come from!

jyosef96 karma

Is there a story behind the lyrics?

imyourvehicle186 karma

It is all in my book coming out in 2012 called "Through the Eye of the Tiger" :) Let's just say for the time - the song started with a message from Sylvester Stallone on my answering machine.

Iced_TeaFTW78 karma

Not a question, just want you to know that I will ALWAYS have a special place in my heart for this song. I was a Pop Warner cheerleader and to this date, STILL remember the routine we had to this song for half time show. LOVE this song!!

imyourvehicle87 karma

Thanks! I love hearing stories connected to my music.

GetLikeMe68 karma

Did you see last week's episode of New Girl?

I'm not going to assume that you watch it regularly otherwise, but in the episode, a character tried to teach "Eye of the Tiger" to a high school bell choir, and he ended up yelling at them because he said it was an amazing song and that they weren't doing it justice.

(And that comment didn't do the episode/series any justice either, so that's upsetting.)

I hope this isn't the first you're hearing of this and that you will not sue the crap out of the show's producers for using the song without permission (I can't imagine they did though).

imyourvehicle69 karma

Did not catch it live - but was able to see a clip. No suing the crap out of producers here.

Guskau60 karma

Hello Jim! I'm Dennis from germany. How far are your Plans for the new Pride of Lions album and do you see a Chance to work again with Sullivan and Jamison maybe just for songwriting?

imyourvehicle58 karma

Thanks for stopping by Dennis. I am actually writing songs for the new Pride of Lions album as we speak (like today in the studio) - check my Facebook page (in the intro) for pictures and hopefully rough tracks. Planning a European tour to coincide with the release in Spring 2012.

No plans to write with Survivor at this time, however.

Guskau36 karma

I always wished you come to german with Pride of Lions or solo! Last you had the gig in Ludwigsburg I totaly missed because of a illnes. So if you really like to tour here me and my wife would totaly go crazy!!!

imyourvehicle33 karma

I hope you can make it to a European show as well. Thanks for kind words.

mwell1060 karma

What are your views on pirated music? Is it better to spread music for free or for record labels to make a bunch of money of off artists?

imyourvehicle90 karma

Figure I should comment on this topic. I am most concerned about artists and songwriters being compensated for their materials. I feel that piracy can discourage the rewards for creativity - so it can definitely discourage artists from pursuing their passion. I don't feel that is right.

danhammond48 karma

What kind of music do you like currently? Do you stick with the old stuff or do you listen to new music?

imyourvehicle98 karma

I am pretty into contemporary Jazz lately - not elevator jazz but artists like Acoustic Alchemy, Keiku Matsui, Spiro Gyra, and Larry Carlton. Because of this music - I have released a few albums under the project Jim Peterik's Lifeforce. We just released our second album called Forces at Play featuring Mindi Abair, Lisa McClowry, and some other great contemporary jazz musicians. You can listen to some of the tracks on my Facebook "BandPage" if you are interested.

kingmelchizedek36 karma

Were you really trying to make "Burning Heart" another 'Eye of the Tiger'...or was it its own thing??

imyourvehicle47 karma

Great question. Of course, Eye of the Tiger was the model for Burning Heart. But we did not want to make a clone and made the tempo and chord changes different. We also shifted the message to be about the world getting along instead of self-empowerment.

catrpillr30 karma

Any tips you could give to someone just starting with a band? A few friends and I are thinking of playing something... we've got no idea how to write songs, though - only doing covers atm. Thanks for doing the IAmA :)

imyourvehicle70 karma

Use your influences wisely. The Beatles were able to take over where Chuck Berry and the Everly Brothers - so people were ready to listen.

Don't be afraid to borrow from the people that your listening to - just make sure your band makes it your own.

jmk442226 karma

After owning Rock Band for the Wii for less than a month my sister banned my niece and nephew (8 and 6 at the time) from ever playing Eye of the Tiger again because she said they played it at least six times an hour and she was sick of it. To this day, whenever she hears this song, she seems to experience some flash backs or something and ends up freaking out. My niece and nephew find this hilarious, as do I. Your thoughts?

imyourvehicle42 karma

I love that a whole new market has adopted music from the past through RockBand and Guitar Hero. Parents tell me often that the Tiger is their kid's favorite song. Tell your niece and nephew they made my day.

icehouse_lover26 karma

I loved hearing you talk about music on the Steve Dahl show when he was doing the afternoon drives on Chicago Radio.

What was it like working with Brian Wilson? Given his reported erratic behavior, was there ever a point where you concerned that it was going to be a waste of time?

Do you have a favorite song that you wrote? Any particular reason that it is your favorite?

imyourvehicle40 karma

I was never concerned that working with Brian would be a waste of time - he always had great ideas and was receptive to mine as well.

My favorite song that I wrote is probably "Vehicle" with The Ides of March. The song has stood the test of time and has been performed by everyone from Sammy Davis, Jr to Tom Jones and even Bo Bice on American Idol.

jonkdavis25 karma

I'm a huge fan of TIoM!!! My music teacher in high school got me into you guys and I've loved you ever since. I really miss blazing horn sections (Chicago/Blood, Sweat & Tears/Tower of Power). I have two questions:

When you have writer's block, what exactly do you do? I find myself struggling with lyrics all the time...


Would you mind checking out my music and telling me what you think? jonmiklues.com

imyourvehicle36 karma

Great question!

Personally - I revisit notebooks and recordings to see some of the ideas I may have had in the past that were not finished at the time. This usually shakes me out of my block. If the does not work - try physical activity or something outside of music to stimulate your brain.

I wish I could provide feedback on everyone's music - but cannot for legal reasons. Sorry about that.

justamobile17 karma

Have you met Sylvester Stallone personally? So you think he did justice for your song in Rocky III ?

I'm a huge fan of the Rocky films :)

imyourvehicle47 karma

I have met Sylvester numerous times. The most memorable was at his office in Universal City, CA to discuss plans for Burning Heart. At that time - we were calling the song "The Unmistakable Fire" with the open going "In the human heart/Just about to burst" but we all knew that was pretty lame. Frankie Sullivan then said "How about "In the burning heart?" and Stallone lit up. Sylvester said "It still needs something else" to which I responded "A sonic explosion after the word heart." Stallone was great at sparking creativity in a room.

I met him again three years ago at Fox TV and we hugged. I thanked him from the heart for giving an unknown band like Survivor a chance at the title in 1982.

TPJ13 karma

Thank you so much for doing an AMA!

I am an aspiring songwriter, 21 years old, who has moved to London to pursue a career in music. I spend a majority of my time (20 - 30 hours a week) writing music.

1) If you could travel back in time to yourself at age 21, what advice would you offer yourself pertaining to music/songwriting (obviously if you could go back in time, you would tell yourself to buy stock in Facebook, and steer clear of crazy girl X, hence why I specify the subject matter)

2) What do your creative periods look like? For example, do you write songs only when motivated, or do you commit a certain amount of time a day and say "I am working on project X for Z amount of hours".

3) I feel like I can never live up to the greats, I hear those songs by my favourite artists, and I have one or two where all the parts work so perfectly that I just think "I could write songs for the next 200 years and never be write anything as good as this". Did you ever have this feeling? Who were your idols?

In closing, what is your most generic advice towards success in the art of songwriting?

I have never asked questions in an AMA, not for politicians, scientists, and many other amazing people. You are the first person I've seen post one where I HAD to ask something, so thanks again for doing this.

Edit: Grammar

imyourvehicle21 karma

1) Find your own style. When I was 21 - I did not know who I was musically and it really hurt The Ides of March. We transferred from British Invasion to a horn-driven band before switching to country-rock. Fans could not get a handle on who we were so establish a style and stick with it.

2) I am writing constantly from the moment I wake up. Sometimes I even compose in my dreams so I always carry an iPhone to record and capture random ideas (or a notebook). If you a dream a song - never think you'll remember it in the morning.

3) I feel like this everyday. But every song starts small and grows into something bigger. If you are intimidated by your own or other's - you'll never be able to actually write a song. I've worked with many songwriters that shoot themselves in the foot by comparing the early stages of a song to past hits. Each song can be special and unique - so focus on the process and you might write a few good ones.

4) Create a relatable lyric theme and always have a hook.

canadianinboston6 karma

Hey Jim = )

I'm currently studying at Berklee in their Contemporary Writing & Production major with the Video Game Scoring minor. I was curious as to if you think the post-secondary education is worth it, also, if you know of any methods for networking (I.e having a portfolio, going to meet lots of people, whatever other methods that have worked for you)

Thanks!! = )

imyourvehicle11 karma

My son Sijay is currently at Columbia College in Chicago - so I am definitely supportive. I never studied music in college but studied psychology, which came in handy dealing with certain band members.

Looking back - I am sorry that I did not study the bones of music. For instance, if I was asked to write a movie score I would have to hum the parts to someone able to actually write the score. This is a handicap. However, book learning and theory is no substitute for raw talent and practice, so I think playing out is still the coin of the realm.

Networking is also important with any profession - it something I still do and it has been a blast.