LONNY RAY - 50 to 1 payout
If you didn’t see the movie 50 To 1 in the theater, be watching for it on DVD and on TV! This major motion picture features Texas actors Christian Kane, Todd Lowe, and Hugo Perez and is directed by Oscar winner Jim Wilson (Dances With Wolves). 50 to 1 is based on the true story of racehorse Mine That Bird, which won the 2009 Kentucky Derby as a 50-to-1 long shot and Lonny Ray’s song is featured.
STEAM Being a songwriter and musician how did you to get involved in this movie?
LR My publishing company is connected with APM Music out of Los Angeles, who is affiliated with BMI of Universal which is one of the largest publishing companies in the world. They have four or five of my songs that they pitch on a daily basis to TV, movies, and other requests that people are looking for. Jim Wilson told the story during a radio interview: they had all the time in the world and were listening to thousands and thousands of songs that had been submitted for the scene. Within 15 seconds of hearing my song they knew it was the right one. I’m just thrilled that they chose it!
STEAM I really can’t wait to see this movie. I have seen the trailers, read the scenarios, and heard the story, which is so inspirational.
LR Jim Wilson is just brilliant and how he depicts the journey of Dr. Black and the owners of Mine That Bird, how they got to the Kentucky Derby, and how it all transpired. I knew the story before I saw the movie and the movie was just spot on; it’s a beautiful story. The world premiere was in Albuquerque, NM, and when Jim Wilson invited me of course I said yes I would go, so I actually had the opportunity to meet Dr. Black and Mine That Bird.
STEAM I’m one of those people that doesn’t know the names of actors although I recognize their faces; I have to see the face with the name to know who it is. But I can say that I recognize all of the cast members and because of what projects the crew has worked on, I knew who they were too!
LR You know I don’t watch much television because I’m always writing, so I don’t know names and faces for that matter either. I attended a cast and crew party the night before the premier and the actors were just so down to earth and such laid-back people; is not what you would expect out of movie stars. I’ll tell you, Christian Kane is a hell of a singer, he played my guitar and sang during one of our radio interviews and because of our mutual involvement in this movie his fan base, “Kaniacs”, has picked up my music too.
STEAM Tell me about the song in the movie.
LR The song in 50 to 1 is called Leaving On Your Mind. I didn’t write this for the movie; I wrote it back in 2002 and it’s a very personal song. At the time I was traveling and playing out a lot and I just happened to come home one evening to see this look in my wife’s eyes. I knew it was time to change what I was doing, try to include her more in my career, and be more serious about my marriage. So I wrote this song as a kind of therapy for me; that’s what I do quite often when I’m writing, it gives me an outlet to say what I feel. I’m very lucky to say that we are still together and very much in love; we’ve been married for 28 years.
STEAM Was it a surprise to find out that you would had A song in this movie
LR I actually knew that I have a song in the movie, long before it came out; I believe it was in October, maybe even before that. I was asked if I would like to know how much of the song they would use, what section it was used, and I said absolutely not; I want to see it when it’s ready.
I also knew that the movie was about Mine That Bird, because I had actually watched the race. In fact, I watch every Kentucky Derby and I remember that race vividly because he was such a long shot, and he won by such a wide margin it was an unforgettable race. The surprise to me was getting an email and then a call from Jim Wilson, inviting me to the world premiere. And the funny thing is, when he called I was actually in the middle of taking the garbage out and my wife yelled out to me “Can you get your big head back in the house?” and I said, “I’m a superstar now I shouldn’t be doing this.” She told me I’d be doing it next week too!
STEAM You mentioned your Publishing company and the group that you go through. I think a lot of young and upcoming songwriters don’t understand the actual need for this. Could you give me a real brief 101 on why you want to use a publishing company and what they do for you?
LR Lately, because of my success, I’ve had young writers come to me asking for advice. My first piece of advice is always: Don’t. This is a rough business, don’t get caught in it. I’m just kidding, but really what I do is try to explain that they need to be with a publishing company. These guys are out there playing every night, working really hard and writing the songs. Playing out and being on stage is the fun side of this business, but if you don’t go through publishing company and publish what you’ve written you aren’t going make any money. So simply put, publishing companies make sure you get paid as a writer. They also protect your work from being taken.
STEAM As a songwriter, do you have specific tools or techniques that you need to write?
LR I’ve had hooks and ideas hit me right in the middle of the sleep; wake me up and I have to write it down. I realized a long time ago that if I didn’t make a schedule up songwriting would just consume me, so I do have a schedule that I work off of. And I do write daily; sometimes I’ll have four or five songs to work on. It’s not often that I come up with the whole song right then and there, so a schedule is what works for me. I write about 100 to 150 songs throughout the year in which maybe 30 or 35 will get demoed. So it’s process and “the more you write, the better you get”, at least that’s what they say in the business, and it’s true to me.
STEAM When a song is chosen for a movie or TV show do they buy the whole song or just the portion they use? How does that work?
LR The residual royalties from BMI, which will come later as this movie is picked up in theaters around the country and then to DVD and TV. The royalties are really where the money comes from and again that’s where the publishing companies come in. I’ve had songs placed in other shows such as Showtime series Dexter, the reality shows Texas Multi Mamas and Combat Pawn, and a number of others, but it’s been this movie that has really made my music take off. Actually, for this song I wrote the song and I performed the song, so they paid an upfront performance fee as well.
STEAM This song is a country song; do you only write in one genre?
LR I typically write country music. I’m from a small town north of Detroit and some of my influences are from Motown. I grew up listening to my mom’s Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross, and other Motown favorites. When I first started out, I listened to a lot of Bob Seger and a few years ago Robyn Robins, the keyboard player and founding member of the Silverbullet Band, produced one of my songs for me. Occasionally, I throw a little twist in there and I’ve written a few rock songs and a few pop songs, but generally I enjoy country music and that’s the genre, I stick with.
STEAM I know you’ve got to get going, so is there anything I missed?
LR Just to call your local radio stations and request my song, "Leaving On Your Mind"! My music is available on iTunes and CD baby. And please see this movie! You will really enjoy it!