Tim Halperin – Songwriter, Vocalist
If at first you don’t succeed…Tim Halperin’s first American Idol tryout was a bust. A few years later, he borrowed a buddy’s laptop, pulled up a seat, and sang a cappella for a webcam audition. This time around, he ended up in Los Angeles on a wild, musical ride.
As we discuss Tim’s 2011 American Idol adventure, his strong faith is evident. A finalist during season 10, Tim truly believes he went as far as he was “supposed to go” on the show. Leaving with a boost of momentum, he went on to meet his wife and establish a multi-faceted music business.
Climbing off his scooter at the crowded coffee shop in Franklin, TN, I can easily imagine Tim singing and performing in front of a crowd. With his athletic good looks and constant smile, the pop artist is immediately engaging and likable. Besides juggling his performance dates and recording sessions, the Nebraska native spends a large chunk of his time writing songs – and playing his very own golf arcade game. I hear some songwriters say they start their writing sessions with a song title in their minds and go from there. That’s not the way it works for Tim. Songwriting is his diary – a journal of his life moments. “Music expresses the mile markers of my life,” he explains.
This 30-year-old TCU alum and college football fiend writes all or part of every song you hear on a Tim Halperin record. His songs are soulful and speak to a truth. Surprisingly, the melody comes to him very quickly. If the melody takes too long, it is usually not as memorable, he confesses. “When I don’t force the melody of the song and let go, things come together in a natural way,” he continues. Laughing in his easy style, he admits the lyrics can sometimes take a while to work themselves out.
Tim nods quickly when I ask if he always has ideas for the next song floating around in his head. “Songwriting is a state of mind, and I try to keep that part of my brain open to creativity on any given day,” he tells me. He describes having coffee with a project photographer recently. In conversation, the photographer used the word “weightless.” Tim, snapping his fingers, says the word jumped out at him, and he went home and wrote a song for his new EP. When I prod, he confides the chorus only took him a few minutes to come up with. The rest of the song “took a bit longer” – a couple of hours!
Nowadays, Tim spends a large portion of his time writing for television and films. “It is now a big part of what I do and how I make a living,” he remarks. Unlike many artists, Tim owns the rights to his songs, and he is able to license his music for tv, movies, and advertisements, even wedding videos. Writing a song for licensing purposes is distinctly different, for Tim anyway. “I am writing, not necessarily from experiences, but with a concept (a farewell or a beginning or an event) in mind,” he explains.
White, a gift to his bride in 2014, is one of Tim’s songs doing well in the licensing space. Like White, the catchy Dance also does well with streaming, downloads, and licenses. I love Forever Starts Today, and so did the 20 million people watching the NCIS season finale in May. Tim’s grin grows even bigger as he tells me the network ran the entire song, which is not common. If you have a song playing for a significant amount of time on a show, it gives the viewers a chance to Shazam it, Google it, play it again, or record it. “It was incredibly fun,” he smiled. More good news – on the latest iPhone update, Forever Starts Today is featured in the Memories section of the Photos app.
“The best thing is feeling like my music has become a part of someone’s story.”
Tim reveals he usually knows right away the songs he wants to move forward on and those he wants to toss aside. Typically he writes with producers, splitting the song percentage-wise and avoiding production costs. After tweaking and finishing the song, they head into the studio to produce the actual track, recording vocals and instruments. Although many of the instruments we hear on finished records are digital, Tim still employs actual musicians quite a bit. He likes live drums, piano, strings, almost all his guitars are live. Although tough for our ears to tell the difference, he believes many songs just need real musicians.
You can expect a new project and several releases from Tim early next year. He is excited about the slicker, “poppier” sounds. His Idol days? “They feel like a dream, and I am thankful for where they led me,” he responds. He loves all aspects of his music business but admits he still “aims for the moon.” In his gracious way, he says he’d “love to play in a huge arena, receive instant feedback, hear my songs on the radio.” “Nothing can beat that,” he adds.
Photos courtesy of Tim Halperin