ASCAP “I CREATE MUSIC” EXPO 2013: Behind the Curtains
Were you at the ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo this year? One-on-one listening and feedback sessions with industry executives, peer-to-peer networking, awareness of imperative regulatory lobbying on Capitol Hill and a solid lineup of acclaimed panelists made for an informative and eventful conference. If you missed it, you can still purchase the online access to the recorded panels through the ASCAP website.
During the Expo, we heard from accomplished A&R executives such as Tina Davis, who discovered Chris Brown, as well as from artists and producers like Stargate, Ne-yo, Katy Perry, Jill Scott and Big Sean. Some panelists who represented major international publishers even provided their contact information and were seeking song submissions. Award winning international songwriters graced the panels to recount golden nuggets from their respective career paths.
An overarching theme of advice was to stay focused no matter what; keep developing your authenticity as a writer, artist, producer, or musician so that your songs stand alone and speak for themselves. As you do so, the dots will continue to connect and shape your career path as you remain open to opportunities and fine tune your instincts. Each milestone you reach prepares you for the next.
Many attendees enjoyed the interactive co-writing session hosted by artist/songwriter Priscilla Renea, whom ASCAP reported: wowed last year’s EXPO by performing some of her biggest songs at the closing Writers Jam: “California King Bed” (Rihanna), “Who Says” (Selena Gomez) and “Love Spent” (Madonna).
During Priscilla’s session, attending songwriters gathered in a large conference room and were placed into separate writing teams. Each group was given the same instrumental track and a limited amount of time to write the best verse possible. When the writing time ended, each team had the opportunity to present their melody and lyrics on stage.
Priscilla selected the best two verses in the room and recorded them live. At the end of the session, the entire room listened proudly to the freshly recorded song. ASCAP has found this to be a way to engage their attendees and to enrich their experiences. Going forward, this could be an opportunity to not only add value for attendees, but also to leverage their talent through more interactive workshops.
A special feature of the Expo is the final Songwriter’s showcase called “The Writers Jam”. This year, talent included Stacy Barthe, Brandy Clark, Brett James, and Tom Higgenson from Plain White T’s. Each artist/songwriter delivered compelling songs one-by-one, in the round, Nashville style.
One showcase favorite at “The Writers Jam” was Brandy Clark, whose descriptive Country lyrics moved many dry eyes to tears. She gave very little introduction to her songs, demonstrating the principle of “Show, Don’t Tell.” Overall, the talented lineup of songwriters shared the power of great songs, reminding us why we love what we do.
It’s 1AM the night before my gig with my Funk Soul band, Illegal Download Collection and my eyes are still bright and alert. I left the Song School after hearing Jill Scott guest speak in Ryan Toby‘s class. More pics and highlights below…
SAVE THE DATE: May 29th – Danielle W. Carter is performing live at Indie Express @ Nola’s Los Angeles
When? Wednesday, May 29th @ 11PM
Where? Nola’s Restaurant, near Downtown LA (734 E. 3rd St. Los Angeles, CA)
Featuring? Chris Lee, Chuksingh, Melony Varnado and Luis Lopez.
Jill Scott keeps it so real. She calls it like it is. Jill Scott shared insights from her career journey with us, the next generation of musicians. Here are some summarized inspirational highlights and takeaways below.
Connect with musicians who can bring the music to life before you even say a word. Work with people who can give you “water to swim.” Great musicians will make a difference. They give you room to backstroke and doggy paddle.
Everything in your body has a point of love. There’s a love ear. The music should start with that before you even say a word. Energy flow will guide you through the journey of a song.
As a professional songwriter you can lead and influence the direction of music. If you’re following you can lead. Challenge yourself to reach a better place as a songwriter. Write from a real space. Best songwriters are in country music. Listen to it and follow the stories. You don’t have to write like that.
Your culture is imperative. It’s uniquely your own and it still translates and communicates to every human being. You have a taste, a tone. Be specific and honor your culture in your craft. Rep your mix. No one else is like you.
Confidence. You never know where it’s going to come from. The first hook Jill wrote was for a song that won a Grammy. She was open to taking on new opportunities as she transitioned from poetry into singing…into songwriting and acting. Explore different talents that you have. It could lead you somewhere new.
Whoever you’re in the room with, they need you too. They’re a voice for your story. They should treat you with respect.
Take care of business. Come in the door with your split sheets (form that lays out percentages of song ownership and parties involved). Get them signed before you leave. Keep it on file.
Choose your battles. When you’re working with a major label artist and there’s an unspoken standard percentage the artist requests for just being in the room when you’re writing. Sometimes you give a little away to gain the credits and opportunity. Choose carefully, it’s still your business and therefore your call. Even with a manager beware of tying yourself to someone who’s not getting you in the room or getting you any work.Be mindful.
When you walk into a room full of “competitors,” choose to set a supportive energy in the writing room. If you have a team working together, you create better working conditions. You create an experience for that artist. Set the pace. Don’t allow negativity or competitive people to get in the way of you setting a supportive tone. When you’ve all worked as a team the artist can speak on the success of the entire teamwork experience.
Warning:This next section is for ages 21 and up only. Proceed at your own risk…
How do you get good at performing?
Question back to the room “how many virgins are in the room?” In short, the answer is that you have to start somewhere then it gets easier. Don’t hide behind anyone else. Be original to your truth and perspective.
Back on the Disney track, Jill created an open mic night called “Words and Sounds” in Philly. People paid to play. Musiq Soulchild got his start performing during these talent nights. You keep practicing, you keep getting better. Look at how talented he is now.
What’s your writing ritual?
Deep breathing. Most songs come in her dreams. Jill pays attention and stays present. She doesn’t touch the pen until her hand is already moving. The connection with her pen and paper is the best individual feeling. There’s pressure differences and impressions when you write on paper. There’s bold letters, hand drawn stars and underlying. Typing, unless its been a book typing doesn’t have that same voice. Writing. “It’s not pressure, it’s a privilege.”
How do you find your own voice?
Jill used to listen to one record for a year straight. She didn’t know she was studying but she learned a great deal. That record was “Under the Cherry Moon” by Prince. Taught her a lot about having multiple voices.
When you live inside an emotion, you are a character. You act from a different reference point. There’s a voice to each different emotion. Write from the character point. It will position the voice of your writing. You’re never just one way. Bring out the voices in character. Overall, do your best to honor the truth.
As an artist, work with people who move you. It could be a beat you heard on the street that moves you. Write with everyone and create your resume.
Manners count. “Please” and “thank you” work.
Pay attention to every part of you. You’re not the same at the office as you are on the phone with your mom. Write from the perspective of that character. Gives you versatility.
I hope that you feel inspired by the great insights from Jill Scott, a well accomplished and talented dreamer, poet, singer, songwriter, author and actress.
Are you doing the things your passionate about daily? Tell me where you are in your journey.