So you get invited to a party in the music business, or a conference/workshop, a #1 party or other music industry function and you want to do the right things at these events, but what are they? Research the people that will be at the event in advance – if it is a #1 party, find out who are the writers and research the writers and publishers to learn a little about them in advance Arrive on time for the event – to make the most of the networking.
I’m in my eighteenth year of teaching BMI’s Nashville Songwriters’ Workshop. In those classes I’ve listened to 40 to 50 songs at least 10 times a year. I did some math: I’ve reviewed more than 8,000 songs—and that does not include the songs I critiqued in the master classes, song camps, and workshops I’ve taught throughout the world.
I continually talk about KEEPING IT REAL when it comes to approaching the music industry. Most people who come into this really have very little idea of what is achievable and what is improbable. And it is difficult to be encouraging, while at the same time warning people about jumping off cliffs due to overreaching expectations. But there are ways to be productive and move forward while being aware and cautious. Like everything, music has to be approached carefully and methodically, because it is going to TAKE A LONG TIME no matter what you do. It is designed that way.
Throughout my 20 years as a professional songwriter, I’ve noticed there isn’t always a large difference in talent level among creative people. Why, then do some songwriters seem to have an over abundance of fans buying their music while others struggle to sell the first song? The answer is there is not a huge difference in skill most writers pocess, but there is a little. And that extra 5% makes a BIG difference. Skilled songwriters share some common mental habits. The good news is that these habits can be adopted through practice.
I walked into my first writers round on my very first trip to Nashville eighteen years ago. There were four songwriters on stage in a line, and everyone was playing and singing together. I loved the energy and the way everyone's participation lifted the song. I've been to a whole lot of songwriter nights since then, and seen a lot of magic moments like that. But if you play writers nights, you know that unless there's a band doing the round together you're generally going to hear one person play at a time.
Something I have always noticed about new writers and artists as they make their pilgrimages to Twang Town is that they ALL FEEL LIKE THEY HAVE BEEN DRIVEN TO DO THIS! And there is validity in that. Anyone who indulges in the creative arts, and probably anything, has to feel “compelled” to do it. Songwriting and music are among the “highest callings” according to most who do it.
I recently received what is one of the most common scenarios happening in music as it relates to Nashville and the music industry. A 20 something person, just graduating college (with their degree in music) getting ready to pull up stakes and move to Nashville (or make trips) and “start to promote and “SELL” their music in town.” Then they proceed to want to “pick my brain” for insights into how to approach it. Well, there is a price for “brain picking” but I will give out a few free samples.
Over the past two days I have written on the subject of the difficulty of getting major cuts in this day and age. It is hard even for "inside" writers and publishers to get them and ESPECIALLY hard for independent, non-connected, OUTSIDE writers. There are a LOT of steps, aside from writing the songs themselves, getting them recorded, getting inside people to pay attention, being patient, building and maintaining relationships, all have to be done and have to be done CONSISTANTLY. Rarely are their "lightning strikes" where one song just ignites and the world all falls into place.
Nashville Ear awards the Best of the Best honor to the songwriter that we feel stood out with exceptional songwriting and performances as well as promoting the songwriting world with their talents and efforts .