Someone reading this (how can that be?) mentioned that I left out the "WHEN" in my "Who What When, How, Where, part. Sorry about this. I'm new to this blog thing.
The "WHEN" is one that is a really difficult thing to approach. I have a lot of people come up to me on workshops and when I talk about Nashville as a "Ten Year town", they willl go "I don't have TEN YEARS! What do I DO?" Well, the problem that you have to realize is that Nashville, the music business, or entertainment at all, doesn't work on your schedule. It doesn't care how old you are or how much time you have left. That is a pretty cold thing to say but it is.
Think about anything you have done for a living. Did you just start out doing that? Wake up one day and decide to be a construction worker, architect, dentist, office manager, banker, car mechanic, pilot, buisnessman or woman, whatever? I am willing to bet you didn't just wake up and start doing it.
Think of a person who owns their own contracting business. They start out probably wanting to do something else. They have shop classes in high school, work with father or other older people, develop a bit of a nack, as time goes on, get more schooling, work smaller jobs, take summer work, possibly study some courses in college, all the time working, finally start an official job on some work site, doing all the crappy jobs, sweeping up, hauling garbage, building into little side things, gaining skills, finally sub contracting jobs, on to their own small business, sometimes it turns into their living. Takes a while.
Why should songwriting be any different? It is a skill. Takes a while to learn. Most people start out with poetry or some really crappy songs to impress the opposite sex. They get around other writers and artists, playing talent shows, doing more things. As they start to get known a bit, Their skills and reputation grows. They write with others, the build a fan and friends network. They audition and sometimes win larger contests, do shows in their areas. Possibly take classes or go to college.All of this takes time, but builds what they do. And who they are.
It takes time.
The music industry is a business. The people who are there have done this over and over again. "Older people" (Anyone over 30) has a lot of time to make up for. But they can use their age and experience to bring things to the party younger people cannot. They can live their life in 20/20 hindsight. They can think of what it was like to be 20 years old and things they would go through. One of my favorite recent songs is Brad Paisly's "Letter to Me." On that he talks about what he would say to his high school age self. Not to worry so much about that test, that heartbreak, from that girl was really not going to destroy him.What would you tell your younger self?
Those are the kinds of things that people need to look at. Use what you have.
Now how does this play into a career? Well if you DON'T feel you have that much time, you need even MORE people involved in your career. The other thing about older people is that they get stuck in their ways. It is harder for them to adapt to other things. Not impossible, just different. And styles change continuously, so you need younger people to learn about that.
It is a co-writing world.
If you are not a performer, you have to have performers. Lots of them.
Then you have to decide on your goals and inject them with reality. A lot of time I hear people saying "Hey, I'm quitting my job and moving to Nashville." My first impression is "WHY?"
A lot of time "being there" only leads to more frustration. I wouldn't suggest anyone even consider a move until they have a network of people they write and interact with to build a base of friends. I would make trips. I would develop a presence.
MUST HAVE A PRESENCE TO WIN.
This means you have to have people you know, write with, hang out with. Help them achieve their goals. The days of "coming to town, finding a publisher, getting deals, getting cuts" are pretty much done. What happens now is people come in, hang out, meet many other, and hopefully hook into someone else's deal and journey, which build to you own. It happens like this:
An over 30 school teacher is involved with Songwriting groups like NSAI and others. She is from Wisconsin and kind of out of the "mainstream of the music business." She loves to write songs but does not perform, is not a singer. She hangs around other writers and is the leader for most of the time of their groups. She has a great personality and everyone likes being around her. And she writes a lot. Much better than the average bear.
She starts making trips to Nashville but never really "breaks past" the average people, going to special events, getting smiles, but not much else. Plays songs for publishers from time to time but not much happens. She meets someone who helps her organize her catalogue, helps her learn finer points of writing, introducer her to others, learns the techniques and speed about writing.
Over a period of time coming to Nashville and building a lot of connections, she does her own writer's CD, recording sessions, does a showcase on her songs done by Nashville artists. She organizes group "tours" coming to Nashville. She has the central "adviser" and builds on everything.
During this time she meets a young 18 year old female singer brand new to town. Being "kindered spirits" they become best friends. They hang out, the singer does her demos, she helps the singer organize her life. It is a great relationship. A few years go on and the singer and her boyfriend, now a duo, enter and win a television talent show. That leads to a record deal, a top five hit song, and a lot of success. The teacher gets a publishing deal, quits her teaching job and then continues to make trips, but all the trips have a lot of focus. But she is in the big leagues.
The writer is Green Bay's Julie Moriva. The artist is Meghan Linsey from STEEL MAGNOLIA. The publishing company is BIG MACHINE owned by Taylor Swift.
This is how it happens. Most every writer has one or several artist connections. IT takes a lot but can be done.