With most of us busy with day jobs to support ourselves and families, it’s easy to view songwriting as a dream that we hope to realize some time in the distant future. But hearing our songs on the radio will remain forever a dream unless we take our songwriting careers seriously.
Making time to write songs and to attend the local NSAI workshop is a good way to set the foundation for success. There’s no substitute for learning how to write great songs.
Moving to the next level involves thinking and acting like a professional. The importance of professionalism may seem less obvious in the music business than it does in the “real world”. Creative people in show business are easily tempted by the myth that all we have to do is be talented enough, and the rest will just happen. But it just doesn’t work that way.
Professionals make it their business to understand the fundamentals of their industries. They know what’s going on inside their industry as well as important external events that affect it.
In April, the AACO hosted a historic International Performing Rights seminar where guests from SACEM, the French society, presented information on overseas royalty collection. The event was very informative, but as I looked around the room, I didn’t see any of our workshop members in attendance. Overseas royalty collections may not seem to affect us now, but as professionals, we need to understand where the money comes from and what we can do to make sure that we get our fair share when it’s our turn.
If we’re serious about making a living from songwriting, we should make it our business to know about political issues like the music licensing legislation in Congress that threatens to cut songwriter income by 20% (see the April/May edition of Country Notes). It would be catastrophic to put in years of hard work only to find that when the hits start coming, we can’t make a decent living from them. Restaurant owners are serious about lobbying their representatives in Washington, so we need to be, too.
Do you know the names of the top writers, publishers, and producers on the charts? Rest assured that the pros getting cuts in Nashville know. We can know, by reading trade publications like Billboard, Music Connection, and Music Row Magazine. A subscription to Music Row costs only $80/year. Billboard is available at the library.
Knowing the long odds we face in the music business, we may be afraid to take our songwriting careers too seriously. But if we don’t take ourselves seriously, how can we expect anyone else to?
Anna Marie Nicosia will perform at the Orange County Fair on July 14, 15, 21, and 25. She’s scheduled for 2:00 and 4:00pm shows at Flower Bldg. on the 15, 3:00 and 5:00pm shows at the Youth Bldg. on the 15th, 3:00 and 5:00pm shows at the Visual Arts Bldg. on the 21st, and a 6:00pm show at the Youth Bldg. on the 25th. She has plans to record a 6-song CD prior to the fair.
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