My Experience At The ASCAP Songwriting Expo – DAY 1

I had an amazing time at the ASCAP Expo conference in Los Angeles and wanted to share a few highlights with my followers.

Ingrid Michaelson gave a “Master Class” (to which she jokingly scoffed) on her career and discussed the big ah-ha moments she had through her life. I especially enjoyed her thoughts on building a quality team. She said to focus on finding people who strongly believe in your music. Throughout the session, she performed a couple of songs with her side-musician and they killed it — more flawless than you could ever imagine! She was silly, made funny faces, said sarcastic things, and above all, was very grounded. This gave me a nice sense of validation — I’ve been told throughout my career to be more poised, not say “umms,” sit up straight, have impeccable grammer, etc. Now I know that I can misspell GRAMMER as much as I would like!  While all these things are great and important, at the end of the day, if your music can speak for itself, who cares! Be yourself.

I didn’t have the pleasure of attending the next class in person, but met the main speaker, Ken Abdo, Esq in the lobby bar later. He was kind, funny, and generous with his time, and his class (highly recommended) “Adoption vs. Babysitting: How to Chose Between a Music Publishing and Admin Deal” gave me much more clarity than I was able to give myself reading a dozen books on the topic. The title alone is more telling than some books!!!

I learned more from the songwriters who spoke than I would have time to write in one sitting, but you can look at the lineup to get an idea: Toby Gad (“If I Were A Boy”), No I.D. (“Heartless”), Deborah Lurie (“Film- Footloose”), Richard Marx (“Right here Waiting For You”), Chris Taylor (“Knife”), Kevin Kadish (“All About The Bass”), Greg Kurstin (“What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)”), William Larsen (“Am I Wrong”), Jesse Shatkin (“Chandelier”), Sevyn Streeter (“Yeah 3X”).

No I.D. was a standout speaker. He was eloquent, shared great insight, and gave me the most to think about.  I’m enjoying a book and DVD set he recommended called  “Q On Producing” — great stuff!  Here are a few great quotes from his seminar:

“Because you wrote it, does not mean you can make a record.” “It just takes one song to change everything.” “Handle adversity and challenge yourself inwardly to better yourself artistically.”– No I.D.

The issue of music devaluation and what the future holds for content creators came up frequently. Music has shifted from tangible goods to data. Our parents held vinyl, we held CDs, and now music is ‘invisible.’ Unfortunately, there is a strong correlation between new modes of music delivery and a rapid devaluation of perceived financial value.

Concluding the night, we were treated to a performance by Kevin Cronin “Keep On Loving You”, Hanson “MMMBop”, Mike Reid “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, and Valerie Simpson “Ain’t No Mountain High”. All the musicians accompanied each other and it was a wonderful and unique presentation.

Mike Reid was a stand out and stopped time with his performance of “I Can’t Make You Love Me”. My friend Brian and I were holding back tears (it didn’t help that we had just done Tequila shots at the bar) as we marveled over the intensity Reid laid over the room while he sang. I actually got to meet Mike Reid — more on that in Day 2’s blog.

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