The ASCAP EXPO 2017 is just around the corner on April 13-15th, so I thought I’d give my experience from the ASCAP EXPO I Create Music in 2015.
Again, it will be hosted from the Loews Hollywood Hotel. Loews Hollywood Hotel is beautiful as well as HUGE so dress comfortably as you will be doing a lot of walking.
I love the fact that ASCAP does this for artists as this caters to artists at any level in their career – from beginners to icons. The food is AMAZING and the company of friends will last forever.
A lot happened during my band’s first experience at the ASCAP EXPO I Create Music in 2015, so I will include the main points.
Each day presents another chance to shine as an artist
ASCAP insists you create a personal program to follow for each day to make networking easier. It is almost like you are going to college for the first time and each panelist is your professor for that day.
As you navigate to the forum where your speaker of choice will be introduced, you are constantly meeting new faces that share the same goal you have – to succeed in their craft.
Make sure you schedule a time to rest, eat, and regroup as things can get a bit overwhelming the first day.
After a day of presentations and meet-and-greets, you go back to your room and unwind. Then, if you choose, you can go to one of the EXPO’s evening events where talent is showcased, etc.
Music Creators vs Celebrities
Sure, I met some established people who sat on the panels who wanted us to treat them like gods as they really did not try to help you at all, they overlooked your questions during Q&A, and they chose to be rushed off of the platform as if we were at their concert.
In addition, there were some panelists who chose to just talk about themselves and all of their accomplishments and they continued to say “contact ASCAP and network” and this got so boring. We all knew they had ample time to do what ASCAP asked them to do in the first place, and that was to speak and help the new artists.
Me and my sister Tonya, as well as a dozen other singers, songwriters, and musicians we met, all felt that this was so cheap of them to act this way. It was actually a bite in the back of ASCAP since Paul Williams and others with ASCAP act so down-to-earth and really DO help you. But that was just a minor flaw in the program.
Overall it exceeded my band’s expectations
I had the great opportunity to sit in on a discussion lead by Desmond Child the writer behind Bon Jovi’s “Livin on a Prayer” and other hits. Child was so Zen and real. With smoky glasses on and a ponytail he did not preach to the choir; he invited us into his world.
Child spoke about the reality of the music industry and how you may have times where you do not get paid at all and you have to be motivated ONLY by the music you create. In addition, he told us about “Fair Trade Music” a non-governmental way to apply equality to music (www.fairtrademusic.info). To close, he led us to sing in acapella “Livin on a Prayer” and gave us lasting tips. I also personally got to speak with him and he ended his talking with me with a fist bump. @DesmondChild
Another great discussion was led by Claudia Brant (http://www.claudiabrant.com) who has worked with some of Latin Music’s finest – Ricky Martin, Luis Fonsi, and Enrique Iglesias. She gave some great advise during her session regarding the atmosphere of the music industry, how to set yourself apart from the norm, and how to have longevity in this business we call “music.”
Regarding the atmosphere of the industry towards songwriters, Brant stated “there’s this crazy trend” in the industry where people continue to recycle the same styles between artists – the companies and artists continue to say “write me a song like that.” She brought up the example of the song “Boom Clap” and said that once someone writes a song similar to that for an artist, that song is old and dated.
In addition, Brant kept reiterating that the best thing is to try to set yourself apart from what’s currently on the radio – write something refreshing and new b/c that is what sells. And that’s why people who have something different to sell, or something different to say, are so successful and have longevity!
Bill Withers was AMAZING (in the voice of Oprah)! So iconic and relaxed. He is a storyteller and that is what makes him so unique and wonderful. He said that the industry today is “so competitive, keep in mind I ain’t goin to lose.” Simplicity is best!
Network, Network, Network
One of my highlights came from my roundtable discussions as this was a HUGE arena to NETWORK!
You either choose a One-On-One session or a Roundtable Lunch – both are fab, but I preferred the roundtable as you get so many gifts in one. You are introduced in a timely fashion to some spectacular working artists who are currently established in the industry as well as other people who, like you, are just trying to gain some more knowledge to “UP” their craft. Not just from the USA but globally.
My group was scheduled to meet with Ann Frank, Joe Cuello, Ashley Gorley, and Matthew Puckett. My favorite was Matthew Puckett.
Matthew Puckett gave so much advice, but one that still sticks with me to date is when he said to start your career with one goal and make it happen! (http://matthewpuckett.com) Starting his career as a vocalist and then getting into writing songs, Puckett is now a movie score composer, songwriter, and producer.
Later in the day, I and other attendees spoke on how the round table leaders who really WANTED to help took the time to LISTEN. We spoke about how we all got that ONE person who was rude from the moment of sitting down just over-talking about how they’ve achieved their goals in music, how things just HAPPENED for them, and made it seem as if it would be extremely hard for us to get our foot in the door. Then, when we asked do they have any tips, there response was just a plain “keep at it!”
It’s the Matthew Puckett’s of ASCAP that makes ASCAP the leading PRO.
TBTDE “The Best Three Days Ever”
It is three days of working in your craft, and true, networking with your peers is a must, but it’s those little snippets of advice from those established in the industry that makes it so worth it. And then it is the inspiration you get from your fellow peers along the way that keeps you going. When an established artist recognizes your talent and treats you like an equal versus something minor – those times are unforgettable. Those who teach with respect and lead with fairness, those are the ones that make ASCAP so outstanding.
ASCAP is run by songwriters, so they always have our best interest at heart. They march Washington for us; they get bills passed via Congress; they fight for us, and give us a voice when the world does not hear us. The ASCAP EXPO is a rewarding experience that will never leave your memory while providing you with some awesome tools to continue to build your career.
For those of you attending this year – have fun and rock on!
Got any interesting ASCAP EXPO, or other music conference, stories or experiences, let me know.