Friday, 14 February 2014

Context and Methodology Day One: The Matchmaker

Wednesday after class, I performed for These Beautiful Things at Burdall's Yard in Bath! It was a fantastic show with 3 other great bands that lined up very nicely with me and my set :) Thank you Bath Spa for the opportunity. I may have also landed my tech job I have been aiming for! YAYY 

It was nice being back in the classroom with Richard. It feels like ages since we all last saw each other. This course will prove to be a challenging and intriguing exercise in the world of music and, in my case, publishing and the music business. We convene every Wednesday from noon to whenever and will be composing a beefy 10,000 word research paper on a topic and thesis of our choice. This first class meeting was half spent going over our ideas for the papers and half spent in a master class with BASCA Business Development Officer, Rowena Morgan.

February 12th, 2014

So far, my paper subject is leaning towards the business of music publishing and the strategies used to obtain a publishing deal. I want to associate this paper with what I am currently working towards in my career since it's going to take an entire trimester to write with countless sources to read.

If I were to sell myself right now, I would say that I am a vocalist, songwriter, and recording engineer with demos to back it up. SO... how do I find a way to incorporate that particular skill set, a strategy for getting published, and academic, scholarly research to back it up into a narrow topic? I guess I will find out once I start quote searching through the handful of books I rented from the library today.

Musicians' & Songwriters' Yearbook 2007

All You Need to Know About the Music Business

Making Music Make Money: An Insider's Guide to Becoming Your Own Music Publisher

Million-Dollar Mistakes: Steering Your Music Career Clear of Lies, Cons, Catastrophes, and Landmines

Music Business Handbook and Career Guide

The New Songwriter's Guide to Music Publishing

Journals **
You Oughta Be In Pictures by Mare Wakefield and Performing Songwriter, May 2009

Ryan Tedder by Performing Songwriter, May 2009

My thesis sentence is still in progress, but it looks something like this currently...

Next Wednesday's assignment is to write a 200-250 word abstract for my paper to get the ball rolling. I am glad that the assignment is already in motion!

The second half of the class included BASCA's Rowena Morgan, Business Development Officer. She held a fantastic master class on communications in the industry and gave us a lot of pointers and tips in regards to networking, professionalism, and most importantly, communications.

BASCA is the equivalent of the Grammy people in the United States.

Some of her initial pointers were in relation to networking yourself at events and gatherings of other people in the music industry. If you don't put yourself out there and talk to people, you wont get noticed. On the other hand, you have to know when to stop talking and when to move on.

Songwriters should find other songwriters to collaborate with. New songwriters are looked for by experienced songwriters for their songwriting youth, and experienced songwriters are looked for by new songwriters for their knowledge and connections.

Everyone hates networking. I personally don't hate it when its person to person networking, but I do get tired of keeping all my online networking sites up to date and thriving. Networking in itself can be a full time job! She explained that Americans have a better knack for it though because we basically start at the age of three...

Rowena holds invite only gatherings for people working in the business trying to network called,
Geisha Nights. She brings people together and has a fantastic track record for being an excellent matchmaker. She hold about 4-5 a year and the next is coming up at the end of the month. I have been invited to this event and I am very very excited! Number one thing to have handy are business cards! Good thing I just got a bunch made, thanks mom :)

She then moved on to something called the "Elevator Pitch". The concept is you should be able to pitch yourself to a publisher/manager/label from the time an elevator lift leaves one floor and reaches the next... Or was it the destination floor...? Doesn't matter. Point is, memorize your pitch and make it to the point.
"Hello, my name is Stevie Rae Stephens. I'm a pop singer-songwriter from California. I have a BA in Audio Engineering and I'm working on a Masters' in Songwriting in Bath. I've studied voice for 10 years and I was in the top 75 contestants on American Idol last season before I produced and recorded my full length album." 
Phewww. If I can memorize that with fluidity, I will admit I sound good on paper! Ha. This was the other point she made that I am very much aware of. Don't be afraid to promote yourself. It may feel conceited or  lacking in modesty, but that's how it works because no one is going to say these things for you. You may think less talk, more walk, but truth is, with a good attitude, honesty will be perceived as confidence, not cockiness. Besides, if YOU already believe in yourself, THEY will find it easier to give you the chance to do the "walk".

Then, hand the person your business card :)

Also, know your genre! I have encountered this problem before. You must have a genre. I don't exactly know what mine is yet, but I just go with pop singer-songwriter usually. It's scary to say that though because most of our younger lives are filled with our peers being "too cool" for pop music and not quite understanding that just because its pop genre, doesn't make it top 40. AND... if you aim to write top 40, good. You'll probably write a hit and make a lot of money and all those haters will remember they scoffed at your ambitions once! lol

So far, most everyone I encounter with a publishing deal, obtained it by accident or chance. Looks like the trick really is to put yourself out there. Go figure ;)

We talked about the fact that not all musicians are lyricists and not all lyricists are great musicians! Not everyone is good at it all. I know, because I get by with my piano skills and have a lot more talent in my arrangement skills, sense of harmony, and vocal skills. I think my lyrics are great, but they don't come as easy as they might for others. I know people who struggle with melody and I can come up with those all day. This is why collaboration is key!!! I am so glad this module and all these upcoming opportunities are coinciding with Collaborative Songwriting!

Before this event I'm going to, I should create a shopping list of all the people I need/want to meet. The person you need the most may not be the person you think  you need the most so you basically need to know them all.... Rowena says the first 50 friends you make will be the hardest ones. After 100, it gets easier. Knowing one person is like having a gold membership on a credit card.

This will take a lot of work. So get started!

When in London, you are never far away from useful people. London is comprised of three main circles: Media people, Finance people, and all their supporters make up the last third. So like I said before, its good to know them all.

Stay relevant, read up on autobiographies about singer-songwriters like me, and get caught up with the Publishing Rights Societies like ASCAP, BMI, and PRS. Look up publishers who accept unsolicited demos and write with EVERYONE.

** I spent an hour and a half looking through the library books at Newton Park Library and just before leaving decided to look through the journal section since I don't get out to NP that often. It was a small room with about 7 ceiling-high shelves on a track so they can be moved left and right to see the contents of the shelves. I found about 2 years worth of the magazine Performing Songwriter and spent about 30 minutes going through, finding my couple articles. I also found a reference to Barcelona's Absolutes in the 2009 issues, which made me very very happy! :D

Then... I saw a glimpse of a Sound On Sound magazine on the other shelf, so I reeled it open and found the last 10+ years of SOS... I forgot all about publishing and songwriting for the next 3 hours hahahah


Can't think. Must do research. Happy Valentine's Day!

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