In a nutshell, the EXPO provides opportunities for anyone who creates music to attend workshops and seminars where some of the biggest leaders in the industry give tools and encouragement on how to make it. You can also sit in on jam sessions and hear some of the best songwriters sing/play the popular songs they've written. Steve Kipner singing his song "Genie in a Bottle" (sung by Christina Aguilera) with his son Friday night was hilarious. The last jam session on Saturday with Ingrid Michaelson, John Rzeznik (Goo Goo Dolls), and Chris Stapleton was amazing as well.
When I attended last year, I was a little overwhelmed being so new to everything. This year, I came prepared.
I signed up for a one on one session offered, and was able to sit down with one of these music professionals to ask anything and have my music heard. Mike Viola was my guy. (Songwriter, Producer - Amanda Leigh, "That Thing You Do" Film: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Get Him to the Greek)
It was cool because I'm really interested in music supervision. That is, how to get my songs heard by a music supervision company such as the Chop Shop, and placed in a movie, such as the next installment of the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. Since he has written so many songs for film, that was my number one question. How does an independent singer songwriter get their songs to someone in a music supervision company and actually be heard without management? Even though he gave me his honest answer and told me that usually doesn't happen without knowing someone, I'm not discouraged. I've got a couple different angles I'm working on to accomplish my Twilight goal. (The story of how that specific goal was conceived is a whole other blog in itself) He did listen to a few of my songs though, and said he thought they were good and told me to keep writing.
There was also a round table lunch experience where every 15 minutes a new industry pro would come and talk to a different group of 8 people and answer questions. Not only did I get to interact with amazing people in the industry, but meeting the other people at my table was just as rewarding. If nothing else, the Expo is one of the best networking events I've ever been to.
Below are the pros my table had the privilege of speaking with (just to give an example of the quality of talent the Expo exposes you to):
Jennifer Blakeman - SVP, Creative - Universal Music Publishing Group; Songwriter, Musician
Jon Lind - SVP, A&R – Hollywood Records & Songwriter – “Boogie Wonderland,” “Crazy for You,” “Save the Best for Last” Currently Jon is the head of A&R at Hollywood Records where he oversees projects for platinum artists and pop superstars Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez and more.
Emily White - Co-Founder, Artist Manager - Whitesmith Entertainment
Evan Taubenfeld - Songwriter, Producer - "Don't Tell Me," "Hot," "Innocence" Co-wrote many hit songs with Avril Lavigne and is the Chief Executive Officer of Big Evil Corp.
In addition to all the different sessions you can attend during the Expo, there are tons of music resource and equipment companies that have booths set up to check out the latest technology in music creation.
I was honored to meet Robin Frederick, who was there promoting her new book Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV. (I stumbled upon her booth upstairs after finishing my one on one session with Mike Viola. Coincidence? I think not.) Not only is she also the author of Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting:126 Proven techniques for Writing Songs That Sell, she is the head of A&R/Screener Team at TAXI, former Director of A&R and Production for a division of Rhino Records, has served on the board of the Recording Academy (the GRAMMY organization), and is past president of Los Angeles Woman in Music! She was super nice and we chatted for a few minutes about music supervision. She asked for some of my music, and I was excited to give her a CD I just happened to have on me. Of course, I had to get her book. I've been highlighting, tabbing, writing notes in it, and doing the suggested exercises ever since.
Some of my favorite ASCAP sessions were the Pop/Rock Song Feedback, The ASCAP Advantage: How ASCAP Can Help Your Career, Beyond Marketing: Social Networking and Your Career, Murphy's Laws of Songwriting Meets FutureHit.DNA, and The Business of Being a Songwriter.
I reconnected with friends from last year and met so many new ones this year. One of my other musical goals is to collaborate with the people I've met and do a video blog on the journey, highlighting my friends and how we met at the Expo. I would love to stretch my writing ability into different genre's, working with all different types of people. However the person wants to work together, I hope to learn something new with each experience.
I have one piece of advice for anyone wanting to attend future ASCAP Expo's. Even though sometimes it might be intimidating to approach the pros after the sessions or in the halls, if you don't take a chance, you'll never know what could happen. Bring both CD's AND business cards. Some people WILL take your music. Others can not carry around 100 CD's with them all day, but will hopefully listen if you give them your info on a business card with a link to your music.
One thing my friend Millie said to me during the Expo that I'm passing onto to you is this- you have to have some kind of hook or interesting thing you can say to make yourself stand out when talking to the pros because they are being approached by so many hopeful music creators, it's hard to keep everyone straight. So have your 30 second to 2 minute elevator speeches ready and I hope to see you there next year!
It was cool to reconnect with songwriter Millie Hansen who I had met at the Expo the year before.
Cameron's voice is AMAZING! And he's a pretty good songwriter too. The panel at the Pop/Rock feedback session dissected his song Made For You. Check out his band The Reel.
Their song Time of Your Life is one of my new favorites!
Robin Federick was one of the nicest industry people I met during the Expo. Her book gives me a revelation every time I open it.
Here's a link to check out more on the 2011 ASCAP Expo.
This song is amazing!