Gary Talley's Contribution to 'Changing Expectations & Realities'
Excerpt from Tag It's Songwriters in the New Millennium
Professional Guitarist/Recording Artist, Grammy-nominated The Box Tops
QUESTIONS 18-20, & 24: What has been your experience with national/international, regional/local songwriting and music organizations, and song camps and retreats?
Of those who took the survey, 52% have little or no experience with national or international songwriting associations, 52% have little or no experience with songwriting workshops/seminars, etc., and 73% have little or no experience with songwriting camps and retreats.
There is a disturbing lack of objectivity among songwriters as to where their songs stand in relation to songs that are being recorded. This is especially true among songwriters who have no experience with songwriter organizations or music publishers. There appears to be not only a lack of knowledge about the craft of songwriting, there also seems to be a general ignorance of the fact that there is a craft of songwriting.
Although songwriting is not an "exact science," there are certain guidelines which, when followed, make a song more musically and lyrically cohesive and coherent. If songwriters want to write a song for their own enjoyment or self-expression, then they can do whatever pleases them. However, if songwriters want their song to be recorded by other people, they must know something about the craft of songwriting and have a realistic assessment of where their songs stand in the spectrum of horrible to excellent.
Some people do seem to have a natural gift of being able to write songs without going through an obvious learning process. These people are a tiny minority. It never ceases to amaze me how many songwriters refuse to learn about the craft of songwriting, yet are consumed by resentment and bitterness at the music business for not "getting" their "great" songs.
QUESTIONS 29-31,33-34: What has been your experience with songwriting/music books, as well as print/Internet-based magazines, periodicals, and newsletters?
Songwriter organizations like the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and the Songwriters Guild of America (SGA) are invaluable to aspiring/beginning songwriters, as are the many books and tapes available today. Sheila Davis' The Craft of Lyric Writing is a fine example. Harriet Shock's books are excellent. Performing Songwriter and American Songwriter magazines are both great sources of information. Guitar Playing for Songwriters, an instructional video I authored, is a useful tool. There are excellent instructional books, CDs, and tapes by professionals such as Danny Arena, Sarah Light, Nancy Moran, Fett, Marc-Allen Barnette, Susan Tucker, Kim Copeland, Jana Stanfield and others, that contain absolutely essential information and insight.
QUESTION 6 & 4: How would you describe your current status as a songwriter and how many years have you been writing?
65% of respondents describe themselves as "aspiring" or "just starting out." In the "good old days," music publishers would spend money and time developing new songwriters. That is to say, they actually paid them a weekly or monthly "draw" or advance against future royalties, while mentoring and nurturing writers in whom they saw potential. This practice no longer exists. Except in Bhutan. And you have to be a resident.
Sometimes the nice people at Performing Rights Organizations (BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC) will be kind enough to steer beginning songwriters to songwriter associations or seminars. Sometimes publishers will do the same. However, most often publishers, labels, PROs and the like do not do so, because they see advice-giving, mentoring, encouraging, and educating as someone else's job. And it is. I don't believe record labels, major publishers, etc., ever think about developing future songwriters.
For the complete contribution by Gary Talley, download
"Songwriters in the New Millennium: Changing Expectations & Realities"
The authors of the report discuss songwriters' engagement with, perceptions and expectations of the music industry and the implications for organizations serving songwriters and the community.
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