MusicDish e-Journal - November 20, 2017
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Mark Schulz's Contribution to 'Changing Expectations & Realities'
Excerpt from Tag It's Songwriters in the New Millennium
By MusicDish
(more articles from this author)
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Mark Schulz
Executive Director, Philadelphia Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences

Engineer, business manager, and artist manager, Mark Schulz, who currently serves as the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Recording Academy, discusses the survey results from the perspective of the percentage of songwriters who are and are not utilizing the many organizations, services, and opportunities available to help them on their career paths. He offers some thoughts and suggestions to service providers based on those results.

The music business is a bewildering world of opportunities, each with its own potential to take the aspiring or professional artist/songwriter to the next step, or back. As the business continues its growth and changes in response to new technologies, the arena of opportunities continues to grow and change. The Internet, both an informational resource and a potential alternative to the conventional record company, is in itself a world of opportunity. And for the organizations that service the needs of the aspiring artist/ songwriter, creating unique yet relevant and useful opportunities are the key to success and longevity. This includes being a resource in the use and understanding of new technologies, including the Internet.

In responding to the MusicDish Songwriting Survey, we need to recognize two inter-related, startling trends in the data, both of which denote a gapping hole of missed opportunities for the artist/songwriter and for the industry that serves them. The first and most disturbing trend is the number of times responders listed "no experience" as their rating in describing experiences with organizations and businesses. Equally alarming was that within this listing of responses, use of the Internet as a resource also found itself in the "no experience" category, and there were a number of responders who felt the Internet was just "not applicable."

Missed Opportunities: Relevant Resources

The results of this survey make it clear that the responding songwriting populace are not actively engaged in many of the seemingly obvious opportunities for career advancement, and a significant segment feel the Internet is not the viable tool that it actually can be. For industry organizations like the Recording Academy, this begs several questions. These questions are likely to be similarly raised by any organization in the music industry whose mission includes the advancement of the individuals and the whole of the music business. The survey here asks these questions but as such, does not give clear answers. Is our message reaching the songwriting community? This includes concern over both the content of the message (mission of the organization, importance of event, description of opportunity, etc.) and the actual delivery. This survey does not directly answer the question of delivery, though the limited use of songwriter magazines and publications, as well as the Internet as a source of information, may point to roadblocks. As for content, this is a more challenging question. We may not be clear on the content of the message. Or, even more problematic, the message may not be on target for the artist/songwriters we are trying to reach.

The second question becomes: Are we as an organization providing relevant, useful, accessible opportunities to the artist/songwriting populace? A follow up survey, questioning the needs and desires of the responders in depth, would better answer this question.

Are we acting as a relevant and useful source of information on the importance of the Internet as a resource? While the dot-com wizards of recent years were probably a bit hasty in their assertions that the Internet would be the center of our lives, it has become a unique tool and resource. A vast world of information and connectivity with others is available for very little money. It is an unbeatably cost effective means of marketing your music. Email someone an address and they can listen to your music, read about you, and see what you look like without the expense of recording CD's, duplicating art, and postage. You can "chat" online with other artists/songwriters around the world with out incurring long distance charges. "Magazines" are free.

Unfortunately, it is also a confusing place, with a large amount of misinformation or lacking information. It can be daunting to the uninitiated. If we are not acting in our best capacity to provide clear, concise and accessible information on the use of the Internet, we may not be fulfilling our intended missions. The results of the survey, particularly the 22% who felt that the Internet was not applicable, present the challenge to us to work more diligently to be a resource for the use of this tool.

For the complete contribution by Mark Schulz, 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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