David Mark Thomas' Contribution to 'Charting a Career Path'
Excerpt from Tag It's Songwriters in the New Millennium
David Mark Thomas
Membership Director, Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI)
David Mark Thomas, Membership Director of the Nashville Songwriters Association
International (NSAI) was surprised by the statistics regarding songwriters' use of and
perceptions of the many organizations, services and activities available to songwriters to
assist in their craft development and career advancement. He uses the opportunity to
explain the benefits of these many services for those "no experience" songwriters who
might not realize all that is available to them.
QUESTION #18 & 46: What has been your experience with national/international
songwriting organizations and identify the areas where your songwriting career
would benefit the most from.
According to the survey, almost 40 % of songwriters had no experience with songwriting
organizations. This figure shocked me! I would think that songwriters would do all that
they could to educate themselves about songwriting. I guess this figure correlates with the
fact that only 5% felt that learning the craft of songwriting is where their songwriting
careers would benefit the most. This is completely opposite of what it should be.
Songwriters should take advantage of the benefits that songwriting organizations have to
offer to help develop their craft and promote their songwriting careers.
I'm not sure why songwriters have responded this way, but it may be that they are not
aware of the benefits that songwriter organizations such as the Nashville Songwriters
Association International (NSAI) have to offer them. Or, they may not understand just
how important a strong foundation in the craft of songwriting is to a successful career as
a songwriter or an artist/songwriter! In addition, these organizations can greatly enhance
a songwriter's understanding of the "business" side of the music business. Songwriting
organizations are a key component in any developing songwriter's career.
I am guessing that songwriters are either unaware of these resources or do not understand
the benefit of songwriting organizations. To address those two issues, I will direct my
response to informing songwriters about these wonderful resources and how they can
help songwriters' careers.
There are many regional and local songwriter workshops that offer activities and services
for songwriters. This is the case for both those who do and who do not live in or near a
major music city. Some workshops are independent and locally based, formed by
interested songwriters seeking to provide opportunities for themselves and others. Some
workshops are affiliated with national or international organizations, such as NSAI's 100-
plus workshops found all over the country. Our regional workshops give NSAI members
who don't live in or near Nashville with the opportunity to network and further their
knowledge of the craft and business of songwriting. Activities offered in our regional
workshops include songwriting lessons using professionally developed songwriting
curriculum, peer song critiques, opportunities to practice performance techniques,
networking, seminars, performance events, and more.
In addition, NSAI has a mentoring program that matches professional songwriters with
each regional workshop. Our mentors provide a variety of benefits to the regional
workshops, including career information and advice to workshop members, songwriting
lessons, critiques of members' songs, information about the professional music
community, and more. Any songwriter who does not seek out local and regional
workshop activities is missing out on one of the most fruitful opportunities available to
learn your craft, network, and develop!
Some additional NSAI services that members receive to assist their careers are:
* One-on-One Counseling: We'll answer questions and provide advice either at the
NSAI office or over the phone.
* On-line Chats with Pros: Featuring top writers and music industry decision makers
and experts answering questions about the craft and business of songwriting.
* Nashville Workshops: Our weekly Thursday night workshop features guest speakers,
song critiques, pitch-to-publisher sessions, and our Pro-Teaching Series.
* NSAI Bookstore: On site at the NSAI office we have an extensive selection of
resources for songwriters at very competitive prices, which are also available online
and through mail order.
* On-line Chat Rooms and On-line Bulletin Board: A great place to look for co-writers
and to network with songwriters from all over the world.
* NSAI Newswire (which is our quarterly newsletter): Our newsletter that has up-to-date
articles and features on songwriting, the music industry and important issues
facing songwriters as well as information about demos, co-writers, professional pitch
package, pitching tips, contracts, and more.
* Music Row Index: Handy reference providing addresses, telephone numbers, and web
sites for Music Row business.
* Insurance Plans: Through Albert H. Wohlers & Co. provides major medical,
disability, accident, and life insurance plans.
* Active Legislative Involvement: NSAI fights for songwriter rights on a national level
through our own Legislative Committee and through various songwriting coalitions.
* NSAI Office Resources (when you do come to Nashville): Writers rooms with Taylor
guitars and Yamaha PSR 8000 keyboards, writers work area, writers bulletin board,
computer & printer, analog dual cassette dubbing decks, counseling room, reference
library, photocopier, fax machine & telephone (and we take messages!), and song
evaluation/song critiquing services.
All of these wonderful resources are available for member songwriters to use to both
develop their craft and to learn about the music business, both of which are critical
components in the career development of any songwriter.
For the complete contribution by David Mark Thomas, download
"Songwriters in the New Millennium: Charting a Career Path"
The authors of the report use the survey to identify what songwriters are and are not doing to further their career and discuss important points that songwriters should consider when mapping out their career.