I’m in Westminister, Colorado and just wrapped up with my first ever trip to The Durango Songwriters Expo. I came here on a hunch cause this year I’ve been making a point of following my curiosity wherever it may take me. Plus I needed a reason to record some of the songs I wrote with a producer and so I tentatively signed up.
I came there with 2 songs “Pop Star” and “12 Steps to Get Over You” songs that I wrote for this concept album idea I’ve been toying with for awhile. Violet Love Greatest hits she’s a fictional pop star who goes from Hannah Montana to Amy Winehouse in 12 songs. It was a good learning experience for sure because I didn’t know anything about the business side of the music industry like music supervisors or words like sync-ability or placement. I definitely felt like I didn’t really belong in this world because the thing I’m doing too weird and not developed enough for people to really get it. But that’s ok I know with every project I’m doing there’s the ground floor which is made up of dreams and schemes. I understand its going to take a lot of time to get the vision I’m dreaming about to really resonate. Plus I totally forgot to tell them about the whole visual element that’s like a graphic novel because I was trying to focus on the music part of this project which is a huge part of it since its a concept album. Anyway I came to get feedback on my songs. So we got to have 3 listening sessions. I had 1 listening session on Friday with Brian Naguit (LA) Manager, Music at CBS Television Studios who also is Music Supervisor for shows like Crazy Ex Girlfriend and CSI and Ashley Alexander (LA) A&R at Big Deal Music Group. I played them 12 Steps To Get Over You. On Saturday I had 2 Listen Sessions, the first one with Lindsay Bea Davis (Toronto) Music Supervisor for film/tv and Lyndsie Chlowitz (LA) Creative Coordinator, Live Action Music & Soundtracks at Walt Disney Studios. I played a verse and chorus of “12 Steps To Get Over You” and a live recording of “Astronaut” (I just think of all the songs I’m involved in writing was going to have shot it’d be one of those songs). The second Listening Session of Saturday was with Chen Neeman (LA) Songwriter/Producer (he worked on Hannah Montana) and Davy Nathan (LA) Producer/Songwriter/Pianist (he’s worked with Christina Aguilera). I played them “Pop Star” (cause the guy who wrote “Rock Star” would for sure be the guy to be helpful for when Violet Love is 17, right?) and 1 verse of “Astronaut”.
The thing is most of the people couldn’t get past my
shitty vocals which I get it, I get it, I get it, I should’ve coughed up the money for a singer but I couldn’t afford it because you know me I can’t focus on one project I need my money for my other projects. I know for next time. Needless to say the main note about Pop Star was to focus on what the song is about. They also told me to vary up the melody a bit which is a note that I have gotten before which a full on reaction to that review of Idol way back when that said my songs we too monolog-y. Anyway I took the feedback like a pro and wrote them down and am only now in this blog choosing to be all defensive and sensitive writer about it. But it was good feedback don’t get me wrong. I am going take what I’ve learned and apply them to the songs and make ’em better. I’m also going to write more songs like every day. I also want to collaborate more on songs. I’m going to practice being able to play my songs on piano and guitar and sing them.
There were also panel discussions with topics like: Sync & Licensing, Songwriting and Production, Producing and Songwriting, Film and TV, Publishing and Building a National Team.
In term of the advice or words of wisdom gathered from these panels the main take away they said is to form and build relationships through networking events like this. Someone did say something like do what serves the song and I liked that advice. Some of the producers – the ones looking for songs for artists pet peeves are dated tracks for example power guitars are date. You may not like your best song was another pearl of wisdom.
Anyway that was my experience at Durango Songwriting Expo. I found this video online which shows where it was and some of the people I met. I am not in the video at all because I am socially awkward and I don’t know how to talk to people but I really did have a great time and enjoyed myself and I learned a whole lot. Plus I’m definitely not the type to be super comfortable in a crowded hotel room so you would’ve found me having a quiet conversation with some nice people in the hotel restaurant. So therefore I am not offended that I wasn’t invited to the party at the end because I would’ve most likely been asleep.
I would probably go back to this event in future but I definitely not right away. I need more time to work on the craft of writing great songs for my project because I really do want the songs for Violet Love Greatest Hits to be radio worthy and tell an amazing/compelling story.