In almost all instances, we begin songwriting as a solitary pursuit fueled by some mystical combination of inspiration and necessity. And while important, the solitary nature of the work can also leave us hungry for a connection for both ourselves and our songs. It’s these relationships that help us grow and mature as writers and members of the songwriting community. This is exactly where songwriting organizations come in handy. I’ve put down a few of the reasons joining and participating in a songwriting organization can be of real value to songwriters throughout their careers.
Songwriting organizations, at their core, offer the simple reminder that you’re not alone. Just knowing that there are lots of other songwriters struggling with the same questions and issues that you are can be a real comfort. Even the most introverted among us are still social animals and these periodic connections can be encouraging.
By attending the meetings, open mics and conferences that most songwriting organizations offer, you’ll be exposed to a wide variety of songwriting styles and approaches. Conversations with your peers will offer priceless insight into how each of you approaches the craft of writing. This knowledge will not only make for good conversation but also for an broader palette of options when you sit down to write.
One of the truly valuable elements of membership in a songwriting organization is your exposure to music industry professionals. Whether it’s a publisher who comes to tell the group what they’re looking for currently or a music supervisor looking for songs for a specific TV show, songwriting organizations make it their business to host industry decision makers. It’s a strength in numbers thing. While you, as a newer songwriter, might not be able to schedule a meeting with a publisher, if there are fifty of you, a music business person will come to you.
As I mentioned above, much of your early songwriting work will be solitary. This means that with the exception of family and friends, you’ll be unlikely to get any significant perspective on how your songs compare to those of your peers. While songwriting is art and by definition subjective, there is still real value in measuring your work against the songwriters around you. Specifically, as you hear how other songs are put together and how they achieve the goal of communicating their vision for their songs, you’ll have a better sense as to whether your songs achieve your vision for them or whether you’ve got more work to do getting your songs up to the desired level.
By joining a songwriting organization, you’ll give yourself the opportunity to meet other songwriters and industry professionals in prearranged settings like conferences and pitch to publisher meetings. These kinds of events can be conducive to building longterm relationships if you approach them with patience and take the long view on how you’d like your career to unfold. For example, instead of making a visit to a music city without a real game plan, a songwriting organization can offer not only pointers on how to go about meeting your peers but also events with publishers, PROs, record label execs and countless other essential players in the business.
So much about what happens between writing your first song and getting a cut is a complete mystery for most beginning songwriters. By having members at all stages of their careers, songwriting organizations can shed some real light on the various stages of development necessary to go from enthusiastic amateur to working professional. While daunting, at times, to see how far you might have to go, this exposure can also remove some of the unknowns and give you, as a songwriter, more focus and a clearer orientation towards your goals.
Writing songs, no matter whether you write alone or collaborate, is still a solitary endeavor. While working in a vacuum is an important part of the creative process, being a part of something bigger is equally important if your hope is to move towards a career as a songwriter. To that end, I’ve listed a few websites below to help you on your way. And, of course, feel free to add any/all additional organizations I might not have mentioned in the comments section below.