Songwriter, hobbyist or professional. What level do you hold claim to? The IRS asks us the question every year. Have you used up the three years allowed as a loss to Uncle Sam before gaining a profit? If the answer is yes, how serious do you take your songwriting?
I've heard a wide range of alibis in my eight years of being associated with NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International). One I've heard on occasion is NSAI is too country oriented or this or that organization is too much something else. I admit, I had drifted away from my country music roots when I first began writing, but I like to write and explore in many music areas, subjects, etc. I had written several songs prior to joining NSAI and the Louisville Workshop, but it didn't take a mental heavyweight to realize the close proximity of Nashville in comparison to New York and L.A. when considering the three major music cities. I also feel more at home in Nashville since the people and the city atmosphere are more similar to Louisville.
What I'm trying to say is that I made a commitment to improve my songwriting skills. It's called "paying your dues." Sacrificing money and time to work on a craft. Few things in life happen by chance in an industry as competitive as songwriting. A lot of ground work such as listening to the radio, live bands, conversations and reading books and watching programs that might open your mind to great ideas can help. Getting "in tune" to current day happenings and music that turns people on can't hurt either. And most importantly, the thing that has helped my writing threefold is music organizations. It is difficult to improve your writing skills without being around others with similar interests and their support and their critiquing of your songs. It is also one step closer to being a professional in this business.
Believe me, it is a business and the more you know about publishers, producers, performing rights, etc., the better chance you have of stepping up above a hobby status.
An excellent opportunity for songwriters is to go to NSAI's Spring Symposium and Awards Dinner which will be held at the Vanderbilt Plaza Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. on March 16 and 17, 1990. Some on the program and panels are Kathy Mattea, Lacy J. Dalton, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Whitey Shafer, Crook & Chase and others.
Call (615) 321-5004 or mail to: NSAI, Suite 200, 1025 16th Ave. South, Nashville, TN 37212.
If you don't have the time and money, plan on it next year or go to the one-day Summer Seminar.
Local NSAI meetings will be held the 2nd and 4th Mondays of March at Deer Park Church, 1733 Bardstown Rd., one-half mile south of Eastern Parkway.