Music Creators Unite for the 9th Annual ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo
Loews Hotel – Hollywood, CA.
April 24th – 26th, 2014
Written by Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
The 9th annual ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo covered all genres of music and offered songwriters, composers, and producers a variety of panels, performances, workshops, demonstrations, giveaways, and one-on-one sessions over a three-day period. Numerous exhibitors also showcased their latest products and technology throughout the Expo floors. For anyone not familiar with ASCAP, (The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) it is a membership association that protects its members’ musical copyrights by monitoring their public performances.
This was my first time attending the I Create Music ASCAP Expo, and I was most looking forward to seeing Richie Sambora perform at the Ohm theater, the Desmond Child panel, (with John Stamos) and having the chance to network with songwriters and the companies that support them. I was also looking forward to attending some of the panels that could help increase my skills/effectiveness on a professional level.
The first two booths I spoke with at the I Create Music ASCAP Expo were Lyynks and CD Baby. I took a guided tour through Lyyks interactive website, which is launching this June. Their motto is ‘Music Beyond Sound,’ and their application empowers creative people with the platform and tools they need for web-based content management and sharing. I have been a fan of CD Baby for quite some time, mainly due to their personal approach/connection that they have with their customers. I spoke with them briefly, while snagging a cool pair of red and black shades. My main takeaway direct from the source was ‘There are no annual fees ever.’
Exhibitors, who were primarily focused on music, songwriting, and technology, lined the floors, demoing their latest products, gear, and merchandise. They also had a room that showcased musical instruments and related products including Yamaha, Schecter Guitars, Sam Ash, Electro-Voice, GoPro, and Line 6. There were two website companies that were offering critiques, and I gladly accepted an analysis and consultation from them for http://metalbabemayhemcom.mystagingwebsite.com. Both Section 101 and Bandzoogle focus on giving bands a platform to easily build their website without needing to have any knowledge of HTML/Coding.
Taxi (The world’s leading Independent Artist & Repertoire Company) was set up on the third level, in addition to the official merch booth for the show. Taxi offered artists a very special treat, and allowed them to have one of their songs assessed right on the spot by an A&R Rep. There was a booth adjacent to Taxi for Taxi Music Books that were written by Robin Frederick. I spent a few moments speaking with her, and flipping through the books. These books can definitely be beneficial for songwriters who are looking to get their music into film and television.
In addition, numerous educational panels took place throughout the Expo. I attended the following: ‘Break Through and Build Your Career Online’, ‘Section 101: Dare to Be Different! The secret to representing yourself uniquely online,’ and Desmond Child (with John Stamos) ‘Brought in for Questioning.’
A moderator and four panelists participated in the ASCAP Expo ‘Break Through’ discussion:
1. Emily White: (Moderator) Co-Founder & Manager – Whitesmith Entertainment & Readymade Records
2. Jacob Fain: VP, A&R – Sony/ATV Music Publishing
3. Ariel Hyatt: Founder & Owner – Cyber PR; Author – Music Success in 9 Weeks
4. John Lenac: Head of Business Development – PledgeMusic
5. Brian Hazard (Color Theory): Composer, Artist; Blogger – Passivepromotion.com
Main topics included FaceBook, Twitter, and the importance of getting email addresses for your own newsletter. It is important to have something that you can control, and to always be authentic, encourage your audience, and diversify. Also, don’t make everything about sales. Share something beautiful, funny, entertaining, etc.
During the ASCAP Expo Section 101 Panel, Rebecca Calejo discussed the following five steps to representing yourself uniquely online. (I was starting to see a reoccurring theme.)
- It’s not just FaceBook/Social Media
- You can’t control it since you don’t own it. The content is not yours and only has a ‘half-life.’
- Find a creative vibe for your website
- Start with simple words to describe your website and create a mood that fits your personality.
- Don’t get stale
- Keep your website updated with news, images, tour dates, etc. Be consistent.
- Find the right place to connect
- Don’t be all about selling. Make sure to show some personality so you are approachable.
- Pick a platform that grows with you
- It is important to have your own website.
Desmond child, who has recorded 70 Top 40 Hits for artists such as Kiss, Bon Jovi, and Aerosmith, participated in a panel that was moderated by John Stamos. (Most known for his role as Blackie on General Hospital and as Uncle Jesse on Full House.) Desmond Child’s panel ‘Brought in for Questioning’ was educational, entertaining, and inspiring. Stamos and Child are great friends and had such a fun camaraderie together. I loved hearing the stories behind some of the hit songs that Child wrote. He told a funny story about Steven Tyler and Joe Perry (Aerosmith) checking out a beautiful blond in a bar. But, when she turned around and it was Vince Neil from Motley Crue! “Dude Looks Like a Lady” was born.
A few of the points that Child stressed throughout the panel in regards to songwriting were: 1. Start with a title 2. Write melodies 3. Write a BUNCH of songs (Child has written 4000 songs, recorded 2000, and had 70 Top 40 hits.)
Glen Phillips, Ray Parker Junior, Amy Grant, and Richie Sambora performed Thursday night at the Ohm Theater. They were set up across the stage with acoustic guitars, similar to VH1 Storytellers, for the “I Create Music” Center Stage performance.Sambora was accompanied by Australian singer/songwriter/guitarist Orianthi and a drummer with Cuban box drum. The four artists rotated for two hours, taking turns playing a song and sharing a story. I am honored to have been able to participate in such and up close and personal performance, and was thrilled to be in the 2nd row right in front of Richie Sambora! I thoroughly enjoyed hearing songs like Glen Phillips “All I Want, “Amy Grant’s “Baby Baby,” and Ray Parker Juniors’ number one smash hit “Ghostbusters.” A funny side note Parker told us was that he came up with the idea for “Ghostbusters” when he saw a television commercial for the plumbing company Roto-Rooter, that said, ‘Who you gonna call?’ (GHOSTBUSTERS!)
Being that Bon Jovi has been my favorite band since 1987, I was ecstatic to see Richie Sambora perform in this intimate environment. I had recently read that Sambora released a couple of custom Taylor acoustic guitars, and it looked like he was playing his brand new custom designed Taylor acoustic double-neck guitar, and Orianthi was playing the Jumbo (JM) Taylor single-neck acoustic. They played two Bon Jovi songs (“Livin’ on a Prayer”/“Wanted Dead of Alive”) and two of Sambora’s solo songs (“Every Road Leads Home to You”/“Seven Years Gone”). I felt that was the perfect combination and loved every second of it! Sambora felt bad that he had a bit of difficulty remembering the words for “Seven Years Gone since it had been a while since he played it live. He actually had to start and stop the song twice, before finally getting it down on the third try.
Overall, the ASCAP Expo was a great networking opportunity and learning experience. Although, I have to admit that seeing Richie Sambora perform live, and being part of the Child/Stamos panel were definitely my high points during this event. For anyone wondering… Yes, I did get to meet both Richie Sambora and John Stamos, and I got photos with them both!