I would spend the first two days in this major music center pitching the fruits of my songwriting talents to various publishers and performing rights organizations and then, having secured a contract for my invaluable services, I’d spend the next two days doing the tourist thing.
The second part worked out as planned. Not so much for the first.
While I did get to perform some original tunes at open mics every evening I was in town, and even got to play some demo recordings for BMI and ASCAP representatives, nobody was eager to sign this naive nobody to a record, publishing or writing deal.
That was back in May of 2003 and I’ve returned several times since. Every time I head back home with contradictory feelings of both inspiration and discouragement.
I still don’t have that elusive contract, but I never go home empty-handed or empty-headed. The creative energy that swirls around “Music City” guarantees that I at least absorb some lessons about the craft of songwriting or the business of exploiting tunes.
There are so many – probably more than 30,000 – great songwriters and musicians in that relatively small town that what you produce has to be better than great to get any traction. The odds can be crushing.
The nice part is how supportive I have found the artistic community to be. It helps to be a member of such established organizations as NSAI and ASCAP, but on my first trip I was totally unaffiliated. And yet with a little pre-trip research and phone calls, I still had a chance to arrange meetings with music industry honchos and perform a song at venues that included the famous Bluebird Café.
No, I didn’t get “discovered,” but I did leave there with a lot of motivation and a feeling that I was a small part of the mix and that I was getting an opportunity to compete in the big leagues. Yes, I’ve struck out more times than I would like to say, but t least I feel that I’m in a position to keep on swinging for the fences.