Participation. It's Your Community, After All

Through a wild string of events and blind circumstance, I was invited to attend a Songwriters Guild of America event at 14 Below in Santa Monica. In this cramped club that is haphazardly joined to its alter ego, a sports bar, on a small stage in a deep, narrow and dark room I joined the Songwriters Studio. The event included an open mike portion for aspiring singer/songwriters to test their craft on their peers and others who just showed up on a Monday night. The second part of the program introduced the audience to three Artists in the Round. Here award winning songwriters Mary Coppin, Niki Smart and Craig Lackey. Each takes a turn and plays a song. Finally, the evening capped an interview with and performances by Harriet Schock, a veteran songwriter who's string of hits have been recorded by Helen Ready, Johnny Mathis, Nancy Wilson, Roberta Flack, Smokey Robinson and many others. She wrote “Dreaming” featured in Disney's Little Mermaid animated feature.

I found it fascinating and exciting to be in a room with a bunch of talented and aspiring songwriters. All eager to learn, practice and improve their craft. After the event, I spent a couple hours after the gig where I learned more about the life of aspiring songwriters and a long list of songwriter jokes. “How do you know when it's a songwriter knocking at your door? Pizza's here.” These writers ping-pong across the country from Nashville, to music festivals, to touring as headliners or back up to “big names.” They co-write with peers. Attend workshops. And record.

I also thought of the cobloggaration that I noted here a week or so back. And I couldn't help but think about the community of bloggers I've found myself part of for the past several months. Even more, I think more the “connections” that happen online and offline. And how great to participate in forums where energy, ideas and even healthy debate are encouraged and rewarded throughout this community.

The business of music, songwriting and distribution is changing faster than the big record companies and studios would like. But doors open and opportunities unfold when you do one simple thing: participate.