Thursday the 28th at 10:30 I’ll be appearing at the ASCAP Songwriters Expo. I’m looking forward to this, as much for the questions as the answers. I appeared on an Expo panel one other time a few years back and it was very interesting, although one of the surprises was how much the questions focus on hope. The attendees often ask questions that could be paraphrased loosely as: can you give me a little hope about my lonely and unheralded practice of songwriting?
I think that’s really a hard thing to do in a panel discussion, though maybe not impossible. I guess my hope is that I won’t shatter anyone’s hopes with a glib or ill-conceived answer. One of the reasons it’s hard to give people hope from up there on the expert panel, is that just like anywhere else, hope is sometimes hard to muster even while sitting on the panel. Songwriters as a group might be the most insecure and worried people in the world. A group of songwriters sitting on a panel of experts might be in nearly as desperate need of reassurance and hope as anybody. So when the Expo attendee steps up to the Q&A microphone and asks: “How do I get my songs into the right hands? I feel like I am just as good as any of the writers with songs on the radio, I just can’t seem to find the right person to give my demos to. Is it all about who you know? It’s just not fair!” – the panelists may well be wondering how the heck they managed to get their own songs heard, and how long that precious state of affairs may last.
It’s even possible that the people on the panel will not consider themselves experts at all, except in that somehow their own songs, by some magical set of coincidences and good fortune, have managed to worm their way past a world of obstacles, opinions and gatekeepers, and somehow reach the wider public.
Maybe a good question to ask the panelists would be: “How in the world did you get so lucky?”