SongFest: climbing the wall

A few weeks ago, I was muddling through various websites with one question on my mind: What can I do today, to get the music I’ve written out into the world? I felt like the answer was on the other side of a brick wall, that was far too high for me to clamber over, let alone even see the top! It was at this moment that I stumbled across SongFest and began feeling hopeful.

SongFest is a songwriting conference put on by BASCA; the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. 2011’s instalment took place last week at The Bedford in Balham, hosted by Tony Moore, a veteran of the industry who champions unsigned acts at his two music venues, The Bedford and The Regal Room in Hammersmith.

From Monday to Wednesday there were twelve sessions, each one chaired by a music industry specialist. Panelists included renowned songwriters, composers, producers, artists, engineers, entertainment lawyers, record labels, publishers and managers; a smorgasbord of success stories and industry insiders, all ready to spill the beans.

Chris “Cool For Cats” Difford, of Squeeze fame, gave the keynote speech to an attentive crowd. The legendary lyricist talked about his experiences as a songwriter and the various ups and downs of a career spanning 40 years. He acknowledged how much the industry has changed, but refused to harp on about how “the good old days” were done and dusted, instead advocating an attitude of positivity and persistence.

A highlight for me was the demo review session with seasoned pros Tim Fraser, Maxi Priest and Bill Padley. CD submissions were picked at random, played and critiqued by the panel. My mouth went dry as my name was called and Upside Down rang out into the room, however, the panel liked it, and encouraged me to let go a little more in the vocal.

Other favourites included an interview with phenomenal beatboxer and all round nice guy Shlomo, a DIY recording session featuring the contagiously passionate producer Steve Levine, and a motivating snapshot of three artists, Sam Beeton, Mike Hough and Dan Priddy, who have all used YouTube as a platform to professional careers.

Overall, I came away with clarity. Ideas that have been bubbling below the surface, have now burst forth and I’m beginning to think that maybe the brick wall isn’t so high after all!  Perhaps SongFest just handed me the ladder I needed.

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