Today was a much fuller day than yesterday. It started with sharing a 100 degree hotel room with my buddy Bob... (sigh... I'm in charge of the room temp tonight, Bob...) At 7:00, I drove to KRUZ 97.5 in Santa Barbara to do a radio interview with my good buddy Matt Stone, who runs the morning show. I played a few songs, joked around with him about music and plugged the expo. I think the best part was when an obviously hungover girl called into the station and asked for a taxi. (She turned me down when Matt offered to send me out to pick her up... probably a good choice on her part...)
When I got back to the expo, the first round of songwriting critiques was under way. I spent time in the two "pop" rooms which included critiques from Richard Harris and Adam Epstein. I had to say that I've been to many critique sessions and this one was probably one of the most beneficial. They were never condescending in any way to the writers and offered strong feedback that should be of great help to the writers. (IF they actually decide to take their critiques seriously.) I decided that later that day, I would try it with a song I didn't care much about and see what was said... (We'll get to that later. For the rest of this post, click 'keep on reading' at the bottom.)
After the critiques were done the panel discussions started. I would have to say that this was most easily the most disappointing part of my day. I was very excited to learn about "Publishing" and find out what publishers were looking for, but they ended up simply opening the floor to questions which was very ridiculous. Most people asked the most obscure possible questions that in no way related to anyone but themselves. (When panelists say, "There are no dumb questions..." I usually cringe, because it means that someone in the room is probably going to try to prove them wrong.) They would definitely do well at DSE next year if they decided to take a page from North by North Park's book and had a moderator for all panels.
The other panel on "Royalties" was also a bit of a let down. It was poorly attended and many of those who did attend decided to go to the "Publishing" first, and the questions for the panelists were asked 2 or 3 times a piece. (I also always think it's so cute how that ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC reps all seem so cordial... I always want the SESAC rep to pull some sort of a Mortal Kombat move on the other two... I guess you can see that I'm with SESAC.)
After lunch was another panel lead by hit songwriter Danny Myrick who put on one of the best panels on songwriting that I've ever been through. In the most honest and true way, he simply told everyone about his journey from childhood to becoming a hit songwriter, his struggles with songwriting and the joys of actually getting an artist to be convinced that his song was actually the song he or she had been looking for. (I honestly wish every panel had a "Danny Myrick" on it, because it was extremely obvious that he speaks from the heart like it's the only way he's ever known how to speak.
Next came the dreaded song listening... I decided to submit a country song I had written for my ex-girlfriend. There were two basic reasons I submitted to this panel: the first was because I don't really write country much and I didn't think I'd care what they said about it, and because there weren't many people in the room, so I could keep walking around like I was really cool, without people knowing I had my ass handed to me in the listening session. (I believe that means I can be called a chicken shit....)
To my surprise, I didn't do too terribly. The gentlemen who critiqued it said it was extremely catchy, and told me a few changes he thought I should make, and moved on. I believe in "Critique Speak", that translates to, "This is a hit, I wish I had written it..." (But it probably means it was "Absolute garbage, and you should quit while you're ahead, kid...")
Tonight's lineup seems like it should be another good one. The opening artists were all fantasticaly talented, and I'm looking forward to getting some sleep in a room that doesn't feel like Iraq during the summer.