I was lucky enough to spend this past long weekend at the Australian Songwriters Conference. I'd never been to this event before and it had come highly recommended from a few people in my musical community so I was interested to see what it was like.
I knew there were going to be some speakers and presenters present who had a lot of credibility in their various parts of the Australian (and international) music and songwriting scene. I also knew that my kind've music is not really what any of these professionals are doing/looking for, as they're largely big hit makers, publishers and writers.
This meant I was interested but not so invested that I had an agenda.
Turns out, this was a perfect mix of qualities to take in to the conference.
Over the weekend, I had really good conversations with Gina Jeffreys, Rod McCormack, Barb and Adrian Hannan, Alan Roy Scott and Matt Donlevey. I met a few others.
And I have to say, it's far too easy for musicians to be cynical about the industry, to blame it for not protecting songwriters as the profits available to those who make music shrink and the grab for what's left gets fiercer. It's easy to say that industry people control what we hear or don't like people who are outside the mould. And that it's all about who you know so those of us on the outside have no chance.
But this weekend, that hasn't been my experience.
This weekend, what I've seen is some very patient, very kind (far more than I was being, in my head) and very generous industry professionals listening to one mediocre song after another, one painful performance after another, one conversation with a wanna be who probably will never be but is trying to get something from them after another.
In moments where my brain has imploded and I've needed to leave the room because I've reached the limit of my ability to listen to any more mediocre songs (and believe me, I know my songs are mediocre, compared to what these professionals deal with, day to day), I've seen these men and women be encouraging, find positive things to say, genuinely engage with hopeful writers and artists who have a long way to go.
And they had time for me. Time for listening to me give some very (and I mean VERY) mediocre performances, time to listen and critique my songs, time to give me feedback on how or where the songs might find a money-earning home and to offer advice on how to progress as an artist.
I don't know how they have that long-suffering ability. I don't know why they do it. But I know one thing for sure (at the risk of sounding like Oprah), they impressed me and I felt lucky to have their ears and brains focused on me for a short time.
So, no more complaining about the industry from me.