Every year SONA (Songwriters of North America) throws an Annual SUMMIT to raise money for advocacy. I say “throws,” because it’s a killer hang, not just a town hall with rows of chairs. Ok well, we do that too. But first we schmooze which involves cocktails, bites, gabbing, and a silent auction with stuff you want. Like this:
SONA started with a handful of hard-working creators who realized that from the onset of digital delivery (sounds like a child birth! ) we weren’t getting paid what we used to and we wanted to do something about it. Now we’re almost 1000 strong. We have new “showwer-uppers” every day who advocate for a more balanced distribution of pay and “heavy-lifters” who head to DC to charm lawmakers. We’ve made incredible progress over the last few years. But the thing is, there are still too many songwriters who haven’t found us yet. And I have my theories as to why that is.
When technology widened the criteria by which we could call ourselves “songwriters,” “rooms” got a lot more crowded. And the competition a lot more fierce. Many of us ventured into alternative spaces such as musical theatre, memoir, licensing, DIY-ing, uber-driving. But most of us stayed put hoping for the gold ring. Or a gold record.
Let me just say, if I was scheduled to work with Katy or Shawn or Ariana I’d get there. No matter what. But the competition to even pitch songs to the highest charting artists has gotten so tight that if you pass up one session you could lose a spot to someone else who goes. Snooze you lose. I get it.
But the thing is, if you land an “album cut” (whatever that even means any more), it doesn’t thicken your wallet. So the heat is on for the singles which will earn on traditional radio (KIIS or KROQ) but traditional radio is gonna be a thing of the past very soon. In a few years our car dashes will only support streaming. And as we all know (actually, some of us don’t!) we can’t sustain a livelihood from streaming income. Not even with singles. So your Selena co-write will get you some viral engagement on Insta but…
I’m living in a house that “Bitch” built. If I wrote “Bitch” today, I couldn’t live in this house. For this reason there’s this other “room” you need to get your asses to (in body or in ‘support’) on Sept 15th. Stay with me...
In 2016 when the MMA was pending hundreds of superstar songwriters signed a petition to back it. We called them the #MusicArmy. The MMA passed. But the target is moving. There’s always going to be another issue. (Ideally, we’d like all the writers in the Music Army to officially join SONA. If they can’t give their time they can lend marquis value to the cause.)
And..I’m (gulp) just gonna say it: nobody stays on top forever. That’s why they call it “15 Minutes.” And when your shelf-life has diminished you might wish you did something about the future of your bank account back when you had the chance to change the system. So when the younger gens have taken over you’ll have savings. And you can stay in your house. Perhaps even buy another.
Last year, Justin Tranter (“Bad At Love,” “Love Myself,” “Issues,” “Believer” — they don’t get better than that) (and dude doesn’t even have a website) was our special SUMMIT guest. He talked to us. Sang to us. Cracked us up. Woke us up. He helped raise thousands of $$$ for our advocacy. He didn’t feel if he showed up it would look like he wasn’t working.
Oh God! Am I lecturing? I think am. So be it. It has to be said. Here’s why…
Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing this for. I’m not nearly in as many “rooms” as I used to be in. The songwriters who will benefit most from SONA’s efforts are the ones who are. There are plenty of other things I could do: go on that Safari, spend more time with my daughter, canvas for healthcare, Spa!
SONA is busting ass to save the dignity of our profession, to protect the value of our (and your) songs and to ensure that Newbies have the same opportunities we had. And speaking of Newbies (who believe it’s just a matter of time before they can quit their day job), they’re hard to mobilize as well. We reached out a bunch to participate in a SUMMIT conversation about how digital income is (or isn’t) working for them. But they “had a session,” or were “invited to songwriting camp,” or they were afraid to piss off that streaming platform that isn’t really paying them anyway! You know, the one that’s appealing a court-ruled raise for songwriters…the one that was rumored to have compensated their Genius’ in exchange for staying silent…the one that posted this tone deaf ad:
And if things go according to their plan, they’ll be paying us even less. Silly Newbies! You need us!
And we need everyone. There is strength in numbers.
If you’re making a living or interested in making a living from music then sign up! If you really don’t have time to heavy-lift, that’s Ok. Really! WE’LL HAPPILY TAKE YOUR MONEY 😄and put it to good use. Minimum membership = $25 but a couple of hundred bucks would be awesome and if you’re a current hit-maker you can afford it!
Do it — so your legacy not only includes your biggest hits but the idea that you were part of a movement that made it possible for others to follow in your footsteps and have a couple of hits of their own.
It’s called giving back!
Thanks for letting me rant.
If you’re already a member of SONA and would like to come to the SUMMIT but have not yet RSVP’d Click Here.
Not sure if your membership is up to date? Email us and ask.
If you want to become a member (or support us) Click Here.
no plus-ones please
Parking in adjacent lot + street parking
Hope to see you there!