Non-Local Songwriting Organizations - Are They Worth the Expense?
Now, don't get me wrong and think this article is bashing songwriter organizations as a whole. There are many local associations doing a great job supporting the songwriting art form. Yes, songwriting is an art. Songwriters are very special people and should be proud of what they do. But, they must also look at the art of songwriting from a financial perspective unless they have unlimited funds to be spent. Maybe you can relate to this article, maybe not. But, hopefully you may get something out it that may assist you.
If you do an internet search for local songwriting groups, more than likely you will come up with one or two in your local area. If you are not a member of a local organization and would like to be, contact the group coordinator or point of contact and find out a little about them before you commit. Check out their website, how long they have been around, whether they are active in their community, if they are a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and more importantly how they will benefit you as a songwriter. Ask to attend a meeting or one of their events. Meet the members of the group and ask questions. It is important to make an informed decision before joining and regretting it later.
There is an acronym called "WIIFM". It means "what's in it for me". It is a perfectly acceptable human response when seeking out something new. It is the same with any songwriting group or association. You must honestly evaluate whether you will get something back for your membership fee. I do not live in Nashville. I live in Texas. So, does it make sense for me to be a member of any songwriter associations in Nashville? You know realization is a great thing. One day you wake up and discover for years you have been paying membership dues for no return on your money.
So, let's compare the benefits of the large association in Nashville to my local songwriting group in Texas that I have been a member of since 2006:
The group is Nashville (which shall remain nameless) charges $225.00 to join, plus a $25.00 set up fee for new members. Renewing members pay $200.00 per year. My local group charges $40.00 a year for everyone. The Nashville group offers 12 song evaluations per year. I've submitted the same song to several evaluators and have gotten inconsistent opinions from each of them. That is just reality. I get unlimited song evaluations from my local group and many are accomplished songwriters. Their opinions vary as much as the "pro", so you take it all for what it is worth.
The Nashville group offers a video library I can watch on-line about songwriting. Of course, videos about songwriting can be found on-line for free just be doing a basic search. Some are the same ones being offered in the video library. My local group offers person to person interaction, networking and co-writing opportunities without having to go on-line and is much more rewarding.
The Nashville group offers workshops and events, sometimes at an additional cost and in Nashville. My local group offers monthly workshops with guest speakers, some of which are award winning artists. They also offer performance opportunities, a monthly newsletter, and free advertising both in the newsletter and on-line. The group in Nashville sponsors a yearly song contest, which I also get with my local association.
So, if you do a cost comparison with the benefits received you can come to your own conclusion about which is best for you. Being a member of an organization for the sake of being a member doesn't make sense. The most important thing about being part of local association is giving back to the community. We have performed for the March of Dimes, the local homeless shelter, Wings of Hope Foundation, performed Christmas concerts at nursing homes, collected food for the local food bank, and each year participate in the Marine Corp Toys for Tots.
I would rather invest locally and know the money is going back to the membership by paying for workshops, events, and making the world a little better in our own community through the gift of music.