In my role as Assistant Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations at BMI, Broadcast Music, Inc., here in New York, I have endless opportunities to see, hear and experience live music in its rawest, purest forms. While the perception of performance rights organizations like BMI might be that we simply deal with music licensing and collect royalties, we actually do a whole lot more. In addition to protecting the rights and livelihoods of our affiliates, BMI also strives to serve as a nurturer, mentor, counselor and facilitator to our songwriters through countless initiatives, showcases, workshops and other events. One of the greatest aspects of my job is helping cultivate environments in which songwriters can hone their craft, collaborate and flourish. Just recently, I got to oversee just such a project.
In honor of “New York Music Month” this past June, BMI hosted a weeklong songwriting camp at The Patch House, a supportive and creative space for touring musicians in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Bringing together emerging songwriters and producers from New York, Los Angeles and Nashville, the camp provided a unique opportunity for its participants to establish creative bonds and fruitful working relationships with each other through daily writing and recording sessions. From all over the genre-spectrum, these writers and producers aligned in a relaxed environment to share their skills, their music and potentially craft the next big hit.
While previous sessions of this songwriting camp have been more open-ended, this year, our participants were tasked with a specific mission to write a song for buzzworthy pop singer/songwriter Fletcher. Campers like former Cage the Elephant member and producer Lincoln Parish, newcomer Andrew Seltzer, who has recorded songs with Maggie Rogers and has a collaboration with Mickey Blue in the works, and “Say Something” songwriter Mike Campbell got right on the task. In the process, writers Campbell and Seltzer forged a musical rapport that may pave the way towards future collaboration. Only good things came of these types of pairings.
The Patch House songwriters camp is only one of BMI’s many programs of this kind. Another great initiative is our Speed Dating for Songwriters series, which is a regular workshop that similarly pits up-and-coming songwriters, producers and artists together in a rapid-fire speed dating structure, enabling communication, inspiration, collaboration and instant feedback in quick, limited sessions.
It may sound fast – and it is – but hit songs have come out of it, notably “Don’t Need Permission,” Meg Mac’s hit single, co-written by Tye James, Julie Hardy and Mike MacAllister. There’s also BMI’s Acoustic Lounge series at the Rockwood Music Hall on the Lower East Side, a weekly showcase for BMI songwriters to play their music in front of a live audience. By both tapping into the rich heritage of New York City’s legendary music scene and bringing together incredible new talent, I’d like to think BMI is helping cultivate the next great generation of music creators.