Making Connections: The West Coast Songwriters Association
SONGWRITERS!! Do you ever feel like you’re all alone out there? Laboring in a vacuum? Wishing you could connect with other songwriters for advice or collaboration?
If you live in San Diego to Seattle or anywhere in between, you’re in luck! You have an abundance of resources at your fingertips in the West Coast Songwriters’ Association.
The WCSA, a nonprofit educational organization founded in 1979, has grown into one of the most active music associations in the country, with over 20 chapters, offering more than 15 events per month up and down the coast.
Whether your goal is personal expression or a career in the music industry, the WCSA has tools to help you advance your skills and your plans. For a mere $90 a year ($40 for students!), members enjoy a wealth of benefits.
Songwriting classes are offered, taught by some of the most accomplished and talented writers in the industry. Topics include song structure, lyrics, melody, harmony, collaboration, demos and marketing. Song screenings are offered, both live and skyped, in which members present their songs to publishers and recording industry representatives in search of outstanding material and musicians. Works in progress workshops hosted by experienced songwriters offer members an opportunity to play finished or unfinished works to receive constructive comments or suggestions in an effort to help the songwriter hone his/her craft.
All of the WCSA chapters hold members-only Songwriter Competitions each month. Songs are judged on structure, lyrics, and melody. Some of the chapters use judges drawn from the music industry, some chapters choose to use a peer-judging system. Some chapters videotape the performers so they can hone performance skills as well. Each competition, at each chapter, each month, selects a Best Song and a Best Performance winner, and some award prizes.
At the end of the WCSA year, the monthly winners compete in a “play-off” to determine the Best Song of the year of each chapter, and the Best Song winners for each chapter compete in a grand final concert for WCSA Best Song of the Year. The winner(s) of that show earn the right to play their songs in front of an audience of industry professionals at the annual WCSA conference.
I was one such fortunate winner of the Best Song of the Year of 2013, for my song “A Thousand Kisses Shy.” You can hear it by following this link!!! http://laurazucker.com
The Annual WCSA Conference is held each year at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. It is two days of seminars, workshops, song screenings, lyrics reviews, performance evaluations, networking, and camaraderie. No one leaves without a new idea, a new song, a new collaborator or connection. Explore what West Coast Songwriters is all about by visiting their website http://www.westcoastsongwriters.org
There are similar organizations in other parts of the country, which are open to members from anywhere. Taxi, a company which describes itself as “The World’s Leading Independent A&R Company,” has compiled a great list of these organizations, which you can get to here.
So go on, get out there—connect and CREATE!!
Photo: Kelly Kitchell performs at the West Coast Songwriters Contra Costa Chapter. Photo by Laura B. Whitmore
Singer-songwriter Laura Zucker wins audiences over with a hard-won perspective and a positive spin. The powerful imagery of her songs and stories ring so true you might think she’s read your diary – and you’ll find yourself humming her infectious melodies for days to come. She’s a two-time finalist in the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk competition in Texas, 2013 West Coast Songwriters Association Best Song of the Year, and has received numerous accolades and awards from the organizations around the world. She has released three CDs of original songs and is poised to release the 4th, "Life Wide Open," early this fall. More at LauraZucker.com