Day Two of ASCAP’s 14th annual “I Create Music” EXPO in Hollywood brought together music’s top hitmakers, most fearless women and passionate songwriter advocates for panels, workshops, master classes, one-on-one sessions, networking events and performances. Thousands were on hand for another jam-packed day at the United States’ largest conference for music creators.
- Creative Quest: Questlove in Conversation with Paul Williams: Oscar-winning songwriter and ASCAP Chairman of the Board and President Paul Williams discussed all things creativity– method, inspiration and more of the golden wisdom from Questlove’s newest book, NY Times best-selling and Grammy-nominated ‘Creative Quest.’ The drummer, DJ, producer, author and member of The Roots was also recognized with the ASCAP Creative Voice Award. The special honor is presented to members whose significant career achievements are equally informed by their creative spirit and by their contributions to the role that a creator can play in the community. During the conversation, Questlove and Paul discussed the songwriting merits of staying positive, being “as bored as possible,” finding your tribe, leaving your comfort zone and always having good food around.
- Wyclef Jean’s Higher Education: Founder and guiding member of Grammy-winning trio The Fugees and solo superstar with numerous multi-million selling albums has been making waves on campuses sharing his incredible musical knowledge to college students nationwide. Joined by his songwriting collaborators, Wyclef dove into blazing your own musical path, collaborating mentoring, and keeping your creative spirit alive and well throughout your career. The panel turned into party when Wyclef enthusiastically welcomed EXPO attendees to join onstage for a rousing, closing jam.
- How to Write Your Social Media Story: when it comes to social media, audiences aren’t looking for the picture perfect icon anymore. “The highlight reel of just posting the really happy moments is kind of going away,” according to Spencer Moya, Senior Director of Digital Marketing at Interscope Records. Fans want to see that you’re relatable and see your struggles and not just the illusion of perfection. There’s also the reoccurring theme of having a clear idea of what you want to do and who you want to be. Senior Communications manager of Universal Music Group Taylor Hornecker advised to “throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks” when it comes to creating content. Doing this is what creates a lot of momentum on socials and gets people to watch your content. And when it comes to choosing the right social media platform for you, Hisham Dahud has a plan for you. “There are so many platforms theses days so just try and kill it on two of them. Don’t be dormant on the others, but focus on two that would be really good for you in terms of who you’re trying to reach.“ Barbara “Babs” Szabo, the co-founder of Emo Nite, also commented on social media’s purpose noting that it “should be a community rather than just shouting at everybody about announcements,” emphasizing the importance of a connected community.
- Creating the music for This is Us: For a show like This Is Us, the scoring and soundtrack are a vital resource to connect with the audience and their emotions. Underpinning every episode is the music of new ASCAP member Siddhartha Khosla, composer for the show. He took us through various pivotal scenes throughout the series and explained his musical choices while also explaining the evolution of the music with the characters over three seasons. According to Sidd, “The show is about this larger picture of life. It’s about a connectivity between you, absolutely every family relationship possible. Therefore, when making music for this show in particular, we jump back in forth in time.” Sidd uses sounds that are timeless, like the acoustic guitar. As a show that is so music driven, Manish Raval, one of the show’s current music supervisors, feels like “there’s less talking about music and more doing,” which means music is being pitched from early stages of the script instead of after shooting. Jen Pyken, the show’s music supervisor for the first two seasons, said she’s always looking for new indie music. As it is with most aspects of the music industry, networking and connections tend to help. Jen also enjoys “going down the internet rabbit hole of finding music through blogs, Spotify, playlists, YouTube, etc.”
- Latin Goes Mainstream: These genre-leading creators discussed their diverse musical backgrounds (coming from the worlds of jazz, classical, hip-hop, rock and electronic music), their respective “big breaks” and a number of trends emerging in the world of Latin music. These included the colossal impact of Justin Bieber’s “Despacito” remix, the cultural significance of three Latinx artists scoring a hip-hop mega-hit with “I Like It” and the rise in collaborations across genres, including tri-lingual K-Pop crossovers. As the panelists discussed their personal experiences with the genre’s growth – from performing at the White House to teaching Katy Perry pronunciations in Spanish – the message to music creators was clear: take advantage of this moment, and be grateful to those who broke down the doors that made it possible.
- Women Behind the Music: A&R Edition: A team of industry superstars – Dominique Dunn (Roc Nation), Jennifer Drake (Sony/ATV), Ericka Coulter (Epic) and Ashley Calhoun (Pulse Music Group) helped demystify the world of A&R and offered their unique perspectives on how women experience the music business. During the panel that had participants seeping out of the ballroom, the team of A&R executives covered how they work with music creators and how budding talent can catch their attention.
- The Future of Electronic Music: Artists Breaking Barriers: Electronic music has become a huge genre worldwide and artists like TOKiMONSTA and Yuna are breaking down barriers in a male centric industry. As an Asian-Muslim woman in the industry, Yuna believes you only need to worry about the music part of it. “Everyone’s trying to look perfect and cater to the male gaze. But I think it’s about growing into yourself because when you do that, you’ll grow into your music.” TOKi leads with her music first and her identity second. “During my MySpace era, I would upload my music and not have a photo of myself. I don’t want to use my identity as a crutch or a gimmick. If you’re female, it’s not a good thing or a bad thing. Just make sure your music is better than your male counterparts.” Both women also feel like conforming to current musical trend isn’t always the answer to success. TOKi says she wants “to make music that makes me happy. I’m always trying to make my music better and different than what I’ve made before. And as a fan, you need to let an artist have room to grow.” Yuna adds that “it’s really about finding a balance. If you want to follow a trend you need to be passionate about that music.”