Last year, when Steve Carell departed NBC’s “The Office,” the series that made him a star, an in-house committee was formed to find a suitable replacement for his role as Michael Scott, Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton, Pennsylvania, branch manager. The interview process produced a few famous cameos. But, the candidate who impressed, and terrified, the hiring committee the most was Robert California, played brilliantly by James Spader.
On his first day Robert California walked into the reception area of his new office and took a steady look at the workers before him. Without saying a word, he promptly turned around, got in his car and drove to Tallahassee, Florida, where he talked the CEO of Dunder Mifflin’s parent company out of her job; a position he then assumed and continues to fill to this day.
This was the analogy I used in my inaugural newsletter entry to describe my ascension to the presidential podium of the San Diego Songwriter’s Guild in December 2011. While my previous experience should not be discounted; I had only joined SDSG in July of that year. Next, I entered the November Songwriting Contest. One conversation led to another and just under a month later I was president. How very “Robert California” of me.
I was humbled by the honor of assuming presidential duties for SDSG and excited to work closely with the existing team and board members, to grow the Guild’s relevance within the community. I continued to muse that, ultimately, the achievement of this mandate would have little to do with me.
The success of any group is gained from the sum of its parts. In this case SDSG’s members. If they didn’t feel this way, they wouldn’t pay their membership dues every year, nor would they participate in any of our fantastic events. They’re part of this organization for a reason. My goal was, and still is, to make sure they get the most from their money, time, and energy. The Guild should be a resource for San Diego Songwriter’s to flourish – not a distraction that takes a way from time spent better elsewhere.
SDSG’s board of directors, its advisors, and my first (and ongoing) order of business was to listen to our members. I’m not just talking about their music. What did they like about the Guild? What did they feel could be improved upon? And, most important, what ideas did they have to help us grow? We sent a questionnaire out to all of our members and then attempted to call every one of them by telephone for a one-on-one discussion. When we called, we asked members to be candid about their past experiences with the Guild and how we could effect positive changes they’d like to see in an organization whose overall mission is to help achieve songwriting goals.
Those members we missed we reached-out to at our events. In our first few months we began to build a picture of where the Guild was and where we wanted it to be. On being asked if there was any other talent she’d like to contribute to the Guild other than her music, one member offered to bake cookies for our events. Those are some damn fine cookies, just a small example of how we can use our talents to come together as a group and cultivate a productive environment from which we can all benefit and grow.
At the Board level, we reorganized our volunteers to suit each person’s strength to their elected post as well as welcoming new blood into our ranks. As of our last event – the ever-popular Annual Songwriting Contest – where we elect our Board for the next year, Diane Waters assumed the role of vice president; John Pape became the first person to hold our newly created director of technology position; Annie Rettic retained her position as treasurer as I did the presidency (or as I like to call it, my role as “prime minister”!)
No matter your level of experience, from the basics through to the fine-tuning, the San Diego Songwriter’s Guild has something to offer your craft and/or career. Maybe you’re looking for instruction in writing songs? How about co-writing with other local artists? Maybe you’re interested in production and recording opportunities? This is just the beginning of our value as a resource.
We offer seminars on how to polish your product and present yourself to the world beyond your writing space; production, marketing material design, online and social media advise… it’s all right here for the taking – all you need to do is reach out.
Have you ever wondered how you could get your music into the hands of music supervisors for film and television? We have those connections and can show you how to use them.
We offer monthly “Pitch Sessions” with industry decision-makers who see musical opportunities on a daily basis; it’s not unusual for them to leave our meetings with a few great new songs in their pockets – what’s to say that one of those songs couldn’t be yours?
While we can do all of this and more, we’re always growing and there may be things we don’t offer yet. Maybe it’s a songwriting service you’re desperately seeking but cannot find? Give us a call, drop us a line, and let us know – we’ll do the research and see what we can do. Remember, the most important part of the San Diego Songwriter’s Guild are the members who inspire us to keep doing what we do best.
In 2013 we will welcome Al Torres as our secretary and as always offer our deepest gratitude to Mark Hattersley and Wil Ruiz for their continued dedication as trusted advisors and volunteers. This group of people are some of the kindest, most motivated people I have ever had the pleasure of associating with. I look forward to working alongside them for many years to come and urge all songwriters in the community to take advantage of the depth and breadth of their combined experience.
We’ve brought in some fantastic guests to our monthly events in 2012: Jim Attebury, Michael Laskow, Josquin des Pres, Jeff McCulloch, and Tiamo to name just a handful. We’ve had pitch sessions, workshops, motivational speakers – all to encourage our members and provide them with the tools necessary to effectively present their songs to the world in the strongest possible way.
The San Diego Songwriters Guild was formed in 1982 by Palomar Community College songwriting instructor Dottie Beck and 17 of her students. Dottie’s goal was to provide education and support for those interested in pursuing the craft of songwriting. Thirty years after its introduction to the San Diego songwriting community, and after just one year as its president, I would like to reintroduce the San Diego Songwriter’s Guild to the San Diego songwriting community. A strong, reinvigoration of Dottie Beck’s original vision that looks forward to an impressive 2013. I invite you to look through our calendar of events in the coming year, find something that piques your interest, and join us to see for yourself how we can assist you in your mastery of the songwriting craft.
The opportunity to become part of this fantastic organization is just a mouse click or short drive away. Learn more about the San Diego Songwriter’s Guild at SDSongwriters.org.
The San Diego Songwriters Guild is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation with no paid employees. It is operated on a break-even budget by a volunteer board of directors. Revenues are used to conduct seminars, rent meeting facilities, cover travel expenses for industry guests, and publish and distribute the SDSG newsletter published on an almost-monthly basis by Guild veteran Mark Hattersley. You can sign up to receive this invaluable San Diego songwriter’s tool with contributions from such notable local songwriters as Brigit Brigitte and Tracey and Vance Marino at our new-and-improved website: sdsongwriters.org.