If you're looking to take the next step in your songwriting career, songwriting organizations are the first place you should look. They serve many purposes, and all of them are important – connecting with potential co-writers, connecting you with industry people, and offering career advice and song critiques, just to name a few. The best part is they're fairly easy to get into – if you can pay the membership fee and meet the criteria, you're in. Here are three of the best organizations to look into.
NSAI is the world's largest not-for-profit songwriter organization with over 5,000 members. It's also done some great work with advocating songwriter rights.
This is a great place to start if you're just getting your feet wet in the industry – it has many educational events such as Song Camp, which often features pro teachers and other notable industry folks. It also has weekly workshops, online pitches, and even mentoring sessions. It regularly has hit songwriters and other industry professionals speak and even take questions from members.
Although it's located in Nashville, it has chapters all across the country – you can likely find one within driving distance. Membership is a bit steep at $200 annually, but it does include several free song evaluations and two one-on-one mentoring sessions.
GSC is a rising star among artists and songwriters in Nashville scene. Founded in 2013 by industry leader Sheree Spoltore, GSC's mission is to help “dreams find direction.” Its focus is working with each individual member and helping him or her create a personalized career plan.
Everyone receives personal, hands-on attention from the founder herself. The organization features mentoring sessions (in person and online), pitch to publisher events, interactive song evaluations, and personalized career advice. It also has invitation-only weekend events that give members a chance to write with a pro songwriter and put you in a room with publishers.
GSC is based in Nashville, but you can access these services from anywhere in the world via the internet. Its structure is a little different than most, however: dues are $50 annually, but all the services are a la carte, meaning you can truly customize the aspects of your membership.
For those of you on the other side of the US, this may be the one for you. With a mission to foster creativity and community, West Coast Songwriters was established in 1979. This is an extremely active organization with quite a few events per month. It hosts a yearly conference with guest speakers from the industry as well as exhibitors. It features frequent workshops throughout the year, song evaluations, showcases, and performance opportunities.
WCS has numerous chapters in the West Coast area. Dues are $100 annually, or $50 if you're under 21. If you're in a band, you can all join for $150.
These are just a few of the more prominent songwriting organizations. Although they're based in the US, they do accept members from across the globe. There are still quite a few more that may be a good fit for you. For a more extensive list, click here.
Don't be afraid to research, call, ask questions, and get exactly what you need. And don't forget to show up and be a part of these organizations – your membership means nothing if you don't use it!
Daniel Reifsnyder is a Nashville-based, Grammy-nominated songwriter, having started his musical journey at the age of three. In addition to being an accomplished commercial actor, his voice can be heard on The Magic School Bus theme song and in Home Alone 2. Throughout his career, he has had the honor of working with the likes of Michael Jackson and Little Richard among many others. He is a regular contributor to several music-related blogs, including his own.