Looking Back on What's to Come

I'm straying from our usual format just a bit because I feel the need to speak to you about how to make your songs stronger in the long-term rather than in the short term.

Like most writers starting out in the music business, I was fortunate to have been adopted by several fine veteran writers. Why they took the time to give me a few words of advice, a moment of praise, a hard jab of criticism, or a cold beer of consolation was always a mystery to me. I never quite understood when they told me that a songwriter's best friend was not an artist, a label, a publisher, or a radio or TV station, but another songwriter.

While I worked on my craft, demoed my songs, hunted for a publisher, relentlessly chased that first recording, and hungered for that first hit, those veteran writers were doing all that and more: they were also working tirelessly to protect their copyrights and receive fair compensation for their work. In so doing, they were also looking after my rights and the rights of all fledgling writers.

At a recent NSAI's Pro Division, I was talking to some of my contemporaries when it hit me that we had become them; and the sheep had become the shepherds. Just as our mentors had carried on the fight for copyright protection, so have we been continuing that fight through NSAI.

The Next Generation

Now as we look forward to another year, remember that the technology coming down the pike will eclipse anything that we have experienced to date. The technology will have one function -- to use, in as many ways as possible, the work that we have dedicated our lives to creating. And if the history has taught us anything, it is that since the 1908 Copyright Law was put into place, users of music have done everything in their power to avoid paying creators for their music.

That's why it's important for you as a songwriter and a creator of music to join us in the battle for copyright protection: so that you will be prepared to take the torch and lead the next generation of creators forward in the age where technology will make it increasingly easier for others to rob us of our work.

[To find out more about ASCAP's work in the field of copyright protection and how you can get involved, please see the Legislative area on the ASCAP site.]

It's Your Life and Livelihood

Remember your songs are yours for Lifetime Plus 50 Years. So, long after you're gone -- if you have done your job well -- your great, great grandchild may be able to afford an operation, a car, or a college education, compliments of you. When you earn your first gold record, you'll find that it comes with something else -- a sword and a shield.