“You must surrender the sickness of wanting to be creative to a higher power,” said Nashville songwriter Jason Deere at Soundcheck Series’ latest workshop Aug. 8 at Metcom Studios in Salt Lake City. The standing-room-only audience used pens, pencils and keyboards to eagerly jot down words as Deere waxed on the makings of a successful songwriting career.
The Soundcheck Series is where many local musicians can receive industry advice that they can’t get by playing in area coffee shops and bars. Soundcheck promises to “bring Grammy winners, producers, publishers and other industry pros from places like Los Angeles and Nashville” to Salt Lake City and Utah County for workshops.
Soundcheck director Russ Dixon says that by attending the various Soundcheck Series workshops, local musicians can “make amazing connections and learn a lot about the music industry without flying out to Los Angeles or Nashville, spending all their money and coming back having only met one or two people.”
Since its resurrection in 2010, after a brief launch in 2006, Soundcheck has held near-monthly workshops with industry folks like Finn Bjarnson, Tyrone Wells (on being an indie artist vs. major-label signee) and Neon Trees’ Tyler Glenn (on songwriting) on a wide-ranging base of topics.
The most recent workshop with Deere, however, felt as much like a motivational sermon as a workshop on becoming a published songwriter. Deere, who has worked with big names like Katy Perry, Jessica Simpson, Lady Antebellum and LeAnn Rimes, spent most of the evening relating his success in the music business to his unwavering faith in God. Dixon introduced Deere as the “most passionate” person in the music industry, and that manifested itself in the form of tears from Deere five or six times throughout the two-hour lecture.
While this has rarely been the case at the roughly 40 previous workshops, know that your mileage may vary. Dixon says that some artists want to tell their story, like Deere, while others relate more logistical information.
Deere did share a few strategies of making it in the music world. He told the room that aspiring musicians must have “TRT: Tactful Relentless Tenacity,” and they must find out how to get as much of themselves through the “commercial keyhole” in order to make it.
The Soundcheck workshop is not just about teaching the logistics of the music industry, it’s also about getting inspired—be it by personal anecdotes or hearing success stories in the struggling music biz—and networking at the events.
“There are people here who are great studio musicians, vocalists and songwriters, and you wouldn’t know it just by looking at them, but I know it,” Dixon said. “Guys and girls in this room have done amazing things together.”