September 10, 2012

Reflecting on the Inaugural ASCAP Music City Trifecta

By Ryan Beuschel, Creative Manager, ASCAP Nashville

Music City Trifecta Songwriters Retreat

Pictured (l-r) are (back row) ASCAP's Marc Driskill, Cornman Music's Nate Lowery, Birch Street Music's Jake McKim, ASCAP's Michael Martin, Warner Music Nashville's Scott Hendricks, Shane Stevens, Billboard (Mathieu Jomphe), Justin Weaver, Ashley Gorley, Autumn Rowe, Brett James, Troy Verges, (front row) JT Harding, ASCAP's LeAnn Phelan, Mike Krompass and Catt Gravitt. Photo by Rory White.

Recently in Nashville we finished the inaugural Music City Trifecta. The event was a runaway success and everyone that participated expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to be involved in this new and unique ASCAP program that has potential to lead to further career success. Only time will tell what specific action might develop with the songs that resulted from the Trifecta's writing sessions, each written with Beyoncé or Blake Shelton in mind.

However, in reflecting back on the three-day retreat, it struck me that having a song recorded by Beyoncé or Blake Shelton is simply a short term measuring stick to quantify the success of the event. The more I thought about the Music City Trifecta, the more I realized the possibilities directly related to the retreat are endless! Here are three specific examples that come to mind:

First and foremost, the songs that were written during the retreat could end up being recorded by a different artist down the road. I've heard countless stories of Nashville songwriters that set out to write a song for, say, George Strait, but ended up having the song recorded by an entirely different artist. This very situation happened to ASCAP songwriter Tony Lane in 2011. Tony co-wrote "Roll with It" with David Lee and Johnny Park in 2001. The three men wrote the song with George Strait in mind. It didn't work out as they had planned, but in 2011 newcomer Easton Corbin took the song to the top of the country charts!

Secondly, the friendships and collaborations that arise from the event could lead to collaborations down the road that result in massive hits. A number of the writers that participated in the inaugural event were writing together for the very first time. As 2010 ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Brett James told Billboard in a recent article about the retreat:

"You hope to get hits," James says, "but if you don't get hits, you might make some friends." Last week's collaboration with [Catt] Gravitt and [Mike] Krompass is a good example. "I've made two great friends out of it, and I feel like I'll work with those two people from now on on some level," James says. "Even if 'This Is War' isn't a smash, maybe the ninth song that we write together will be. So a lot of the time you get more out of the camp than just a song."

Finally, the cross-pollination of genres can be healthy for the creative soul. Nashville writers naturally spend a majority of their creative time focused on the country market, while the pop genre remains focused on Top 40. ASCAP songwriter and Trifecta participant Justin Weaver defined this best by saying "The collaborations were creatively liberating. It felt fresh to step outside of the 'Nashville box' while the pop writers were able to step in the 'Nashville box,' all sort of simultaneously."

It's safe to say the inaugural Music City Trifecta was well received and will continue to develop into one of ASCAP's premiere events.