Event: ASCAP Hitmaker’s Panel Discussion in Los Angeles

by H. Clent Bowers

Magazine     >    Reviews


Written by H. Clent Bowers for THE ARTISTS FORUM MAGAZINE
Edited by
Amos White V for THE ARTISTS FORUM, INC
Photos:
Courtesy of ASCAP

REVIEWER RATINGS:
5 out of 5 stars

ASCAP PRESENTS THE HITMAKER’S PANEL IN LOS ANGELES

LOS ANGELES (February 8, 2009) Last night, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) presented a special Hitmaker’s Panel Discussion at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood in celebration of this year’s Grammy Awards. The event is part of the ongoing ASCAP series of professional development programs that focus on the music creation process.

Moderated by Billboard Magazine‘s Senior Editor/R&B Hip Hop, Gail Mitchell, the event was free to the public and was filled with both new and established music creators and producers.  The panel consisted of Grammy award winning artists, producers, and top songwriters let the event. Panelists included Jermaine Dupri (ASCAP’s Rhythm and Soul Songwriter of the Year), Johnta’ Austin (ASCAP’s Pop, Rhythm & Soul Music Awards, Songwriter of the Year in 2007), Ne-Yo (nominated for six Grammy Awards this year), Manuel Seal, and Tricky Stewart as part of an ongoing ASCAP series of professional development programs that focus on the music creation process.

(L-R) Producer/songwriter Jermaine Dupri, songwriters Johnta Austin and Tricky Stewart discuss in a panel at the ASCAP "Hitmakers" Panel Discussion held at the Musicians' Institute as part of Grammy Weekend.
(L-R) Producer/songwriter Jermaine Dupri, songwriters Johnta Austin and Tricky Stewart discuss in a panel at the ASCAP “Hitmakers” Panel Discussion held at the Musicians’ Institute as part of Grammy Weekend.

These young Atlanta native experts spoke about the art and craft of songwriting and producing in general, as well as their experience with writing and producing some of their hits. Each told how working in Atlanta, where being “big fish in a small pond,” allowed them to cultivate ideas, learn the publishing business, record in their “own back yard,” commune with a smaller posse, and eventually push on up the ladder and emerge as a major force in the music industry.   

Each panelist referenced the importance of steadfast devotion to personal inspiration and keen observation to the business details of the industry.

(L-R) ASCAP’s Senior Director Elanzo Robinson, ASCAP’s Assistant Director Adrienne Muhammad, ASCAP’s Assistant Vice President Nicole George, ASCAP’s Assistant Director Walter Jones, ASCAPs Creative Director Tremayne Anchrum, Jermaine Dupri, Johntá Austin, Tricky Stewart, Manuel Seal, ASCAP’s Senior Director Jay Sloan, and Billboard’s Gail Mitchell.
(L-R) ASCAP’s Senior Director Elanzo Robinson, ASCAP’s Assistant Director Adrienne Muhammad, ASCAP’s Assistant Vice President Nicole George, ASCAP’s Assistant Director Walter Jones, ASCAPs Creative Director Tremayne Anchrum, Jermaine Dupri, Johntá Austin, Tricky Stewart, Manuel Seal, ASCAP’s Senior Director Jay Sloan, and Billboard’s Gail Mitchell.

It was the opinion of this panel that in today’s market, an artist must decide whether they are a writer, producer, or performer. They felt that anyone trying to wear all hats at once would lead to spreading themselves too thin, and in fact, become their own conflict of interest;  Do one or two things well first, then add more skill sets later was the key.

At the close of the two hour event, the floor was open to Q&A. One young man sung his creation on the spot and was immediately asked to hand in his CD. Then, the panel asked him a question – was he was a producer, writer, or artist?  Artist was the correct answer, for these were producers looking for new material to produce and publish.

(L-R) Jermaine Dupri, Sony Music’s Jody Gerson, and Johntá Austin
(L-R) Jermaine Dupri, Sony Music’s Jody Gerson, and Johntá Austin

As the Q&A continued, someone raised an interesting question, asking if the panelists felt there was a cap on the age of an aspiring musician.  Here is where things got really interesting. All the panelist agreed that anyone over their mid-30’s was, in fact, too old. I found it shocking to think that anyone could consider that a life of creation stops before a person has reached half of their life. (Perhaps they meant that over the mid-30’s mark was too old to start to make it as a performing rapper if you haven’t already started – That question was not clarified.)

Conversely, one audience member quoted characters from the old testament whose best contributions where made further up in age; from 99 years to 999 years, before making their mark. He made this statement while defying the security guards (whom he towered over), walking up on stage and handing each panelist his CD and flyer for his next performance – all the while shouting, “It is never over until God say’s it’s over!” Amen, my brother. Amen.

For more information about the event, visit: ascap.com/press/2009/0126_grammyweek.aspx

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