SongNet is the brainchild of Los Angeles songwriter Linda Geleris. Early in her career, she felt the isolation experienced by many creative people and decided to do something about it. Since L.A. is "music city," she suspected that there were other like-minded souls hoping to build careers in the music business.
In the back of her "Songwriters Market" book, she found a listing for NAS (National Academy of Songwriters), which at the time was meeting at the Hollywood Women's Club. On the occasion of her second visit, she shared some of her M&Ms with a woman sitting next to her, whose husband had just been tapped to score his first feature film. Four months later, the couple called her up and said that a song was needed for the opening scene.
The next day, Linda 'auditioned' her song in the couples' apartment for the director, producer and music supervisor. It could not have fit the opening scene any better, and the next day the as-yet unrecorded song was recorded and immediately placed into the film. This scenario taught Linda the importance of networking, being personable and pleasant, and sharing M&Ms whenever possible.
Next, Linda's natural inclination
to teach others came into play. Forming a songwriters network seemed like the
next logical step. In a network, a group of songwriters would:
A) Learn the importance of networking with each other
B) Meet guest speakers from many different areas of the music business.
C) Encourage one another and share tips and advice
At a music seminar, Linda
had recently been introduced to a gentleman who co-founded TAXI. She called
him up and pitched her idea for hosting a network with music industry guest
speakers, song critiques, and occasional open mics.
During the spring and summer of 1999, the ideas evolved and the periodic conversations eventually led to a commitment from Michael Lederer and TAXI to sponsor the endeavor. The first meetings were held at Beantown, a coffee shop in Sierra Madre, CA.
After promoting the 'big event' with flyers, phone calls and e-mail as best she could, there were seven people at the first meeting, including Michael and Linda. The meetings were once a month, and Michael would personally bring the guest speakers to address the group. Pete Luboff was one of our first speakers.
He was so knowledgeable, friendly and encouraging that he set the tone, from the beginning, that Linda was aiming for with the original concept of the network.
In April 2001, Thomas "Tommy" Honles & Jimi Yamagishi joined Linda to handle the rapid growth of the network, and created a leadership core to expand the range of opportunities available, secure a presence in cyberspace, and search for new avenues of support for SongNet members.
Enlisting the help of legendary promoter Bob Stane, SongNet has found a home at the Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena. Just far enough outside of the Hollywood scene to avoid the attitudes, yet convenient enough for musicians all over the LA Area. The once a month showcases that were still held at Beantown were also moved to the third Wednesdays of every month at The Coffee Gallery.
Thanks to Tommy's great webmastering skills & Jimi's decades of experience in the industry, active local membership has grown into the hundreds, and cyber membership is more than 45 thousand worldwide and continues to grow. Word of the network has spread and now many of the industry pros that were once unavailable now want to give back to our community & are lining up for a chance to share at a first Wednesday of the month meeting.
In spite of the rapid growth, SongNet continues to be a "warm hug in a harsh industry", and as Jimi calls it, "Our Lil' Songwriting family". The "Members PLUS" program not only provides a presence for established members, it also works like a family album to refer to for members that are often unable to attend gatherings & meetings 'cuz their careers have brought them success & filled their time with gigs.
Peer networking, and bringing together artists and people in the music Industry for mutual benefit has been the result. Artists who are looking pitch their songs to 'the industry' learn the ins and outs, dos and don'ts from the pros themselves. The music industry guest speakers come and form connections with up and coming music creators. These relationships are important, as the demand for quality music of all genres is high. The industry pros become aware of current trends in the community, and many find new artists music for their projects at SongNet. Everyone benefits from the network.
Linda says: "As SongNet
founder, I am so gratified as I watch how the network continues to grow and
build connections with other networks, yet never loses sight of the importance
of encouraging artists and songwriters at ALL levels. Beginning songwriters
along with those who have been networking and honing their craft for a few years
share a common bond of friendship and support. The people who frequent SongNet
are caring folks who welcome newcomers and offer help and encouragement".