I asked my predecessor, Ray Colcord to write an article for the Score some time back entitled, Why I Belong to the SCL. Ray in his articulate and insightful way enumerated his reasons and I thought that I might try my hand at elaborating some of my thoughts along the same line as I see it today.
Since I joined the SCL, about the time that this organization was transitioning from the CLGA, our numbers have grown considerably. We now count over 1,100 members and as I recall, you could fit our membership into a small cocktail room when I joined back in the mid eighties at the urging of my agents at the time, Al Bart and Stan Milander. Although this undoubtedly illustrates that the number of composers and songwriters working within our field are growing, I think more importantly it demonstrates that the spirit is alive to be part of an organization that is sympathetic to the needs of our unique profession.
Our membership has continued to grow and I am proud to be part of a group that not only welcomes inspired new talent like those members of our mentor program, but also includes new member and Oscar nominee, Javier Navarrete, one of the finest composers working today. Javier has recently moved to Los Angeles and has already used the resources of the SCL to help in his latest project.
High on my list as a reason to join our group is the camaraderie that I have tried to foster during my tenure with the SCL. This sense of community is nothing new. The gifted lyricist, Dennis Spiegel embraced me into the SCL when I first joined and continues to be our outspoken cheerleader. Jim Di Pasquale recently played me a wonderful song featuring Arthur Hamilton, and other members of the CLGA, extolling the virtues of our predecessor organization. Mark Snow expressed it well when he told a group of prospective members in New York, that the isolation that we naturally encounter in our profession is refreshingly counter-balanced with the activities and associations made through the SCL. Ours can certainly be a solitary profession, but being able to meet and inter-act with others in our line of work is a truly rewarding experience that you won’t find anywhere else. Not only have I made new friends, but through one SCL gathering, I met Alan Silva, who along with Steve Morrell, worked with me for eleven years on the series, 7th Heaven. This is not an uncommon story. I know many successful relationships have been nurtured through our organization.
Those members who have joined us at the Gold level or higher have had the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of their peers with our Oscar and Emmy receptions. The majority of the nominees attend these gala events and it is the perfect opportunity to mix with friends and colleagues in a festive setting. It has always been my goal to instill an understanding that, although we often compete for the same work, we are part of a larger community that shares a passion and appreciation for our colleagues’ contributions. Our membership meetings are another excellent chance to be among our creative peers and we have been fortunate to gather at historic locations to share our experiences and accomplishments. I am particularly proud of the SCL Ambassador program as we continue to honor legendary figures in our profession every year at our holiday dinner. Recognizing individuals who, through their seminal contributions to our profession, have made it stronger and better has been a personal goal of mine as well.
I’m aware that there are times that one doesn’t have the luxury to come to SCL functions; in fact, we pride ourselves on representing the working artist. I can confidently say that the ultimate source of information about our profession continues to be our Score magazine. Lori Barth has been doing an outstanding job for over twenty years as Senior Editor and besides winning a Deems Taylor Award, the magazine has received accolades from our own members. Michael Giacchino, who we are so proud of this year, with his Grammy award and Oscar nomination, told me that even with his busy schedule, he reads every issue from cover-to-cover.
With the constant challenges that are occurring in our field, it is important to keep aware of those changes. One of the valuable resources we can provide are seminars that chart the movement in our profession. As I mentioned in the last issue of the Score, the talented panelists that explored potential challenges to our royalty stream in last summer’s seminar Where’s My Royalty? provided valuable insight into what we may expect over the next few years. This is only one example of dialogues that have featured SCL members and each one has provided important insight into many aspects of our profession.
The screening series has turned out to be one of the most valuable assets of a SCL membership. This last year alone we were able to not only view all of the Oscar nominated songs and scores, we also had the opportunity to gain the insight behind those and many other remarkable works by having today’s most talented songwriters and composers walk us through the creative process.
In closing, your membership has given us a collective power in numbers. Several SCL composers and songwriters have had the opportunity to meet with Congressional members and the Copyright office to explore how we will be compensated in the digital age. I can personally tell you that our position is being listened to and will seriously be taken into consideration as legislation is explored that could have a decided impact on our careers. That is largely due to the fact that we can point to a large constituency that will be watching these issues closely. Your membership can undoubtedly help effect changes in our profession.
Each of you, I hope, has found an intrinsic value in your SCL membership. As always, I encourage you to each be an Ambassador for our organization and enlist your friends and colleagues as we continue to grow our numbers. It will ultimately have a direct impact on how we are perceived as creators and as artists. In short our perception in the market place as a whole will be shaped by your participation.
Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XXIII, Number Two, Summer 2008]