Musicians aren't just working on the creative side of their craft this week during the second annual South Louisiana Songwriters Fest. They're also learning how to turn their passion into a profit during the SOLO Music Industry Conference.
The conference, which takes place Friday and Saturday, is a new addition to the festival.
"You write a song, but what do you do with it?" asked SOLO co-creator Mark Falgout. "Musicians think they have to play gigs at bars and sell CDs out the back of their car. Our goal is to try to help them figure out how to earn a living in the music business."
Local industry experts will be featured alongside national and international talent during panels, which range in topic from from studio recording and finding a manager to copyright protection and self-promotion.
"One of the ways people make money nowadays is by publishing their work, copyrighting it, getting a publishing deal, getting their work recorded and placing those songs in commercials, TV, video games and those kinds of things," Falgout said. "Understanding the options just gives you more opportunity to be successful and make a living in this business."
Jamie N. Commons, a British blues-rock singer and songwriter, will be discussing how to work with music supervisors for TV, film, video games and commercials during the conference.
Commons, 30, is perhaps best known for writing the hit "Someone You Loved" for Lewis Capaldi, which recently hit No. 1 on Billboard's charts in the U.K. and Australia. His songs also have been featured in Netflix's original series "Orange is the New Black" and a commercial for Beats by Dre.
He struggles to identify what helped him turn his passion into a career. He's been at it since he was about 15 and was signed at the age of 21.
"I was always doing music," Commons said. "I was very intentional about it from a very young age. Everyone has their own path, but I definitely tell people to do their own thing to get noticed.
"Also, getting it wrong is really important. I'm from the countryside in England but for some reason like blues music. I didn't have anyone to learn from in person really, so I was learning from records. I got it slightly wrong, but that helped me to create something new."
Aileen Bennett, a local creative director whose niche is working at the intersection of business and creativity, will serve as a moderator on three of the conference's panels.
"I think SOLO is doing a fantastic job of bringing the two sides — songwriting and business — together," Bennett said. "I think it's really just the start of something incredible."
SOLO's conference is especially important, Bennett said, because it has the potential to keep creatives from moving away from Lafayette to find opportunities.
"A lot of incredible artists don't have that business thing because they're incredible artists," Bennett said. "I want to help those people in whatever creative industry they're in so they'll stay and I can live in a really cool, creative town. It makes this a cooler place to live."
Teaching songwriters how to monetize their work is only half of the battle, according to Bennett, Falgout and Commons. Once creators learn how to market, price and sell their works, it takes a community that's willing to support and pay for it.
That's not always easy in Acadiana, where live music is all-too-often free.
"We're providing a real opportunity for musicians to help themselves by bringing real industry professionals to Lafayette from London, New York, L.A., Nashville and Austin," Falgout said. "But we also have to as a community at some point pay these musicians so they can make a living. If we really want to be this creative hub, we have to look at our musicians as professionals just like any other career and pay them for their service."
Learn more about SOLO's Music Industry Conference or support the festival through purchasing tickets to live music shows at solosongwriters.com.