Lauren Iossa (EVP, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer of ASCAP) Discusses The ASCAP Experience, Held In Los Angeles In April 2020

Lauren Iossa
Lauren Iossa

For the past 14 years, ASCAP has hosted the best known and most popular conference in the U.S. that is specifically geared toward helping songwriters and creators. Formerly known as ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO, the conference has been newly-designed and is now called the ASCAP Experience. This conference will be held April 1-3 at the InterContinental Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles.

The ASCAP Experience promises to be an even more effective and useful event for its attendees. The conference will be an immersive, multi-sensory experience filled with powerful music performances, educational panels led by top songwriters, artists, producers and music execs, and events that will connect attendees with a new community of fellow music creators. The ASCAP Experience offers a holistic perspective for the modern-day music creator and is designed to provide all the tools needed to succeed.

In previous years, this conference has featured many prominent speakers & performers including Stevie Wonder, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Questlove, Billie Eilish, FINNEAS, St. Vincent, Timbaland, Katy Perry, Quincy Jones, Justin Timberlake, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, Sara Bareilles, Melissa Etheridge, Michael McDonald, Jeff Lynne, Chris Stapleton, Lee Ann Womack and film/TV composers Michael Giacchino and Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL). The event has also featured many top A&R execs, music supervisors and other industry leaders.

Here’s the link to register for the ASCAP Experience. There’s a 10% discount if you use this link.

To give us more insight into the new ASCAP Experience, we are pleased to interview Lauren Iossa, who is ASCAP’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. She has been involved with helping to organize and produce this conference since it was first launched in 2006.

Here is our Q&A interview with Lauren Iossa of ASCAP:

DK: ASCAP Experience is the new name for ASCAP’s multi-day conference in Los Angeles, which was formerly known as ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO. How has this conference evolved that has led to the new name, ASCAP Experience?

Lauren Iossa: When we founded EXPO in 2006, we wanted to give songwriters and creators a conference specifically geared toward their lives as music creators, in all genres and at different stages of their careers.  There were other conferences that were focused on the industry or on specific genres or geared toward bands.  We wanted to serve our members as music creators and give them a place where they could go to network and develop their writing. It became all that and more — we came to realize that bringing all these creative people together created a special energy and inspiration to the extent that many attendees felt it was a life-changing experience. Hearing from a music hero like Stevie Wonder talk about their creative process or meeting a new collaborator were truly pivotal moments for many people. We wanted to better capture that feeling in the name and branding of the event.

Here’s a video preview of the ASCAP Experience.

The music industry has also changed significantly since our first EXPO and the event has evolved along with it to reflect the needs of songwriters, producers and composers today. That means catering to a wide range of needs, whether it is helping creators learn how to manage the business aspects of their career or how to best nurture their creativity on a physical level — we’re providing a more holistic “experience” than in years past.

DK: The conference will now be held in downtown Los Angeles, at the InterContinental Hotel. What were the factors that made this hotel and location the best choice for the ASCAP Experience?

Iossa: Downtown LA has really become a hotbed of arts, entertainment and creativity in the last several years. It was a natural move for us to locate the ASCAP Experience in the center of that. The Intercontinental also has space that will allow us to offer a greater number of intimate sessions for attendees, which have become very popular at EXPO the last few years. We will also have room to program multiple sessions on the most popular topics, to provide more chances for attendees to get what they want out of the Experience.

DK: For songwriters & musicians who are thinking of attending ASCAP Experience (in April 2020), what are some of the key programs and events that they can look forward to?

Iossa: We are going to provide even more opportunities for attendees to collaborate, perform and get their music heard. We also understand that the democratization of music over the last decade means that songwriters and composers today have become more responsible for the “business” aspects of a music career. The ASCAP Experience will give them the tools to do that, while making new connections and learning to take care of their body and spirit so they can be inspired to create more music that people love. We will have a new focus on creator wellness with opportunities to learn about and practice self-care in special workshops and classes. And to make it easier for creators to hone in on what they want to get out of ASCAP Experience, we’re also looking at putting together curated tracks to help guide them to the right sessions, depending on where they are in their journey. For example, we may create a special track for music school students with some exclusive programming that focuses on beginning your music career.

Lauren Iossa and Jeff Lynne
Lauren Iossa and Jeff Lynne

I think it’s also important to say that the multi-genre programming is really a wonderful aspect of the EXPO for the attendees and the panelists.  We always encourage people to branch out and make connections with writers in other genres.  It is amazing to see how excited panelists and attendees are to meet each other, to learn from one another, to cross-pollinate and even collaborate.  Music really has no boundaries.

DK: ASCAP Experience has also been known for its excellent networking opportunities. How does this conference help create these opportunities?

Iossa: The Experience has a friendly “vibe” that we think is unmatched at other conferences, so that’s our starting point—getting all these creative people together in an open atmosphere makes it easy for people to connect and meet each other. We kick off ASCAP Experience with a speech from ASCAP Chairman of the Board and President Paul Williams at our annual Membership Meeting. Paul never fails to create a feeling of community, of setting personal goals while at the same time lifting each other up. His generous and infectious spirit sets the tone for the rest of the event.

We also provide opportunities for mentor sessions with industry executives in an area of the attendees’ choice, and Coffee Connections, which gather eight Experience attendees together for an hour with a rotating group of industry professionals who answer questions and share their insights. We’ve heard from so many people who met their future collaborator or publisher at the event, so we want to provide ample time and spaces to help foster these organic connections.

DK: Since 2006, ASCAP has hosted the most successful and popular conference for songwriters, artists and the music community. What was the original inspiration for the launching of ASCAP EXPO?

Iossa: We were looking at how to better serve our members and saw that although other music conferences addressed trends in the music business or being a recording artist, no one was speaking to the needs of creators, composers or producers. Today, we’re so grateful and inspired that some of our most successful songwriters attended EXPO when they were just starting their careers. People like Aloe Blacc, Meghan Trainor, FINNEAS, Leland and more were at early EXPOs and have gone on to have incredible careers and to create songs that touch millions of fans. What we love is that they have each come back to EXPO as featured speakers and panelists.  That is one of the beautiful things about the conference — our successful ASCAP members are so generous and willing to share their time, their expertise, their insights and their spirits.

DK: In recent years, ASCAP’s annual revenue and distributions have steadily increased. And with the passing of the Music Modernization Act a year ago, are you optimistic that we’re entering a new era where songwriters & music publishers will have better opportunities for income and success?

Iossa: Passing the MMA was a milestone for our industry and a significant step toward a more sustainable future for music creators. That said, songwriters are still subject to outdated regulations that prevent them from obtaining fair value for their works. Music brings so much joy to our world and songwriters and composers deserve a framework that allows them a chance to be paid fair value for their creative contributions.  That’s why ASCAP is working hard to modernize the music licensing system to better protect our members and the value of their work.  Our members are an important part of this effort, and we always are sure to include important advocacy panels at the EXPO as well.  Every year, we have members of Congress attend and speak at the event and that is one of the ways that they are educated first-hand about the real challenges music creators face.  That face-to-face experience with thousands of creators helps turn the legislators into champions, and we need that support from Congress.

Dale Kawashima is the Head of SongwriterUniverse and a music journalist. He’s also a music publishing exec who has represented the song catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Motown Records.
Dale Kawashima