View from the boardwalk outside the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel

I recently had the pleasure of attending my first ever Durango Songwriters Film & TV Expo in Ventura, CA, one of three such events every year (the others take place in Santa Ynez, CA and Denver, CO).

For two and a half days straight myself and fellow music supervisors in film, TV, advertising and trailers, were bombarded with music and musicians from all over the country.

Attention Artists and Songwriters: This is the conference you want to go to. I probably shouldn’t be spreading this around, but even the music supervisors get excited about this one. This was evident in the caliber and number of professionals in attendance. Many names I had heard and wanted to meet or get to know for years, many I didn’t know I wanted to meet; top notch credits and companies spanning from Breaking Bad to BBDO. It may have been related to the beachside location or the drink tickets, but everyone was down for a great weekend.

While it is of course valuable to be able to showcase your music both live and recorded for these people, the smartest artists took advantage of the time in between. Music supervisors were not sequestered; everyone stayed in the same hotel, mixing and mingling in the elevator, at lunchtime and after hours around the fire pit.

That said, it is important to tread carefully in these situations. You don’t want all the music supervisors talking about you later, “Who was that guy? He did not leave me alone all night.” Suddenly your brilliant songwriting is tainted by your pushy or clingy attitude.

A few tips to manage the social minefield and get the most of your Durango experience:

  • Take a minute to read the room. If a table or group of music supervisors all seem to know each other well, maybe that’s not the best huddle to join. Similarly one-on-one conversations can also be awkward to crash. Who are the groups or individuals already chatting with artists?
  • Relax. We can tell when you are eyeing or circling us like a lion preparing to pounce on a gazelle. Similarly…
  • Don’t hover. If you want to get into a conversation, be straightforward about it. If body language indicates you are welcome, step in and try to find a natural way to enter the dialogue instead of just observing.
  • Don’t approach someone while they are eating a meal. A friend mentioned he was trying to eat breakfast and catch up on emails one morning, but had to field a steady stream of artists seeking his attention. If you’re unsure, ask if you can join, but be respectful if they say no.
  • Leave them wanting more. You may be tempted to linger and get as much face time as possible, but to be perfectly honest, at the end of the night we are just going to want to hang out with our fellow music supervisors. Recognize this and say goodbye and thank you before you hear someone whisper “Why are they still here?”
  • Bring coffee. Music supervisors apparently love fancy coffee more than alcohol. Big ups to The Crystal Creative, I had at least three conversations with peers about the coffee. Most of them went, “OMG DID YOU SEE THERE IS COFFEE IN OUR BAGS?!”

Weren’t able to chat anyone up? That’s okay! At the end of the day your music will speak for itself. If it’s good, and if the right opportunity comes up, you will get a call regardless of whether or not you bought someone a drink.

For more information on the Durango Songwriters Film & TV Expo click here.

Over the course of the weekend we heard many talented artists and songwriters; check out a playlist of my absolute favorites below (those that were available on Spotify or Soundcloud).

Gungor “God and Country”


Annika DuPuis “Red Lights”

Wind-Up Hearts (a/k/a Sam and Becca Mizell) “Stars”