The Road to Dattilo

(A songwriter’s personal experience of the Australian Songwriters Conference)

To be perfectly honest I was fairly naive about what the Australian Songwriters Conference (ASC) was. Although I’ve lived on the central coast all my life, I still unfortunately had never heard about this songwriter event that happened regularly just down the road. I guess it just wasn’t my time – that is until June 2016.

I never considered myself a musician. Sometimes I would sing a little but I had always written poetry, lyrics and snippets, or what I’ve come to know now as ‘hooks’, but this was automatic to my being, without any real intention.

My parents sent me to piano lessons when I was young but I quickly squirmed my way out, only to mourn my youthful caprice many years later when I picked up the guitar and wilfully tried to master an instrument. I still sit here today with no instrumental capabilities but a firm believer that I have something to share with the music world through my words.

It was two days before the ASC started and Lisa Butler, the founder and coordinator of the event, had invited me on down after hearing my spoken word demos. I had given them to her last minute thanks to Rhythm Hut coordinator, Louise Sawilejskij, who urged me to attend after discovering my secret little passion for wordsmithery.

Before long I was in the twisting rabbit warren corridors of the Ettalong Beach Tourist Resort, only to have my first taste of the ASC and the heightened serendipity of the music business. I believe it is this magic, this profound energy that keeps so many musicians in the game.

Many lectures and workshops began to unfold, one after the other, with some fascinating insights into the music world. We were in a room with high level professionals that cared, so our aspiring little souls were treated as equals.

I was quickly thrown into a co-writing session with other songwriters which was facilitated by Alan Roy Scott, Grammy Award-winning Hollywood songwriter and producer.

“You have one hour to write a song” Alan proclaimed.

A list was presented which displayed all sorts of possible music ‘themes’ for us to work with; Beatles at the beach, Adele at a children’s hospital, Nina Simone at the airport… Now I can’t attest to the accuracy of these topics, but that’s due to the theme we chose stole my attention from the get go.

You see, I had literally just hopped off the plane from a nine month journey around Brazil. From memory I had been home a month or two, but a trip like that doesn’t get wiped from your bones any time soon. I was still recovering from post-traumatic cultural disorder! So anyway, scanning this list of co-writing themes, my eyes land on Bob Dylan at the Rio Olympics… I admit that the feeling in my gut quickly took the reigns as I negotiated with the fellow ‘ASC songwriters’, Andy Barnes and Alana Patmore. I knew it was the one for us to work on, having just seen reality of the Rio Olympics construction for myself.

“Andy can you give me a Bosa Nova/ samba rhythm?” he started to pluck away.
Within 15 minutes I had written out the entire lyrical composition. Alana and Andy did amazing harmonies for the chorus and within the hour we had the song recorded in ASC’s onsite studio provided by The Grove Studios.

Muita Gente, which became the title of the song, was on the Radio by the end of the day. It was stunning to witness the clear magic that was happening in between these walls.

I’m writing this article from a fairly personal point of view because I wish to relay the spirit of ASC. ASC is personal. It is more than an event, it’s a community, and for the songwriters who attend it is an invaluable platform to see that your work is worthy, what you need to work on, and how to accomplish that. Sometimes a change of scenery is all your talent needs to shine, an outside perspective to provide you the truth of your projects.

This experience validated my work and started my epic journey as a songwriter and lyricist.
It has been nearly one year since the release of Muita Gente, and since then, seven songs have flourished out of the Dattilo project and its collaborations.

Dattilo has no face fame and is discovering itself each and every day, bringing musicians together around the globe to create music that focuses on the word in song, the priceless lyrical message.  The idea is to have Dattilo identified with writing, with the words, the unique flare that springs up in each song.

I feel blessed to say that the ASC was the start of my creative love affair, leading me across the world to continue writing. I would highly recommend any ‘budding muso’ to get in there and feel the family spirit.

The fact that these highly talented, dignified people come together as one to share knowledge and help each other grow is outstanding and needs to be encouraged, as it is through community and collaboration we become stronger, allowing art to flourish in ways we could never dream of.

Special thanks to Alan Roy Scott, Lisa J Butler and Adie and Barb Hannan.


Wiz, Biz & Fo’ Shizz

By Lisa Butler

In any career, its normal to feel stuck at certain points along the road to your ultimate career goals. A music career is no different.


There are three aspects of a music career that you need to focus on to keep moving forward, and you’ll find that all successful music makers (especially those with long-term careers) do these things whether they realise it or not.

1. Be a Wiz at what you do
You never stop learning or getting better at your craft. Whether you’re a singer, songwriter, musician, or producer, it’s a mistake to think your skills are as good as they can be. Liberace practised at the piano for eight hours a day, every day through his entire career. All great actors and singers seek out regular coaching throughout their careers. The top international business people and entrepreneurs all have Mentors and Coaches so they can be on top of their game. Why? Because they understand that to keep growing, they have to keep learning.

It’s a vital and never-ending aspect of your music career to continue developing your skills. Practising your craft every single day is essential. There are loads of books available online that teach the crafts of songwriting, musicianship, singing and more, and these can contain excellent advice and information. And, practising your craft every single day is essential. But truly, the most effective way to get better is to find the top teachers, coaches or professionals in your area and book in for regular training and mentoring. You will receive valuable advice and tips, plus, a professional will tell you truthfully where you need to improve – and help you do it.  Oh, and practising every day is essential.

2. Do the Biz
No matter how good you are at what you do, if you don’t focus on the business aspect of your career, you’re sunk before you start. I know. I get it. You just want to write your songs, get on that stage and share your soul with the world. You are a creative being – an artist – not a business tycoon.

So, here’s the hard word: If you want to earn a living in the music industry, and ‘make it’ as an artist (or songwriter, musician, producer, etc) you HAVE to take care of business. That means doing everything from meeting and developing relationships with industry professionals, venues (if you are a performer), media and fans, to understanding the legalities of  copyright, royalties, contracts, ticketing, co-writing, etc. It includes developing and maintaining your ‘brand’, your website and social media pages, news and marketing content, organising gigs – the list is endless.

My suggestion is to get your hands on a copy of Shane Simpson’s ‘Music Business’. This book is the ‘Bible’ for understanding and navigating your way through the business aspect of your career. Its absolutely brilliant and I recommend it to all my clients.

3. Get your Fo’ Shizz on
Creative people are highly sensitive and emotional. You have to grow a tough skin in order to daily navigate rejection and/or criticism of your work, deal with the low pay you receive for your artistry, and appear strong when dealing with venue operators, A&R people and even family opposition. But all these encounters and situations can weigh heavily on your psychological and emotional health. On the inside, frustration, anger, fear, anxiety and depression often arise. This is especially true when no matter how hard one tries, the career goal seems so far away.

Counselling, life coaching, meditation, healthy diet and exercise are all excellent ways to not only feel better, but to deal with all the issues and challenges that inevitably come your way in this business. Sadly, our Music Industry is rife with anxiety, depression, drugs, alcohol abuse, and suicide. A lot of this is due to the lack of attention we pay to taking care of ourselves, honouring ourselves as the wonderful, creative and deserving artistes we are, and seeking out professional and family support when we need it.

Taking care of your mental health and finding tools to maintain emotional balance and a positive mental attitude are essential. Your long term health and career depend on it. You know you can do this, and you’re passionate about your craft and career, so don’t neglect this third and important aspect of your career. Getting your psychological and emotional fo’ shizz on will stand you in good stead as you travel your path.


Lisa Butler is the founder and coordinator of the Australian Songwriters Conference, a career development event for all music creators. She is a Certified Professional Coach, holds a Diploma of Counselling, and has accreditation in Mental Health First Aid.

Write for Blogs n Pods!

Music Related Articles Wanted!


Welcome to this new section of the ASC website. We are working toward building a comprehensive library of information relating to the many aspects of a music career.

The Australian Songwriters Conference (ASC) invites the submission of original articles for publication on the new Blogs n Pods page on the ASC website. These published articles may also be shared on Social Media sites including Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr.

We are looking to include articles on a variety of music-related topics and perspectives. This exercise will not only promote ASC and our next event in 2018, it will also serve as a promotional tool for the article writer and their music.


Article Submissions – Guidelines and Conditions

Articles should be between 800 and 1000 words.

Topics can include songwriting/song crafting, musicianship, music production, demo recording, performance, touring, music business, artist branding, publishing, promotion, music management, royalties – anything that will relate to or be of interest to songwriters,musicians, producers and publishers, and music artists. They can be written from your personal experience (situations you’ve been through that might help others, useful tips, etc) or your professional experience as songwriter, artist, producer etc.

You must be the original author of the article. If you include anything that has been written by someone else, you must credit them in the article.

You may promote your music-related work or business by way of a mention or a ‘plug’ in the article, however the article cannot be about you, your music-related work or business.

You will be credited as the writer of the article and your name, website address and a brief paragraph about you/your work will appear at the foot of the article.

There is no guarantee that any article you submit will be published on the ASC website.

There will be no money or gratuities paid for the articles your submit for publication, regardless of whether or not they are published on the ASC website.

You grant Lisa Butler/Australian Songwriters Conference a non-exclusive right to publish your article on the ASC website, across social media websites, and other sites deemed appropriate for promotion of the ASC.


Article submissions can be emailed to

We look forward to receiving your articles for use here so music creators of all levels can learn, be informed, and continue to develop their music careers.


Lisa Butler
ASC Founder/Coordinator