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.


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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.

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Song Contest

The ASC2018 Song Contest results are in!  There were some standout entries again this year.  Here are the winners:



Category winners each received a Category Winner’s Certificate.

The Category winning songs were then judged to decide the Grand Prize Winning Song of the ASC 2016 Song Contest.


The Grand Prize Winner received:

All Access Pass to ASC2020

One Extra Song Pitch at ASC2018

Entry into the exclusive Schmooze with the Hit Makers, VIP Event

Entry to ‘A Little Slice of Country‘ exclusive acoustic performance by award-winning country artist, Connie Kis Andersen

One hour Mentoring Session with Grammy Award winning songwriter and teacher, Alan Roy Scott

3 years membership to ASC Inc.

Exclusive limited edition ASC Mug

Exclusive limited edition T-Shirt

Grand Winner Certificate and Trophy

Grand Prize valued at $1905

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(Archive) 2016 Faculty

2016 Faculty

In 2016, the ASC Faculty was once again made up of the ‘Who’s Who’ of Australian and International hit songwriters, producers, publishers and music industry professionals. To see who is on Faculty in 2017, go to the 2017 Faculty listing.


Main Seminar Facilitator: Our ‘Mystery Megastar’ in 2010, Alan Roy Scott is a Grammy award winning songwriter whose songs have been recorded by Celine Dion, Luther Vandross, Notorious B.I.G., Gloria Estefan, Cyndi Lauper, Patti LaBelle, Neville Bros. Roberta Flack, Cher, El DeBarge, Tiffany, Patti Austin, The Spinners, Oak Ridge Boys, Ricky Martin (Menudo), Anne Murray, Johnny Mathis, Pointer Sisters, Sheena Easton, and Ray Charles and many others.

Alan will be presenting seminars and workshops over the course of the weekend including his ‘Song Surgery’ sessions that were so popular in 2010. We are thrilled and honoured that Alan has agreed to join us again in 2016 in this leadership role.

Read Alan’s Bio     Visit Alan’s Website



Barab & Adrian Hannan_panorama_vertical


Speakers/Workshop Presenters/Mentors (Pop & Rock): A brilliant writing/production team, the Hannan’s own and run successful recording studio and accommodation facility ‘The SongStore’ in Victoria, Australia. They have written/produced for Vanessa Amorosi, Taxiride, Gabriella Cilmi, Delta Goodrem, Lee Harding, Steven Rossitto, Neighbours, TV AFL, The Voice, X Factor, and Idol Artists.  The Hannans will give a talk on writing for the Pop and Rock genres as well as run a career workshop. You’ll also find Adrian helping in the On-Site Studio assisting attendees with their production questions.

Read Barbara & Adrian Hannan’s Bio     Visit The Songstore Website





Gary Pinto


Speaker/Mentor (R&B + Christian):  Always a favourite member of our Faculty, multi-award winning hit singer-songwriter, Gary Pinto, returns to ASC in 2016 to share his knowledge of R&B and Christian songwriting and spend time with us as a Mentor.

Visit Gary’s Website




208454-prinnie-stevens_croppedPRINNIE STEVENS

Mentor: Australian multi-talented Pop/R&B/Soul artist, Prinnie Stevens, will be joining us this year to share her knowledge and support in a Mentoring capacity. She will also be a key player in exclusive ASC experience, ‘Fly On The Wall’; a professional co-writing session that takes place on the stage while attendees observe without interacting. Prinnie’s co-writers for the session will be Alan Roy Scott and Gary Pinto. A wise and talented young woman, we warmly welcome Prinnie to the ASC family.

Read Prinnie’s Bio     Visit Prinnie’s Website




Speakers/Workshop Presenters/Mentors (Country):   Multi-award winning Country Music Duo Carter & Carter (Mereyln and David) will be joining us for the first time in 2016 to share their knowledge and wisdom with attendees. A dynamic hit songwriting team and standout performing artists, we are thrilled that David and Merelyn will be speaking, mentoring and running a workshop, and welcome them warmly to the ASC family!

Read Carter & Carter’s Bio     Visit Carter and Carter’s Website


Diana Torossian


Speaker/Song Plugger/Mentor (Publishing): Having spent most of her working life in the Australian music and publishing industries and being responsible for signing some of Australia’s top artists and songwriters over the years, Di is our expert in all things Publishing and A&R.

Read Diana’s Bio     Visit Di on Facebook




Sven Tydeman02


Speaker/Mentor (Production): A multi-award winning songwriter, composer and producer, Sven is one of the best producers in Australia. He will share valuable information such as finding and working with a producer, production techniques, and the industry’s expectations regarding demo quality.

Visit Sven’s Website





Caroline McKnight (Team Leader – Writer Services) will speak about the important role of our national Performing Rights Organisation and the services it provides to members, including royalty collection and distribution, licencing and grants.  ASC is delighted that APRA will be joining us again in 2016.

Visit the APRA Website




ROSe Tattoo_Geordie inset


Mentor: Rose Tattoo, Mamas New Bag, The Geordie Leach Band. With nineteen albums and thousands of hours’ live performing under his belt, Geordie’s career has spanned more than forty years. He has entertained arenas of more than 250 000 people in the USA and Europe. Never long out of the studio, he has an array of writing and playing credits to his name. Geordie was inducted into the ARIA HALL OF FAME in 2006. This talent has a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective. He is happy to share at the ASC. He will be joined by Co writer and Educator Andrea Szabo in an Interview style format at the conference.  Visit Geordie’s Website


Colleen 12


Mentor: Melbourne-based Artist Manager, Colleen Zulian, is a highly respected Music Industry professional with an eye for talent. We are delighted that Colleen will be joining us this year as a Mentor as her knowledge and experience will be an invaluable asset to us all.

Read Colleen’s Bio       Visit Colleen on Facebook





Jack-N2JACK NIGRO (The Grove Studios)

Onsite Recording Studio: A huge thanks to Jack Nigro for contributing his time, talents and mobile studio for this important feature of the event. He does an amazing job, and together with our other faculty producers, will be on hand each day to assist attendees with demo production info, tips on working effectively with a producer – and you can even lay down some tracks.

Read Jack’s Bio    Visit Jack on Facebook     Visit The Grove Studio’s Website



Connie Kis _ASC photo


Workshop Presenter/Mentor: Hailing from Western Australia, we are thrilled that Connie is joining us for ASC 2016. A talented singer/songwriter and workshop presenter she will be presenting her “Tips & Tools on Tweaking” songwriting workshops and mentoring at ASC 2016.

Read Connie’s Bio     Visit Connie’s Website




Workshop Presenter/Mentor: An ASC favourite, Andrea (BAPA CH Cert ll Mentoring) is a professional published musician, songwriter and public speaker. Andrea will present her workshop “What’s Your Hook?” at ASC 2016.

Read Andrea’s Bio     Visit Andrea’s Website





Workshop Presenter/Mentor:  Vocal Coach and ASC Faculty regular, Doreen Van Bree runs vocal workshops for songwriters over the course of the weekend. These workshops assist songwriters to understand how the vocal ‘instrument’ works; crucial knowledge for writing vocal melodies that allow an artist’s voice to shine.

Read Doreen’s Bio

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Kingston Beach

Come to our
in Tasmania! 

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The 2018 Australian Songwriters Conference was a

Click here for a breakdown of the event.





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