Sony/ATV Execs Focus on Songwriting Skills at Billboard Latin Music Conference 2017

Nicole Pereira 
Billboard's Leila Cobo, Jorge Mejia of Sony/ATV Latin and Danny Strick of Sony ATV US during the Industry Keynote Masterclass Panel at the Billboard Latin Music Conference in Miami on April 25, 2017.

Think you can be a songwriter? Prove it.

That was the message from two of the top executives from Sony/ATV Music Publishing to the assembled participants at the Billboard Latin Music Conference in Miami Tuesday (April 25). Jorge Mejia, president of Sony/ATV Latin America and U.S. Latin and Danny Strick, co-president of Sony/ATV U.S., spoke during the morning's Industry Keynote Masterclass -- the first music business panel of the day -- and said musicians are not the only ones who must go public to get signed.

"Nowadays, when we look at songwriters, we do look at success and achievement," Mejia said, adding that a very strong motivator is the audience the songs have drawn either on YouTube or other platforms where views and downloads are measured. "We look at what they've been able to create."

And that means a following. A song with local support is much more likely to get noticed than one without. "[To go] from zero to 100,000 followers, you have to get [there] yourself," Mejia said. "That's hard, but we do look for success coming out of the gate."

Is there ever still room for those "gut feelings" about a song becoming a hit? Perhaps. But it helps to have the numbers backing you up, Strick said, adding that just because a tune makes him say, "Wow, I love this," that doesn't mean he will buy it without the information or research to back it up.

"It's a balance," Strick noted, explaining that other favorable characteristics for a songwriter include sustained energy and the ability to work in a team. "It's a difficult business and you need to persevere -- and play nice with people in the sandbox."

More and more often, songs are written by a team of writers rather than the traditional two-person partnerships found in traditional iconic songwriters like John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and Mejia -- echoing other panelists -- sees that as a particular trend in Latin music right now: "Collaboration is the dominant form."

Billboard Latin Music Awards and Conference 2017