For seven years, the Texas Music Coalition (TMC) has allowed members of all ages and backgrounds to meet and network with several music professionals in the San Antonio and surrounding areas. Free to the general public, their monthly panel discussions have covered several topics including careers in the music business as well as how to get your CD into stores.
The month of October will be an especially busy month as the non-profit organization will be presenting a weekly series of panel discussions as part of Texas Music Month. Musicians of all styles and genres (from country to heavy metal) are welcome to join. Don’t play an instrument or sing in a band? Not to worry; several TMC members are involved in the promotions, management, and recording aspect of the music business.
In the following interview, I spoke with TMC co-founder and current Publicity Director Carol Sowa about the roots of the organization, the benefits, and what UTSA students can expect from membership.
Q: Why was the Texas Music Coalition formed?
A: I was one of the founders of TMC. I had an interest in song writing and there originally was an organization called the Texas Music Association (TMA)-a state-wide group that had chapters. I became involved with the San Antonio chapter shortly before they ended. Part of the problem was because they were a network; When one chapter ran into legal/financial difficulties, it made all of the chapters responsible. People in the San Antonio chapter said “We should just disband,” and some of us were saying, “Wait! We just joined!” We just started to find out about all this and the networking and educational aspect was such a neat idea. So a bunch of us got together to start from scratch-We wanted to form a new organization with a different name and use the best aspects of the old TMA.
Q: What kind of events does TMC put together?
A: From the very beginning, we’ve met once a month and it is usually for a panel or a program of some type. It can be any topic involved with music. What we also have going right now is the songwriter’s circle; it started about a year ago because we had a lot of songwriters saying “We’d like to be able to get together with other songwriters.” That’s a quarterly thing that meets at Borders at the Quarry. We have somebody in charge of that.
Q: All of the work that runs the organization is done on a voluntary basis?
A: Yes, there’s nobody paid; none of the officers, none of the board. It’s purely volunteer. It’s a lot of effort that the people over the years have put into this. A lot of times the services we offer depend on whether there is somebody willing to step forward and say, “I’ll be in charge of it.” A lot of times there’s things that people would like to do, but if you don’t have somebody that can run it, you can’t do it. We really have been fortunate with the music community here. People have been willing to step forward.
Q: Do TMC members who are musicians have the chance to perform for the organization?
A: That’s something else we do. Several times during the year, we have events where our members who are performers, bands, vocalists have the opportunity to perform. Usually there are three events where members can perform: the birthday party in September, the fundraiser at the end of October, and our Christmas holiday party. This has really grown too; we used to have trouble lining performers up. Now we almost have a waiting list because everyone wants to be involved. It gives members an opportunity to hear each other.
Q: What can you tell me about the meet-and-greet?
A: Every year since we’ve had that, we’ve had it at the Candlelight coffeehouse. We have a deejay set up and anyone who has their music recorded on a CD or cassette can bring it to play. It’s a chance for people to meet and mingle, and the deejay announces the song and performer. You don’t have to be a TMC member for that; that’s open to the SA area.
Q: When is Texas Music Month?
A: It’s something else we’ve done from the very beginning. The old Texas Music Association used to have Texas Music Month, which is coming up. Throughout October, instead of one discussion panel for the month, we have something every week. Every Tuesday night during October, TMC will have a major panel of some type. And at the end of the month, we have our fundraiser. We ask people to donate prizes, and you can make a donation at the door to get in the door prize drawing; this is where the money comes in for the Jack Skiles Scholarship. That was something we finally had enough money last year to award.
Q: Who is eligible?
A: High school and college music-related students-even if you were in some kind of technical music school. It’s wide open. And we just awarded our first one this past June for $500. We’re hoping we can make more at the next fundraiser, either have more scholarships or make it a bigger scholarship.
Q: How can UTSA students benefit from membership?
A: We have members of all ages, students to senior citizens, and one thing that TMC does is help you meet other people in the music business, in a variety of different roles.
Q: How much is membership?
A: We do have a discount for student membership: $15 for the year. Regular membership is $35. If members of a band join, it’s $25 each.
Q: They don’t have to be a musician to join?
A: No, you don’t have to be a musician-I’m not a musician. There are some people that are music managers, band managers, or they do bookings for venues. So it’s anybody who has any kind of interest in professional music in San Antonio. As long as you have some strong interest in music of any type, you’re welcome to join.