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EVENTS, ORGANIZATIONS, SOCIETIES, AND UNIONS - Nashville Songwriters Association (nsai)

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCareers in the Music BusinessEVENTS, ORGANIZATIONS, SOCIETIES, AND UNIONS - South By Southwest Annual Music Festival, National Association Of Recording Arts Sciences (naras), Country Music Association (cma)




The executive director of an organization manages the daily operation and oversees the numerous daily events, seminars, concerts, forums, educational programs, and fundraising initiatives staged by the organization. Persons in this position are directly responsible for staying abreast of, and dealing with, legislative matters pertaining to songwriters. They act as spokespersons for the organization.


“My background in finance and political campaign fundraising has been an asset,” says Bart Herbison.


“Every day there is some legislative work,” says Herbison. “Today I have to make calls on a Japanese issue and write follow-up letters to Congress members and others in power. (The Japanese have decided that the current copyright limits of life plus 70 years starts when the first writer dies, not the last writer.) I do a lot of that work early in the day; I called Congress from the steps of my house about six this morning because they open their office at seven EST. There is always a mix of administrative work every day, making sure each department is running in sync. We have meetings every day on various events and projects. A part of my day is devoted to fundraising. Every day, even if it's for just ten minutes, I put the phones on hold and listen to music. If a great writer comes in, I shut the door of my office and have a guitar pull.”


“Volunteer. Get involved any way you can.” Volunteering provides lots of opportunities for you to rub shoulders with many important executives in the industry and for them to see your work ethic.


“NSAI is a nonprofit organization. I work at the pleasure of the board of 25 songwriters that changes every two years. Because we're a nonprofit organization, there is some degree of turnover in jobs. Our mission is broad. I don't care what your skills are, there is probably a job here for you, and the best way to get a job is to volunteer. The last two or three full time staff people I hired, came in as volunteers. I loved their work and they already knew the program.”


“The most frustrating part of my job is telling our story. A songwriter is a unique creature, in that God has given them a gift and that usually equates to some wonderfully blessed idiosyncrasies in their personality Getting writers indoctrinated into the facts they need to know, and the philosophy and inspiration and passion to fight their own fights, whether it be legislative matters or other issues that affect them, can be hard.”


“What I like best about my job is the music. There is nobody that gets in their car and loves coming to work every day more than me.”


By his own admission, Bart Herbison was not blessed with musical talent. “I learned to play really terrible trumpet, worse drums, and you don't want to hear me sing or pick up a guitar, but I loved it. I love music.” Whether his musical ineptitude forced him out of the band, or he discovered his talents were in the business side of music, at age 15 Herbison was managing his buddies’ band. The following year, while still in high school, he held down full-time disc jockey positions at three Tennessee radio stations. Over time, his radio work evolved into news reporting which led to a news director job over a group of stations. By 1986 he was working for NBC, and The Nashville Banner, as an election campaign reporter. On the campaign trail he became acquainted with Tennessee Governor Edward Porter, who offered Herbison a job in 1987 as his press adviser. After serving 18 months with the governor, he moved to Washington, D.C. to work as administrative assistant to Congressman Bob Clement.

As the congressman from Nashville, Clement's office was the first stop for NSAI lobbyists, and Herbison saw the opportunity to combine his two loves into one. Taking over the responsibility for music related issues, he worked closely with NSAI over the next ten years. When the directorship of the organization was vacated in 1998, Herbison's longstanding relationship and legislative experience made him an ideal candidate. Hired by a committee of 25 members, he serves as executive director of America's largest songwriter's association. www.nashvillesongwriters.com

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