Downtown Hosts Songwriter Sync Retreat in Asheville

Downtown's Nashville office recently hosted a week-long songwriting retreat attended by writers Tony Esterly, Paige Blue, Luke Arens, Fancy Hagood, Justin Donahue (Jung Youth), as well as The Brummies’ John Davidson and Jacob Bryant, with a focus on creating songs specifically for sync.

Hosted at Camp Wayfarer in Flat Rock, North Carolina, just 25 minutes south of Asheville, the workshop's purpose was to help guide songwriters through the process of writing original music to pitch to music supervisors for use in advertising, film, television, and video games.

"What I loved about the camp was the chance to witness daily purpose-driven collaboration between the global sync team and our writers, all working together to create music that we know will be used for future syncs," said Jedd Katrancha, our Executive VP of Creative Services. "The writers are as earnest as they are talented, and they approached each assignment with the goal to simply write something great, and the sync team worked to offer feedback without distilling the creative process in any way."

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The camp was attended by Downtown staff members Steve Markland, Natalie Osborne, Katie Roth, and Cabrea Casey, as well as Tony's manager Dave Hopper of the Hard 8 Working Group. Each day, the global sync team supplied briefs from their advertising clients, sent from various markets including New York, London, Los Angeles, and Sydney — addressing trends and the needs of various brands from around the world. The writers were grouped in various combinations, using the briefs as prompts for their writing sessions. At the end of each day, they communicated with different members from the sync team, receiving feedback with the specific needs of our clients in mind.

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John of The Brummies commented on the process: "We got with a new writer each day, which brought a different energy each time... We’d talk about the briefs that were laid out for us and choose what we felt inspired by. After each day of writing, we’d talk with the sync team about how we could improve the songs we were working on — which was new to me, but so valuable. I loved writing with a direction like that."

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"This was one of the most unique writing experiences I’ve ever had and it was incredible," added Luke. "I really got to know the crew even more and I couldn’t appreciate that more… We had the perfect situation to get some unique songs with the perfect amount of pressure mixed with a ton of fun and enjoyment."

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"It was fun to get out of town and challenge ourselves with different pitches from the sync team," said Fancy. "Camp Wayfarer was the perfect setting to refresh our brains and get creative. Downtown knows how to throw a writing camp... and a party."

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"I loved having focused sessions with briefs and getting real time feedback from our sync team," Paige shared. "It was a fun challenge to write, produce and mix a song by 3:45pm each day. The whole weekend was a perfect balance of work and play. I got to know our team way better!"

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"Being a part of this camp was such a blast," Justin recalled. "I am not only grateful for the time that I got to spend creating music with my friends, but also for the hospitality of Camp Wayfarer and the whole Downtown crew. Thanks to y’all, we got to have fun away from home while still getting the job done... I think it is safe to say that some really inspiring music and moments came out of this experience."

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"I enjoy getting into a different space that forces you to create differently," said Tony. "The limitations of a mobile studio help bring out new aspects of songs and recordings that you normally wouldn’t find in an everyday workspace. The camp atmosphere and feedback from the sync team helped everyone get some great songs."

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"So proud that Downtown could provide impactful opportunities, as well as a fun bonding experience between writers and staff," exclaimed Steve, Downtown's Senior VP of A&R Nashville. "Can’t wait to go back to beautiful Camp Wayfarer and do it all again!"

Read more about the retreat at MusicRow.