Ohio State alum and musician Joey Hendrickson has created multiple organizations to benefit Columbus musicians.
In 2012, he started the Columbus Songwriters Association with the basic premise of empowering songwriters and musicians in Columbus.
“The idea was always about how artists can make a career in music easier when they work together as opposed to working alone,” Hendrickson said. “In just four years we’ve gone from 25 songwriters to over 400, so the need was obviously there for the music community here.”
Through the Columbus Songwriters Association, musicians in Columbus are connected with places to perform, receive feedback from each other and engage in friendly competition. Each month CSA puts on a songwriter showcase where 20 musicians are selected to compete and the winner receives two hours of free recording time.
Local musician Megan Dunn won one of the showcases in September 2014, earning the free studio time, but said she gained much more from being involved in the organization.
“Columbus has so much culture and diversity and we are really lucky to have people like Joey who want to further it,” Dunn said. “The experiences I’ve had from the showcases and CSA are beyond words. Some of my very best friends are musicians that I wouldn’t have met without this organization.”
Another venture Hendrickson started is How to Build a Music City. For the program, industry professionals and musicians hold panels about the music culture and infrastructure of their cities and how to further their success. These panels are based in Columbus but have appeared at conferences and festivals around the country, including South by Southwest, Billboard Film and TV Music Conference and the CMJ Music Marathon. Hendrickson was even invited to share in Poland.
“Six months ago I got a call from an organizer in Poland and within a few days I was on a plane for 28 hours, heading to what was a former coal-mining community but is now a major arts hub in Poland,” Hendrickson said. “I walked off the plane and met the mayor and spoke to professionals about how amazing the Columbus music scene is. It was surreal.”
Tom Krouse, president and CEO of Donatos Pizza and a longtime resident of Columbus is involved in How to Build a Music City. He said he has made an effort to focus on Columbus songwriters as he feels they are a large part of the Columbus community, but they do not get the recognition they deserve.
“Columbus has one of the most talented set of musicians in a city this size,” Krouse said. “At the same time, I don’t think Columbus gets nearly enough credit for the reputation it has built around the talent here.”
“The music scene and culture brings so much energy to Columbus and more importantly it brings joy. It’s our responsibility to spread that joy,” Krouse said.
Hendrickson said the music industry can stray from focusing on creativity in communities and become too formulaic and strict, which is something he seeks to combat with his projects.
“It’s about the cultural and community aspect of music, not necessarily just the record labels and the economic incentive,” Hendrickson said. “We’re all cool enough to wear cool clothes, just like every city is cool enough to have its own music culture. It doesn’t need to be copied it just needs to be created.”
Hendrickson said he has no plans to stop providing resources to further musician’s success in Columbus. He is currently working to create a platform for businesses and local musicians to work together to license music for advertising campaigns, commercials and other multimedia projects. In addition to License Local, Hendrickson is currently fundraising to establish a Columbus Music Commission which encourages interaction between music hubs such as Los Angeles, New York and Nashville, Tennessee and Columbus
“We are not next to Hollywood. Columbus represents a city that hasn’t traditionally been located in the center of the music industry, but we’re coming across very smart and very capable of being able to improve our scene here,” Hendrickson said. “The truth is we’re going to be like ourselves, and we’re going to be more valuable while doing it.”