Nashville-based singer-songwriter Marc Scibilia's big break was the kind of thing you can't quantify or plan for. Invited by a friend to an exclusive, black-tie Music Industry soiree, Scibilia showed up in the best set of duds he could rustle together at the time: a white button-down shirt and khaki pants. "I didn't even know what 'black tie' meant," he says with a laugh. "I was sitting at a table with all of these important people. Taylor Swift was at the table next to me. I guess I stood out."
Some folks thought he was a rakish interloper; others assumed he was a star. The wife of music exec Jody Williams at first thought Orlando Bloom was seated at her table, and that led to Williams taking a meeting with the under-dressed mystery man. A few weeks later, Scibilia was signed to Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
"Obviously, something like that isn't in anybody's playbook," Scibilia explains. "It wasn't even in mine – it just happened. But it just goes to show you that opportunity could knock at any minute. It wouldn't have mattered at all if I didn't have some good songs in my pocket."
These days, Sciblia is on everybody's short list of singer-songwriters on the verge of exploding. His just-released EP, The Shape I'm In, is a robust mini-collection of soul-tinged folk-rock, and next week he begins a tour with a guy who also knows his way around a tune or two, mega-producer, writer and artist Butch Walker.
Scibilia does have some tips for aspiring songwriters, and they're bound to improve your work no matter what kinds of clothes are in your closet, staring with...
“Don't just write – write a lot. Get those bad songs out of your system. It sounds simple, but you have to write a bunch of not-so-great songs before you come up with something that anyone will care about.
“It’s like anything – like sports. You have to get your muscles tuned up to play baseball, and songwriting is the same. A lot of people get caught up in the idea of inspiration, but I’ve found that inspiration comes on the back end of having your muscles ready.
“Don’t worry about the bad songs. Everybody writes bad songs. Very few people write their best stuff right out of the gate. If you have some good songs, that probably means you have a collection of really bad songs you don’t want anyone to hear. That’s OK, because those awful songs got you to where you are now. Just keep going – that’s the most important thing.”