The first full day at MIW draws to a close and I’m already considering hitting the hay at 10pm. It’s been an incredibly full day, worthy of a good rest at the end of it.

The day kicked off with an interactive session geared not towards our achievements as musicians, but towards our experiences from the past year. The results were very revealing, and often incredibly personal, ranging from the effects of family life on creativity and struggles with substance abuse, all providing great insight and lessons to share. It was interesting to be in such an intimate environment as this at a music conference, as it dealt with issues that one rarely brings out in such groups though they are often at the core of people’s creative lives, affecting output and product.

The next session was a panel-lead discussion on songwriting and social conscience, a panel I had the honour of leading with performer/activist Chris Ruhe. As Chris’ experience greatly surpassed my own I let him take the lead as he spoke about his experiences in the civil rights movement and his work in involving such people as Mark Ruffalo in social activism. I shared a little of my experience as a commercial songwriter striving to combine thought provoking lyricism with commercially viable material, and my take on subtle change. It’s a tricky balance to maintain and though I don’t write ‘social change’ songs on a regular basis, I try to make sure that whenever I feel inspired to approach a subject I do it in an appealing way, a way that can affect deep change and thought though the listener may not be immediately aware.

My first major appearance occurred later in the day when I was called on to give my first workshop on video logging and how to create cheap but effective videos. It was my first time presenting a workshop on such a theme and, judging by the reception, I sense it went quite well. My presentation centred on a series of techniques that I learned from studying popular YouTubers (sxephil, WheezyWaiter), sharing these in an accessible way that allows amateurs to apply them no matter their experience. One of these techniques I named the ‘sxephil method’, the editing out of the video every breath, nonsense word or break in thought. This creates a seamless flow of thought which, though it can appear very artificial, is highly effective at keeping the viewer’s attention.

The last event of the day, which is taking place as I type, is an open-mic night, a chance to show the participants your material and to be considered for the public performance (9 selected performers) on the Saturday evening. Among those performing are viral video crafters Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff (creators of the ‘Midichlorian Rhapsody‘ parody), a pair I’m hoping to interview tomorrow.

Read about the rest of Robert’s trip: