Cut Study: Joe Nichols “Crickets”


I’m blessed to have the title track to Joe Nichols’ new album, “Crickets,” on Red Bow Records.  Last week, I discussed some of the creative and business choices which went into writing the song.  You can read that post by clicking HERE.  The journey of this particular song, I think, provides some valuable lessons.  Here are a few of them:

Value brings opportunity.

Bill Whyte and Lisa Shaffer had the idea for “Crickets.”  I’d never written with Bill, but I’d written several songs with Lisa.  She thought my sense of humor, storytelling and lyrical sensibilities would be a good fit for the song, so they invited me in.  (Thank you!)  Simply put, I was invited in by two good writers because they believed I would add value.

Nobody gets it right all the time.

After we finished the song, we liked it and wanted to demo it.  My publishing deal at the time was ending, but I turned it in hoping they’d love it and cover the demo costs (after all, my advance was going away, and I was about to be broke).  Well, they didn’t know exactly what to do with the song, so they didn’t want to demo it.  But it was still stuck there.  So, my publisher was wrong because the song eventually got cut anyway.  I was wrong because for the price of 1/3 of a guitar/vocal, I could own the publishing on a Joe Nichols cut.  Ouch.

Write with go-getters.

Lisa and Bill, while disappointed that my publisher didn’t believe in the song, were not gonna quit on it.  They fronted the money and did a guitar/vocal anyway (they are both self-published).  Again, thank you, Lisa and Bill!

Don’t give up on a quality song.

“Crickets” was written in August of 2010, and it got cut in the summer of 2013- almost three years later.  It was put on hold by Luke Bryan and Easton Corbin, but overall, it wasn’t getting a lot of love.

New camps bring new opportunities.

I’d pitched “Crickets” for Joe Nichols several times when he was with Universal South, but I never could get anyone on his team excited about it.  Eventually, Joe left there and signed with Red Bow.  He also changed producers.  I pulled the song back out and pitched it to his new team.  This time, it got through.

Pitch your own songs.

The head of Joe’s label is a big decision-maker on every song his artists record.  I’d never met him, but I got his email address from a friend and sent him the song.  He called me later to put the song on hold for Joe.

The right outside song can still get cut.

The writers weren’t in the artist’s, label’s, or producer’s inner circles.  My publisher didn’t leverage influence to get it cut.  None of us are big-name writers.  But we wrote the right song and got it to the right people at the right time.

Thanks for reading!  Good luck, and happy hunting.

God Bless,



What did I miss?  Anything you’d like to add or ask?  Leave a comment!  In the meantime, you can check out “Crickets” on Amazon here…


Shout out to Gord Bamford, who has taken “When Your Lips Are So Close” into the Canadian Country Top 10!  Thanks to my cowriters, Gord and Byron Hill- you two did a great job both writing AND producing the song!  You can check out Gord at…

You can also read the “Cut Study” for “When Your Lips Are So Close” by CLICKING HERE.


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12 thoughts on “Cut Study: Joe Nichols “Crickets””

  1. Brent, thanks indeed for sharing some cool info. Quick question -Is the cost of a vocal guitar demo a deal breaker?? – sounded like an important part of the equation… Congratulations! D.

    1. Well, the cost of a FULL DEMO was something my soon-to-be-ex-publisher didn’t want to invest (probably would’ve been around $200-$300 for my share). My publishing deal was coming to a close (which in itself was an interesting story I may address in a future post), and since they didn’t know what to do with the song (it’s country, it’s funny, etc.), they decided to say “no.” Their wallet, their choice.

  2. Cool story.. I am just stuck on your publishing deal..did it come to an end or did he sign you again. Or did you have to find a new publisher? And if you signed with the old publisher or a new publisher they are getting paid for a song they didn’t believe in, right? I am thinking you self published your first hit, why did you not take a swing at this one. Sounds like you did a lot of the work to get this song cut. Just curious and thanks again for these great insightful stories

    1. Mark,
      That publishing deal DID come to an end. But since I wrote “Crickets” and turned it in, they legally own it. Doesn’t matter if they loved it or not. There are a bunch of songs in every writer’s publishing deal that never get demoed or pitched, but which the publisher owns. That’s the exchange for the advance money. Yes, that publisher is getting paid on “Crickets.” Doesn’t matter who actually pitched it or whatever. But that’s okay- they paid me a steady draw, which allowed me to write songs full-time during that time.

  3. Hey Brent,

    Thank you for the article.
    Could you share with us the actual email you sent to Joe’s producer that got it on hold?


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