“Slash” Songwriters


Brent is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ray Stevens, and more.  He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

There are a few very, very successful writers that make a killing, but most writers can’t feed their families on JUST songwriting.  I know a lot of songwriters which are “slash” songwriters.  They are songwriter/waiters.  Songwriter/producers.  Songwriter/demo singers.  Songwriter/mentors.  Songwriter/real estate agents.  Certain exceptions are writers who are young, single, and can live on very little- thanks to sharing rent with roommates.  Others have spouses with solid incomes.  But the vast majority of songwriters just don’t maintain a strong income over a long period of time.

For example, I was blessed to have a hit with Alan Jackson.  Then came marriage, and after Emily finished up school, we had two incomes.  Then came our son, Ozark (yes, that really is his name).  It is very important to both of us for Em stay home with Ozzy, so that certainly changed the math.  We were blessed that Emily was able to take Oz to her job as a nanny for a while.  Then that job ended for her not long after I left a publishing deal.  And now we have a 2nd baby on the way, due in March of 2014.

A publishing draw does NOT pay enough to feed a family of four unless you’re willing to live in poverty.  And while I’ve gotten cuts, cuts that aren’t singles are pretty much just for bragging rights.  Therefore, I had to take a full-time job in the summer of 2013.  I’m still in the game, writing with some major label artists, pitching songs, getting some cuts, etc.  But it’s mostly nights and weekends right now.  It definitely makes things more difficult, but it’s best for my family at the moment.  We’ll see where God takes us.

If you’re preparing to make a run at a professional songwriting career, what is YOUR slash?  Are there certain skills you can develop or a business you can grow which will give you both enough time and money to devote to your songwriting?  It’s worth thinking about.  It’s worth building something for the long haul.

God Bless,



What did I miss?  Anything you’d like to add or ask?  Leave a comment!


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Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

19 thoughts on ““Slash” Songwriters”

  1. Wow, Brent, thanks for sharing the truth. Too many writers that are trying to make it in Nashville & are thinking about moving there, don’t understand that… I’ve known it for along time. I’m a 66 year old retiree still chasing the dream. I’ve had songs published & won a songwriting contest, but never have had a cut.. But have a good retiree income that lows me to still pursue that first cut… Thanks for your updates that share what it’s really like out there..

    Good luck to you & God Bless…

    Joe Sorrels

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. My slash is I’m gonna be a nurse. I’m so happy that you shared this post about yourself..thank you so much. Gives me hope.

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. That’s a great, honest word, Brent. I’m definitely a songwriter with numerous slashes. I once had a friend/musician/music-store-owner–say, “Don’t start taking money for your music, Keith–it takes the fun out of it.” Now, any songwriter who’ll tell you they don’t want a hit song (and the accompanying dough-re-mi) will probably lie about other things too, but there’s definitely truth in my friend’s word. Maybe having that slash-job takes a little heat off of having to write that next hit, reduces the guilt over not providing adequately for the fam, and frees you up to do your best work. Also, it keeps your oars in the water of where real folks live. I look forward to your next hit. Lord knows where you live. SSL…(sorry so long).

  4. Great post Brent…nothing like a little dose of reality. I consider myself an Amazon Song Writer, (slash and burn). Many of my songs have been slashed (pitched and rejected) and others burned (literally). The rainforest has a better chance of survival than many of my songs…. but I always keep in mind that the forest always keeps coming back with new growth. The Amazon is also full of hidden treasures just waiting to be discovered. Maybe there are some hidden treasures in me, so I let the new songs keep growing and I keep searching for that new discovery. I may never find that secret that will make me rich, but the exploration is the real adventure.

  5. Great honest input Brent! Thanks for sharing and big congrats on your upcoming baby’s birth! I’m young but just got engaged so I think about taking care of a family some day….scary stuff.

  6. Word. Having just moved to Nashville, I often feel insecure about telling industry folks that I have another gig besides songwriting. (teaching music) It’s like I think their immediate thought is, “oh… well I guess he’s not good enough to do it full-time.” Thanks for the reality check. Cheers!

  7. Brent ..thanks for the honesty in this article . It is very rare to come across information about the financial realities of trying to generate income as a songwriter . I’m a ‘slash’ house painter slash musician slash teacher slash songwriter and have been for about 40 years . Great to come across a writer telling it like it is…it almost seems at times like the ‘facts’ about songwriting careers get conveniently lost in discussions …..R. Leather

    . : Man vs. Row Sent: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 4:57 AM To: rwleather@shaw.ca Subject: [New post] “Slash” Songwriters

    Brent Baxter posted: ” There are a few very, very successful writers that make a killing, but most writers can’t feed their families on JUST songwriting. I know a lot of songwriters which are “slash” songwriters. They are songwriter/waiters. Songwriter/producers. Song”

  8. wonderful honest post thank you so much one of my slashes is songwriter/special needs adult child and that is a slash that won’t be going away for a while…but I love the songwriter side of my slash too so that helps the keeping on
    thank you again, so many times you share something that really makes a difference for the understanding in a new way
    thanx for sharing

  9. Brent, I, too, thank you for your honesty. This a real revelation. One would have thought you were making a “killing” based on the cuts you’ve mentioned in your posts.
    A partlyretired/songwriter, I am able to stick with it out of sheer joy of writing. Ironically, I’ve lately decided not to allow myself to be anxious so much about the fact that I’ve not be able to garner any “success” with my beloved endeavor.

    Thanks again.

  10. Brent, great post. Thanks for being so honest. I’m a songwriter/physician. My day job is very busy so I also do most of my songwriting, pitching, etc. in the evenings and weekends. It’s definitely a balancing act and there are many times when I wish that I could skip work to finish up a songwriting project.

    Congrats on baby #2.

  11. Thanks for the kind words, y’all. I wasn’t looking forward to posting this one. It hurts my pride that I can’t write full-time right now. Also, perception is important in this business. I didn’t want anyone inside the business to read this and write me off as a viable writer. But I know if I’m gonna carry on Man vs Row for very long, I have to be completely honest with my readers. You deserve to know what it’s really like (at least for me). Plus, being honest sure makes it easier to produce content- you don’t have to worry about hiding a secret. Hmm… maybe there’s a writing lesson in there… God bless.

  12. This is simply reality. I have been writing since college, have songs published and cut, but sometimes I hesitate to add songwriter when asked what I do because of external expectations around the profession. Years ago, I had to make changes, mostly because with little ones at home you can’t be out all night writing, and co-writing sometimes takes that. Now that my kiddos are grown, trying to get back in with writers has been tough. I have always written because I love it, but lost professional connections. Songwriter/social worker and college professor!

  13. Brent,

    I’ve been following your blog for a few months now. Last week I came across this past post of yours.

    Three things:

    1) Appreciate the advice on balancing dreams and reality.

    2) Here’s a short article entitled “The Songmaker’s Plight: A Fable for Digital Times” that attempts to articulate the current situation for songwriters (and give historical context) in a fresh and entertaining way:


    I wrote it, and I’d be interested in your opinion.

    3) Seeing as there are now two young children in your wife’s life, perhaps she would enjoy “It Isn’t Very Easy Being Mother”, a short original song/video produced for this last Mother’s Day – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fPGO-vJVQc


  14. Brent, I ended up on this post somehow. It looks like it’s about four and half years old. I wonder if you could post an update linking to this post – leading off with “We’ll see where God takes us.” An update to “Slash Songwriters”

    I think it’s beneficial to look back and reflect on where we’ve been and what got us here. Considering the comments, there are people who’d like to hear about it.

    Thanks for all you do for songwriters.

  15. My slash is my husband and I worked hard for 45 years. Pick something with a slash/retirement – I did teaching for years and we had a business for 28 years. So I guess/social security works too. But I really feel like I can keep up with the ‘really young’ writers I write with. They need someone to bring cookies!!!

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