Don’t Count Lines


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.

When you write a song with a cowriter, it’s standard practice in Nashville to have even splits between all the cowriters, no matter how much they contribute.  This means every writer on the song owns an equal share of the copyright.  I’ve heard stories of writers who “count lines” when determining their percentage of ownership of a song.  I am REALLY not a fan of this, for a few reasons.

Generosity wins.  This time, maybe your cowriter only contributed a few lines, if that.  Well, next time, they might contribute more than you.  It should all even out in the end, if you’re well-matched cowriters.

I want my cowriters focused on making the song the very best it can be.  I don’t want it to become a competition over who gets the most lines and the most credit.  Serve the song, not your percentage.

It’s impossible to tell who really wrote the line.  Maybe you got the final wording right, but you only got there based on a line suggested by your cowriter.  You wouldn’t have gotten to that line by yourself, so you BOTH created it.  It’s a collaboration.

And, lastly, counting lines is a good way to alienate your cowriter and make them less likely to write with you again.  Especially in a town like Nashville.  Be generous and win!

God Bless,



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4 thoughts on “Don’t Count Lines”

  1. Hi Brent! I usually write the songs, but did collaborate with a seasoned composer. It was so fun and that was more important to me than who gets what. Some people put puzzels together…I like to write the songs…ps. What if the writer misspelled a word…is that worth something???
    Happy songwriting!

    1. Jeff,
      No, I haven’t, but I’ve heard a few stories (which may or may not be true). He’s a very successful songwriter, no doubt. And success might allow him to do business in a way that most can’t. But I don’t have any personal experience with Skip.
      God bless,

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