Things I Say “Yes” To


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.

As I mentioned in my post, “Slash Songwriters” (read it HERE), for the past several months, I’ve been a songwriter/salesman.  Obviously, this has limited how much time I have available for writing.  And as much as I don’t like it, it has forced me to make tough choices- choices about where I spend my time and energy, who I write with, and what I write.

So, since, I can’t say “yes” to everything, what DO I say “yes” to?  Now, my situation is likely different from yours, but I hope this glimpse into my thought process is useful for you.  So here are the opportunities that get me to say “yes”- in order of priority.

1. Cowriting with an artist on a record label.

This is my top priority because it’s the shortest route to a cut.  And right now I’m focusing on just a couple artists who I believe in, write well with, and get along well with- and who are hopefully going to cut an album within the next six months.  I also spend some time outside the cowriting room generating and polishing ideas to bring in to these cowrites.  This is where I spend most of my writing time.

2. Writing lyrics for a specific project.

A buddy might call and say, “I’m connected to ‘x’ project, and I need a so-and-so type of song.”  If I think there’s a possibility of a good return on the investment, I’ll generate some ideas/lyrics in the early mornings or late nights.  We can then hash things out over phone/email and minimize the time in the room together – which comes out of family time.

3. Writing lyrics to melodies / tracks.

Right now, I have some time to listen and write while I’m driving around in the truck for work.  So this is a good way to work solo.  But it takes a while, so I still have to choose carefully.  I have to really dig the melody.  And it really helps if the writer is connected and can work the finished product effectively from his or her end.

4. Writing lyrics to shop around.

If I have a strong idea that doesn’t fit into one of the categories above, I can work up some lyrics and “shop” it around to some buddies.  The ideas that I’ll work with this way are either things I really need to get off my chest, or what I think are incredible ideas.  I’ve found that trying to shop around MY versions of what’s on the radio right now (pickups and dirt roads) haven’t gotten traction with my cowriters- they just haven’t been motivated enough to work on those ideas when I’m not sitting in the cowrite with them.  So I’ve recently decided to ONLY work on lyrics that I think are different, meaningful, and something that clearly falls into what I do best.  If I send my cowriters versions of what’s already being written all over town- it just doesn’t get the results I want.

Like I said, I don’t expect your situation to be just like mine.  But, like me, you don’t have unlimited time for your songwriting.  Prioritize, then say “yes” to what is mostly likely to get the results you want.

God Bless,



What do YOU say “yes” to?  Anything you’d like to add or ask?  Leave a comment!  Are there any topics  you’d like to see addressed in a future MvR post?  Thanks!


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6 thoughts on “Things I Say “Yes” To”

  1. Been writing songs for years. Have lots of raw material, i.e. iPhone recordings of my melodies, lyrics and chording. I am currently in the process of having my first album produced by a top 40 producer. I have 10 tracks. I’m bringing them to the ASCAP convention. Question is, as a new writer to the industry, are ten fully produced tracks enough to get anyone to take me seriously? Don’t artists, publishers, and A&R only want to hear completed tracks these days? Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated!

    1. The song dictates what kind of demo you need. First of all, it doesn’t matter how good the demo is if the song isn’t great (and right for the artist/market). I’ve gotten outside cuts with guitar/vocals, but a great demo usually beats a great guitar/vocal- especially for tempo songs. Good luck and God bless!

  2. I always wanted to be “songwriter/trust fund recipient”.  However, I had to settle for songwriter/carpenter.  

    I’m sorry you had to jump back into the workplace market for a while – I’m sure it will be a short term thing for you.  It’s not that bad – it’s the only life I’ve ever known.  It forces me to really utilize my time to maximize the end product.  I write about an hour every night, and it’s a very productive hour because it has to be.  In the last few months, I’ve signed 5 songs to Sherrill Blackman’s publishing company.  All of those songs were written in one hour stretches over a period of a few days or weeks.  

    I’m glad to hear you’re driving because for me, the truck is another great place to write.  I drive a lot as I have multiple jobs going on and I’m always running here or there.  Not sure what it is, but there is magic in writing while having to concentrate on other things like driving.  It’s like your creative mind is free to wander and it comes up with the best stuff all by itself.  I’m constantly thinking, “where the hell did that come from”?  I surprise myself a lot in that environment.  

    Good luck!

    Ed. Williams


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