Inside vs. Outside Songs- And Why It Matters


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.


Hey, ya’ll! At the bottom of today’s post, I’m going to let you know about some free stuff I’m giving away to all of you great Man vs. Row subscribers.  Now, on to today’s post…

When an artist is working on an album, there are two types of songs which will (or will not) be considered: inside songs and outside songs. So what are these?

Inside songs are songs which are written by or with the artist, the producer, or a close associate. These are songs written or controlled/owned by someone with a close connection to the project.

Outside songs are basically all other songs- those written or controlled by people who do NOT have a close connection to the artist’s project.

Okay, so that’s pretty simple- some songs come from inside the circle of influence and some songs come from outside the circle of influence. Buy why is this important? It’s very important because, in most cases, inside songs have a much better chance of being recorded. Some artists, like Taylor Swift, write or cowrite all their own songs. If you’re not writing with Taylor, forget about getting a cut. Other artists may be very low key about the fact that they’re even working on a project. If you’re not in the loop, you might not even know the artist is cutting at all, much less what kind of song they want.

That’s why it matters if your songs are inside or outside- it affects their odds of being cut. Examples:

I had two songs cut on Ray Stevens’ “We The People” album. One song was a true inside song. “Caribou Barbie” was written at Ray’s request with two of his staff writers. The other song, “Fly Over Country” was an outside pitch. However, since Ray didn’t advertise that he was doing a record, I never would’ve known to pitch a song (much less that song in particular) without some inside information. I’ve also had two Lady Antebellum cuts (bonus tracks, sadly). “A Woman Scorned” was written with Hillary Scott, and “Last Night Last” was written with all three members of Lady A. Almost every song on that first album was written or cowritten by the band, so it definitely put those songs in a better competitive position.

This is not to say that ONLY inside songs get cut. I’ve had some outside songs get cut, too. “Monday Morning Church” was written before either my cowriter, Erin Enderlin, or I had ever had a cut, and only Erin was working with a publisher at the time. Erin’s publisher played the song for Alan Jackson’s producer, who played it for Alan. Same thing for my Joe Nichols cut- I sent “Crickets” to the head of Joe’s record label (even though we’ve never met). He loved it and sent it to Joe. The song became an outside cut- and the title track to his current album.

So, yes, both inside and outside songs still get cut. But inside songs have a definite advantage- and the inside track (pun intended).  How does this affect how I do business?  I try to get songs on the inside, of course.  It’s worth thinking about how you can do the same.  Yes, I know you might think you’re years away from being able to get any songs on the inside.  But simply knowing that there’s a difference between inside and outside songs will help you make more effective choices, and you’ll get there faster.

God Bless,



As a way to say “thank you” to all of you who subscribe to Man vs. Row by email, I’m going to give away some cool stuff in July (2014).  If you subscribe to MvR, I’ll send you a free report, “10 Things The Pro Knows.”  I’ll also send you the guitar/vocal of “Crickets,” which is the title track of Joe Nichols’ current album.  You’ll get to hear the song as Joe heard it when he decided to record it.  You’ll also receive the lyric file of the song- and this lyric file includes “Baxter’s Boneyard” – all the lines that DIDN’T make it into the song (see if you agree with our choices).  It’s something nobody else has seen, and I think it’s pretty cool.  But, again, this gift is only for those who subscribe to Man vs. Row by E-MAIL.  These gifts will be sent by email, so if I don’t have your email address, I can’t send it to you.  God Bless!


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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Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

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3 thoughts on “Inside vs. Outside Songs- And Why It Matters”

  1. I recently started my songwriting adventure and have subscribed to Man vs. Row. I’m going way back into the blog to read everything that’s been shared up until now. Wondering if it would be possible to get 10 Things The Pro Knows and the guitar/vocal/lyric file of “Crickets? I don’t want to miss out on anything! 🙂 Thank you, Jessica

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