Writing With A Hit Songwriter Is NOT A Magic Bullet


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…

I know as a (former) amateur songwriter hoping to go pro how easy it is to think that writing with a hit songwriter could solve everything. It’s tempting to think that just by getting in a room with a pro that it’ll change your world and you’ll be on your way to a hit. Well, let me tell ya something…

I ALWAYS have a hit songwriter in the room … ME … and most of my songs still don’t get cut.

Sure, there are advantages to writing with a pro or a signed artist, but there is no magic bullet. Not if you want to build a songwriting career. Sure, you may get into a room to “write up” with a hit writer. And you might even write a really good song. But one really good song doesn’t mean much in the long run (read more about this in my post “The Song.”)

Sure, there are ways to be wise and efficient and give yourself a better chance of success, but there is no escape hatch that lets you avoid hard work- not if you want to be great over the long haul.  So pack a lunch and plan for this to take a while.  Work hard, work smart, and enjoy the journey.

God Bless,



I’m excited to be speaking on song idea discovery and development at the 2014 Songwriting And Music Business Conference in Nashville, TN!  Click the image below to find out more.  I’d love to see you there!

2014 Conference Conference and Song School and City image Logo Image


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!


If you like this blog, don’t miss a single post!  Subscribe by putting your email in the “Follow Man vs. Row via E-mail” section on this page.  It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below.   Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it.  I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

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

Brent’s Instagram: Razorbaxter75

17 thoughts on “Writing With A Hit Songwriter Is NOT A Magic Bullet”

  1. Brent, Can you talk about when you recommend having a reverbnation (or something like it) account and posting your music? Should it only be professionally demos or are good home recordings okay? Thanks.

    Brent Gaines Sent from my iPhone


    1. Definitely good to have your music up somewhere online- it’s your online “business card.” While it depends on your goals, you generally want to put up the best stuff you have- in the best form possible. If you’re looking for cowrites, your potential cowriter will most likely Google you. A publisher probably won’t, unless they’re already very interested in you based on the select material you’ve already sent in.

    1. Hi, Linda. Good question. It comes from everywhere. Inspiring music, books, conversations, life, etc. I’m working on some material about idea discovery. I’ll post it when it’s ready. Thanks!

  2. Brent! Love your blog. I’ve been trying to subscribe for the past 6 months and haven’t been getting any confirmation emails. Can u please add me to your email list? (chrisarmesmusic@gmail.com). Thanks, love your insights and advice on the journey. — Chris

    1. Chris,
      Sorry about that. Have you checked your spam filter? I tried to add you from my end, so you should be receiving a confirmation email soon. Glad you like MvR. Thanks!

  3. Might not be a magic bullet but it is a blast. Been blessed to do it a few times and if you’re not careful you might learn a bunch. 🙂

  4. Brent,
    Co writing with a pro does get the song in more doors and faster than you could without the collaboration does it not? It may give your name and reputation a little boost as well right? It is still something writers should aspire to do, so long as they don’t think that the song will be instantly cut or ever cut, correct?

    Thank you,

    1. Brandon,
      First of all… welcome! Thanks for joining the conversation. Yes, I agree with your comments. There is definite value in writing with a pro. It’s a great learning opportunity, it can get your song (if the pro thinks it’s great) into more doors more quickly, etc.

      However, the main point of this post is that songwriters shouldn’t think that just writing with a pro is a “magic ticket” that will automatically get your song cut. There’s a very low “cut rate” even among pros- most of our songs don’t ever get cut. It’s still a lot of work, and it’s still very competitive. I just don’t want writers out there to spend too much energy thinking “if I can JUST write with a pro, I’ll have it made.” Not true.

  5. Brent,
    In relation to what you and Brent G. were discussing earlier in these comments…
    I administer my songs via my vanity
    publishing company and my main goal is
    to get cut by a major artist. Do I need to
    keep those songs private so the public cannot
    access them? How concerned are major artists
    with the previous exposure of a potential cut?
    I have unknown artists I would like to collaborate with but should I give them my best stuff to play live, around town or on youtube or does that “kill” the song in the major artists eyes?

    Thank you,

    1. Brandon,
      I wouldn’t consider having your own publishing company set up a “vanity.” It’s being prepared. I’m sure glad I already had Cowboy Chords Music set up when Alan Jackson gave me my first cut. It was enough of a whirlwind without having to set up a publishing company, too.

      My theory is to get your songs out there as much as you can. Action draws attention. I don’t think that a small indie cut will keep a major artist from cutting the same song. Perhaps it could, but the definite benefits of getting your music out there outweighs the unlikely downside. Another side of this topic is covered in my post “Getting A Foot Indie Door,” where I share how two artists who were unsigned when they cut one of my songs have sense gotten record deals.

      Your songs have a better chance of getting heard if you get out there and make some noise.
      God bless.

  6. Brent,
    Thank you for the quick response and for all your knowledge sharing! It really helps.
    Pardon my ignorance…I was under the impression that vanity publishing was synonymous with self-publishing. I have my publishing company completely setup, registered and an attorney ready in the wings. Glad you helped me get that straight. 🙂 Thank you for the advise because I was really unsure on what to do. Does that hold true for film/tv placements as well? Do you think a major artist would be detoured by the song being in a car commercial or a motion picture? Thanks again and I look forward to learning more from your posts and participating in the discussions!


    1. Brandon,
      If you can land songs in commercials or movies… do it! You’ll earn some money. You’ll earn some credibility. You’ll raise your status/profile/bio as a writer. That will help open doors in the music biz so you can hopefully start getting your songs to some artists.

      Have an abundance mentality- you’ll write more songs, better songs. Success opens the door for more success.

  7. Hi Brent…sometimes your most appropriate advice for me can be found in the leave a reply section Thank you again.

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