Single Of The Year… Now What?

Gord When Lips Single

I was blessed to be a cowriter on “When Your Lips Are So Close,” which recently won “Single Of The Year” at the 2014 Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMA). I wrote the song with the artist, Gord Bamford, and his co-producer, Byron Hill. I’ve written three songs with them, and Gord has cut each of them. Three cowrites= 3 cuts, 1 #1 single, 1 gold single, 2 CCMA nominations and 1 CCMA win.

Now what?

Thankfully, Gord wants to write again. That’s great. But now that we’ve written a #1 together, now that we’ve had that success, the challenge is to keep my mind right. Possible pitfalls include:

Analysis paralysis.

It’d be easy to lock up creatively. To not write ANYTHING unless I’m sure it’s at least as big of a hit as “When Your Lips Are So Close.” Truth is, we didn’t know “When Your Lips Are So Close” was a #1 when we wrote it. We knew it felt really strong, but that was it. I can’t get trapped into having to think it’s a sure #1 before I’m willing to roll the dice.

Repeating myself.

I also have to avoid the temptation to play it safe by bringing in ideas that are too similar to “When Your Lips Are So Close.” Yes, there are elements of it we’d be wise to bring into another song. But we don’t want to just repeat ourselves. We need to write his NEXT hit, not rewrite his LAST one.

Getting complacent or cocky.

I’ve been blessed to have Gord cut all 3 of our cowritten songs, but nothing is guaranteed. If I just get lazy, thinking on some level, “Oh, he loves all my stuff,” then I won’t bring my best work (while his other cowriters will). Gord deserves better. So does Byron. So does my family.

Identifying these head-game tripwires should help me avoid them (hopefully). Now it’s mainly a matter of carving out enough creative space to be prepared. Then we’ll all just have to hope the muse shows up.

What about you?  What are some head-game tripwires that you run into, or have to actively avoid?  It doesn’t have to be about following up a hit- it could be about “wow, we had a great first cowrite… now what?” or “wow, that was a terrible first cowrite… now what?” I’d love to hear from you!

God Bless,



“Cut/Able: Lessons In Market-Smart Songwriting” is four powerful lessons for songwriters who want cuts & hits, who want to learn how to write commercially marketable songs, & who want their songs to connect powerfully with both fans and Music Row pros.  If you want those results, these lessons can help.  To get a FREE EXCERPT of “Cut/able,” just click on the image below:


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8 thoughts on “Single Of The Year… Now What?”

  1. Hey Brent – first, huge congratulations on the tremendous success. I am sure you have earned every bit of it.

    My very first co-write in Nashville was a disaster. In truth, I had a couple of fine co-writes earlier, while I lived in and drove up from Tampa, FL. This one, though, was the first session as part of a travel from Denmark to Nashville and LA. I didn’t set up the session. The original plan was, that I was going to write with a pretty talented female artist. The day before the session, however, I learned that another writer was going to be part of the session.

    Long story short – the other writer, the one introduced very late, clearly, had no intention of collaborating with me, but instead wanted to sidetrack me. There is no doubt in my mind, that he saw this up-and-coming young lady as his way in, and was not about to share.
    Several times during the session he deliberately derailed the process, when I and the artist were on to something. Incredibly frustrating. Continuing on LA only a couple of days later, (where I was blessed with writing with Pamela Phillips Oland) I was unsuccessful in trying to pick up the pieces.

    I was somewhat shaken by the experience. Leaving the studio only a couple of blocks from the Row that day, I was thinking, “What in the h… am I going to do, if this is the attitude, I am going to be met with over the next couple of days?” The whole idea of co-writing as an out-of-towner was not very appealing.
    I am happy to say, the next couple of days I had a couple of inspiring writing sessions in Nashville with forthcoming writers/human beings 😉 before flying out to LA.

  2. I definitely had a realization just this morning traveling to my “day job”. I’m trying too hard to write a hit song. Granted… That needs to be my bar but I think I’m not allowing my natural creativity in the space of writing lately. So… I just have to write. Re-write and release it. I feel like taking that wall down of expectation will free up energy to create stronger songs. Because I love out of town I def write solo a lot and my first co-write on Nashville was a disaster but it taught me that I don’t connect with just anyone. Then the next co-write was magic and sustained it’s relationship for 10 years now. I also keep myself in practice of co-writing with a lot of people now so I know how to be in the room. What a journey! What lessons! To keep going for that next hit but not duplicating what we’ve done in the past means… As Brent says… It’s just gotta be better. Hit the next level. Going for it all the way for ourselves. People in the room and our families. I love this!!! It puts it all in perspective. Thank you Brent and high five on continued steps forward in excellence and intention.

  3. I always get inside my own head and pysch myself out before a big write that’s a new co-writer. What if he/she doesn’t like my ideas? What if it doesn’t go well and then he/she doesn’t want to work again? What if I totally suck that day and it gets back to the publisher that set it up the meeting? Now granted, it usually turns out fine or even great, however sometimes those insecurities get the best me. One of my co-writer’s, Scot Sax (Like We Never Loved At All) said something I’ll never forget. He said, “Every time I pick up the guitar or walk into a writing session I always imagine myself writing the best song I’ve ever written. He said, “I actually tell myself…I’m going to write a kick ass song right now.” I’ve started using this technique as a subtle confidence boost. Hope it helps anyone else reading.

  4. My advice is to give thanks to God for what happened and ask Him to bless you all over again. I think you need to write because it is fun and not pressure yourself that you have a bar raised you now have to meet. We need to get back to just enjoying the music and the process and forget the business side and awards.

    Last night I spent a bunch of time watching Maddie and Tae videos about them and “Girl in a Country Song”. They got a great song but more importantly, they are having fun together!

    I long for a co-writer to do that with…

  5. Admittedly, I must have something in and on my mind or I wouldn’t sit down to write. But shy of that I try to be as much of a blank slate as I can be. Stupid, maybe, but I like it. The Muse is in control.

  6. Hi Brent, I have a question about iTunes royalties.  I wanted to put my songs up for online download but have got some distressing / vague news.  I was going to go through CD Baby which says it gives somewhere around 90% of the royalties to the artist which I would take from a .99 song I would get .90.  Then I looked up on a yahoo discussion board and they said that a label artist gets .55 and an unsigned artist gets .10.  Ugh .10, that’s almost worth just giving it away for free.  Would it be worth it to get a business license and start my own record label to get a better royalty payoff.  The exact payment info is really vague on iTunes and CD Baby and mainly just seems like the more leverage you have (a label, record sales, etc) the better deal your going to get on you royalty rates.  Any knowledge would be helpful.ThanksMatt

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