I’ll never forget the first time I heard one of my songs on the radio.
“Monday Morning Church” had just been released by Alan Jackson, and it was starting to get some spins. It was to be featured on a local (Nashville) radio station’s song-vs-song challenge (a “Friday Night Knockout” kind of thing). They kept promoting it, so I knew it was coming on around 8pm that night.
A good friend had just arrived from Little Rock, and was in the bathroom when the opening fiddle started playing on the radio in the living room. I yelled, “It’s on!” and she came bolting out of the bathroom- tugging up her sweatpants and almost putting on an indecent display as she tried not to trip over herself in her excitement and hurry.
The song was cranked up, and we were totally amped up. We laughed, hugged, and paced around the living room as the song played. I had FINALLY heard my song on the radio! It was an unbelievable feeling. “Wow… he REALLY released it! It’s REALLY on the dad-gummed RADIO!”
I want YOU to have that feeling, too.
Don’t say that it can’t happen to you. Sure, the odds are long. The chance of success are small, I won’t deny that. But I’m just an ‘ol boy from Arkansas. I didn’t have any special connections in the music business. I barely knew anybody when I moved to Nashville. All I brought with me was a dream, a knack for words, and a good work ethic. And I brought a song that filled a gap in Alan’s catalog.
Actually, the song filled one of the G.A.P.S. in Alan’s catalog.
What does G.A.P.S. mean?
G.A.P.S. is a memory device I use to remind me where to aim when I’m trying to get a song on an artist’s album. It points out where there might be opportunity- where there might be an empty space (a gap) that my song can fill. It stands for:
P: Preaching / Positioning
In short, “Growth” reminds me to write based on where the artist is GOING. Artists change over time, they evolve, and it doesn’t do me much good to write a song that fits where they’ve been. They need songs that fit where they’re going.
“Achievement” reminds me to try and write something that will take the artist’s career up a level. Most artists are always trying to climb the ladder of success, and they want songs that aren’t just going to maintain their current careers. They want songs that are going to win awards, raise their visibility, and grow their careers.
“Preaching” is when an artist speaks to THEIR crowd, THEIR listeners. It’s the old saying of “preaching to the choir.” They want songs that their established fans will love. “Positioning” is when a song identifies who an artist is- what their brand is. It says, “I’m a so-and-so kind of person/artist. If you want this kind of music, come to my show or buy my album.”
“Songwriting” reminds me to be aware of what kind of song the artist writes himself, and what kind of song he records that somebody else writes. I have a much better chance of getting a cut if I write the kind of song that the artist doesn’t write, but is looking for.
In the case of “Monday Morning Church,” it filled one of the G.A.P.S. in Alan’s catalog. It was a topic and emotion he hadn’t covered before. It was some new material that still fit within the general scope of what he does. It was Alan’s kind of country sound, but the lyric content was new for him.
So the next time you’re writing a song specifically for an artist (or figuring out which of your existing songs to pitch for an artist), think about how you can fill the G.A.P.S.
In my next post, I’ll tell you about earning something nobody can take away. And I’ll let you know about a special opportunity I have coming up.
If you want to be sure and stay in the loop on all things songwriting, be sure and subscribe to manvsrow.com (at the top right or down below)! I have some cool stuff coming up, and you won’t want to miss out!
God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,