The song wasn’t that good. I mean, it was alright. I’ve heard worse. Heck, I’ve written worse. But this guitar/vocal set in motion a chain of events that literally changed the sound of Music Row for over a decade now.
It was probably 2002 or 2003, and I was sitting in a small upstairs writing room at Famous Music, then on 16th Avenue in the heart of Nashville’s Music Row. Across from me? Hit songwriter, Bob Regan. Were we writing a song? Heck, no! I hadn’t earned that privilege yet. No, Bob was giving me some of his time as a favor to our mutual friend, Laura McLeod (thanks, Laura Lou). Bob was listening to a few of my songs and giving me some feedback.
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About three songs in, I played the guitar/vocal of a song I’d written back in Arkansas with a buddy of mine. Like I mentioned before, the song wasn’t that great. I was still a fairly green writer, and it was one of the first songs my friend had ever written. And the production was simple- just my cowriter playing and singing into a mic. (Recorded at my friend, Darian Stibling’s Blue Chair Recording Studio in Austin, Arkansas.)
Bob looked up about halfway through the song and asked me, “who’s singing this?” I told him, and his response was, “does he look like an artist?”
My friend, the singer? Matt Dame.
Matt was still living in Little Rock, Arkansas at the time, but Bob started bringing Matt to Nashville to sing demos for him. That was all the foot-in-the-door that Matt needed. His name popped up more and more as people would hear one of Bob’s demos and would want to know the singer’s name. Word got around, and Matt got more and more work. Soon, his talent, work ethic and personality opened enough doors that he was able to make the move to Nashville.
Since then, Matt has become one of the top male “go-to” demo singers in Nashville. He has literally changed the sound of Music Row, as his voice comes out of speakers all over the place every day.
So, what’s the lesson here?
Matt has undeniable talent when it comes to singing. But he’s also worked hard to hone his craft. He’s not a “lazy” singer. Also, he took that boring 350-mile drive from Little Rock to Nashville time after time to sing demos. That was time away from family and time he could’ve spent doing other things (like watching the Razorbacks play).
He put in the hours, and he put in the miles.
And he used his people skills. He’s a great, great singer, but there’s not an ounce of ego on him. He’s a great hang. He’s professional, but also fun to work with.
Talent. Hard work. People skills.
Do you bring those qualities to each show, studio session and songwriting appointment? If you do, you never know what might happen. You might be the next one to change the sound of Music Row.
What about you? Do you use demo singers, or do you usually sing them yourself? How have those choices worked for you? Have you used Matt? If so, what’d you think? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Maybe you’re considering hiring a demo singer, but you aren’t sure how the whole process works. Maybe your demo singers have disappointed you in the past, and you want to know how to get the best performances from them in the future. Maybe you want to become a demo singer yourself, but you’re unsure how to pursue it. Well, if any of that sounds like you, I have a cool opportunity coming up for ya!
On Tuesday, February 28, I’m hosting a live, online videoconference with top Nashville demo singer, Matt Dame. If you want to ask your questions and learn from one of the top singers in the game, this is your chance! CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY. Oh, and there are only a few spots available (so we can keep things personal and “face to face,” so don’t wait- check it out now!
God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,
Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.