Music Publishing Isn’t About Just Pitching Songs

Music publishing isn’t just about slinging songs all over town.  It isn’t just about finding great songs and pitching those songs until they get cut.  If publishing was ever about that, it certainly isn’t anymore.


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When I first moved to Nashville from Arkansas in 2002, my understanding of music publishing was that they sign songs and songwriters, pitch those songs, get cuts, and collect and pass along royalties.  I was excited about the possibility that a publisher might hook me up with some other songwriters, pay for my demos and provide a place where I could write.  And I felt blessed when all that finally started to happen.

But it wasn’t enough.  The business model was changing.

That first publishing deal WAS a blessing.  The guys at Major Bob took a chance on signing a young songwriter.  I’m really thankful for them.  I was learning to write better and better songs.  And the guys at Major Bob hooked me up with some good cowriters.  And they would give me some feedback.  But at the end of the day…

I spent a lot of time trying to create great songs, but not enough time trying to create great opportunities.

Heck, I was a newbie.  I had moved to Nashville to write songs, and that’s what I was finally getting to do.  And I was LOVING it.  But while I basically understood how the music business works (royalties, publishing, licensing, etc.), I didn’t understand how the RELATIONSHIP business worked.  Not really.  And it cost me.

It’s great that I was working to create great songs.  But I should’ve been wiser about creating great relationships at labels, with other publishers, producers, and artists.

(Maybe Major Bob was working hard on that for me – but my songs just weren’t good enough to open those doors.  But in either case, I myself wasn’t focused on it enough.)

The smart publishers these days are focused on creating great opportunities for their writers.  That’s why so many publishers sign writer/artists and writer/producers these days.  Those MIGHT become in-house opportunities for cuts and cowriters.  Publishers are partnering with labels (and labels are starting publishing companies).  Publishers are also actively working to get their writers in the room with producers and artists.

Heck, Ole’ Music even has a tour bus that will take their writers on the road to write with artists.  They’re serious about creating opportunities for their writers.

All this is in an effort to put their staffwriters in a position to win with a great song.  (Yes, publishers still do the traditional “find a great songwriter and pitch their best songs” thing.  That model just isn’t having as much success anymore, so they’re having to be more aggressive in creating opportunities.)

But what if you don’t have a publisher?

Well, you’re not off the hook.  If you want cuts and hits, you need to focus on creating BOTH great music AND great opportunities.  Don’t expect a publisher to come riding in on a white horse and save the day.  Get started now.  Start identifying potential opportunities- now.  Start forging relationships- now.

After all, if you don’t HAVE a publisher, you ARE your publisher!

If you’re ready to learn more about how publishing works – or if you’re ready to start making your own relationships with music publishers, I have a great first step for you.

I’m hosting an online “Know The Row” event in July with Senior Creative Director of Daywind Music, Chad Green.  This is YOUR chance to connect with a music publisher and to ask him YOUR questions.  With it being online, you can join us from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.  If you want details, just CLICK HERE.  Tickets are on sale now, and space is limited!

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.


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