Category Archives: P4P

You can’t have songwriting success without these people!

You can’t have major success alone.  You MUST have help.  Songwriting is a team sport. Today, let’s talk about who you might need on YOUR team.

Ready to start building your team – or to add the missing pieces?  Read on!

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To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

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Okay, let me start off by saying that not all of these members are necessary for every songwriter at every career stage.  Some are only needed when money is being generated from your songs. So don’t get overwhelmed- you don’t have to find all these folks today.

Also, this list is for pro songwriters or those who want to make money. If you just want to write good songs and you’re not worried about big commercial success, pick and choose accordingly.

1. Your Cowriters.

There are very, very few songwriters who turn pro (and stay that way) who are exclusively solo writers. Your cowriters help keep you fresh and break you out of creative ruts and stale habits. They also provide song ideas so you don’t have to come up with all your own ideas.

Cowriters provide creative strengths to compliment your weaknesses (lyrics for your melodies, etc.) They share valuable information (who’s cutting, what they want, who’s about to get a record deal, etc.). They (and their publishers) help pitch your songs. Cowriting also provides political advantages- writing with the artist, the producer, or with someone in a powerful publishing company.

2. Your PRO.

Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) are basically companies who collect and distribute airplay royalties for publishers and songwriters. There are three PROs in the United States- ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Every other country / territory has only one.

If you’re blessed to get some airplay, you and your song won’t get a dime of airplay money if you and your song aren’t registered with a PRO. That’s the big service they offer. Other benefits include networking and educational opportunities. EVERY money-making pro must have a PRO.

3. Your Recorders.

All the cowriters in the world aren’t gonna do you much good if all your demos / recordings sound terrible. There’s just too much competition and too many quality demos out there for an A&R person to do the work to hear through a bad recording. They just don’t have to.  Unless you’re an established hit songwriter with a good track record, they’ll just trash it and move on to a recording that sounds like it was done by a pro.

It’s great if you have the musician and production chops to get good sound on your own. But most songwriters don’t have that, so it needs to be outsourced. Maybe your cowriters can perform this function, or maybe you hire a track guy (or girl) or some studio musicians.

With that being said, a good publisher should be able to hear a good song that isn’t fully demoed.  This point is for pitching your song to artists and record labels, not to publishers (who we’ll get to in a moment).

4. Your Administrator.

Somebody better be watching the money. Your administrators are the folks that make sure your songs are registered with a PRO, licensed properly by the record labels, the copyright forms are sent in and that your royalties make it (properly and promptly) from the record labels to the songwriters.

This function is usually done by the publisher, but you can also hire an admin firm for a percentage of what they collect on your behalf. For example, my Major Bob Music catalog is partly administered in-house and partly by The Harry Fox Agency. My personal publishing company, Cowboy Chords Music, outsources my admin to Bluewater Music. They handle my licensing and royalty collections for a percentage of the money they collect.

Team Sport

5. Your Sharpeners.

These are the folks who help you sharpen your skills, both on the artistic and business sides of songwriting. This may include cowriters who inspire and challenge you to do your best, it may include NSAI, Global Songwriters Connection, Songwriting Pro, Frettie, song evaluators, and coaches. It may be your publisher or songplugger. It may be a writer’s rep at a PRO or a publisher who will listen to your songs and give feedback.

The Sharpeners are hugely important for amateurs turning pro and for seasoned pros trying to keep current and to adapt as the commercial market changes. These are the folks who will tell you the truth and challenge you, even when it’s unpleasant.

6. Your Believers.

Who’s going to pick you up when the biz knocks you down? When you’re lost in doubt? You’ll find The Believers in several of the other categories- Cowriters, Publisher, and sometimes the PROS and Sharpeners.

Your Believers may also include folks outside of music- your family and friends. This isn’t just for the aspiring songwriter. We ALL need  Believers! But the most important believer will always be one person. Yourself.

7. Your Songpluggers.

If you want cuts, somebody has to be out there actively pitching your songs and getting them heard by folks who can say “yes.” Oftentimes, this is done by a music publisher, who has at least one songplugger on staff. Many pros also pitch their songs themselves.  I’m an “all hands on deck” kinda guy, so I like to have cowriters to pitch our songs, too.

People who might plug your songs: you, your publisher, an independent songplugger, your cowriters, your cowriters’ songpluggers. If nobody is plugging your songs, nobody will hear them. If nobody hears your songs, nobody will cut them.

There ya go.  A pro songwriter’s team. Like I said earlier, you may not need all these folks right now, depending on where you are in your career. But as you climb that mountain, you’ll add more and more of them.

But what if you don’t have your team put together yet?  What if you don’t know any publishers?  Let me help.

I’m happy to give you a shot at meeting a legit hit music publisher!  I want YOU to join me at Songwriting Pro’s next Play For A Publisher event- and get feedback on YOUR song in person! (No matter where in the world you live.)

If you’re ready to connect with a publisher, I have a path for YOU and YOUR great song to get to a real, legit, successful music publisher, no matter where in the world you live (because it’s all online).

On Thursday, December 14, I’m having the next round of Songwriting Pro’s “Play For A Publisher.” Our guest is John Ozier of ole Music, but the deadline to submit your song is TODAY!  That’s right- if you don’t reserve your spot and get your song in TODAY, John won’t hear your song.

DON’T MISS OUT- CLICK HERE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY!

MEET MUSIC PUBLISHER JOHN OZIER

Ozier’s track record includes placing songs recorded by Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, Florida Georgia Line, Lee Brice, Randy Houser, Rodney Atkins, Clay Walker, Love & Theft, Ronnie Dunn, Jo Dee Messina, and many more. In 2010, Ozier was responsible for four songs in the Top 15 on the Billboard country charts, including the longest-ever running single, Lee Brice’s “Love Like Crazy,” at 56 weeks. More recently, he was responsible for No. 1s by Rodney Atkins (“Take A Back Road”) and Lee Brice (“A Woman Like You” and “I Drive Your Truck”).

He is also a published songwriter with cuts by Lee Brice, Kelli Pickler, Charlie Worsham, Josh Thompson, Tyler Farr, American Young, Air Supply and others. He co-wrote Lee Brice’s multi-week No. 1 and platinum single, “Hard to Love,” which won a BMI Award in 2013, as well as an NSAI Award for ‘Top 10 Songs I Wish I’d Written.’ Ozier also co-wrote Tyler Farr’s  34-week #1 and Gold Single, “Whiskey In My Water.”

DON’T MISS OUT- CLICK HERE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY!

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent 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.

Before You Pitch Your Song, Ask Yourself These 6 Questions!

You’ve just written your new favorite jam, and you can’t wait to pitch it to every artist and label in town.  Congrats!  But DON’T pitch that song just yet!

Before you send that email or make that call, you need to ask yourself these 6 questions that can keep you from wasting your time AND your songwriting reputation.

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To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

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Let’s say you have the opportunity to pitch to an artist.  Maybe Aunt Agnes knows a guy that mows the lawn of the guy that cuts Blake Shelton’s hair.  Or maybe you’re a staff writer who knows you shouldn’t leave all the pitching to your plugger.  Either way, you want to make the most of your pitches.  Here are some questions to ask yourself as you’re going through your songs.

1.  Does my song fit the artist’s brand?

Artists are brands.  Simply put, if your song is a french fry, don’t bother pitching it to Taco Bell.  They don’t DO french fries- it doesn’t fit their brand.  Likewise, don’t waste an artist’s time by pitching him a song that doesn’t fit what he does.  You’ll look like you just didn’t bother to do your homework.  That doesn’t respect the artist’s artistry or their time, and you come off looking bad.

 2.  Can the artist sing the song?

I was in an A&R pitch meeting at a label, and I pitched a certain song for a certain artist on their roster.  The A&R rep said the lyric was right up his alley, but she didn’t think he could sing it.  Pass.

My buddy, Anthony Orio, has pitched songs to a publisher before, and the publisher told him, “What guy can sing this melody?”  Well, Anthony could.  But the point is that not a lot of guys could sing a song that rangy, so it wasn’t as attractive to a publisher as a song they could pitch everywhere.

3.  Does the artist already write this type of song?

For example, Keith Urban tends to write his own feel-good mid-and-uptempo songs.  Most of his ballads and darker songs, however, tend to be written by other writers- “Raining On Sunday” “You’ll Think Of Me” “Making Memories Of Us” and “Stupid Boy,” for example.  Your best bet for getting a Keith Urban cut is probably to bring him something he records but doesn’t typically write himself.  The same goes for most artists.

4.  Is it a quality recording?

I’ve gotten cuts from demos.  I’ve gotten cuts from good guitar/vocals.  But unless it’s something I wrote with the artist, I’ve never gotten a cut off a worktape.

There are writers that can pitch a worktape, but they’ve had enough success that the listener expects to hear a great song because of who wrote it.  Also, they can probably play it directly for the artist or producer.  Depending on how close you are to the project, your song may have to get past an A&R intern, a production assistant, and who knows who else before it can get to someone who can give you the “Big Yes.”

I personally don’t count on every person in that chain to be able to hear through a worktape- especially when it’s sandwiched between great-sounding demos.

5.  Is this song a step into the artist’s future?

Right after Brad Paisley hit with “The Fishing Song,” he got blasted with fishing songs from everywhere.  Notice how he STILL hasn’t put another one out as a single?  I’m sure he didn’t want to get pigeonholed as the fishing guy (although that was an important part of his brand at the time).  Besides, he can write a great fishing song on his own- he doesn’t need to pay me for mine when he can make money on his.

Successful artists evolve over time.  Plenty of writers will be pitching them their LAST hit.  You need to pitch them their NEXT hit.

6.  Is this a great song?

I’ve made the mistake of pitching songs that were the right brand, but just “okay.”  It’s like kicking a field goal perfectly straight… but five yards short.  No points.  There are too many really good and great songs out there- why would an artist cut yours?  It has to be on-brand AND great.  Never, never, never pitch a song that you know isn’t great.  It’ll reflect poorly on you as a songwriter.  It’ll damage your reputation.  And in this business, reputation is huge.

I hope this list is helpful for you.  It’s not an exhaustive list- each pitch opportunity comes with it’s own particulars.  But I think you’ll be well served to keep these questions in mind.

But what if you don’t have your own pitch contacts?  What if you don’t know any artists or producers? 

Well, you’re probably going to need a publisher.  And I’m happy to give you a shot at meeting one!  I want YOU to join me at Songwriting Pro’s next Play For A Publisher event- and get feedback on YOUR song in person! (No matter where you live.)

If you’re ready to connect with a publisher, I have a path for YOU and YOUR great song to get to a real, legit, successful music publisher, no matter where in the world you live.

On Thursday, December 14, I’m having the next round of Songwriting Pro’s “Play For A Publisher.” Our guest is John Ozier of ole Music.  John has had his hand in a bunch of hits, but the deadline to submit your song is coming up NEXT MONDAY!  DON’T MISS OUT- CLICK HERE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

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.

In Today’s Music Biz, Songwriters Must Have THIS Skill

Hit music publisher, Dan Hodges of Dan Hodges Music, was our most recent Play For A Publisher guest, and he dropped a HUGE value-bomb on us!

It was just too good and too important to keep to ourselves, so I decided to share it.  If you want to become a pro songwriter, read on!

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To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

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At Songwriting Pro’s most recent “Play For A Publisher” event, Dan Hodges was asked about the importance to a publisher of a songwriter being able to play, sing, record their own demos, etc.

His answer was surprising.

Here’s basically (paraphrased) what Dan told us.

In the 1990’s, it was really important for a songwriter to be able to write solo.  That way, you could put that writer in the room with anybody (or nobody), and you were confident that he or she could come out with a good song.

But these days, it’s different.

Now, Dan places a big value on work ethic.  Is the writer a hard worker?  Does he or she show up consistency, putting in the effort and the hours?

Then Dan hit us with something surprising.

It’s really important that the writer is a good hang.  A publisher is always looking to network, and it’s very important that the writer is LIKABLE.  Just like in the ’90’s, when publishers wanted a writer who could go into a room with anyone and come out with a good song, these days, they often want a writer who can go into a room with anyone and come out with a good RELATIONSHIP.

The social aspect of the music business is vitally important.

He told us the story of one of his songwriters.  According to Dan, this writer is a very positive person.  He just makes everyone around him feel good.  This writer recently landed a #1 hit country song, which he cowrote with the artist.

Basically, as Dan explains it, his writer got a #1 not only because he is a good writer, but the artist enjoyed writing with him.  They became friends, and after that relationship garnered 30 or so songs, one of them landed on the artist’s debut album.  It was released as a single, and eventually hit #1.

Now Dan’s songwriter has a #1 hit to go with his winning, positive personality.

Now, here’s my (Brent’s) take on that.

I know some writers who hate to hear these kinds of stories.  They hate to think of the music business as “high school all over again” or a “popularity contest” where only the “cool kids” get the attention.

That’s a loser mentality, and you can’t afford to think that way.  

(Those are my words, not Dan’s, just so we’re clear.)

The music business is FULL of writers with a ton of talent.  It’s full of writers with a good work ethic.  And there are a lot of writers trying to get into the biz who also work hard and have talent.

Bringing a good hang can be worth as much as bringing a good hook.

Why?  Because being a good hang can get you in the room again and again.  Yes, you need the talent.  But once the talent-bar has been cleared, the artist (or hit writer) still has more potential cowriters than they have time for.  So…

What’s going to get YOU in that room instead of someone else?

Be a good hang.  Be likable.  Be someone other people want to be around.

Like it or not, personality matters.  People just have too many options to be stuck spending their time with people they don’t like.

If an artist or cowriter doesn’t HAVE to write with you, it’s your job to make them WANT to write with you.

 

I want YOU to join me at the next Play For A Publisher event- and get great advice and feedback on YOUR song in person! (No matter where you live.)

If you’re ready to connect with a publisher, I have a path for YOU and YOUR great song to get to a real, legit, successful music publisher, no matter where in the world you live.  That’s right- it’s all online, so you can join us from anywhere!

On Thursday, December 14, I’m having the next round of Songwriting Pro’s “Play For A Publisher.” Our guest is John Ozier of ole Music.  John has had his hand in a bunch of hits, but the deadline to submit your song is coming up THIS MONTH!  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

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.

Advice For Songwriters From Hit Music Publisher, Dan Hodges

Hit music publisher, Dan Hodges of Dan Hodges Music, was our most recent Play For A Publisher guest.  And, boy, did he have some great advice for our songwriters!

Wanna know what he said? Read on!

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To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

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If you couldn’t make it to the event or watch the replay, here’s some of the great advice Dan had for us.

Put yourself in the artist’s shoes.  With every song, ask yourself, “If I were an artist on a label, would I want to sing this song every night, saying ‘This is me.  This is who I am.’?”

Go with what you know.  Trends change, but a great story and a melody are always relevant.  Sam Hunt’s “Breakup In A Small Town” may have progressive production, but it still has some brilliant lines (especially the one about the grass growing back where she used to park her car).  That’s great writing.

Show me a “moment” in your song.  Create a moment or paint a picture that draws the listener in.  Avoid having too many generic lines.  Get something tangible in there.

Don’t make the listener connect too many dots.  Country music is a very spelled-out market.  Don’t make the listener work too hard to understand what you’re talking about.

Regarding how progressive a country demo can get:  Anything goes.  Just keep the lyric a country lyric.  But the demo can get “out there.”

Is there an advantage to working with a publisher?  Yes, Dan says.  A publisher will hook up cowrites and help you with networking.  You must have artist/producer relationships, and a good publisher will have those.

Stay away from curse words in a country lyric.  It makes it harder for the song to get cut.

Don’t put the singer in a negative light.  They have to sing the song every night and “become” the character in the song.  Make the main character in the song someone the artist WANTS to be.

I want YOU to join me at the next Play For A Publisher event- and get feedback on YOUR song in person! (No matter where you live.)

If you’re ready to connect with a publisher, I have a path for YOU and YOUR great song to get to a real, legit, successful music publisher, no matter where in the world you live.

On Thursday, December 14, I’m having the next round of Songwriting Pro’s “Play For A Publisher.” Our guest is John Ozier of ole Music.  John has had his hand in a bunch of hits, but the deadline to submit your song is coming up quickly!  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

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.

4 Reasons A Music Publisher Won’t Meet With You (And 1 Thing You Can Do To Change That)

For many songwriters (and possibly you), trying to get a publisher meeting is like trying to get a date with a supermodel.  You know they exist, you cyber-stalk them as best you can… but you can’t find one who will give you the time of day.

Why is it so dang hard to get a publisher meeting?

Here are 4 reasons a publisher won’t meet with you- and one thing you can do to change that.

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To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

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1. Knock, knock… Math.

Publishers simply don’t have enough time to meet with every songwriter who wants some of their time.  Math just dictates that there aren’t enough hours in the workday for every “quick 15 minute meeting” that is asked of them.

Unfortunately, publishers just can’t get to everyone.

Oh, and math also says that the vast majority of songwriters just aren’t good enough to solve the publisher’s problems.  The odds are actually better that you’ll either be needy or crazy and add to their problems.

2. You made a bad (personal) 1st impression.

Maybe the publisher met you out at an event… or the grocery store… and you gave off a creepy vibe when you shoved your CD into her cart alongside her avocados.  Or maybe you reached out through social media and she saw that post where you ranted about how much radio sucks and the songs suck and the artists suck.  Now the publisher has no desire to give you a 2nd chance to make a worse impression.

Yes, unpleasant people might still have a great song.  But a publisher is looking for something more valuable than just one great song.  She’s looking for a great songwriter she can have hits with for years to come.

If the publisher doesn’t like being around you for 5 minutes, she’s sure not excited about being around you for 5 years.

3. You made a bad (musical) 1st impression.

Let’s say a publisher was out at the Bluebird Cafe or The Listening Room to hear one of his writers, and you were in the early round.  If your songs just aren’t exciting to him (too slow, too cliche, too boring, whatever), he’s not going to be in a hurry to sit down with you for a half-hour.

There’s just not a compelling business interest for him to NOT meet with someone else so he CAN meet with you.  After all, publishers know writers tend to play their best stuff out.  So if that’s your best, he doesn’t need to hear any more- at least not until after you’ve worked on your craft for a few more years.

4. The publisher doesn’t know you exist.

Literally.  How can a publisher agree to meet with you if you’ve never stepped into her awareness?  If you and your songs never leave your bedroom in Boise, that publisher meeting is simply NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.  You have to get over your fear or whatever and DO SOMETHING.

Or maybe you’re ready to do something, but you just don’t know the steps to take.  How do you approach a real-deal music publisher in a way that gets his or her attention in a positive way?  Do you have to belong to some sort of private club?  Is there a secret handshake?

Let me introduce you to a legit music publisher.

If you’re ready to connect with a publisher, I have a path for YOU and YOUR great song to get to a real, legit, successful music publisher.

On Thursday, December 14, I’m having the next round of Songwriting Pro’s “Play For A Publisher.” Our guest is John Ozier of ole Music.  John has had his hand in a bunch of hits, but the deadline to submit your song is coming up quickly!  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent 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.

The music biz is a recommendation business.

The music biz has often been called a relationship business – and it IS.  But how you GET those relationships is often a matter of recommendations.

And I want to help you get more of those recommendations.

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To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

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First off, let me tell you about a few referrals and how they have really affected my songwriting career.  Why?  It’s not about me or my story.  I’m not bragging.  I’m sharing because I want to prove to you that recommendations MATTER.

Chad Green, my ASCAP representative at the time, picked up the phone and called Major Bob Music.  He recommended that they listen to my songs.  I ended up signing my first publishing deal with them.

I used to do some gopher / bookkeeping work for a producer in town named Miles.  He recommended I write a young, unknown Canadian singer/songwriter named Aaron Goodvin.  We eventually did, and years later, Aaron helped me land cuts on Canadian artist Drew Gregory and Sony Canada artist, Tristan Horncastle.  Aaron himself is currently an artist on Warner Music Canada.

Separate recommendations by my cowriters, Lisa Shaffer and Brandon Kinney, led to my third publishing deal – a deal with Writer’s Infinity.

A cowriter, Skip Black, brought me in on a cowrite with singer/songwriter, Benton Blount.  (Any time a cowriter brings you in with an artist, it’s a recommendation.)  Benton Blount went on to land a spot in the Top 10 of America’s Got Talent Season 10.  I’ve had several cowrites and cuts on Benton’s indie albums, and I have one in the can for his upcoming Pacific Records debut.

I met radio host and record promoter, Jay Karl, several years ago.  He liked my song “Armadillo,” and recommended it to one of his artists, Junior Gordon.  Junior recently released it as a single in Texas, and “Armadillo” has reached the top 10 on the Texas Regional Radio Chart.

One of the major values of relationships is the recommendations they generate.  And the relationship doesn’t have to be with the artist or producer.  Jay Karl was just a total stranger who wanted to do a short interview for a radio show.  I didn’t think it would lead to anything other than me feeling important and cool for a few minutes.  Sure didn’t think it would lead to a successful Texas single.

Miles was just a guy who needed some part-time help putting his receipts in Quicken, and Aaron Goodvin was just a kid from Canada.  Aaron was a good guy, and I could tell he had real hustle, but I didn’t think he’d end up as an artist on Warner Canada (all my Canadian friends need to go buy his album, by the way).

It’s not enough to JUST have a relationship.  Your contact has to do more than just know you or be aware of your existence.  They have to have a reason to make a recommendation – either TO you for FOR you.  And those reasons usually fall into one of two broad categories.

They want to help themselves.

If a cowriter brings you in to write with an artist because they know you’ll kill it… and you DO kill it… who comes out looking cool?  Your cowriter who hooked it up!  He or she gets to be the one who “made it all happen.”  Plus, he benefits from being part of a better song.  He also strengthens his ties with the artist.

If a publisher hooks you up to write with a pro, it’s because they hope you either already have “the goods” or they can help you develop “the goods.”  Why?  So they can publish your hits, that’s why!

Your relationships are definitely NOT gonna hook you up if they think it’ll make them look bad to their friends or bosses.  Why should they?  Even if you’re friends and he wants to help you, what’s the point?  If you don’t have the skills or personality to take advantage of the opportunity, you might feel good in the moment, but all you’ll really accomplish is wasting someone’s time and hurting your reputation.

To help someone else.

Sometimes your contact will hook people up or pass along a song with little or no self-interest.  Maybe they think you’ll be a great cowriting team or just good friends.  Or he knows Artist X needs a hit, and he believes your song is it.  So he passes it along.

Your contact may not have any direct financial stake in that recommendation.  But he or she will still benefit from the good will and hero status a successful recommendation can bring.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.

I’ll be honest, I would LOVE to hit hero-status as part of YOUR songwriting journey.  I want to be part of YOUR success story.  And you know what?  I also want to be part of the success stories of my publisher friends.  I want to help you get your best songs heard, and I want to help my publisher friends find great songs.

Which leads leads me to a cool opportunity…

I’m hosting Songwriting Pro’s Play For A Publisher event in September.  Our guest will be Dan Hodges, who publishes hits such as “Good Directions” for Billy Currington and “Dibs” for Kelsea Ballerini.  But the deadline to apply for this event is AUGUST 31!

CLICK HERE to learn more and submit your song before it’s too late.

Dan Hodges will be joining us for our next Play For A Publisher event in September!  He’s a successful publisher and owner of Dan Hodges Music in Nashville, Tennessee.  Tickets are on sale now, and space is limited.  And the deadline to enter is AUGUST 31!  CLICK HERE to check out all the details and submit YOUR song for Dan!

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent 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. SWP 4

Do You Have Songwriting “Shambition?”

“Shambition” – noun.  “When you talk like you have songwriting ambition, but you work like you couldn’t care less.”

It’s time to take a hard look in the mirror.

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To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

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Statements of ambition are all over social media.  Writers and artists talk about hustle.  They talk about grind.  They talk about chasing the dream.  They share quotes over pictures of lions.   But then they sit down and binge watch Netflix.  That’s not ambition.  That’s shambition.

It’s easier to CATCH the newest season of your favorite show than it is to CHASE your dreams.

But it sure isn’t as productive.

It’s time for your reality check.  Are you writing checks with your mouth (or your Instagram) that your work ethic can’t cash? Is your hustle as big as your dreams?  Because, if it’s not, your dreams probably are NOT going to come true.

Are you happy enough playing the part of struggling songwriter or a songwriter “on the rise” that you don’t REALLY feel the drive to put in the extra hours it would take to make real progress? Do you like it when people say you’re so brave for chasing your dreams… but you’re secretly too scared to pick up the phone and call a publisher?

Right now, there’s a certain amount of comfort in struggle.  Some people will admire you for your big dreams and for not giving up.

Maybe you’re a little TOO comfortable with the struggle.

Struggle might just be your comfort zone.  After all, right now you have a psychological escape hatch:

“If I never REALLY try, I never REALLY fail.”

But is that who you want to be? Fear and comfort are your enemies.  Don’t let either one have too much space in your life.

So… are you guilty of “shambition?”  Are you talking the talk but not walking the walk?  When was the last time you finished a song?  Or played a new one for somebody?  Or contacted a publisher or a potential cowriter?  When was the last time you took a step out of your comfort zone?

I’m not saying you’re a fraud if you don’t quit your job tomorrow, pack up the car and move to Nashville, New York or LA.  I’m not saying it’s time to carpet bomb Music Row with your demo.  But I bet it’s time for you to do something you’ve been putting off.

Replace #Hustle with REAL hustle.

Not sure what your next step is?  Well, maybe it’s time to let a music industry pro hear your songs.  Maybe your songs are ready.  Or maybe you’re just ready to step out and take a chance.  If that sounds like you, I have a cool opportunity for you.

I’m hosting Songwriting Pro’s Play For A Publisher event in September.  Our guest will be Dan Hodges, who publishes hits such as “Good Directions” for Billy Currington and “Dibs” for Kelsea Ballerini.

CLICK HERE to learn more and submit your song.

Dan Hodges will be joining us for our next Play For A Publisher event in September!  He’s a successful publisher and owner of Dan Hodges Music in Nashville, Tennessee.  Tickets are on sale now, and space is limited.  CLICK HERE to check out all the details and submit YOUR song for Dan!

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent 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. SWP 4

Great Songwriting Advice From Hit Music Publishers!

Play For Pub

Here are some great lessons from our most recent Play For A Publisher Events!

So far, I’ve had the honor of hosting four great “Play For A Publisher” events.  Our guest publishers, Tim Hunze of Parallel Music  and Chris Oglesby of BMG Music on Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee, have dropped some major value bombs. Today, I’d like to share some of the best takeaways from these evenings.

TIM HUNZE: PARALLEL MUSIC

There are a TON of hooking-up songs in country music right now. I have a ton of those songs in my own catalog. Ideas are key. Take your ideas to a different level.

Artists want songs that are easy to memorize.

Bring your “voice” to your songwriting.

I’m a “title freak.” If you have a great title, I’m already interested.

Don’t just sit in the same situation for the whole song. Have some sort of resolution or journey.

If you can demo it, do it.  Much of what is coming to me has at least a track or loop of some sort.  Most of my writers are writing with track guys. That said, if you’re not in the industry full time, a guitar/vocal will work. A great song will get through.

What’s the “WHY” of your song? Why are you sharing this song/story with the listener? Why should the listener care about hearing your song?

Keep writing up-tempo. I still get 10-to-1 ballads. Even from pro Nashville writers. I always need up tempo.

In songwriting, most of the time girls like sensual more than sexy. So don’t just talk at her, paint her into the scene.

Challenge yourself to come up with a new idea. A unique spin on an old thing. I listen to 100+ songs a day, so ideas, melodies, lines, titles, all need to be fresh.

Sometimes songwriters forget that they know more than the listener- and they don’t get enough of the important information out of their heads and onto the page. As a result, the listener is either confused or emotionally disconnected from the song.

There’s value in bringing a “change-up” song to a publisher or A&R person- a song that’s great but not “the usual.” Even if it’s not exactly what they need, it’ll be a breath of fresh air. (As long as the song is killer, of course.)

If you have a stale melody, the best lyric in the world won’t be heard.

How do songwriters get songs to a guy like him? Events like Play For A Publisher, NSAI, PROs (ASCAP, SESAC, BMI), attorneys…

 

CHRIS OGLESBY: BMG MUSIC

Classic country is pretty fresh right now because everything is so pop. I like to play things that stand out.

When songs are really good, sometimes it’s just about finding an artist that relates to it the most.

After a while, the “trick” of a lyric is over. We get how clever your idea is. Now just focus on the relationship in the 2nd verse. The “tricky” chorus will bring us back. Focus on the takeaway of the song. Everything points to the big takeaway. Focus on the takeaway, not the vehicle for the takeaway. (In other words, don’t get so clever with your theme or gimmick that you forget the heart.)

A song must connect on BOTH a lyrical and emotional level.

Mentioning things like “texting” or other in-the-moment technology (“Facebook” “MySpace”) is a red flag in a song. Those things can make a song obsolete overnight or keep it from aging well.

Just because a line is cool so say, it still has to sing well. Singability is huge!

Sometimes writers get so busy “writing the story” using all kinds of clever craft- that they forget to just TELL the story. Don’t get so much in your head that you forget the heart.

Assume the girl you’re singing about is in the audience and listening.  Especially when it’s a positive love song, make sure to weed out the lines that might offend her.  Just assume she’ll take things the wrong way.

Be sure that it’s clear from the beginning of your song who you’re singing to.  Don’t take me out of the song by making me try to figure it out.

Play songs for publishers that YOU love.  Don’t just play what you THINK the publisher will love.  After all, you probably don’t really know the publisher personally, so you don’t really know what they’ll like.  But songs that YOU love will tell the publisher a lot about YOU, and that’s valuable.

If YOU’D like your chance to play YOUR song for a real-deal Music Row publisher, I have good news!

Our next Play For A Publisher event is in September with hit publisher, Dan Hodges!  Tickets are on sale now, and space is limited.  CLICK HERE to check out all the details and submit YOUR song for Dan!

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

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.

SWP 4

4 Ways Your Songs Are Confusing Your Listeners

You might have the best idea in the world, but you can still screw it up if you confuse the listener.  If you don’t write your song clearly, you’ve just wasted your best song idea.  Let me help you avoid that.

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To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

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Last week, I covered WHY it’s devastating to confuse your listener, and I revealed the #1 cause of confusion: the curse of knowledge.  (CLICK HERE to read that post.)  Now let’s dive into some of the ways that the curse of knowledge can show up in your lyrics and confuse (and lose) your listener.

1. Too Many Characters

If the listener has to keep up with the singer, the singer’s new love, old love, mom and baby sister, they’re going to get confused.  I don’t care how carefully you craft the lyric, the more characters you put in your song, the more chance you have that the listener will get confused about who’s doing what.

Fix:

Trim the fat.  Cut out any character that isn’t absolutely essential.  Focus your story more.  Maybe combine multiple characters into one or two to simplify things.

2. Overlapping Pronouns

If you’re singing ABOUT your new love and ABOUT your ex-love, they’ll both end up being referred to by the same pronoun: “he” or “she.”  The listener may get confused about which “he” or “she” certain lines are talking about.  And just like in real life, it’s awkward when people confuse your ex-love with your current love.  Yikes!

Fix:

Sing TO your new love and ABOUT your ex-love.  Or vice versa.  That way you will have one “you” and one “he/she.”  And that’s much more clear.

3. Too Much Story

It’s a song, not a novel.  The listener only has so much attention to pay your song.  Remember, most listeners are listening while they’re doing something else- driving, eating, folding laundry, walking the dog, etc.  If your song has too much story, you might be asking too much of your listener.

Fix:

Simplify, simplify, simplify.  Find the smallest “unit of story” (the action within the story) which will get the point across.  Maybe you’re trying to cram two songs into one.  Break them up and just write two songs.

4. Unclear time jumps

Sometimes you might want to do a time jump in your song.  Maybe a character is a teenager in verse one then a twenty-something year old in verse two.  If the time jump isn’t immediately clear, your listener will probably be confused.  “Wait… you had a girlfriend in verse one, and now you’re talking about your wife.  What?”

Fix:

Avoid the time jump altogether if possible.  If you decide to do the jump, just make sure you make it very, very clear at the front end of the jump.  Simplify and clarify.

Remember, when you confuse the listener, you lose the listener.  So it’s important that you get these things right and get your song tight.

If you feel that your songs ARE tight, and you’re ready to take a shot- to play your song for a pro, I have  a cool opportunity coming up for you.

I’m hosting Songwriting Pro’s Play For A Publisher event in September.  Our guest will be Dan Hodges, who publishes hits such as “Good Directions” for Billy Currington and “Dibs” for Kelsea Ballerini.

CLICK HERE to learn more and submit your song.

Dan Hodges will be joining us for our next Play For A Publisher event in September!  He’s a successful publisher and owner of Dan Hodges Music in Nashville, Tennessee.  Tickets are on sale now, and space is limited.  CLICK HERE to check out all the details and submit YOUR song for Dan!

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

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. SWP 4

When You Confuse The Listener, You Lose The Listener!

If you CONFUSE the listener, you LOSE the listener.  And the scary thing is… your songs might be confusing and losing your listeners without you even knowing it.

____________________

To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

_________________________________

First off, does it really matter if the listener gets a little lost and confused by your song?  If it’s hooky and has some cool lines, isn’t that enough?

NO.

If you’re a successful signed artist or writing with that artist, you might have more wiggle room.  Or if you’re an artist in a different genre.  But if  – especially if – you’re a country songwriter, you need to communicate CLEARLY in your songs. I’ve had an A&R rep turn off songs and “pass” because they “got a little confused in the 1st verse.” Getting a song on an album is hugely competitive.  And having your song be a “little confusing” may be just enough reason for the artist or label to turn down your song.

Don’t give the artist or label a reason to turn down your song.

Also, if the song somehow makes it through the gatekeepers and hits the listeners’ ears, it’s not going to be as successful as it could’ve been.  It won’t connect with listeners’ emotions as deeply as it should. If I have to decode what’s going on in your song or ask myself what just happened or what you’re singing about, I end up “in my head.”  But that’s not where my emotions are.  You want the listener to be “in the heart” NOT “in the head.”

So why would you write, record and pitch a confusing song?  Well, that’s the scary thing.  You might not even know your song is confusing.  You might listen to it and it makes perfect sense- to you.  You read the lyrics, and they make perfect sense- to you.  But your listener may cock their head to the side and say, “huh?”  If that’s the case, your songs may suffer from…

The Curse Of Knowledge

This is when you know what happens in the story, or you know what the song is about, but that knowledge doesn’t end up on the page.  Since you know all the details, you can fill in any lyrical blanks in your own mind.  But your listener can’t.

The listener only knows what you actually write into the song.

The curse of knowledge is kind of like making your listener listen to one half of a phone call.  You know the whole conversation but the listener doesn’t.  They’re just confused and frustrated, waiting for you to hang up so you can tell them why you were so excited, sad or whatever.

Basically, you’re leaving out vital pieces of information that your listener needs in order to connect with and understand your song.

So how do you overcome the curse of knowledge in your songwriting?

Sometimes it helps to put the song away for a while before coming back to it with fresh eyes and ears.  Practice helps.  Write more and more songs and keep asking yourself, “Is all the necessary information ON THE PAGE?”

But it can still be tricky to catch the curse of knowledge.  Even playing it for friends and family may not be good enough.  Maybe, since they know you, they’ll know what you’re talking about.  Or they’ll understand the basic point of your song without pointing out the “small confusions” which are “cut-killers” on a professional level.

Sometimes you need to play your songs for a professional.

And if you’re ready to take a shot- to play your song for a pro, I have  a cool opportunity coming up for you. I’m hosting Songwriting Pro’s Play For A Publisher event in September.  Our guest will be Dan Hodges, who publishes hits such as “Good Directions” for Billy Currington and “Dibs” for Kelsea Ballerini.

CLICK HERE to learn more and submit your song.

Dan Hodges will be joining us for our next Play For A Publisher event in September!  He’s a successful publisher and owner of Dan Hodges Music in Nashville, Tennessee.  Tickets are on sale now, and space is limited.  CLICK HERE to check out all the details and submit YOUR song for Dan!

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

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. SWP 4