Tag Archives: ASCAP

Which PRO should I join – ASCAP, BMI or SESAC?

QUESTION:  I want to be a pro songwriter.  So should I join a Performing Rights Organization (PRO) right now?  Which one should I join- ASCAP, BMI or SESAC?

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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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ANSWER:

First, let me explain (briefly) what PROs do.  Performing Rights Organizations are basically collection agencies.  They collect performance royalties for their songwriter and publisher members.  Performance royalties come from sources including radio airplay, TV/film synch performances, live music venues, and digital sources.

If you get a hit single, it’s the PRO check you love seeing in your mailbox.

In the rest of the world, you only have the choice of one PRO in each country or territory.  However, in the USA, we have 3 PROs: ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.

A songwriter can only be a member of one PRO at a time.

So, should you join one now?  The short answer is “YES” – if you have cuts out there being played on the radio, in bars, in film/TV, etc.  If you’re getting a decent amount of plays (or if you’re a touring act playing originals), you’re earning money – BUT NO ONE IS COLLECTING IT FOR YOU UNLESS YOU’RE A MEMBER OF A PRO.  If that’s not your situation, you’re not in a hurry and I suggest you “shop” PROs patiently.

So, which PRO should you join?

Well, there will be arguments over which PRO pays the most money, which one is best for certain genres, etc.  I suggest you don’t worry about that right now.  After all, if you’re not making money off your music, it doesn’t really matter if one PRO pays slightly better than another.

Join the PRO where you find your champion.

I suggest trying to get meetings at each of the PROs – with different member representatives at each one.  If your songs aren’t good enough, you probably won’t find a champion.  Keep writing.  Keep learning.  Keep getting better.  And keep being professional when you DO have meetings.

Eventually, if you’re friendly and professional and your songs keep getting better, you’ll find a rep who will give you more time, more feedback and may even hook you up with cowriters and/or publishers.

Join the PRO that will help you make money, not one that will ONLY collect your money.

I’ve benefitted from having a champion at my PRO.  Chad Green was my ASCAP rep, and he helped me land my first publishing deal.  (He’s also opened other doors for me, which you can read about with a CLICK HERE.)

Do you have more questions about PROs – what they do, how to get a meeting, or how to get a 2nd meeting?  If so, I have a great opportunity for you.

On Tuesday, July11, 2017, I’m hosting an online “Know The Row” event with Senior Creative Director of Daywind Music and former ASCAP rep, Chad Green.  This is YOUR chance to connect with a music industry professional 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

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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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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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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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

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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How One Relationship Can Open Doors All Over The Music Biz

The music business is a relationship business. Yes, it takes great music. But it also takes great relationships. And it’s amazing how just ONE relationship can open up MANY doors of opportunity.

One believer- one champion- can change your career.

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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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I’m friends with Chad Green. I’ve been thinking a lot about Chad lately because I have a “Know The Row” event coming up with him next month. He’s currently the Senior Creative Director at Daywind Music Publishing.

But back in 2004, Chad was a membership representative with ASCAP, my Performing Rights Organization, or PRO.

In our first meeting, he picked up the phone and called Major Bob Music for me. I’d dropped off a comp for them and never heard anything back. This time, after Chad’s call, they listened. That call led to a meeting and eventually led to my first publishing deal.  Thanks, Chad.

Chad also invited me to join ASCAP’s Country Workshop, where I met hit songwriter Byron Hill. Byron’s written “Fool Hearted Memory” for George Strait, “Politics Religion And More” for Sammy Kershaw, “Born Country” for Alabama and more. Byron and I eventually started writing together, and that has led to a few cuts, including “When Your Lips Are So Close,” a #1 Canadian country single and 2014 CCMA Single Of The Year for Gord Bamford. Thanks, Chad.

After Chad left ASCAP, he was Creative Director for Word Music Publishing. He called me up about some cowrites. That’s when I met Brian Hitt and Jay Speight. Together, we’ve had a song called “God Amazing” cut by Charles Billingsley in the Christian market. We also landed a few songs on a Christian children’s album called “K-Tunez Praise.” Side note- it’s fun when I hear my kids spinning that album in their room. Thanks, Chad.

Now Chad is Senior Creative Director at Daywind Music Publishing. So far, he’s introduced me to one of my favorite cowriters, a guy named Jason Wilkes. And Chad is currently working on getting me in the room with a successful country artist for an upcoming project on Daywind. I can’t say who the artist is, but I have a few of his country records, and I’m super pumped for the opportunity.

One industry contact has turned into a friendship and – over time – has led to a lot of good things.  And that’s the lesson for YOU SongPros out there.

Relationships matter. Relationships open doors.

And it’s a two-way street. Chad calls me 1) because we’re friends and 2) he believes in my songwriting chops. He’s not going to bring me in with one of his writers or one of his artists if he thinks I’m going to blow it. After all, he has his own family to feed. He has his own professional reputation to consider.

I’ve made it easy for him to open those doors for me by 1) being a writer he respects and 2) being a friend.

Another lesson: people don’t stay in the same jobs forever. Chad was an ASCAP rep. At that job, he was able to hook me up with a publisher. Later, at a publishing company, he was able to hook me up with cowrites. Now, he also has contacts with a label, and he’s working on hooking me up with an artist.

Think long-term.

They say to make friends BEFORE you need them. I hope you’ll be mindful of making long-term contacts in the music business. And it all starts with a first step.

I have a great first step for you. If you’d like a chance to hang out with Chad Green yourself, we’re doing an online Know The Row event in July.  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!

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.

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It Takes A Lot Of Songwriting Swings To Get A Hit

Don’t give up on your song if the first publisher doesn’t love it. And don’t give up on that publisher if they don’t love your first song. You usually have to swing the bat a lot of times to get a hit. Here are a few of my stories that prove that.

____________________

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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I hope these stories from my songwriting journey inspire you on YOUR journey.  And there are some lessons in this we’ll get to at the end.

*Back before I had any success as a songwriter, I cold-called Major Bob Music, a publisher. They said I could drop off a comp (a comp is a few songs on a CD). I never heard back from them. Months later, a mutual contact in the industry, Chad Green, recommended me to them. We eventually sign my first publishing deal.

*My first meeting at ASCAP was with Mike Doyle. He saw potential in a couple of songs, but he probably forgot about me the minute I walked out of his office. About five years later, he’s my songplugger at Major Bob.

*Years later, a different publisher didn’t believe in my song, “Crickets” enough to demo it. My cowriters did a guitar/vocal, anyway. I pitched it to Joe Nichols’ label. They passed. More pitches. Eventually, it got put on hold for Easton Corbin. Didn’t get cut. Joe Nichols got a new record label. Pitch. Cut. Title track to his album, “Crickets.”

*I had a song idea and lyric called, “Monday Morning Church.” This was back in Little Rock, Arkansas. I showed it to (at the time) my main cowriter. He never did anything with it. I showed it to another potential cowriter. Nothing happened. Then I met Erin Enderlin. She loved it. We wrote it, and Alan Jackson made “Monday Morning Church” a top five hit.

What does this mean for you?

It means you shouldn’t give up!

What if I had given up on “Monday Morning Church” because the first few potential cowriters passed on it? What if I’d given up on “Crickets” because my publisher didn’t love it? What if I had given up on Major Bob Music because they apparently didn’t love the songs I dropped off or because one of their songpluggers didn’t do backflips over me five years earlier?

Nobody will believe in you or your music… until they finally do.

I’ve heard stories of producers who had to hear a song 3, 4 or 5 times on separate occasions before they finally “got it” and cut it. What if those writers had given up after only one try?

The people who succeed in the music business are the ones who don’t give up. I know the feeling. I know it’s frustrating. You write a song that you really believe in… and the first publisher you play it for skips to the next song halfway through the chorus without any comments. Or you finally get that first publisher meeting- and they say you need to “dig deeper.”

It hurts.

But if you want to be a pro, you have to act like a pro. And pros will take an honest look at themselves and their writing. Then they’ll get out the guitars and write another song. Then demo another song. Then pitch another song. Then call another publisher. Eventually, they’ll call the same publisher back. Or they’ll pitch that same song again. Why? Because…

Pros know that their songs probably won’t be “the right song at the right time” the first time.

We also know WE probably won’t be the right songwriter at the right time the first time, either. I sure wasn’t the right songwriter the first time I met Mike at ASCAP. But I WAS the right songwriter at the right time a few years later at Major Bob.

You’ll never hit home runs if you don’t keep swinging the bat.

So, what about you? Is there a song you believe in that’s been passed over? Maybe it’s time someone hears it again. Maybe you’ve been passed over as a writer. Maybe it’s time to put yourself out there again.

Let me help.

I’m hosting Songwriting Pro’s Play For A Publisher event next month. Now that I’ve done a few of these, I’ve seen some cool stuff happen. I’ve seen a songwriter who didn’t make it to one Play For A Publisher – make it to the next. I’ve seen the same song NOT make it to one Play For A Publisher, then make it to the next.

Maybe THIS time is the right time for you. CLICK HERE to learn more, submit your song, and take another swing.

Tim Hunze is coming back to do another Play For A Publisher event in June!  He’s a successful publisher with Parallel 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 Tim!

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.

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There’s only ONE day left!

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The deadline for submitting a song to Songwriting Pro’s “Play For Publisher” event is TOMORROW (Saturday)!

If you’ve thought about submitting a song (or two or three) for the Play For Publisher event, you have until the end of the day tomorrow (Saturday the 24th) to purchase your ticket and reserve your spot.  Details and a link are at the end of the post.

In the meantime, here’s a encore of a recent blog post on the topic.  Thanks!

God bless,

Brent

I used to think my songs were pretty dang good.  Then I played them for a pro. 

Back when I was in Arkansas, writing songs and dreaming of getting cuts and hits, I thought I was a pretty good songwriter.  After all, my main cowriter, Tim Meitzen, liked our songs, and so did many of the people who came out to Tim’s gigs.  Tim just finished an album, and the studio owner / producer had good things to say about the songs – most of which I cowrote.  So I was feeling pretty good about myself.  (The phrase “as good as the stuff on the radio” might’ve been said once or twice.)

Then I played my songs for a pro.

I knew Danny Tate (a little) from back home.  His dad was the minister of music at my church.  Danny was a pro singer/songwriter who’d spent time in both Nashville and LA.  He’d gotten several cuts, his biggest being “Affair Of The Heart” for Rick Springfield in the ’80’s.  He’d also had a record deal and landed at least one video, “Dreaming'” on VH1 during my college days.  So he was no rookie.

Rick Springfield

I sent him some songs, and he was kind enough to listen.  He was also kind enough to be honest.  He gave me some valuable feedback, basically saying that “there’s a whole ‘nother level of songwriting” in Nashville.  Be told me my stuff was okay, but it didn’t meet professional standards.

Ouch.

By Little Rock, Arkansas, standards, Tim and I were doing strong work.  But by Nashville standards, we had a long way to go.  A later trip to meet Mike Doyle at ASCAP confirmed this.  I left that meeting encouraged but  reminded that the bar was set higher than I was reaching.

Those moments were NOT fun, but they were NECESSARY.

I appreciate Danny and Mike.  Their feedback was sometimes frustrating, but it helped me to reach higher.  Their feedback helped me turn pro.

It’s easy to let “the bar” slip down lower than it should.  It’s easy to start judging your work against what your cowriters or other amateurs are writing.  Having your friends and family like your songs and request them can lower the bar.  But “friends and family” is not where the bar is really set.

If you want cuts and hits, you can’t set the bar at “what mama likes.”

Set The Bar

So… how do you “re-set” the bar?  How do you raise your songwriting standards?  Here are a couple ways.

Go to great songwriter rounds.

Open mic nights don’t count.  I’m talking about hitting the later rounds where the pros play.  Yes, it’s fun to hear their cuts and hits.  But pay special attention to their songs that haven’t gotten cut yet.  You’ll hear songs that blow your mind- and it’ll blow your mind that those songs haven’t been recorded yet.  Those great songs?  That’s your competition.

Get professional feedback.

There are some places that offer song evaluations and coaching, and that’s great.  But I’ll be honest- I used to do a bunch of coaching sessions, and it’s easy to start grading on a curve.  A song may sound pretty good when it’s in the middle of a bunch of beginner coaching sessions.  That same song might sound very different if you’ve been listening to pro demos all day.

Your best bet to get an accurate assessment of your song is to get it in the ears of someone who is actively in the trenches.  Play it for someone who has their own songs (or the songs of their writers) judged by the highest standards on a regular basis.

Having a pro re-set your songwriting bar can be uncomfortable.  But it’s worth it.

If you’ve never played your songs for a pro, I encourage you to do it as soon as possible.  If it’s been a while, you’re due for a tune up.

So, how do you get to one of these pros?  Well, there are a few ways… but let me tell you about an event I have coming up.

In October, I’m hosting the first Songwriting Pro Play For Publisher (“P4P”) event.  This is YOUR opportunity to get YOUR song heard by a successful, active music publisher.  And we’re kicking off our first P4P event with a great guest: Chris Oglesby of BMG Chrysalis!  Chris is a 25-year music biz veteran, and he works every day with hit songwriters like Tony Lane, Brett Beavers, busbee, Hillary Lindsey, and more.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT THIS AWESOME 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.

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Is your songwriting bar set high enough?

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I used to think my songs were pretty dang good.  Then I played them for a pro. 

Back when I was in Arkansas, writing songs and dreaming of getting cuts and hits, I thought I was a pretty good songwriter.  After all, my main cowriter, Tim Meitzen, liked our songs, and so did many of the people who came out to Tim’s gigs.  Tim just finished an album, and the studio owner / producer had good things to say about the songs – most of which I cowrote.  So I was feeling pretty good about myself.  (The phrase “as good as the stuff on the radio” might’ve been said once or twice.)

Then I played my songs for a pro.

I knew Danny Tate (a little) from back home.  His dad was the minister of music at my church.  Danny was a pro singer/songwriter who’d spent time in both Nashville and LA.  He’d gotten several cuts, his biggest being “Affair Of The Heart” for Rick Springfield in the ’80’s.  He’d also had a record deal and landed at least one video, “Dreaming'” on VH1 during my college days.  So he was no rookie.

Rick Springfield

I sent him some songs, and he was kind enough to listen.  He was also kind enough to be honest.  He gave me some valuable feedback, basically saying that “there’s a whole ‘nother level of songwriting” in Nashville.  Be told me my stuff was okay, but it didn’t meet professional standards.

Ouch.

By Little Rock, Arkansas, standards, Tim and I were doing strong work.  But by Nashville standards, we had a long way to go.  A later trip to meet Mike Doyle at ASCAP confirmed this.  I left that meeting encouraged but  reminded that the bar was set higher than I was reaching.

Those moments were NOT fun, but they were NECESSARY.

I appreciate Danny and Mike.  Their feedback was sometimes frustrating, but it helped me to reach higher.  Their feedback helped me turn pro.

It’s easy to let “the bar” slip down lower than it should.  It’s easy to start judging your work against what your cowriters or other amateurs are writing.  Having your friends and family like your songs and request them can lower the bar.  But “friends and family” is not where the bar is really set.

If you want cuts and hits, you can’t set the bar at “what mama likes.”

Set The Bar

So… how do you “re-set” the bar?  How do you raise your songwriting standards?  Here are a couple ways.

Go to great songwriter rounds.

Open mic nights don’t count.  I’m talking about hitting the later rounds where the pros play.  Yes, it’s fun to hear their cuts and hits.  But pay special attention to their songs that haven’t gotten cut yet.  You’ll hear songs that blow your mind- and it’ll blow your mind that those songs haven’t been recorded yet.  Those great songs?  That’s your competition.

Get professional feedback.

There are some places that offer song evaluations and coaching, and that’s great.  But I’ll be honest- I used to do a bunch of coaching sessions, and it’s easy to start grading on a curve.  A song may sound pretty good when it’s in the middle of a bunch of beginner coaching sessions.  That same song might sound very different if you’ve been listening to pro demos all day.

Your best bet to get an accurate assessment of your song is to get it in the ears of someone who is actively in the trenches.  Play it for someone who has their own songs (or the songs of their writers) judged by the highest standards on a regular basis.

Having a pro re-set your songwriting bar can be uncomfortable.  But it’s worth it.

If you’ve never played your songs for a pro, I encourage you to do it as soon as possible.  If it’s been a while, you’re due for a tune up.

So, how do you get to one of these pros?  Well, there are a few ways… but let me tell you about an event I have coming up.

I’m hosting the next round of Songwriting Pro’s “Play For A Publisher” soon!  We have these awesome events- with legit hit music publishers- every quarter, and 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.

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You’ll Probably Regret Not Bringing This To Your Next Cowrite

This is an encore edition of a recent blog post.  I’m re-releasing it for two reasons: 1) it’s a really important topic and 2) I have a great opportunity for you at the end of it.  Thanks! -Brent

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Let me tell you a tale of two cowrites, both from my early “pro” days. First… the bad cowrite.

I was signed with Major Bob Music at the time, and “Monday Morning Church” had recently been a top 5 country hit for Alan Jackson.  But in spite of having a publishing deal and a hit under my belt, I was still pretty much a newbie trying to figure things out.  (I still feel that way to be honest.)  Anyway, Major Bob hooked me up to cowrite with a legit hit songwriter.  This guy had many cuts and hits to his credit, and I was honored to get in a room with him.

We met at his publishing company on Music Row.  After a little chit chat, he got that familiar look on his face.

“So… got any ideas?”  No.  Not really.

I mean, I had a bunch of hooks and some ideas, but nothing great.  Nothing I was busting a gut to write.  And I apparently didn’t have anything that impressed him, either.  After I threw out several “shoulder-shruggers,” he said, “Man, we need an idea like ‘Monday Morning Church.'”  Too bad.  I must have left my stack of “Monday Morning Church” ideas at home that morning.

We chatted some more, eventually moving out to the porch where he smoked a cigarette and I watched my hopes of making a good impression going up in smoke.  We called it a day.  I call it a failure of preparation on my part.  We’ve never written again.  For me, I was embarrassed and in no hurry to risk wasting his time again.

Now for the good cowrite.

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I met Byron Hill at Chad Green’s ASCAP Country Workshop.  And, if I remember correctly, Carla Wallace at Big Yellow Dog Music also helped connect us.  We got a cowrite on the books, and I was pumped.  Byron has written a bunch of hits including, “Fool Hearted Memory” for George Strait, “Born Country” for Alabama, “Politics Religion & Her” for Sammy Kershaw and many, many more.

I did my homework.  I pulled together several ideas and lyrics that I thought he’d like.  I really wanted to make a good impression on him. When Byron asked, “So… got any ideas?” I was ready.  He loved a lyric sketch I brought in called, “Ring On The Bar,” and we were off to the races.

This first cowrite led to some success and more opportunity.  While “Ring On The Bar” hasn’t been a big hit yet, it’s been recorded by John Pierce (RCA), James Dupre’ (The Voice), and has been on hold by several artists, including Brad Paisley.

But the big thing is that Byron and I went on to write several more songs together, including the 2014 Canadian Country Music Awards Single Of The Year (and my first #1) “When Your Lips Are So Close” with Gord Bamford.

Good thing I showed up with a good idea on that first day, huh?

And that brings me to the point of these two stories.  I believe that a strong idea is the most valuable thing you can bring to a cowrite (other than Kris Kristofferson).  “Well,” you might say, “how come these big-time songwriters didn’t throw out any of THEIR ideas?”  Here’s why:

A great idea is really the only thing a newer songwriter has to offer a seasoned pro.

Let’s face it, if you get to write with an established pro songwriter, what do THEY need from YOU?

new songwriter offer pro

They have a more valuable name in the business.  They have more connections.  They most likely bring a higher level of songwriting skill.  The only thing they need is a fresh, cool idea or melody.  Unless you’re swinging around a big fat record deal, your job is to bring in the idea or the start of a song.

If the pro has a great idea, he surely has several proven, established cowriters who could write it with him.  Why risk giving 50% of HIS idea to a songwriter who might not contribute very much?

Let me tell you, it’s more fun (and profitable) when you have a strong answer for “got any ideas?” – and I want you to be prepared when that question comes your way.  And that question doesn’t need a good answer ONLY if you get a pro cowrite.  That question comes up in EVERY cowrite.  Every time you step into the writing room, you have the opportunity to blow away your cowriter with a great nugget or idea.

Feeling like I have a stack of strong ideas allows me to walk into any cowrite with confidence.  We might not always write my idea, but I came prepared… and my cowriter knows it and appreciates it.

I want YOU to have that confidence – and those results, too.  I want your cowriters to be glad they showed up to write with you.  But I DON’T want you to have to go through years of trial, error and the occasional embarrassing cowrite like I did!  That’s why I dive deeply into the topic in my upcoming web-workshop series in August called “Song Ideas: From Blank Page To Finished Lyric.”

Blank 2 Finished

This course is designed to take you from a blank page to a new song idea to a fully developed concept to a finished lyric. You’ll learn a repeatable process you can use to discover and develop strong song ideas again and again. And you’ll also learn how to frame and focus those ideas for maximum commercial impact and appeal.

This course is INTERACTIVE! You won’t sit back and just stare at me talking for an hour-and-a-half. You won’t be some number on my dashboard. No. We’ll be face-to-face. You’ll have exercises to practice outside of our sessions. I’ll ask you questions. You can ask me questions. We’re in this thing together. That’s why I keep the workshops small- I want to get to know YOU!

Tickets for this event are on sale NOW. There are only 11 spots open, and I expect them to go fast- so don’t wait too long and miss your chance to take your songwriting to the next level!

I look forward to seeing you in August- CLICK HERE or on the image below to learn more and reserve your spot now!

Blank 2 Finished

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

The Most Valuable Thing You Can Bring To A Cowrite

Man vs. PRO

Let me tell you a tale of two cowrites, both from my early “pro” days. First… the bad cowrite.

I was signed with Major Bob Music at the time, and “Monday Morning Church” had recently been a top 5 country hit for Alan Jackson.  But in spite of having a publishing deal and a hit under my belt, I was still pretty much a newbie trying to figure things out.  (I still feel that way to be honest.)  Anyway, Major Bob hooked me up to cowrite with a legit hit songwriter.  This guy had many cuts and hits to his credit, and I was honored to get in a room with him.

We met at his publishing company on Music Row.  After a little chit chat, he got that familiar look on his face.

“So… got any ideas?”  No.  Not really.

I mean, I had a bunch of hooks and some ideas, but nothing great.  Nothing I was busting a gut to write.  And I apparently didn’t have anything that impressed him, either.  After I threw out several “shoulder-shruggers,” he said, “Man, we need an idea like ‘Monday Morning Church.'”  Too bad.  I must have left my stack of “Monday Morning Church” ideas at home that morning.

We chatted some more, eventually moving out to the porch where he smoked a cigarette and I watched my hopes of making a good impression going up in smoke.  We called it a day.  I call it a failure of preparation on my part.  We’ve never written again.  For me, I was embarrassed and in no hurry to risk wasting his time again.

Now for the good cowrite.

cropped-SWP-2.jpg

I met Byron Hill at Chad Green’s ASCAP Country Workshop.  And, if I remember correctly, Carla Wallace at Big Yellow Dog Music also helped connect us.  We got a cowrite on the books, and I was pumped.  Byron has written a bunch of hits including, “Fool Hearted Memory” for George Strait, “Born Country” for Alabama, “Politics Religion & Her” for Sammy Kershaw and many, many more.

I did my homework.  I pulled together several ideas and lyrics that I thought he’d like.  I really wanted to make a good impression on him. When Byron asked, “So… got any ideas?” I was ready.  He loved a lyric sketch I brought in called, “Ring On The Bar,” and we were off to the races.

This first cowrite led to some success and more opportunity.  While “Ring On The Bar” hasn’t been a big hit yet, it’s been recorded by John Pierce (RCA), James Dupre’ (The Voice), and has been on hold by several artists, including Brad Paisley.

But the big thing is that Byron and I went on to write several more songs together, including the 2014 Canadian Country Music Awards Single Of The Year (and my first #1) “When Your Lips Are So Close” with Gord Bamford.

Good thing I showed up with a good idea on that first day, huh?

And that brings me to the point of these two stories.  I believe that a strong idea is the most valuable thing you can bring to a cowrite (other than Kris Kristofferson).  “Well,” you might say, “how come these big-time songwriters didn’t throw out any of THEIR ideas?”  Here’s why:

A great idea is really the only thing a newer songwriter has to offer a seasoned pro.

Let’s face it, if you get to write with an established pro songwriter, what do THEY need from YOU?

They have a more valuable name in the business.  They have more connections.  They most likely bring a higher level of songwriting skill.  The only thing they need is a fresh, cool idea or melody.  Unless you’re swinging around a big fat record deal, your job is to bring in the idea or the start of a song.

If the pro has a great idea, he surely has several proven, established cowriters who could write it with him.  Why risk giving 50% of HIS idea to a songwriter who might not contribute very much?

Let me tell you, it’s more fun (and profitable) when you have a strong answer for “got any ideas?” – and I want you to be prepared when that question comes your way.  And that question doesn’t need a good answer ONLY if you get a pro cowrite.  That question comes up in EVERY cowrite.  Every time you step into the writing room, you have the opportunity to blow away your cowriter with a great nugget or idea.

Feeling like I have a stack of strong ideas allows me to walk into any cowrite with confidence.  We might not always write my idea, but I came prepared… and my cowriter knows it and appreciates it.

I want YOU to have that confidence – and those results, too.  I want your cowriters to be glad they showed up to write with you.  But I DON’T want you to have to go through years of trial, error and the occasional embarrassing cowrite like I did!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Have you had similar success or failures?  Please leave a comment!

If you want to become a songwriting pro (in how you think, write songs or do business), then a great place to start is RIGHT HERE.  I want to help you on your songwriting journey.  I’ve been in the music business for years, and I’m here to help you get the cuts – and avoid the bruises.  CLICK HERE TO START HERE.

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

How You Can Connect With A Pro Songwriter

Man vs Row

It’s hard to get a cowrite with a pro songwriter if none of them know you exist.

Last time, I wrote about a few people who can connect you to a pro songwriter (to read that post, CLICK HERE).  The last item on that list was simply titled “You.”  Today, I want to dive into some ways that you can reach out to a pro songwriter directly – how to get on a pro’s radar.

1. Industry Events

ASCAP, BMI, NSAI and other organizations host events which are open to the public or to their members.  These events are good places to bump into pro songwriters.  It may be a #1 party, a workshop, or a Christmas party.  Show up, smile, and be friendly.

2. Songwriter Workshops

NSAI, Global Songwriters Connection and other groups often host workshops featuring pro songwriters as teachers, song evaluators, guests, etc.  This is one of the few places where your song can be your first impression.  That’s a great opportunity- if you have a great song!  (To read more about how a great song is the best first impression you can make… READ HERE.)

1st Impression

3. Songwriter Rounds / Shows

Nobody likes to play to an empty room.  Putting your smiling face in the crowd and giving the songwriter an honest compliment after the show will put you in the plus column.

4. Coaching

Okay, I wasn’t going to add this one, because it felt self-serving.  But Andrew Cavanagh called it out in the comments last week, and it does work.  Coaching/mentoring with a pro songwriter, whether paid or not, is a good way to get their attention.  After all, the pro is focused on you (or your small group) for the length of the session.  However, it does NOT guarantee anything more than the hour or whatever of feedback/help the pro and you both signed up for.  Anything extra is a bonus.  A coaching session rarely leads to anything else, so don’t expect it.

5. Online

Does the pro have a blog?  Is he or she active on social media?  Retweeting, liking, sharing, and leaving relevant (non-spammy) comments on their stuff helps you get your name and face in front of them in a positive way.  Again… don’t spam.  Don’t lead with “listen to my song” or “check out my website” or “download my song.”

6. Social Circles

If you live near a major music center (like Nashville, New York or LA), you may have a pro songwriter in the stands at your kid’s ballgame, volunteering at the same charities, or sitting in the pew in front of you at church (but PLEASE don’t choose your place of worship based on which industry people go there).  These places allow you to connect as people first.  And that’s a great way to start.  Let the songwriting stuff come up later.

Okay, so now you’re breathing the same air as pro songwriters.  Congratulations!  Now you have the chance to go from them not knowing you exist to them possibly hating your guts and wishing they’d never laid eyes on you.

That’s right- you’re now in the perfect position to make a bad impression.  Next time, we’ll discuss how to avoid that.

What about you?  Have you had any success connecting with a pro at these events?  Are there other places where you’ve connected?  I’d love to hear your comments!

By the way…

1-to-1 Coaching

Want some personalized help and guidance for your songwriting journey? I’ve just opened up some spots for 1-to-1 coaching. I’m happy to be your “personal pro”- to give feedback on your songs, answer any questions I can, help you develop your song ideas, and discuss goals and “next steps.” I also have some coach-writing spots open. This is when you and I actually write a song together! If you’re interested, CLICK HERE.

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.

Man vs Row

6 People Who Can Introduce You To Pro Songwriters

Man vs Row

Trying to connect with pro songwriters in towns like Nashville can feel like standing knee-deep in a river and dying of thirst.

Pros are all around you- you see them at the coffee shop, walking up and down the sidewalks of Music Row, out at lunch in midtown, and out at songwriter nights.  But how do you connect?

Maybe someone can introduce you.

I know.  Easier said than done.  But here are some people who have the possibility of connecting you to a pro.  By “connecting,” I don’t necessarily mean booking a cowrite.  I mean anything from “Bill Hitmaker, this is Manny Row,” to “Bill, you and Manny should write sometime!” to “Manny, let me book you with Bill.”

1. Your PRO Rep

If you’re a member of ASCAP, SESAC, or BMI, try to get a meeting with your rep.  If you can make a fan out of him (or her), he might connect you with some other up and coming songwriters.  Absolutely blow your rep’s mind, and he might connect you to a pro.

2. A Music Publisher

If a publisher really digs what you do, he/she might book you with some pro cowrites.  Of course, connecting with a publisher isn’t easy.  But I’ve written about that before.  CLICK HERE to learn how to get on a music publisher’s radar.

3. Industry Contacts

Pro songwriters know people at organizations like NSAI.  They hang out there sometimes.  As these folks at these places get to know you (and become a fan of your writing and of you as a person), they may just grab you one day and say, “I want you to meet Bill Hitmaker.  Bill, this is Manny Row…”  Those kind of personal introductions are great.

relationship biz

4. Other Songwriters

Who do your current cowriters and songwriting friends know?  Who are their cowriters?  Maybe you can arrange a lunch or (better yet) a cowrite between the three of you.  But don’t just expect your cowriters to just do you a favor.  Make it easy on them by presenting an amazing idea or melody that you want to write with a pro.  It could be pretty attractive for your cowriter to hook up your amazing idea/melody with an established pro who has connections.  Your cowriter wins by bring both sides value and being in the room, too.  And “great idea” + “pro songwriter” increases his chance of a cut, so he should be happy to get all three of you together.

5. Personal Relationships

If you live in Nashville, odds are you know somebody who knows a pro.  Don’t abuse your friendships, but do be on the lookout for opportunities to meet those pros.  Maybe it’s their kid’s birthday party.  Maybe it’s at a Christmas party.  You never know.

6. You

That’s right, YOU can introduce yourself to pro songwriters.  There are several ways to do this.  As a matter of fact, it’s worth it’s own post.  And that’s exactly what we’ll discuss next Monday.

Please remember that all of these people don’t just exist to solve your problems and make you happy (you don’t even exist for the sole purpose of solving your problems, but that’s for more of a theological post…).  You have to be patient.  Don’t just walk in these folks’ doors and expect them to pick up the phone and call a pro on your behalf.  It’s a big compliment for someone to make a professional introduction.  Treat it- AND THEM- with respect.  Build a relationship.

Hopefully, these folks will become a fan of both you and your songs.  If it’s not happening, keep working to write better songs.  Also, take a look at how you present yourself.  Are you coming off as too aggressive, too negative, too desperate, too unprofessional, etc.?  Every time a person makes a contact/recommendation on your behalf, it’s a reflection on them.  Do your best to make them look good by introducing people to you!

What about you?  Did I miss anyone?  Have you used any of these avenues to meet & connect with a pro?  Have you used different avenues?  I’d love to hear your comments!

By the way…

1-to-1 Coaching

Want some personalized help and guidance for your songwriting journey? I’ve just opened up some spots for 1-to-1 coaching. I’m happy to be your “personal pro”- to give feedback on your songs, answer any questions I can, help you develop your song ideas, and discuss goals and “next steps.” I also have some coach-writing spots open. This is when you and I actually write a song together! If you’re interested, CLICK HERE.

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.

Man vs Row