Tag Archives: Byron Hill

6 People Who Can Introduce You To Songwriting Pros

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, at lunch in midtown, and out at songwriter nights.  But how do you connect?

Maybe someone can introduce you.

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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 know.  Easier said than done, right?  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 a membership representative.  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 the 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.

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 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 bringing both sides value and being in the room, too.  And “great idea” + “pro songwriter” increases his chances 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 songwriter.  Don’t abuse your friendships, but do be on the lookout for opportunities to meet those pros.  Maybe it’s at a kid’s birthday party.  Maybe it’s at a Christmas party.  You never know.  Just be aware of the situation, and act appropriately.  And be patient.  Nobody wants a CD slammed in their hand at the neighborhood swimming pool.

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 making yourself happy, 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!  Now… on to #6!

6. Frettie & Songwriting Pro

That’s right, part of the mission of Frettie.com and Songwriting Pro is to connect YOU to the pros.  I don’t want to just give you ADVICE, I want to give you ACCESS.

 

Every quarter, I host Frettie’s “Know The Row,” with an industry pro.  And our next event is coming up in February with hit songwriter, Byron Hill!

This is your chance to sit down face-to-face (online) with a real-deal professional songwriter. Since moving to Nashville and signing his first publishing deal in 1978, Byron’s songs have generated more than 700 recordings, and have been released on ninety-one industry certified Gold and Platinum albums and singles!  Wow.

You and I BOTH want to learn what Byron has to share.

Here’s the deal.  You can join us online from anywhere in the world on Thursday, February 8, 2018 from 7pm-8pm Central time.  And this special event is FREE to members of Frettie.com!  (But don’t worry- you can still purchase a ticket even if you don’t want to take advantage of all of Frettie’s membership benefits.)

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS & MEET HIT SONGWRITER BYRON HILL.

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, a #1 in Canada & a top 10 in Texas… so far.

5 Things You Must Know To Become A Songwriting Pro

Nobody can provide you with an exact roadmap on how to get from being an amateur songwriter to being a professional songwriter.  But here are five things you must know – and act upon – if you want to go pro.  Read on!

________________________________

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

_________________________________

1. Nobody turns pro alone.

You have to build a network.  Songs move from hand to hand (or inbox to inbox) and into the right hands based on relationships.  These relationships can range anywhere from business acquaintances to best friends.  You MUST get to know people, and they must get to know your music.  Knowing the “right people” isn’t cheating.  It’s a vital part of succeeding as a pro songwriter.

2. “Professional” means your songs earn money.

In order to earn money, your songs have to have value in the market.  At the end of the day, some artist wants to record them, and a bunch of fans want to buy them.  To become a full-time songwriter or to get and keep a publishing deal, your songs have to earn income.  Your job is NOT to write songs.  Your job is to write songs that make money.

3. Songwriting is NOT your hobby – it’s your business.

If you treat it like a hobby, that’s all songwriting will ever be for you.  Just a hobby.  And that’s fine, if that’s your goal.  But if you want it to be a business, you have to act like a professional.  You have to treat it like a business.  The serious songwriters are the ones who get the serious cuts.

4. Good enough isn’t good enough.

To break into the biz, your songs can’t be “just as good as” the worst stuff on records and radio.  If an artist wants to cut mediocre songs, they’ll cut THEIR OWN mediocre songs, or their buddy’s or their producer’s.  Your song has to compete against everybody else’s BEST songs.

5. You WILL have to sacrifice.

The professional songwriters are the ones who have been willing to sacrifice.  They came home from their day jobs and picked up the guitar instead of the tv remote.  They spent their Spring Break in Nashville instead of at the beach.  They left family to move to Nashville.  They waited tables – even though they had a masters degree – just to be where the music is.  They don’t just TALK like they want success.  They WORK like the want success!

But you don’t have to just take my word for it.  If you REALLY want to go pro, you need advice from as many pro songwriters as possible.  And I have good news for you.

I’m gonna hook you up with an awesome multi-hit songwriter.

In February, I’m hosting Frettie’s “Know The Row” with hit songwriter, Byron Hill!  This is your chance to sit down face-to-face (online) with a real-deal professional songwriter. Since moving to Nashville and signing his first publishing deal in 1978, Byron’s songs have generated more than 700 recordings, and have been released on ninety-one industry certified Gold and Platinum albums and singles!  Wow.

You and I BOTH want to learn what Byron has to share.

Here’s the deal.  You can join us online from anywhere in the world on Thursday, February 8, 2018 from 7pm-8pm Central time.  And this special event is FREE to members of Frettie.com!  (But don’t worry- you can still purchase a ticket even if you don’t want to take advantage of all of Frettie’s membership benefits.)

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS & MEET HIT SONGWRITER BYRON HILL.

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, a #1 in Canada & a top 10 in Texas… so far.

7 Ways Songwriters Can Stay Motivated

Whether you’re an amateur songwriter hoping to “go pro” or you’re a young pro trying to break through to the next level, a key element of success is simply to keep going.  But that isn’t always easy.

For every person pulling a U-Haul into Nashville, there’s someone moving back home because they just don’t have the heart anymore.  So, how do you give yourself the best chance to keep going?  Here are a few ways.

________________________________

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

_________________________________

1. Connect with your “why.”

If you don’t have a clear understanding of WHY you write, it’s really hard to answer the dark-valley question, “Why should I keep trying?”  When the music biz knocks you down (and it will), you need to know why getting up matters.  Maybe not why it matters to the world, but at least why it matters to YOU.

Maybe you write because you know that’s how you’re wired, and you’ll go crazy if you abandon it.  Maybe you write to leave a legacy of song for your children’s children.  Maybe you write to share life lessons- to remind yourself as well as others of hard-earned truth.  Maybe it’s to prove to yourself that you can do it.  Or maybe you write to make people smile for three minutes in an often heartbreaking world.

Whatever drives you to write, you should have a clear picture of it.  The “why” is what will give you a reason to dust yourself off and get back in the arena.

2. Celebrate the small victories.

Don’t ignore or downplay the small victories- especially early in your journey.  Be grateful.  Let the little victories give you confidence and fuel for the journey.

These are YOUR victories.  They don’t have to meet anyone else’s standards of what’s worth celebrating.

For a few years, some buddies and I passed around a football- a “game ball” – when we’d have a music victory.  It got passed around for everything from indie cuts, publishing deals, big cowrites, 1st demo sessions, and more.  Those weren’t the victories that the biggest writers in town were probably celebrating, but they were new, positive steps for us.  It gave us a reason to celebrate together.  We also had a friendly rivalry going, because each of us wanted to “get the game ball” back on our own mantles!

3. Connect with a supportive community.

We all need people who encourage, support, and believe in us.  They can be online or face-to-face, family or friends, cowriters or non-songwriting creatives.  It doesn’t matter who they are, just that they will support you.  And be sure and support them, too!

If you’re looking for a supportive community, I suggest the Songwriting Pro Facebook Group and Frettie.com.  I host both groups, and I love watching songwriters like you making progress and earning new victories on your songwriting journeys.

4. Display visual reminders.

Remind yourself that you’re a songwriter.  Remind yourself of your dreams and goals.  Remind yourself of your victories.  Create a vision board with pictures of your songwriting-dream-come-true.

Get a good song review from a community like Frettie.com?  Print it out and hang in your writing space!  Score an indie cut?  Congrats!  It doesn’t matter if it goes gold, platinum or plywood- get a CD frame and hang it up to remind yourself that someone likes one of your songs enough to record it.

Also, keep your guitar and/or writing notebook out where they’re visible – and available.  Don’t keep them hidden in a closet or a drawer somewhere.  You’re a writer.  Don’t let yourself forget that.

5. Pace yourself.

This is a marathon, not a sprint.  Be persistent, but be patient.  You have to find a family/money/music balance that is sustainable over the course of years, not just months.

It might mean you can’t quit your day job just yet.  Maybe you can only write one night a week for now.  Sure, we all want instant gratification, but patience pays off.

Be patient.

6. Protect a positive attitude.

To stay in it for the long haul, you have to believe success is possible, and a lot of belief simply comes from your mind-set.

Seeing the glass as half-empty will cause your dreams to die of thirst.

Watch what comes out of your mouth.  Not only does what you say reflect what’s in your heart, it reinforces it.  Practice speaking positively- strengthen that part of yourself.

Had a bad publisher meeting?  Don’t focus on the disappointment.  Focus on what you were able to learn from that meeting (even if all you learned is that you have more to learn).  Get a song to an artist, but they didn’t record it?  Focus on the fact that you were able to actually get a song heard!  I bet that wasn’t always the case.  So you’ve made progress!

7. Make a new connection.

Yes, we’d all love to suddenly become best buddies with <insert your favorite artist or songwriter>.  But that’s probably not going to happen today or tomorrow.  But who CAN you reach out to?  Where can you become a blip on someone’s radar and begin to build a relationship?

The music business is based on both music AND relationships.  Sometimes when then music isn’t working like we’d hope, we can keep some forward progress by focusing on relationship-building.  “Well, Publisher X didn’t love my song, but I got to meet Hit Writer Z this week!”

And you know I don’t like to throw out suggestions without providing an opportunity to put them into practice.  So I have a really great opportunity coming up for you!

In February, I’m hosting Frettie’s “Know The Row” with hit songwriter, Byron Hill!  This is your chance to sit down face-to-face (online) with a real-deal professional songwriter. Since moving to Nashville and signing his first publishing deal in 1978, Byron’s songs have generated more than 700 recordings, and have been released on ninety-one industry certified Gold and Platinum albums and singles!  Wow.

You and I BOTH want to learn what Byron has to share.

Here’s the deal.  You can join us online from anywhere in the world on Thursday, February 8, 2018 from 7pm-8pm Central time.  And this special event is FREE to members of Frettie.com!  (But don’t worry- you can still purchase a ticket even if you don’t want to take advantage of all of Frettie’s membership benefits.)

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS & MEET HIT SONGWRITER BYRON HILL.

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, a #1 in Canada & a top 10 in Texas… so far.

Bring One Of These To Your Next Cowrite (Or You’ll Be Sorry)

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

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.

________________________________

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 _________________________________

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.

This time, 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 artist, 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 Tom Douglas).  “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 sometimes 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 or artists 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, in the month of January, I’m hosting a transformative online songwriting event called, “Building A Hit: From Blank Page To Finished Lyric.” In this powerful 4-week online workshop, I reveal: How to find great song ideas. Kill writers block and fill up that blank page again and again.  Always have an answer for, “So… got any ideas?” How to focus your ideas for maximum impact. Don’t waste any more great ideas by leaving them under-developed or confusing. How to frame your ideas for maximum commercial appeal. Having a great, compelling idea isn’t enough. You have to build your song in a way that an artist will want to sing it and an audience will want to hear it. How to finish your song. Stop leaving your best ideas unfinished! Nobody loves a song they never hear, and a song that’s only 99% finished will never get recorded, get on the radio, or change your life.  Stop leaving your success to gather dust, unfinished, in some old notebook. If you want to join me on a journey that will help you think and write like a pro songwriter, click on the link below. Spots are limited for this event, and I only host it twice a year. Miss out, and it’s gone for another 6 months. Don’t delay- THE DEADLINE TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT IS THIS SATURDAY!

DON’T MISS OUT- CLICK HERE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY.  THE DEADLINE TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT IS SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30!

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, a #1 in Canada & a top 10 in Texas… so far. SWP 4

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

_________________________________

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.

SWP 4

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

cropped-SWP-2.jpg

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?

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.

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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?

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

The Value Of A Songwriter/Producer Relationship

Man vs Row

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.

Everyone tells you about the value of writing with an artist/writer. And, true enough, those can be very valuable relationships. Write a great song with an artist/writer, and you have a direct path to a cut.

There’s another type of “slash” that has a lot of value, too. That’s the writer/producer.

Whereas a writer/artist gives you direct access to that particular artist, a writer/producer can give you direct access to several artists. Here are a few of my experiences with writer/producers.

Byron Hill is a hit songwriter with multiple #1s and a ton of cuts. He’s also produced Gord Bamford’s first several albums. Gord’s a big star in Canada, and he and Byron have cowritten a lot of his songs. Because of my cowriting relationship with Byron, I was able to write with both of them, leading to 3 cuts and 1 #1 hit / Single Of The Year in Canada.

Aaron Goodvin is a young songwriter/producer. As a songwriter, he’s recently gotten cuts on Luke Bryan, Jon Pardi, and Cole Swindell. He’s also starting to produce some artists back home in Canada. He and I’ve been friends and cowriters for several years, and he brought me in to write with an artist named Drew Gregory. We wrote a song called, “Five String.”

Drew actually didn’t cut that song, but it WAS cut by another artist, Tristan Horncastle, that Aaron was producing for Sony Canada. Drew ended up cutting a different song of mine, “Farm Hands,” which he heard through Aaron.

Like I said, one writer/producer can link you to several artists.

Another buddy of mine is Brian Hitt. I’ve written songs with him that have landed on some of his projects including a Canadian Christmas single and 3 songs on a Christian kid’s album for Brentwood Benson, a big player in the Christian music space.

Here’s another advantage of writing with a writer/producer: if they have a home studio, you can get great, cheap demos of your cowrites. Bonus!

My writer/producer relationships have been an important and valuable part of my network. They might be worth giving some focus as you build your network, too.

What do you think?  What are YOUR thoughts on writer/producer relationships?  Have you had success with that on a smaller or larger scale?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

God Bless,

Brent

A GIFT FROM BRENT

Thanks to those of you who have already downloaded my book, Hit Songwriting: How A Songwriting Coach Can Fast Track Your Success! You made it an Amazon bestseller in both the Songwriting and Music Instruction categories, and I really appreciate it! However, if you haven’t downloaded your copy yet, you can get it FOR FREE at www.GiftFromBrent.com or by clicking on the image below. Enjoy!

Gift From Brent Songwriting 3

 

Single Of The Year… Now What?

Gord When Lips Single

I was blessed to be a cowriter on “When Your Lips Are So Close,” which recently won “Single Of The Year” at the 2014 Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMA). I wrote the song with the artist, Gord Bamford, and his co-producer, Byron Hill. I’ve written three songs with them, and Gord has cut each of them. Three cowrites= 3 cuts, 1 #1 single, 1 gold single, 2 CCMA nominations and 1 CCMA win.

Now what?

Thankfully, Gord wants to write again. That’s great. But now that we’ve written a #1 together, now that we’ve had that success, the challenge is to keep my mind right. Possible pitfalls include:

Analysis paralysis.

It’d be easy to lock up creatively. To not write ANYTHING unless I’m sure it’s at least as big of a hit as “When Your Lips Are So Close.” Truth is, we didn’t know “When Your Lips Are So Close” was a #1 when we wrote it. We knew it felt really strong, but that was it. I can’t get trapped into having to think it’s a sure #1 before I’m willing to roll the dice.

Repeating myself.

I also have to avoid the temptation to play it safe by bringing in ideas that are too similar to “When Your Lips Are So Close.” Yes, there are elements of it we’d be wise to bring into another song. But we don’t want to just repeat ourselves. We need to write his NEXT hit, not rewrite his LAST one.

Getting complacent or cocky.

I’ve been blessed to have Gord cut all 3 of our cowritten songs, but nothing is guaranteed. If I just get lazy, thinking on some level, “Oh, he loves all my stuff,” then I won’t bring my best work (while his other cowriters will). Gord deserves better. So does Byron. So does my family.

Identifying these head-game tripwires should help me avoid them (hopefully). Now it’s mainly a matter of carving out enough creative space to be prepared. Then we’ll all just have to hope the muse shows up.

What about you?  What are some head-game tripwires that you run into, or have to actively avoid?  It doesn’t have to be about following up a hit- it could be about “wow, we had a great first cowrite… now what?” or “wow, that was a terrible first cowrite… now what?” I’d love to hear from you!

God Bless,

Brent

READY FOR YOUR SONGS TO BE “CUT/ABLE?”

“Cut/Able: Lessons In Market-Smart Songwriting” is four powerful lessons for songwriters who want cuts & hits, who want to learn how to write commercially marketable songs, & who want their songs to connect powerfully with both fans and Music Row pros.  If you want those results, these lessons can help.  To get a FREE EXCERPT of “Cut/able,” just click on the image below:

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Become an MvR VIP!

If you like this blog and don’t want to miss a single post, or if you want special discounts on Man vs. Row products and services, become an MvR VIP!  Simply enter your email in the “Become an MvR VIP” section on this page.  It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below.   Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it.  I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

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Single Of The Year: Gord Bamford, “When Your Lips Are So Close”

Gord When Lips Single

Hey, ya’ll!

I just wanted to give you an update on my song, “When Your Lips Are So Close,” cut by Canadian artist, Gord Bamford.  Since it was released as the lead-off single from Gord’s “Country Junkie” album in September 2013, it’s had a great run.  It hit #1 in November of 2013, has been certified as a gold single, and was nominated for two Canadian Country Music (CCMA) Awards for Single Of The Year and Songwriters Of The Year.  While it didn’t win Songwriters Of The Year, it DID win Single Of The Year at last night’s CCMA Awards!  Congrats and thanks to Gord and Byron Hill, our cowriter and the coproducer on the project!

With the win last night, I thought I’d re-post this Cut Study for the song.  Enjoy!

God Bless,

Brent

ORIGINAL POST:

I’m blessed to have written Gord Bamford’s new single, “When Your Lips Are So Close.”  Gord is a hit artist on Sony Canada who is nominated for seven Canadian Country Music Awards.  If all goes according to plan, he’s going to debut our song on the 2013 CCMAs.  Today, I’d like to briefly discuss how I got the song cut and what you can learn from it.

I networked my way to the artist.

I started writing with hit songwriter, Byron Hill, back in 2004.  It wasn’t until later that Byron became Gord’s producer.  Because Byron and I had written several good songs together and he trusted my skill and work ethic, he felt comfortable bringing me into a cowrite with him and Gord.

I asked for the cowrite.

Byron and I are buddies, but he and Gord had a good thing going before bringing me in.  I already knew Byron pretty well, but I still used a patient approach to getting in the room.  It took months, but that’s okay.  You want to be persistent, but you don’t want to push too hard and make your contact uncomfortable.  You don’t want to lose the contact.

I did my research.

When Byron said he’d hook up a cowrite with him and Gord, I got copies of all of Gord’s records.  I listened and wrapped my head around Gord’s brand- what he likes to sing about and his lyrical “voice.”  I also talked to Byron about what works well for Gord.

I did my pre-writing.

I started an idea called “On My Best Days” and tailored it for Gord.  Gord and Byron liked the idea and the sketch I brought in, and we finished it.  It was an album cut on Gord’s album, “Is It Friday Yet?”

I didn’t get lazy.

Even though they cut the only song we’d written, I didn’t assume they’d call me up when Gord was writing for his next record.  Every once in a while, I mentioned to Byron how much I’d love to get back with Gord when he was in town to write.  After several months (and a couple of cancelled trips), we were back on the books.

I did more research and pre-writing.

I didn’t assume that Gord wanted or needed more of the same.  I asked Byron what they wanted for Gord’s next album.  Based on what Byron told me, I spent a few hours on my own looking through my ideas and adapting a few for Gord.  I ran them by Byron, and he liked two of them, “When Your Lips Are So Close” and “Nights Like You.”

I focused on the artist’s needs.

Byron and I originally thought “Nights Like You” would be a midtempo, but Gord liked it as a ballad- he thought it would really connect well with his audience.  Well, he’s the successful artist, and nobody knows his fans like he does, so I’m not going to argue with that.  (He cut that song, as well.)  We also worked to make sure “When Your Lips Are So Close” fit where Gord wanted to go and sat really well in his voice.  Thankfully, it worked out.

So, three cowrites with the artist and producer, and three cuts and one single- I’ll take it!  (I wish all my other artist cowrites worked out this well.)  So, here’s what I learned from this experience:

Use patience and persistence in your networking.  Do your research on the artist.  Pre-write.  Don’t get lazy.  Focus on the artist’s needs.  Of course, there are never any guarantees in the music business, but I believe this process gives you a better chance of success.  Good luck!

THANKS!

Thank you so much, Byron Hill and Gord Bamford, for writing with me and doing such a great job on our songs!  I’m honored to be a small part of your success!

www.gordbamford.com

www.byronhillmusic.com

Sept. 17: JOIN MAN VS. ROW IN THE TOP 10!

The listener’s reaction to your song is only as real as the character in your song. This Man vs. Row Top 10 Workshop will focus on W.I.L.L.power.  I’ll teach you tips & techniques to make the characters in your songs come alive and jump out of the radio and into your listeners’ hearts.  To find out more, click on the image below.

MvR Top 10 2

BECOME AN MVR VIP!

If you like this blog and don’t want to miss a single post, or if you want special discounts on Man vs. Row products and services, become an MvR VIP! Simply enter your email in the “Become an MvR VIP” section on this page. It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below. Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it. I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else. Thanks!

Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Facebook: www.brentbaxtermusic.com

Instagram: Man_vs_Row

God Bless,

Brent