Smart songwriters- the ones who are both good at life and good at the long game of the music business, are nice to the “nobodies” they meet.
Because nobody is a nobody. And someday that nobody just might be somebody you wish you knew. Let me give you some examples.
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A lot of songwriters are really focused on “writing up” – cowriting with a big name (or at least bigger name than them) songwriter. They also focus on getting in contact with a current popular artist.
And there’s nothing wrong with that… as long you don’t ignore the “nobodies” around you in the process. These might be the interns at the publishing company, record label, PRO or NSAI. It might be the tape copy guy at the publishing company where you’re starting to get meetings. It might be a songwriter who has some good chops but doesn’t have anything going yet.
Some of these “nobodies” will climb the music biz ladder and come into positions of power and influence. But by then you might’ve missed your chance to forge a connection with them. Or worse, they might remember you as the songwriter who treated them like dirt because you had no use for them. Don’t be that songwriter, because…
Nobody is a nobody.
Did you know that country music star, Faith Hill, was once a secretary for a music publisher? I bet there were some songwriters around town kicking themselves in the 1990’s for not being a little more chatty with that blonde nobody behind the desk.
There are a lot of hit songwriters and major publishers who started off in the tape copy room of a publishing company. How many songwriters who are now looking for a deal wish they’d been nicer to the nobody in the tape copy room?
The people you meet on the way up are the same people you’ll meet on the way down. So be nice.
Back when I was writing for Major Bob Music (2005-2007), there was a young sungplugger there named Jesse Frasure. You know what Jesse’s doing now? He’s producing and writing hits for Florida Georgia Line, Rascal Flatts, Jon Pardi, Meghan Trainor, TobyMac, Billy Currington, Lauren Alaina and more. Thankfully, I wasn’t a jerk to Jesse.
Be nice to that young sungplugger.
A few years ago, I was doing some work for NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International), and I met an awesome young lady named Tali Giles (now Tali Canterbury). I was already a pro songwriter, so I didn’t really “need” Tali for much in her role as Membership Director at NSAI. Guess where she is now. She’s currently at Big Machine Label Group as the Director of A&R Project Management.
Tali’s gonna run this town, and I’m glad I was nice to her.
Here’s another one. I first met Courtney Allen at NSAI. Heck, I can’t even remember what her job was there. Again, I was just hanging out before I’d teach a workshop or special event. She was super-nice, and we’d usually chat for a few minutes.
Courtney is now a creative director at BMG Music, one of the top music publishers in Nashville.
The lesson here is just to be nice. Don’t be so busy looking up the ladder that you forget the CLIMBers next to or below you. This is a people business as much as it is a music business. Did I know those people would ascend to these positions? Is that why I was nice to them? No. I’m not that strategic. I can’t see the future and know who’s going to be in a position of influence 5 or 6 years down the line.
You probably can’t either. So it’s good to get in the habit of just being kind and friendly to everyone. Not only is does it make good sense for your future in the music business, it makes good sense for your life in general. Remember: nobody is a nobody.
So what about YOU? Do you need to be more aware of the “nobodies” around you? What if you don’t even know any “nobodies” yet? Did someone treat YOU like a nobody, only to come knocking on your door after you had some success?
Let me help you meet a somebody who’s already a somebody!
Songwriting Pro’s next Play For A Publisher event is coming up, and our next guest is none other than my former “nobody” contact, Courtney Allen of BMG Nashville. Courtney works closely with hit songwriters Travis Meadows, Wynn Varble, Lucie Silvas, and more. If YOU have the country or pop song, SHE knows what to do with it!
God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,
Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US, a #1 Single Of The Year in Canada, and a top 10 in Texas. His songs appear on 5 industry-certified gold & platinum albums & singles… so far. He also hosts a top-rated songwriting and music business podcast called, “The C.L.I.M.B.” which can be found on iTunes or your favorite podcast app.