Tag Archives: Play For Publisher

Congrats To Our December 2017 “Play For A Publisher” Winners!

Congratulations to our newest “Play For Publisher” Top Ten songs and songwriters!

First of all, BIG thanks to each of you who took a chance, took positive action, and submitted one or more songs to the “Play For Publisher” event with John Ozier of Ole’ Music.  Ya’ll are just plain awesome.

Out of over 200 songs, it took a while to whittle it down to just 10.  We have country songs, pop songs, cowrites, solo writes, male songs, female songs, full demos and a worktape!

There were a lot of worthy songs sent in, and I felt bad about leaving so many out.  If your song wasn’t chosen this time, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good song.

By the way, here’s a little about HOW I pick these songs.  Brave, awesome songwriters like you sent in your song or songs.  I downloaded them and listened – BEFORE I looked at who the writers are.  I picked the Top 10 and On Hold songs, THEN I looked up who wrote them.

So these were picked based on the song, not on the songwriter.  As a result… some folks got more than one in the Top 10 and On Hold.  Congrats to them for doing good, consistent work.

You know, one time I turned a song in to my publisher, and they didn’t know what to do with it, so they didn’t want to do anything with it.  My cowriters wanted to demo it, and the publisher said they wouldn’t pay for a demo.

The song was called, “Crickets,” and we got it cut by Joe Nichols.  It’s the title track to one of his recent albums.

joe-nichols-crickets

That’s right.  The song my publisher wouldn’t even pay to demo got cut anyway.  (My cowriters did an out-of-pocket guitar/vocal, and we pitched it ourselves.)

Welcome to Nashville.  So while I listened to each and every song and did my best to pick the ones that have the best chance of catching John’s ear… I could be wrong.  That’s just the way the music biz works.  So if your song wasn’t selected, it doesn’t mean you should give up on it.

Okay, here are the Top Ten (in no particular order):

“Dirty Oar” by Jen Stricker, Mark Maxwell

“Beautiful Ever After” by Joe Slyzelia, Donna King, Emily Kroll

“The Wrong Spirit” by David Micheal, McLamb

“Mom Life” by Heather Evans

“Vintage” by Dave Quirk, Troy Castellano, Victoria Banks

“Nice Tall Glass” by Marla Rubenstein, Tucker Bouler, Betsy Walter, John Cirillo, Dan Reifsnyder

“Indiana” by Daniel Leathersich, David Micheal

“Be Beautiful” by Donna King

“Your Key Still Works” by Jayne Sachs, Joey Ebach

“In The Sand” by Jonathan Helfand, Todd Dickinson

 

(The Songwriting Pro community would LOVE to hear your songs, so if you have a link you’d like to post to your “Top 10” song, please post it in the comments below or in the Songwriting Pro Facebook Group!)

Congratulations!  John and I look forward to hanging out with you on December 14.  (In the days before the event, I’ll email the winners the instructions about the online meeting.)

Like I said, the 10 songs above aren’t the only good ones I had the pleasure of hearing.  There are several more that were put “on hold” for the top 10 songs.  This list could be quite a bit longer, but I’d like to spotlight a few of them, too.  (Ya’ll feel free to link up your songs in the comments or in the Facebook group, too!)

“ON HOLD” songs…

“The Highway” by Mckenna Hydrick

“Quitter” by Troy Castellano, Brett Mandel

“Friday Groove” by Donna King, Joe Sly, Emily Kroll

“Where Will I Be” by Marla Rubenstein, C. Ising, Susan Giacona

“My Brother’s Black Chevelle” by Buck Wild & Penelope Lane

“Summer’s Gone” by Frank Renfordt

“Forget You” by Pat Aureli

“What Could Go Right” by Jayne Sachs, Les Bowe

“Better Believe My Eyes” by Peter Lewis, Tony Hume

“I Wish That I Was Him” by Anthony Quails

These songs, along with others, were in there battling it out with the top 10, so be encouraged!

________________________________

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

_________________________________

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

Congrats To Our September 2017 “Play For A Publisher” Winners!

Congratulations to our newest “Play For Publisher” Top Ten songs and songwriters!

First of all, thank you to each of you who took a chance, took positive action, and submitted one or more songs to the “Play For Publisher” event with Dan Hodges of Dan Hodges Music.  Ya’ll are just plain awesome.

Out of about 200 songs, it took a while to whittle it down to just 10.  We have country songs, pop songs, cowrites, solo writes, male songs and female songs!

There were a lot of worthy songs sent in, and I felt bad about leaving so many out.  If your song wasn’t chosen this time doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good song.

By the way, here’s a little about HOW I pick these songs.  Brave, awesome songwriters like you sent in your song or songs.  I downloaded them and listened in the truck- BEFORE I looked at who the writers are.  I picked the Top 10 and On Hold songs, THEN I looked up who wrote them.

So these were picked based on the song, not on the songwriter.  As a result… some folks got more than one in the Top 10 and On Hold.  Congrats to them for doing good, consistent work.

You know, one time I turned a song in to my publisher, and they didn’t know what to do with it, so they didn’t want to do anything with it.  My cowriters wanted to demo it, and the publisher said they wouldn’t pay for a demo.

The song was called, “Crickets,” and we got it cut by Joe Nichols.  It’s the title track to his last album.

joe-nichols-crickets

That’s right.  The song my publisher wouldn’t even pay to demo got cut anyway.  (My cowriters did an out-of-pocket guitar/vocal, and we pitched it ourselves.)

Welcome to Nashville.  So while I listened to each and every song and did my best to pick the ones that have the best chance of catching Dan’s ear… I could be wrong.  That’s just the way the music biz works.  So if your song wasn’t selected, it doesn’t mean you should give up on it.

Okay, here are the Top Ten (in no particular order):

“One Man’s White Trash (Is Another Man’s Treasure” by Chloe Dolandis, Zach Ziskin

“Park It On The Water” by Donna King, Lee Black, Gina Boe, Riley Roth

“Hang Ten My Friend” by Pat Aureli, Danny Myrick

“The Boy That Once Was Me” by Sam Speirs

“Call Me Drunk” by Troy Castellano, Doug Folkins

“Kids In Love” by Jay Putty, Brian Donkers

“Fifth Of July” by Sarah Spencer, John Cirillo, Dan Reifsnyder

“I In Love” by Lynn Tessari, Terez Goblet

“Ugly Is The New Beautiful” by Jayne Sachs, Hattie Murdoch

“Takes” by Rob Harris, David Rivers, Todd Taylor

(The Songwriting Pro community would LOVE to hear your songs, so if you have a link you’d like to post to your “Top 10” song, please post it in the comments below!)

Congratulations!  Dan and I look forward to hanging out with you on September 18.  (In the days before the event, I’ll email the winners the instructions about the online meeting.)

Like I said, the 10 songs above aren’t the only good ones I had the pleasure of hearing.  There are several more that were put “on hold” for the top 10 songs.  This list could be quite a bit longer, but I’d like to spotlight a few of them, too.  (Ya’ll feel free to link up your songs in the comments, too!)

“ON HOLD” songs…

“Devil You Know”  by Mikalyn Hay, Bobby John, Murray Daigle

“GPS” by Donna King, Riley Roth, Brandon James

“Friday Groove” by Joe Sly, Emily Kroll, Donna King

“Pulling Strings” by Tom Glynn, Kelly McKay

“Magnetic” by Joe Slyzelia, Loralei Ells, John Stanislawski

“Tequila’d” by James Hoppe, Vanessa Welwyn

“Calling Your Bluff” by Lynn Tessari, Ben Woolley, Ajaye Jardine

“Beyond Repair” by Art Dickerson, Parker

“Scotland Whispering” by Sam Spears

“He Is Greater” by Josh Otten

These songs, along with others, were in there battling it out with the top 10, so be encouraged!

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 music biz is a recommendation business.

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

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

____________________

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

Click Here For The Book

_________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They want to help themselves.

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

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

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

To help someone else.

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

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

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

Which leads leads me to a cool opportunity…

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

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

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

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far. SWP 4

Do You Have Songwriting “Shambition?”

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

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

____________________

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

_________________________________

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

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

But it sure isn’t as productive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Replace #Hustle with REAL hustle.

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

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

CLICK HERE to learn more and submit your song.

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

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far. SWP 4

Great Songwriting Advice From Hit Music Publishers!

Play For Pub

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

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

TIM HUNZE: PARALLEL MUSIC

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

Artists want songs that are easy to memorize.

Bring your “voice” to your songwriting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

CHRIS OGLESBY: BMG MUSIC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

SWP 4

4 Ways Your Songs Are Confusing Your Listeners

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

____________________

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

_________________________________

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

1. Too Many Characters

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

Fix:

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

2. Overlapping Pronouns

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

Fix:

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

3. Too Much Story

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

Fix:

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

4. Unclear time jumps

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

Fix:

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

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

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

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

CLICK HERE to learn more and submit your song.

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

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far. SWP 4

When You Confuse The Listener, You Lose The Listener!

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

____________________

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

Click Here For The Book

_________________________________

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

NO.

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

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

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

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

The Curse Of Knowledge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes you need to play your songs for a professional.

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

CLICK HERE to learn more and submit your song.

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

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far. SWP 4

Congrats To Our June 2017 “Play For A Publisher” Winners!

Congratulations to our newest “Play For Publisher” Top Ten songs and songwriters!

First of all, thank you to each of you who took a chance, took positive action, and submitted one or more songs to the “Play For Publisher” event with Tim Hunze of Parallel Music.  Ya’ll are just plain awesome.

Out of about 200 songs, it took a while to whittle it down to just 10.  We have country songs, pop songs, male songs, female songs, and there’s even a worktape!

There were a lot of worthy songs sent in, and I felt bad about leaving so many out.  If your song wasn’t chosen this time doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good song.

You know, one time I turned a song in to my publisher, and they didn’t know what to do with it, so they didn’t want to do anything with it.  My cowriters wanted to demo it, and the publisher said they wouldn’t pay for a demo.

The song was called, “Crickets,” and we got it cut by Joe Nichols.  It’s the title track to his current album.

joe-nichols-crickets

That’s right.  The song my publisher wouldn’t even pay to demo got cut anyway.  (My cowriters did an out-of-pocket guitar/vocal, and we pitched it ourselves.)

Welcome to Nashville.  So while I listened to each and every song and did my best to pick the ones that have the best chance of catching Tim’s ear… I could be wrong.  That’s just the way the music biz works.  So if your song wasn’t selected, it doesn’t mean you should give up on it.

Okay, here are the Top Ten (in no particular order):

“My Shirt” by Mark Maxwell

“You Make It Rain” by Jonathan Helfand, Colin Axwell

“Mermaids & Pirates” by Jean Nolan, Kelsey Lamb, Taylor Goyette

“Pins & Needles” by Mikalyn Hay, Murray Dangle, Bobby John

“Call Me Drunk” by Troy Castellano, Doug Folkins

“Quitter” by Troy Castellano, Brett Mandel

“A Phone That Never Rings” by Danielle Diamond

“Another” by David Michael, Daniel Leathersich

“Your Key Still Works” by Jayne Sachs, Joey Ebach

“The Sound” by Jonathan Dean, Brandon Day

(The Songwriting Pro community would LOVE to hear your songs, so if you have a link you’d like to post to your “Top 10” song, please post it in the comments below!)

Congratulations!  Tim and I look forward to hanging out with you on June 20.  (In the days before the event, I’ll email the winners the instructions about the online meeting.)

Like I said, the 10 songs above aren’t the only good ones I had the pleasure of hearing.  There are several more that were put “on hold” for the top 10 songs.  This list could be quite a bit longer, but I’d like to spotlight a few of them, too.  (Ya’ll feel free to link up your songs in the comments, too!)

“ON HOLD” songs…

“Yeah Oooh”  by Nila Kay Jackson

“You Don’t Have To Ask” by James Kocian, Nick Siracuse, Jan Linder-Koda

“Off-Key Singing” by James Kocian

“Wishing On Weeds” by Alyssa Trahan, Danny Trainer, Max Masson

“Drinkin’ Days” by Steve Smentek, Chuck Jones

“Put Your Pants Back On” by Jayne Sachs, Hattie Murdoch

“Driftwood” by Danielle Diamond

“Thank You” by Jody Stewart-Regner, Jason Duke, Ben Freeman

“Days Like These” by Troy Castellano, Keesy Timmer, Dave Quirk

“Old Oak Tree” by Jenny Leigh, Nick Donley, Ryan Sorestad

These songs, along with others, were in there battling it out with the top 10, so be encouraged!

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

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.

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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 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.

SWP 4

How To Romance A Music Publisher

You can’t just get a publisher to lay down (a publishing deal) for you on the “first date.”  You have to romance them.  Here’s how.

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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

_________________________________

Getting a publisher to offer you a publishing deal is kinda like getting them to marry you.  It’s a big commitment, and it’s one that isn’t taken lightly by a publisher.  It’s a tough, tough business, and they need enough of their investments to pay off to keep the lights on.  Just because you show up in their office one day with a cool guitar and one awesome song doesn’t mean they’ll drop a staff songwriting contract on your lap.

You gotta romance a publisher.  Here are eight ways you can do that.

1. Have sexy songs.

No, I don’t mean make-out songs.  I mean there needs to be something sexy about your songs- something that captivates the publisher or something that pulls their attention back to your writing.

Maybe the whole song is great.  Maybe it moves them to tears or laughter.  Maybe there’s that one line in the second verse that is so honest and real that it takes their breath away.  Maybe it’s a hook (melodic or lyrical) they can’t get out of their head.  A sexy song has something about it that sticks with the publisher after you leave the room.

2. Be yourself.

Publishers want to see the real you in your songs.  They want some real heart, some real truth, some of what YOU have to say (happy or sad, funny or mad).  You may get a publisher’s attention by dressing your songs up like Craig Wiseman or Luke Laird, but it’s YOUR true creative voice that, if it resonates with them, will make them fall for you.

3. Be a good hang.

Ever date someone who is good looking but just leaves you exhausted (in a bad way)?  Someone who is overly needy, pessimistic, a lush, or is addicted to drama?  Eventually, their good looks (or good songs) aren’t worth the trouble.  You don’t have to be the publisher’s best friend.  But being a good hang is only going to improve your chances of getting to second base.

4. Be buzz worthy.

Ever notice how people get better-looking as soon as they start dating someone else?  It’s like they get some sort of social proof that, yes, they are in fact… dateable.  It repositions them in your mind.  A similar thing happens in the music business.  As publishers realize other people (writers, publishers, etc.) take you for real, they’ll naturally start to see you as more of a legit option.

5. Be committed.

I don’t mean to prove you’re committed to that publisher, like you’d never look for a deal anywhere else or play songs for another publisher.  Show you’re committed to songwriting and the music business.  Show you’re committed to getting better.  Show you’re in it for the long haul- you’re not just testing the waters and will bail if the “music thing” doesn’t work out.  Publishers invest a lot into their writers.  They’re serious, and they want to know you are, too.

6. Make a good first impression.

It’s always good to start off on the right foot.  A publisher’s first impression of you can either be a setup for success or a setback you have to overcome.  Personally, I’d rather have the setup.  Your first impression can come from the publisher seeing you at a writers night, hearing one of your songs through a cowriter, a “blind date” meeting, a workshop, or from word-of-mouth in the biz.

You don’t usually get to control when you make that first impression- or how you make it.  But doing quality, consistent work in a professional manner increases your odds of making a good first impression.

7. Have “good prospects.”

Of course, it helps to woo a publisher by having three songs on the charts.  But almost nobody is in that position.  But the more things you have going on, the more attractive you are as a potential staff writer.  Publishing is a business, and the publisher stays in business by making money.  So even if you aren’t coming into the deal just crushing it, you want to show (honestly) that you have “good prospects.”  It’s like a girl thinking, “yeah, he’s broke now… but he’s in med school…” But be real.  Don’t hype.  Hype is NOT attractive.

8. Go on a few dates.

A publisher who is interested in you may set you up to write with their writers.  This is their way of checking you out.  They’ll want to hear the songs you write with their writers.  They know what their writers bring to the room, so it’s their chance to see how you play in the sandbox with someone on the team whom they respect.  And they’ll usually ask their writer, “So, how was he/she?”

There ya go.  Eight ways to romance a music publisher.  I hope you go out, find that special someone who will change your life, and you make hundreds of beautiful song babies.

Just invite me to the wedding.

Now, if you’re ready to start romancing a publisher, I have an opportunity for you!

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.

SWP 4