Tag Archives: Tim Hunze

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

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

Here’s What Music Publishers Want MORE Than A Hit Song

Yes, music publishers want a hit song.  But that’s not all they want.  And it’s not even what they want the most.  What is it they REALLY want?  Well, let’s just say they’re on a goose chase…

Of course publishers want to find hit songs.  Albums aren’t selling, so album cuts aren’t bringing in enough money to keep a publisher afloat.  They need songs on the radio.  So hit songs ARE important.  Without them, the publisher will die a slow death.

Hit songs are golden eggs, and publishers are excited to find one.

However, I don’t know of any hit songs that have been found by a publisher, signed to a single-song contract, pitched, cut and then run up the charts.  Yeah, that’s probably happened… but I can’t name any.  So what publishers love even more than finding hit songs are finding hit SONGWRITERS.

Hit songs may be golden eggs, but hit songwriters are the geese that lay golden eggs.

Publishers’ long-term success will come by finding and signing hit songwriters.  They want songwriters who consistently write commercial, cutable songs and have a hit songwriter’s work ethic and mindset (or they look for writers who have the work ethic and mindset, and are on the verge of having the songs- and might have the songs with some polishing and development by the publisher).

You wanna be the goose.  You want the publisher to see you as someone who can lay that golden egg again and again- not just as someone lucky enough to stumble upon a golden egg.  (Or you want the publisher to see you as a baby goose- one who hasn’t started laying eggs yet, but can start popping them out with some time and maturity).  The goose has a career.  The guy with one golden egg has a cool story to tell his buddies at work on Monday.

The goose doesn’t lay one golden egg and stop.  It gets to work on the next egg, then the next.  The goose is a pro who keeps on keeping on- no matter what.

So when you meet with a publisher, don’t be afraid to show them your eggs.  (Okay, that sounded weird.)  But always keep the long game in mind.  Conduct yourself professionally.  Be ready with an answer to, “what else ya got?”  Don’t be a one-egg wonder.

Be the mother-freaking goose.

Maybe you have a golden egg or two.  Maybe you’re a goose.  Maybe you’re ready for a “Yes, I love it!”  Or maybe it’s just time to see how you stack up.  Whatever your situation, 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

Great Advice For Songwriters 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 three 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

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 him has at least a track or loop of some sort.  Most of his 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 too 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!

Tim Hunze is coming back to do another Play For A Publisher event in June!  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

Great Advice From Our Newest “Play For Publisher” Event!

Play For Pub

Here are some great lessons from our latest Play For A Publisher Event!

Last week, we another great “Play For A Publisher” event. Our guest publisher was Tim Hunze of Parallel Music on Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee. Today, I’d like to share some of the best takeaways from the evening. I’d like to give a hat-tip to Chris Smith, who put many of these points together. Thanks, Chris!

Tim’s a big sucker for cool opening lines.

Tim is a “title freak.” If you have a great title, he’s already interested. You’re “winning before your song is spinning.”

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 him has at least a track or loop of some sort. Most of his 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. He still gets 10-to-1 ballads. Even from pro Nashville writers. He always needs 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.

Sometimes Tim will cover the choruses with his hand and just read the verses to make sure the verses have a good, natural flow to them.

Challenge yourself to come up with a new idea. A unique spin on an old thing. He listens 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.

For commercial country music, don’t rely too heavily on mystery. Spoon feed the listener. Don’t be too clever and don’t leave them wondering what the song was trying to say. If the listener is trying to figure out what’s going on, they’re in their heads- not their hearts.

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.)

Two things Tim harps on with his writers are idea and melody. Neither can be stale.

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

What does Tim look for in a writer? He said it’s a “feeling and a vibe.” It’s a feeling that the writer “has something to say.”

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

He probably gets 5 or 6 random writers reaching out to him each day. That 8-15 new songs per day, in addition to his writers and other writers he knows.

If you were there, what takeaways did YOU get from the session?  Please leave it in the comments!

I want to give another shout-out to all of the writers who joined us for the event. Tim was honestly impressed by the overall level of the songs and songwriting. Ya’ll really represented the Songwriting Pro community well!

“Steam” by David Hill, Gelman, McKinney
“Never Be Tennessee” by Curtis McCabe
“Some Days” by Barry McGuire
“Drink You Up” by Leslie Bowe, Karen Kiley
“Jesus, The Beatles & Me” by Donna King, Lee Black, Gina Boe
“Bent” by Mindy Gars Dolandis, Amanda Williams
“Leavin’ Town” by Chris Smith
“Girl In Every Song” by Jim Logrando, Sean Spollen
“Santa Fe Rain” by Roy Semlacher, Allen
“Grass Stains” by Pat Aureli, Todd Dickinson, Marty Dodson

Tim specifically mentioned reaching out to a couple of ya’ll. If he does, please let me know- I’d love to share that with the community!

Also, I know many of you who entered would still love to get personal feedback on your songs. While I didn’t have time to send feedback on each of the Play For Publisher entries, you CAN book a one-to-one coaching/mentoring session with me. I’ll be happy to discuss your song with you (and anything else you want). CLICK HERE TO BOOK A COACHING SESSION.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

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

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Congrats To The Newest “Play For Publisher” Winners!

Play For Pub

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 a few country songs, some gospel, male songs, female songs, somebody raps, there’s a second-time submission (way to not give up), some solo writes, and even a work tape!

There were a lot of worthy songs sent in, and I felt bad about leaving so many out.  So just because 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):

“Steam” by David Hill, Gelman, McKinney

“Never Be Tennessee” by Curtis McCabe

“Some Days” by Barry McGuire

“Drink You Up” by Leslie Bowe, Karen Kiley

“Jesus, The Beatles & Me” by Donna King, Lee Black, Gina Boe

“Bent” by Mindy Gars Dolandis, Amanda Williams

“Leavin’ Town” by Chris Smith

“Girl In Every Song” by Jim Logrando, Sean Spollen

“Santa Fe Rain” by Roy Semlacher, Allen

“Grass Stains” by Pat Aureli, Todd Dickinson, Marty Dodson

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 December 6.  (I’ve already emailed the winners the instructions about the online meeting.  If you didn’t get the email, please let me know!)

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 them, too.  (Ya’ll feel free to link up your songs in the comments, too!)

“ON HOLD” songs…

“One More”  by Marialaina DiFalco

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

“That Old Screen Door” by Pamela Lack, Jean Nolan, Bobby Earl Ray

“I Am Blessed” by Mindy Gars Dolandis, Chris Castle

“Blue Kisses” by Daniel Leathersich

“I Think My Buddy’s Broken” by Jason David Hiatt

“Mid Western Civilization” by Ed Daniels

“Favorite Shirt” by Rich Mahan

“Better Get Used To It” by Dave Quirk, Sherrie Austin, Will Rambeaux

“Just A Little Broken” by Allister Bradley, Dean McTaggert

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.

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What Kind Of Song Should You Play For A Publisher?

Ask Your SWP

If you get the chance to play a song for a publisher, what kind of song should you play?  What kind of demo?  Should you play a cowritten song?

I’m excited to host another Play For A Publisher event in December, and I’ve received several questions from writers like you. I thought I’d answer a few of them here on the blog since the answers apply to more than just the Play For A Publisher event.

Question: What kind of song should I play?  A country song?  I song I think fits the market or radio?  Or just something I think is cool?

Chris Oglesby of BMG Chrysalis dropped some great advice on us at our last Play For A Publisher event.  Here’s what he had to say on the subject:

“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.”

I agree with Chris.  And that’s because publishers are usually looking for more than just a great song.  They’re looking for a great songwriter.  And so they want to get to know YOU.  Yes, they want to work with a writer that can write radio hits and make a ton money.  But what’s the special sauce that will make YOUR songs different, and tasty?  Well, that’s the “YOU” ingredient that only YOU can provide.  And the publisher can get the best taste of YOU when you play songs that you love- because they will have the most YOU in them.

After all, over the long haul, the real you is going to shine through in your songs- for better or worse.  So the earlier a publisher can find the real you, the earlier he can figure out if the two of you are a good match, musically, personally, and professionally.

As for me (since I’m doing the screening for the Play For A Publisher event), I’m just looking for something that knocks my socks off.  Something I think is really cool.  Not everything we played at the last event was a radio hit type of song.  But each of them were really cool in their own way.

Question: Can I ONLY play demos?  I don’t have full-band recordings of my songs…

You want to make the best first impression possible.  So, if you have two songs that are both really good, but one is demoed and the other isn’t, I’m always going to play the demoed song.  It’s more professional, and it’s just easier for the publisher to hear and “get” the full expression of your song.  But a work tape or guitar/vocal of a great song beats a full demo of a good song.

Good song people know great songs- even if they aren’t fully produced.  A good guitar/vocal should be enough.  Or even a clean, well-performed work tape.  But even the best song person might miss a great song if the work tape is really bad.

(Side note: I don’t want to work with a publisher who can’t hear a great song in a decent work tape.  After all, they’ll be listening to work tapes to help me figure out which songs to demo!)

For the Play For A Publisher event, you can send a demo, a simple stripped-down recording, or a work tape.  It’s all welcome.

Question:  Can I play cowritten songs for a publisher?  Or do I have to write the songs all by myself?

It doesn’t matter if your song is a solo write or a cowrite.  A publisher just wants a great song.  Granted, it’s more impressive if you can write a killer song on your own.  This is for two reasons: 1) it’s rare that great songs are written, much less by one person and 2) the publisher doesn’t have to wonder if you were responsible for the cool stuff in the song or not- they know it’s ALL you.

So, a great solo written song is an added bonus, but having a cowriter (or cowriters) on your song won’t make a publisher like it any less.

For the Play For A Publisher event, both solo and cowrites are welcome.  I screen them without any idea if it’s a solo or cowrite- I’m just listening for really cool songs.

Question: Ready to play YOUR song for a publisher?

Time is running out for our next Play For Publisher event!  The event itself is Tuesday, December 6, 2016, but the deadline to submit a song is Saturday, November 19.  After the 19th, it’s too late- so don’t wait.  Get your spot today!

Our special guest will be Tim Hunze of Parallel Music Publishing.   Tim works with a staff of pro songwriters including Lance Carpenter (“Love Me Like You Mean It” – #1 for Kelsea Ballerina), Jon Mabe (“The Climb” – #1 for Miley Cyrus), Jenn Schott (“Two Lanes Of Freedom” – Tim McGraw) and more!  Tim is a real pro, and he has a lot of wisdom to share from his years in the music business.  And, I’ll be honest- he’s a heck of a nice guy, too!

tim-hunze

CLICK HERE TO ENTER YOUR SONG (OR SONGS) FOR THE UPCOMING “PLAY FOR A PUBLISHER” EVENT.

Last question:  Is this event worth my time?

Well, let’s hear from a couple of the last event’s participants…

“The combination of Brent’s talent as a songwriting teacher with some of the best ears among Music Row’s publishers makes this an indispensable event for any aspiring writer.” – Joe Slyzelia “Vinyl Afternoon”

“I just took part in Brent Baxter’s Play For A Publisher event with Chris Oglesby of BMG. This was a great opportunity for me to get one of my songs in front of Chris and also to meet him personally. Chris listened to my song (and everyone else’s) start to finish and gave very useful and specific feedback regarding each. Chris and Brent took a lot of time throughout the night to answer everyones’ questions. This was very educational, helped me get my face and name in front of a prominent figure in the Nashville music industry, and honestly was a lot of fun. Thanks Brent and Chris for a great experience!” – David Hill “Are You Awake”

Play For Pub

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

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

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Great Advice From Our “Play For A Publisher” Event

Play For Pub

The 10 songwriters to join us for our first “Play For Publisher” event were great- but they weren’t the only ones to write really good songs!

I want to share some of the “honorable mentions” among the dozens and dozens of submissions.  If you’re one of these writers, keep going!  If you’re NOT one of these writers… KEEP GOING!

The 10 “Honorable Mentions” songs are:

“The Captain” by Kris Krumal

“Hand It Down” by Dave Udis & Michael Skottle

“Welcome Home” by Tami Dove

“Easier On Me” by Megan Brennan, Brett Sheroky, Tommy Cole

“Just One Night” by Dave Quirk & David Hill

“Olivia” by Colleen Brown Keenleyside

“Drinking With You” by Jeff Hodge, Palmer Lee, Blaine Younger

“My Happy Place” by Steve Probst

“Where Jesus Lives” by Dale Mercer & Briahnna Sullivan

Good work, ya’ll!

Chris Oglesby of BMG Chrysalis dropped some great advice on us all (including me).  Here are just a couple of the gold and platinum nuggets from the night (paraphrased):

“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.”

“Heart beats clever.  Don’t get so wrapped up in writing to the theme that you neglect to hit us in our emotions.”

“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.”

“Don’t be too safe.  A publisher can always rein you in, but we can’t pull you out if you don’t go far enough.”

“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.”

The Play For Publisher event was so much fun, and the feedback was so good… let’s do it again!

Really, was it good?  Well, let’s hear from a couple of the participants.

“The combination of Brent’s talent as a songwriting teacher with some of the best ears among Music Row’s publishers makes this an indispensable event for any aspiring writer.” – Joe Slyzelia “Vinyl Afternoon”

“I just took part in Brent Baxter’s Play For Publisher event with Chris Oglesby of BMI. This was a great opportunity for me to get one of my songs in front of Chris and also to meet him personally. Chris listened to my song (and everyone else’s) start to finish and gave very useful and specific feedback regarding each. Chris and Brent took a lot of time throughout the night to answer everyones’ questions. This was very educational, helped me get my face and name in front of a prominent figure in the Nashville music industry, and honestly was a lot of fun. Thanks Brent and Chris for a great experience!” – David Hill “Are You Awake”

So, here’s the scoop:

Our next Play For Publisher event will be on Tuesday, December 6, 2016.  Our special guest will be Tim Hunze of Parallel Music Publishing!  Tim works with a staff of pro songwriters including Lance Carpenter (“Love Me Like You Mean It” – Kelsea Ballerina), Jon Mabe (“The Climb” – Miley Cyrus), Jenn Schott (“Two Lanes Of Freedom” – Tim McGraw) and more!  Tim is a real pro, and he has a lot of wisdom to share from his years in the music business.  And, I’ll be honest.  He’s a heck of a nice guy, too!

tim-hunze

CLICK HERE TO ENTER YOUR SONG (OR SONGS) FOR THE UPCOMING “PLAY FOR A PUBLISHER” EVENT.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

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

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