I walked into my first writers round on my very first trip to Nashville eighteen years ago. There were four songwriters on stage in a line, and everyone was playing and singing together. I loved the energy and the way everyone's participation lifted the song. I've been to a whole lot of songwriter nights since then, and seen a lot of magic moments like that. But if you play writers nights, you know that unless there's a band doing the round together you're generally going to hear one person play at a time.
Something I have always noticed about new writers and artists as they make their pilgrimages to Twang Town is that they ALL FEEL LIKE THEY HAVE BEEN DRIVEN TO DO THIS! And there is validity in that. Anyone who indulges in the creative arts, and probably anything, has to feel “compelled” to do it. Songwriting and music are among the “highest callings” according to most who do it.
I recently received what is one of the most common scenarios happening in music as it relates to Nashville and the music industry. A 20 something person, just graduating college (with their degree in music) getting ready to pull up stakes and move to Nashville (or make trips) and “start to promote and “SELL” their music in town.” Then they proceed to want to “pick my brain” for insights into how to approach it. Well, there is a price for “brain picking” but I will give out a few free samples.
Over the past two days I have written on the subject of the difficulty of getting major cuts in this day and age. It is hard even for "inside" writers and publishers to get them and ESPECIALLY hard for independent, non-connected, OUTSIDE writers. There are a LOT of steps, aside from writing the songs themselves, getting them recorded, getting inside people to pay attention, being patient, building and maintaining relationships, all have to be done and have to be done CONSISTANTLY. Rarely are their "lightning strikes" where one song just ignites and the world all falls into place.
No matter what it is you do in music - artist, songwriter, player - it's pretty likely that you know you could do more with your instrument. Maybe you're a singer that doesn't want to rely on hiring an accompanist or worrying about backing tracks (ugh, but that's just my slanted opinion). Maybe you're a songwriter and beginning to realize that you're repeating yourself because of your musical limitations. Or maybe you're getting by just fine where you are but know there's more you could do when you watch more accomplished players.
Every year, kind of like clockwork, people go through their “NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS” and of course with songwriters, it always includes, “THIS IS THE YEAR TO GET MY MAJOR LABEL CUT!” I understand all the “Norman Vincent Pealeism’s” of “The power of Positive thinking, and all, and do understand the propensity to “If I put it OUT THERE in the UNIVERSE it’ll happen. Yeah, I know that one well. Every year when I used to re-sign my publishing deal, we would toast champagne and say ‘THIS IS OUR YEAR…” RIIIIIIIGGGGHHHHTTTTTT……
This is going to be a little "suggestion lesson" that I want to mention to those of you who are in the LYRIC areas of websites, doing open mics, writers nights, trying to make your way in the new landscape of the industry. As well as anyone who writes songs in general, PARTICULARLY you new people, but this is a serious point to those of you who put so many things out there.
This post is one of my ongoing "SONGWRITING SUGGESTIONS" That I am offering up for people attempting to get into the songwriting/performing area of music. This can be the new kids and high school, college kids, on up to the grizzled old veterans who have been around for a long time and may have forgotten or never practiced a few things they should be aware of. Or the people who are trying to help those people along. Read if you like. Print if you want. But be prepared for the TRUTH.
I'm thinking out loud again today.
Recently, I was performing a Songwriters show and was appalled at the disrespect from a table in the front.
Songwriter showcases and venues are a different atmosphere. They are listening rooms. (Note: The words 'Listen & Silent' are spelled with the same letters). Think of it like a Coffee House that sells food and adult beverages. (if it wasn't for the writers and hosts most of these places would struggle). It is not a loud bar-room atmosphere.
My story starts all the way in San Salvador, El Salvador, where I was born. Having moved to Marietta, GA though when I was 11 years old, that’s where I call home. I’ve always LOVED country music as long as I can remember thanks to my mom’s obsession with Dolly Parton records!
Nashville Ear awards the Best of the Best honor to the songwriter that we feel stood out with exceptional songwriting and performances. Please join us in congratulating this years award winner Chris Gantry.