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Learn the art, craft & business of songwriting from hit songwriter, Brent Baxter!

The Frettie Journal
A collection of interviews, updates, tips and resources for songwriters.

“Know The Row” with hit songwriter, Kenna West!

Announcements by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on November 14, 2018


*November 29, 2018 (7:30pm-8:30pm Central): Hang out with Christian/gospel songwriter, Kenna West (over 30 #1 hits).
*Join two music industry professionals (West and hit songwriter, Brent Baxter) as they reveal what YOU need to know about earning success in the music business.
*Ask YOUR questions- and get answers!
*Join this live, online video-conference from anywhere in the world.
*Space is limited, so reserve your spot today.
*This event is FREE for subscribers of Frettie.com!


DOES THIS SOUND LIKE YOU?


I feel like the music business is a world away. I write good songs, but I can’t seem to “crack the code."
What do I REALLY have to do to get a cut or a publishing deal?
I have a few questions that nobody can seem to answer. I need to talk to somebody actually IN the music business.


If you keep on guessing how to succeed, you’ll probably keep getting the same results you’re getting now: taking too much time figuring out the truth on your own while spending too much money recording songs that will probably never get cut.

Trying to get a hit without understanding the music business is like throwing darts in the dark and trying to hit a bullseye.

You can spend your time and money filling the air with darts and hoping to get lucky... or you can let Songwriting Pro and Frettie pull back the curtain and let some light in. Learning how Music Row works- getting an insider’s perspective- will put you in a much better position to get cuts or a publishing deal.


WHAT IS "KNOW THE ROW?"

In this exclusive online event, I invite a music industry friend of mine to come in and answer YOUR questions. We start off with a short interview full of insider information that will help you on your songwriting journey. Then we open it up to your questions.


WHEN?

November 29, 2018. 7:30pm to 8:30pm CENTRAL time zone


WHERE?

It's online, so you can join us from anywhere in the world! (details below)


WHO IS KENNA WEST?

Kenna West is an award-winning songwriter who has written over 30 #1 singles in the gospel music industry. That's right. Over 30. That's pretty much all you need to know. But in case you're curious for more...

Kenna's career in gospel music began in 1983 when, as a new believer, the eighteen year-old joined the nine-time Grammy Award-winning Blackwood Brothers.

In 2001, after years of primarily being a vocalist, Kenna began penning songs for The Spring Hill Music Group, owned in part by gospel music icon Bill Gaither. Her first single, We’re Not Gonna Bow, was recorded by Jeff and Sheri Easter and became a #1 hit, giving Kenna her first Dove Award nomination. Within four years, she was voted the SGM Songwriter of the Year.

In 2007, Kenna signed with Word Entertainment/Warner Brothers — broadening her catalog of songs that include praise and worship, gospel, inspirational, adult contemporary, country, and choral — and in 2009, garnered her second Dove Award nomination for the song, Big Mighty God. Soon after, the Liberty graduate and certified counselor released her first book, Finding the Good and Seeing His Glory, which explores the sufficiency of God’s grace in adversity.

The following year, Kenna won her first Diamond Award for Song of the Year, and in 2011 went on to receive honors at the AGM Awards for Songwriter of the Year. Kenna has also released a musical, distributed by LifeWay, entitled Love Won.

Currently, West writes for Word Publishing and keeps cranking out the cuts and hits. She found success with artists including Finding Favour ("Say Amen"), Jeff & Sheri Easter, The Talleys, Legacy 5, Micheal English, Karen Peck and New River, The Talley Trio, The Martins, Brian Free and Assurance, and many, many more.

So, yes, YOU want to hang out with Kenna West and get her advice on the music business.


HERE'S HOW TO JOIN THE EVENT.

After you reserve your spot by joining Frettie or purchasing a ticket, you'll receive an email with more details. But the basics are this: a day or two before the event, I'll email you a special invitation link. You will use that link to join the video-conference, which will be hosted on the Zoom platform. Zoom is simple to use, and it's free. You can find out more at Zoom.us. It's easy.


"KNOW THE ROW" IS FREE FOR FRETTIE MEMBERS!

If you subscribe to Frettie.com, you will automatically receive the invitation link a day or two before the event. If you miss it, you will still be able to watch the replay in the Frettie video archives.

If you are NOT a Frettie subscriber- join today! It's only $5/month to subscribe. I host "Know The Row" at least once per quarter. At $40 per quarter, that's $160 per year. A year's worth of Frettie membership is only $60. That's a $100 savings! PLUS, you gain access to all the Frettie video archives, which contain replays of each "Know The Row" event (past events include hit songwriters Byron Hill, Jimmy Yeary, artist/writer Aaron Goodvin, music publisher Scot Sherrod and more) along with a ton of other great, helpful videos. And that doesn't even cover all the great benefits of Frettie membership.

However, if you aren't ready to enjoy all the membership benefits of Frettie, I've made a few outside tickets available.

LEARN MORE AND JOIN FRETTIE TODAY WITH A CLICK HERE.


Don't want to subscribe to Frettie, but you STILL want to join this event? Click here.

Kenna Poster

God bless,

Brent

What is your songwriting horizon?

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on October 31, 2018


At different times in my songwriting history (and I guess I’ve been doing this long enough to officially consider it “history”) I’ve had various “horizons.”

What is a songwriting horizon?

The horizon is the basic target your songwriting efforts try to hit. It’s where you focus your effort and where most of your effort ends. It’s the endpoint you don’t often look past.

When I first started out, my horizon was a finished song and a worktape. It felt great, and I had a sense of accomplishment and something to listen to. I dreamed of hearing one of those songs on the radio. But pretty much all I did about that was dream.

Years later, after I had moved to Nashville, my horizon was to impress a publisher so they’d start pitching my songs. Sure, I dreamed of getting songs on the radio, but on a day-to-day basis, I didn’t work at anything beyond landing a good publisher relationship.

Later still, I had a publishing deal and my horizon was often getting my publisher to demo songs so THEY could pitch them. I’d even had a hit on the radio by this time, but I couldn’t really see beyond the demo.

These days, my horizon is the furthest it’s ever been. The endpoint now is getting cuts and singles. For the most part, I’m writing with pro songwriters who are having success and swinging for hits. If I'm not writing with them, I'm writing with artists and the conversation and work centers on getting songs on their records and on the radio.

Sure, I’ve worked for years to get to the point where it’s realistic to talk about cuts and singles. But how much further would I be in my career if hits had ALWAYS been the horizon?

Instead of aiming at just writing songs, what if the horizon had been writing songs that an artist would want to sing? (And not just what I wanted to say?)

Instead of effectively washing my hands and walking away when a song got demoed, what if I kept going, getting my demos in the hands of decisionmakers myself?

Instead of playing that demo for an A&R rep and then letting off the gas, what if I kept working to get the song to the people who make the final decision?

Instead of being happy to just write a song with a baby artist, what if I had really focused on writing that special deal-getting song with that artist?

Most of the horizons I’ve had have not been set consciously. There were just set at the next song or the next step in my career.

And those steps (write, publish, demo, etc.) are each good steps. But they are each just steps on a staircase. If those steps are your focus, where your attention and energy is focused... you might just miss an elevator with its doors wide open.

I wonder how many I missed?

I encourage you to take a look at your goals for your writing- then take an honest assessment of where your attention and energy is focused. Have you set your horizon where only a milemarker should be? Milemarkers are great- they mark progress and keep you feeling motivated.

But a milemarker is NOT the horizon.

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

What songwriting story are you telling yourself?

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on October 24, 2018


Songwriters are storytellers.  We love to tell our listeners about the world as we see it- what makes us laugh, what makes us cry, what we believe in, etc.  But the most important story you will ever tell as a songwriter... is the story you tell YOURSELF.

The story we choose to tell ourselves will have a huge impact on our growth, creativity and success as songwriters.  I know they have in my career.

I figured out early in my songwriting that I wasn't any good at writing melodies.  I've never been a good singer, and melodies are frustrating.  But the words?  Words have always been my thing.  I've always loved playing with them- and I have a knack for it.  Along with this realization of my strengths and weaknesses came a choice.

What story will I tell myself- about myself?

Will I tell myself that I'm "only half a songwriter?"  That I'm "not a real songwriter?"  Will I tell myself it's not fair that life didn't hand me all the talents I'd like to have?  Will I tell myself that no "real" songwriter would want to write with "just a lyricist?"

As you can probably guess, that's NOT the story I told myself.  I told myself, "I'm a lyricist.  I'm  a specialist."  I told myself myself that country music loves great lyrics - so I do something valuable.  I told myself I don't have to be great at everything.  I told myself that as long as I'm great at one thing, I'd have a seat at the table.

This self-story has made an incredible difference.

It has allowed me to act from a position of confidence instead of doubt.  Instead of approaching potential cowriters almost apologetically like "I'm sorry, but will you please write with me?  I'm only a lyricist," I could look them in the eye without shame and say, "I'm a lyricist, and I have some ideas I think you're gonna love."

What story do you tell yourself?

Do you tell yourself that it doesn't matter how good your songs are because "you gotta know somebody?" Or do you say "I'm GOING to make it- and the better my songs are, the easier it's going to be to get to know somebody?"

Do you tell yourself that publishers are stupid for not liking your songs?  Or do you tell yourself that publishers NEED great songs and you just have to write better ones?

Is your story that you were born in the wrong PLACE to be a songwriter because you're hundreds of miles from New York, LA or Nashville?  Or is your story that you were born at a great TIME to be a songwriter because you can use the internet to connect with the music business from anywhere in the world?

The story you CHOOSE to tell will either help or hurt your chances for success.

Is your story "you gotta be lucky to make it, so it doesn't matter how hard I work?"  Or is your story "luck loves songwriters that are serious and work hard, so I'm gonna work harder?"

Your story matters.

It's time to do a check up from your neck up.  Be honest with yourself about your story.  Are your stories helping you or holding you back?

Does your story tell you why you CAN, or does it tell you why you CAN'T?

Listen, I'm not into fru-fru ya-ya mumbo jumbo.  I don't believe success is attracted to me just because I tell myself I'll be successful. No, if I believe I'll be successful, I'm more willing to put in the work and take the chances that make success more likely.  My story doesn't change the universe.  My story changes me.

If your story is that music publishers don't know what good music is so they won't like your music, you know what will probably happen?  You'll probably play songs for one or two publishers - just enough to prove yourself "right" - and then just quit calling publishers.

However, if your story after one or two rejections is that you just haven't found the right publisher yet, you'll keep trying.  And that alone increases your odds of success.  Or if your story is that you just need to write better songs, you'll stay in the game, writing, getting better, and building publisher relationships.  And then you might just get that big hit.

And THAT will be a great story.

What about you? What stories have you been telling yourself? If your story needs to change, what story will you start telling yourself? I'd love to hear from you- please leave a comment!

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

5 signs that you should stop writing with an artist.

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on October 17, 2018


Album credits make one thing perfectly clear - it's smart to write with the artist.  There's no denying that.  However, not every artist is worth your time and creativity.

Here are 5 red flags that mean you should probably NOT write with the artist.

EXCEPTION: Okay, if the artist is already a star and cuts their own songs, you should definitely write with him or her if you get the chance.  Do it, be thankful for the opportunity, and bring your best work.

However, most artists are NOT stars.  They're unsigned artists who hope to become stars.  And maybe they look great and even sing great.  I know in those cases it can really be tempting to go "all in" with those artists in the hopes that they'll make it big - and take you with them.

But most artists never become stars, and here are five reasons many of them are doomed.

If your artist cowriter (or potential cowriter) is doing any of these things, consider it a major warning sign.  These artists probably aren't going to make it.  Sorry.

1. Doomed artists disregard their fans (or potential fans).

In the old music biz, maybe you could get away with being mysterious and aloof.  But in the social media age, you can't be too cool for school.  Look at Taylor Swift.  She's one of the biggest stars on the planet, and she built her career by LOVING her fans.  She surprises and delights them.  She cares about them.  In return, they care about her.

If your artist expects their music - and ONLY their music - to build a legion of raving fans... they're sadly mistaken.

2. Doomed artists are waiting for a hero.

Is your artist friend waiting around for someone else to make their dreams come true?  Are they just killing time until they get discovered by a manager, booking agent or label who will do all the hard work and open all the right doors?

The artists who are likely to make it have an incredible work ethic.  Their attitude isn't "who's going to let me?" it's "who's going to stop me?"  They get off the couch or out of the studio, and they hustle.  They book their own shows, they connect with fans.  Those are artists who are likely to be discovered - because they're discoverable!

3. Doomed artists treat music like a hobby.

This is similar to the previous red flag.  But while the last type of artist really wants to succeed but has given away their power, this artist either doesn't really want success or is just plain lazy.  This artist is probably naturally very talented and hasn't had to work that hard to get some attention.  As a result, maybe they've never learned how to grind.  Or they just aren't willing.

Either way, their lack of work ethic means they'll probably never become a star. And that means the songs you write with them won't get the big spotlight with them as the artist.

4. Doomed artists act entitled.

I don't care who your artist friend is, the world does NOT owe them success, or even attention.  Just because they care about their own music doesn't mean that anyone else has to.  Why should anyone treat them like a star when they are NOT a star?

Also, entitled artists usually don't have as much hustle because they feel like success and attention should be handed to them by the mere fact that they want and expect attention and success.  That kind of attitude will turn off folks in the music biz, and it'll eventually turn off fans, too.

5. Doomed artists radiate bitterness or negativity.

Believing that you won't succeed is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  So if your artist friend believes he or she is being "held down" by gatekeepers, publishers or record labels and THAT is what's keeping them from success... run away.

This negative, bitter attitude gives away the artist's power and ownership over the situation.  They've allowed themselves to become a victim.  This attitude will also repel real music biz pros.  And even worse... it's contagious.

You do NOT want to catch a negative attitude from the artist.  Before you know it, you'll start seeing all the reasons you CAN'T succeed, and you'll stop seeing all the reasons you CAN succeed.

There you go.  Five warning signs that you should not be writing with an artist.  Now, if you write amazing songs with this person, it might be worth it to keep writing with them- IF you treat them like a non-artist cowriter.  In other words, don't wait around for that artist to take those songs to #1.  If they're great, pitch them to other artists.

If your cowriter doesn't want you to pitch them anywhere, use these cool songs to get new cowriters.  Then move on.

I know this may be hard to hear.  I know it may force you to confront an uncomfortable truth you've been ignoring.  But I've personally wasted too many songs and days on artists like the ones on this list.

I want you to avoid my mistakes.

What about you? Have you run into any of these warning signs with an artist? Did you end the writing relationship or stick it out? How'd things turn out? Are there any other red flags you'd add to this list? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Set your cowriters up for success

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on October 10, 2018


About an hour into the cowrite, I knew I'd made a mistake.  This song was gonna be good, but it probably wasn't going to be great.  And it was my fault.  I shouldn't have brought this idea to this guy on this day.

Guess I should give you some back story.  "This guy" was not some 2nd rate hack songwriter who was destroying my wonderful song idea.  Actually, this guy, (let's call him "Chris") had written multiple #1 hits and a ton of album cuts.  In fact, he and I had already written several songs together.

So, since Chris is so good, why was it a mistake to bring this certain idea to him?  Because Chris is not a "grinder," and I knew this idea still needed some grinding.  The idea wasn't completely clear in my mind.  It needed to be fleshed out and explored more.  But Chris wasn't the guy for this.  You see, Chris is a successful writer, a great writer, and a very FAST writer.  I've never had a cowrite with him stretch over two sessions.  Heck, I've rarely had them stretch past lunch!

I'm not as fast as Chris, at least not until I really have the idea clearly focused in my mind.  You see, I'm not really ever "off to the races" until I have a good idea of what the racetrack looks like.  Chris isn't one to really dig and explore to mine the very best stuff out of a concept or title.  And, hey, it's worked out for him- he has a lot of gold and platinums on the wall.

But for ME to get my best work with Chris, I need to bring in a very clear idea, concept and direction.  Maybe even a full scratch lyric.  I call it "pre-writing," and it's kinda like getting a head start on the cowrite.  Chris loves it since he can just focus on melody (his strength) and I don't slow him down too much.  Since I know the idea clearly, I can make lyrical adjustments quickly and with confidence.  When I do my prep, I have a better experience- and the song ends up being a lot tighter, too.

So that was my mistake on this particular day.  I suggested an idea that wasn't ready- not for this particular cowriter, at least.

The lesson in this, for me anyway, is to account for your cowriter's strengths and writing style when bringing in song ideas.

For example, I have another cowriter, "Dave," who is much more of a grinder.  I'm comfortable bringing in vague or uncertain ideas because I know Dave will work until the song sparkles.  Dave even grinds on ideas that I feel are really fleshed out already - just to make sure we write it as well as we can.  And I love that.  Because I don't need good songs.  I need great songs.

Writing average songs won't change my life. (And they probably won't change yours, either.)

Chris and Dave are both hit songwriters, and I have a ton of respect for each of them.  Each of us just has our own way of working.  And I can work well with either one of those guys- as long as I respect each of their writing styles.

I could really frustrate Chris by constantly hitting the brakes and making him grind out an idea.  Likewise, I could really frustrate Dave by slamming the gas and flying through a song he isn't sure is the best it can be.  But, instead, I want to respect each of their styles, and adjust accordingly.  Sometimes this means I do more "pre-writing."  Sometimes not.  But either way, when I respect my cowriters' writing styles, I get better songs.

And maybe there's a lesson in there for you.  If you're not getting the results you'd like with one of your cowriters, maybe you just need to adjust your songwriting process if possible.  A few adjustments might just save your cowriting relationship- and save a lot of your song ideas!

What about you?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.  Do you have any stories about adjusting or NOT adjusting to your cowriter's writing style?  How'd it work out? Please leave a comment!

By the way, I have a really cool event coming up. On October 16, I'm hosting a "Know The Row" event with multi-hit songwriter, Chris Lindsey. This is your chance to hang out online and ask YOUR questions to a real hit songwriter.  Chris wrote "Amazed" for Lonestar, "Every Time I Hear That Song" for Blake Shelton, as well cuts for Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and others.

This is YOUR chance to sit down face-to-face (online) with a real-deal hit songwriter, and I hope you won't let it slip away.

Here's the deal. Usually, these events are only for members of Frettie.com. However, this one is different. This one is free for everybody!  You can join us online from anywhere in the world on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 from 7:30pm-8:30pm Central time.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND JOIN THE EVENT!

Chris Lindsey poster

God bless,

Brent

Hey, Songwriter.  Please stop showing off!

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on October 03, 2018


Sometimes, it’s tempting and a whole lot of fun to get really clever with our songwriting. And I mean REALLY clever. We start getting good at spinning a phrase or using double meanings, and the next thing you know, our songs have them all over the place...

...and they suck.

Maybe it’s time to stop showing off how clever you are and just get back to what’s important.

Here’s a case in point. Back before my first publishing deal, I remember writing a song with a good friend of mine. It was really clever. Every line had some turn-of-a-phrase and clever lyric. I was really proud of lines like “I never duck when it all goes South” and “Like a clock with a nervous tick, when I’m with you time sure goes quick.” I remember saying, “Every line has a pun - EVERY LINE!” like I’d cured cancer or something.

Eventually, after I signed my publishing deal with Major Bob Music, I turned it with my Schedule A. I hoped they’d really like it. They didn’t. Not at all. But why not? Couldn’t they see how well I’d crafted that lyric? Didn’t they get my puns and humor and my genius?

They got the jokes. They just didn’t like the song. And looking back, I don’t like it, either.

Here’s the deal. I’d gotten way too clever, way too much in my own head. The song didn’t have any emotion. Clever lines are cool when they serve a bigger purpose, but they can’t be the whole point of your song. The lines in the song weren’t enough to make you laugh, so it wasn’t a “funny song.” It was a love song, but it just didn’t feel real. It just felt clever.

And, in the end, it didn’t FEEL much of anything.

A song should elicit some emotion in the listener. It should make them (basically) laugh, cry, dance or think. It needs to do more than just make the listener say, “Huh. That’s clever.” That was my mistake. I was all in my head, and I’d forgotten the heart.

And the same goes for chord progressions and melody. You might be really proud of your cool guitar tuning or intricate fingerpicking pattern. But if the listener isn’t moved by it, it doesn’t really matter. You’re writing to impress other guitar players. They’re probably the only ones who’ll even notice all the cool stuff you’re doing while the rest of us just wonder why your song isn’t very good.

Maybe you need to beware of being overly clever in your writing. Your song doesn’t have to be super clever. It doesn’t have to be really smart. That’s writing for yourself or for other songwriters. And that’s fine. But if you want to write for a large audience, you need to remember the heart. You need to engage the listener’s emotions.

A song with a heart... beats... a song without one. See what I did there?

Hey, I have a really cool event coming up. On October 16, I'm hosting a "Know The Row" event with multi-hit songwriter, Chris Lindsey. This is your chance to hang out online and ask YOUR questions to a real hit songwriter.  Chris wrote "Amazed" for Lonestar, "Every Time I Hear That Song" for Blake Shelton, as well cuts for Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and others.

This is YOUR chance to sit down face-to-face (online) with a real-deal hit songwriter, and I hope you won't let it slip away.

Here's the deal. Usually, these events are only for members of Frettie.com. However, this one is different. This one is free for everybody!  You can join us online from anywhere in the world on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 from 7:30pm-8:30pm Central time.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND JOIN THE EVENT!

Chris Lindsey poster

God bless,

Brent

How do you know when your song is done?

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on September 26, 2018


So how do you know when your song is really done?

My usual joking answer is, "when it's shrink-wrapped at Wal-Mart." Of course, that's not true. And it's also a dated joke, so let's dive into the question.

First of all, it's really a subjective answer as to when your song is "done." There have been a bunch of songs that ended up on the radio in which the songwriter still sees flaws. Are those songs done? I guess so. At least, the songwriter probably isn't going to bother making any more changes. After all... why?

Sometimes songs are done because you're simply done with them. You've moved on. I could probably go back and improve many of my older songs. But most of them aren't worth it. Either the idea isn't that great, or I'm just not interested in the song anymore. You could call those done, too. Your best songs are in front of you.

But assuming you've just finished a draft or a re-write of your song. Is it done? Ultimately, it's a question only you, as the songwriter, can answer. But here are some questions to ask yourself when you're not sure if the song is really finished. Actually, these are questions you should ask yourself even if you ARE sure your song is really finished. (Please note that each of these are for songs written to be commercially successful. If you're only writing for yourself, some of these may not be relevant.)

1. Does the song move me? Does it make you feel something, or is it just an interesting thought? A song doesn't have to always move you to tears, but it should cause some sort of emotional response in you. A laugh, a tear, optimism, whatever. If your own song doesn't even move you, it's probably not going to move anyone else.

2. Do I have a very clear understanding of what I'm trying to communicate in this song? If you don't know what you're talking about, if your own thoughts are still muddy and uncertain, there is no chance - zero - that you're communicating clearly with your audience.

3. Is this song relevant for my target market / genre / artist? It doesn't matter if your song is a delicious hamburger if you're trying to sell it to a vegan. Your music, idea, lyric, etc. have to be appropriate for your target. If you're not sure what is appropriate for your market, you need to do your homework. Listen to the biggest artists in that market. Study, study, study.

4. Are there confusing lines in my song? This is where you have to beware of "the curse of knowledge." That's when you know what you're talking about, but your lyric doesn't reflect it. You overlook confusing lines because you automatically fill in the blanks from your mind. But the listener isn't in your mind and can't fill in those blanks. Try to focus only on what's actually on the page. Does it clearly communicate what you want to say?

5. Is the melody fun to sing? If you want someone else to sing your song, it should be enjoyable to sing. The words and phrasing should fit the melody comfortably. If your song doesn't sing well, it probably won't get sung.

6. Are there weak lines in my song? You want to avoid obvious, vague, and cliche' lines in your lyric. These just aren't interesting, and they don't feel real and sincere. Dig deeper. Find a more interesting way to say it. Add imagery. Paint the picture in more detail. Keep the listener's attention.

These are just a few questions to help you figure out of your song is as good as it could be. There are others, but this should get you started. Print this list and keep it in your writing space. Then add your own questions in the spaces below.

_____________________________________________

_____________________________________________

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_____________________________________________


I'd love to hear what YOU would add to this list! Please leave a comment here or where you see it on social media. Thanks!

If you found this blog post helpful, you'll love my FREE e-book, "Think Like A Pro Songwriter." It's a quick, easy read, and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Think Pro

God bless,

Brent

Do your songs let the artist “preach?”

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on September 19, 2018


DO YOUR SONGS LET THE ARTIST PREACH?

No, I don’t mean you have to write spiritual songs. And I don’t mean that the artist is looking to tell his audience how to live. The artist wants to do what is known as “preaching to the choir.” And this isn’t preaching to the church choir. This means speaking to the group that is already on board with the message.

Artists want to serve their existing fans- to give them more of what they already love about that artist.

But artist’s don’t want to get too repetitive in their “sermons.” For example, Kenny Chesney has recorded a lot of beach songs. This doesn’t mean that you should never pitch Kenny a beach song. The beach is an important part of his brand, and he’s sure to revisit it again and again on future albums.

Your opportunity is in songs that fill the spaces the artist’s existing songs don’t already occupy.

Write and pitch songs that do something new melodically and/or lyrically. You can’t bring Chesney another “When The Sun Goes Down” that feels like “When The Sun Goes Down” AND covers the same ground lyrically.

Give the artist a different verse from the same chapter, or a different chapter from the same book.

A successful artist has a point of view. They revisit certain themes in their songs again and again. One artist may sing about how great small towns are and how the people are salt of the earth. The listeners who connect to that theme become “the choir” that those songs preach to. In that situation, the artist will probably want a few songs that preach to that choir. Maybe it won’t be exactly the same type of song, but it will connect with the same audience.

Let the artist offer up a song that allows them to say, “Hey, if you liked what that other song of mine had to say, you’ll also like this.”

And if you liked this blog post, you might like my FREE e-book, "Think Like A Pro Songwriter." It's a quick, easy read, and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Think Pro

God bless,

Brent

Are you on the Songwriting P.A.T.H.?

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on September 12, 2018


Songwriting is a journey. If you have big dreams for your songwriting, then it’s a long journey. It’s been my experience that a wise path is critical to a successful journey. Here are the elements of a wise P.A.T.H.

Purpose.
Why are you on this journey in the first place? Where do you want to go, and why do you want to go there? Without a clearly-defined purpose, without a desired destination at the end of the path, all you can do is wander. Wandering is fine if you’re just out for a nice walk. But if you want to get somewhere, you need to find or define your purpose.

Action.
The path will not travel under your feet. You have to get moving! Take action, but not just any random action. The point isn’t to walk in circles or to run in place. Take the action you believe will move you in the direction of your purpose. Keep your purpose in mind, and act.

Time.
Any purpose worth following will not be fulfilled overnight. You have to put in the time. You have to resolve yourself to sticking with it for the long haul. Success doesn’t come easily or quickly. Pack a lunch, and wear some comfortable walking shoes- this will take a while.

Habit.
Habit multiplies the effects of your efforts. When you have Purposeful Action Taken Habitually (hey, that spells P.A.T.H., too), that’s when all your positive momentum starts adding up like a snowball rolling downhill. But this isn’t auto-pilot, and you’re not taking the path of least resistance. You’re still keeping your purpose in mind and taking action again and again. This habit doesn’t replace thought. Thoughtful, purposeful action IS your habit.

The path to success is paved with the stones of Purpose, Action, Time and Habit.

Knowing how to stay on the P.A.T.H. is important for pro songwriters- or those who want to turn pro. And if YOU want to turn pro, I have a great opportunity for you.

Every Monday night in October, I'm hosting The C4 Experience, or C4X.  It's an exclusive, live online event where I help 10 writers like YOU create explosive growth in your commercial songwriting.  I want you to win, and I'm going to help you write songs that artists want to sing, radio wants to play and fans want to hear.

C4X Logo

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Small Details = Big-time Songwriting

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on September 05, 2018


There is power in finding images that go deeper than the obvious or cliche'.

I had a publisher tell me once, ”write about the truck from the INSIDE THE CAB, not from the OUTSIDE”

"The truck," of course, is a metaphor for the situation of the song- the song's emotion and story.  (Funny how I've always remembered that metaphor- it's probably because it's wrapped in an image.  Hmmm...)

Too many writers (and I was obviously guilty of this) write about "the truck” - the situation in the song- from the outside. They describe it using imagery and details that anyone who isn’t IN that situation could use. It’s the obvious ones. And, usually, it’s the cliche’ ones.

Our job is to dig deeper.

We need to use our memory, our imagination, research, and whatever we have at our disposal (including our cowriters), to write from the inside of the truck.

That’s what I tried to do with my Alan Jackson cut, “Monday Morning Church,” and it made a big difference.

Once the situation was decided- the man had lost his wife, who was the more spiritual of the two and his anchor- the trick was to figure out “what does this look like from the inside?” The results were the opening lines:

You left your Bible on the dresser so I put it in the drawer
‘Cuz I can’t seem to talk to God without yelling anymore


Yes, the part about yelling at God is a bold, raw, and real way to start off a song. But the first line is really important, too. "You left your Bible on the dresser so I put it in the drawer," balances the big, bold statement yelling at God by giving the listener something small, real and believable. Plus, the Bible sets up “God” in the second line.

Use inside details, but be sure and use details that make sense to the listener. Be inside, but not too inside. In our truck analogy, write from inside the cab, which people can understand. Don’t write from so far inside the truck that you’re in the carburetor and only a mechanic knows what you’re talking about.

Also, keep the images relevant. They should add to our understanding of the characters or story, not just be filler. In our “Monday Morning Church” example, the fact that she left her Bible on the dresser is very telling. It’s HER Bible. She reads it often enough that she keeps it out where it’s handy. The next lines show the listener, in pictures, that the singer’s putting it out of his sight because he’s too angry at God.  If I'd started off with something like...

"You left your makeup on the counter, so I put it in the drawer
And I can't seem to talk to God without yelling anymore"


...the first line wouldn't be nearly as useful.  Yes, it tells us that she left her makeup, but it doesn't set up the spiritual aspect of her character or of the song.  It's just a random image that doesn't "point to the point" of the song.

So next time you write, take your time. Close your eyes and imagine the situation. Then climb into the truck.

What are some songs (in your opinion) that do a good job of writing from inside the “truck?” Do you find that this comes naturally to you, or is it a struggle?  Please leave a comment- I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Knowing how to use small details to leverage big emotion is important for pro songwriters- or those who want to turn pro. And if YOU want to turn pro, I have a great opportunity for you.

Every Monday night in October, I'm hosting The C4 Experience, or C4X.  It's an exclusive, live online event where I help 10 writers like YOU create explosive growth in your commercial songwriting.  I want you to win, and I'm going to help you write songs that artists want to sing, radio wants to play and fans want to hear.

C4X Logo

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Fail. Fail again. Then win.

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on August 29, 2018


Let me share some failures with you. But don’t worry. There’s a happy ending.

Elvis Presley was booed off stage in Batesville, Arkansas (my hometown). Garth Brooks got passed on by every record label in Nashville.”Bless The Broken Road” was a non-hit single for an artist named Melodie Crittenden in 1998. A songwriter named Brett James gave up on the music biz and moved back to Oklahoma. A young songwriter named Kenny Chesney was told by a cowriter they should hire a demo singer for their song because Kenny “can’t sing.” “Monday Morning Church,” written by two unknown writers, failed to make NSAI’s Pitch-To-Publisher Luncheon.

What a bunch of losers, right? What a bunch of nobodies who never made it and songs that failed miserably.

Of course, we all know that’s not how these stories end.

Garth, Elvis, and Kenny became hugely successful artists, selling millions of records. Brett James started getting cuts, moved back to Nashville, and has written a ton of hits. “Bless The Broken Road” became a multi-week #1 and career song for Rascal Flatts. “Monday Morning Church” went top 5 for Alan Jackson and got me into the music business.

That’s how life often works. Fail. Fail again. Then win.

Obviously, not every song and songwriter that gets rejected will eventually find major success. Honestly, most won’t. Some songwriters have countless “fails” before a win. Some don’t have very many at all.

So, if you have some failures on your ledger... so what? Dust yourself off and try again. Learn from your failures. Fail again. Fail better.

The truth is, we rarely know when we’re close to a success or a breakthrough. We just keep working hard, plugging away. Fail. Fail again...

I know, I know. It’s easy for me to say. I’ve been blessed with some wins to go along with my losses. And I can’t promise you that your next (or first) win is just around the corner. But I can promise you that failing is just part of the process. It’s a part of every success story.

Don't Fear Failure

Maybe it's time to try again.

On September 25, I'm hosting Songwriting Pro's quarterly "Play For A Publisher" event with hit music publisher, John Ozier of Ole Music in Nashville, TN. John has worked with several #1 hit songwriters, and he's landed many, many songs with major artists. This is YOUR opportunity to connect face-to-face with a hit music publisher and have him hear YOUR song! And since it's an online event, it doesn't matter where in the world you live.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND ENTER YOUR SONG TODAY!

Ozier P4P Poster 9 18

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

If your songs confuse, they lose.

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on August 22, 2018


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.

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.

On September 25, I'm hosting Songwriting Pro's quarterly "Play For A Publisher" event with hit music publisher, John Ozier of Ole Music in Nashville, TN. John has worked with several #1 hit songwriters, and he's landed many, many songs with major artists. This is YOUR opportunity to connect face-to-face with a hit music publisher and have him hear YOUR song! And since it's an online event, it doesn't matter where in the world you live.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND ENTER YOUR SONG TODAY!

Ozier P4P Poster 9 18

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

I’m nothing special- and that’s good news for you!

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on August 15, 2018


I’m nothing special.

There’s no big obvious reason for the moderate success I’ve had in the music business. I’m not a musical child prodigy. I wasn’t born into a music biz family. I don’t come from money or connections. I’m not even from Tennessee.

I’m just the son of two school teachers. I grew up in Batesville, Arkansas- by no means a musical hotbed. I don’t have natural musical talent. (I sing like a horse and haven’t picked up a guitar in years.)

I was never handed the songwriting golden ticket.

In spite of all that, I’ve been able to earn some success in the music business. I’ve had a top 5 hit in the US, a #1 Single Of The Year in Canada, 3 publishing deals, and cuts by artists including Alan Jackson, Lady Antebellum, Randy Travis, and Joe Nichols.

That’s not Hall of Fame success, but’s it more than a lot who try their hand at songwriting. But I’m nothing special. And that’s good news for you. Why?

Because you’re probably nothing special, too.

Odds are that, like me, you weren’t a child prodigy who is amazing at everything. You probably weren’t born with music industry connections, either.

So if I can have some success, why not you?

God gives each of us certain talents. Mine is a knack for words. I’ve always loved playing with language. I didn’t choose that gift- it was given to me.

But what I could control was how hard I worked, how I didn’t give up, and how I took bold action.

Those aren’t natural talents. Those are choices. Choices YOU can make, too.

Are you ready to make choices that give you a better chance at success? Are you ready to make a choice to get off the bench and get in the game?

If you're ready to take bold action, I have a great opportunity for you.

On September 25, I'm hosting Songwriting Pro's quarterly "Play For A Publisher" event with hit music publisher, John Ozier of Ole Music in Nashville, TN. John has worked with several #1 hit songwriters, and he's landed many, many songs with major artists. This is YOUR opportunity to connect face-to-face with a hit music publisher and have him hear YOUR song! And since it's an online event, it doesn't matter where in the world you live.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND ENTER YOUR SONG TODAY!

Ozier P4P Poster 9 18

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Do you feel invisible to music publishers?

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on August 08, 2018


Most songwriters can't seem to get a music publisher's attention.

They're simply invisible, or at least it feels that way.  And maybe your songs are good.  Maybe they're really good.  But that doesn't matter much if you're missing the other key things you need to get on a publisher's radar.

You see, publishers are surrounded by songs and songwriters.  They find them at writers nights, they meet them at workshops, they often meet with new writers sent to them from PROs, other publishers, and friends.  Basically, they listen to songs and meet with songwriters. All. Freaking. Day.

Publishers are drowning in songs and songwriters.  And you're offering them a cup of water.

Pub Drowning

So, how do you get publishers to notice YOU and YOUR SONGS?

REACH & FREQUENCY.

Before a publisher can even form an opinion of you as a songwriter, he or she must know you exist.  And they'll never know you exist if you don't reach them.

There are several ways to reach a publisher.  You can ping them on social media with something kind or helpful.  (Don't be a taker.)  You might meet them at a workshop or event such as Songwriting Pro's Play For A Publisher event.  Maybe they hear your name from another songwriter or see it on a lyric sheet as they listen to one of your songs.  Maybe they'll see you at a writers night or shake your hand at an industry function.

You've reached the publisher and you've gotten their attention for a second, a minute, or even an hour.  But it's not enough.

Even if they like you.  Even if they like your songs.  You walk out of that room, and "poof" - you're invisible again.  They'll have another meeting, go to another writers round or hear another batch of good songs.

You need frequency.  So get your frequency on.

Frequency

You need your name, face and/or songs to reach that publisher again.  And again.  And again.  You need to reach that publisher with enough frequency that they go from "I'm sorry... have we met?" to "What's your name again?" to "Yeah, you wrote that song about blah blah blah" to "Hey, Joe!  Great to see you again!  How ya been?"

You have to be patient.  But don't be so patient that you only reach out to them every other year.

You have to be persistent.  But don't be so persistent that you call them every other day.


So, what's the right frequency?  I can't tell you that.  It's going to be different for each songwriter and each publisher.  But I do know this:  If your songs are really great or really horrible, it won't take nearly as long for the publisher to remember and form an opinion of you.  So if you're really, really bad, you should probably focus on your craft before worrying about finding a publisher.

But if you ARE ready to reach a publisher in a friendly setting- on a personal level- without your songs being judged- I have a great opportunity for you.

On September 25, I'm hosting Songwriting Pro's quarterly "Play For A Publisher" event with hit music publisher, John Ozier of Ole Music in Nashville, TN. John has worked with several #1 hit songwriters, and he's landed many, many songs with major artists. This is YOUR opportunity to connect face-to-face with a hit music publisher and have him hear YOUR song! And since it's an online event, it doesn't matter where in the world you live.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND ENTER YOUR SONG TODAY!

Ozier P4P Poster 9 18

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Do you have to go to a songwriting or music school to be successful?

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on August 01, 2018


Is it necessary to go to a school (college or university) to learn how to write songs?  Or is there a faster, better way?

Well, you'll be happy to hear that no, you don't HAVE to go to a college or university and get some sort of songwriting degree.

I don't have anything against schools or schooling (in fact, I stayed in college and got my MBA), and I know some very talented, successful musicians who went to well-known music schools. But those schools are very expensive.  These days, a great music eduction doesn't have to be thousands and thousands of dollars per year.

I didn't go to music school.  I went to business school.  All my songwriting training was through self-study, books, cowriters, and workshops.  It took time, but I eventually learned enough to get some cuts, hits, and publishing deals.

You can learn faster than I did - if you're willing to focus.

There are so many more ways these days to learn songwriting - from anywhere in the world - than there were when I was back in Arkansas.  Heck, I'm putting out valuable FREE content every week here at this blog and through my podcast (www.theclimbshow.com).

There are also paid courses and coaching where you can learn from the pros.  You get personalized attention for just a fraction of the cost (and time) of one semester of a college.  Plus, you can focus on what you REALLY want to learn.  (In other words, you don't have to take math classes if you don't want to.)

So if you have the ability to read this blog (and you obviously do), there is no excuse for you to put off your music education.

And believe me, if you want to get paid for your songwriting and music skills, you NEED to invest in yourself and your craft.  After all, many of the people competing against you for a spot on a record, on a stage, or on a record label ARE investing in themselves.

A little time and/or money invested in your craft can save you years and thousands of dollars of costly mistakes down the road.

Music schools aren't a bad thing.  But a lot of you out there can make big gains in your songwriting and music career in a lot less time while spending a lot less money.  If you feel like you're ready to get some more personalized, focused attention, I have a great opportunity for you.

In August, I'm hosting not just one but two "Know The Row" events! The first, on August 14, is with Scot Sherrod of Rare Spark Media. This is your chance to hang out online and ask YOUR questions to a real hit music publisher.  Scot has had his hand in several hit country songs and film/tv placements, and his current roster includes rising country star, Walker Hayes ("You Broke Up With Me" and "Craig"). Then, on August 16, our guest will be rising Canadian country star, Aaron Goodvin. And Aaron isn't just an artist- he's also a pro songwriter with cuts by Luke Bryan and more. This is your chance to ask an artist how they made it and what they look for in cowriters and songs (or whatever else you want to ask).

This is YOUR chance to sit down face-to-face (online) with a real-deal music publisher, a real-deal artist and songwriter and I hope you won't let it slip away.

Here's the deal.  You can join us online from anywhere in the world on August 14 & 16.  And "Know The Row" events are FREE to members of Frettie.com!  (But don't worry- a small number of tickets have been made available in case you don't want to take advantage of all of Frettie's membership benefits.)

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

Goodvin Sherrod poster

God bless,

Brent

Songwriting Success: D.R.I.P. by D.R.I.P.

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on July 25, 2018


Success is not an overnight explosion- regardless of how an “overnight success” might be viewed by others.  No, success is usually more like water wearing away a stone, drip by drip.  It’s little things making a big difference over time.

So let’s look at the D.R.I.P. method of success:

D - Discipline

Discipline is doing the difficult things, things which require discipline in the first place. It’s getting up early to write.  Or skipping your Netflix time to work on some new chord progressions.  It’s making that uncertain phonecall.

R - Repetition

It’s the repetition of doing the right things consistently- not just once or sporadically.  It’s doing the right things over and over again, day after day, month after month, and year after year. It's consistently sitting down to write, to make connections in the music business, to work on your craft.

I - Integrity

Being dishonest or dishonorable might win in the short term (sometimes).  But the music business is a relationship business, and word will get around.  If you don’t have integrity- if people don’t feel they can trust you, you will become isolated, and you won’t have those important strong relationships. And nobody becomes successful alone. We all need relationships. And a lack of integrity kills relationships.

P - Purpose

Purpose is two-fold.  First, you need to know why you’re running this music-business-marathon.  If you don’t have a strong sense of purpose, it’s very easy to quit.  Secondly, you must act with purpose.  Keeping your purpose (goals, etc.) in mind helps you figure out what the important tasks are- the tasks which require disciple, repetition, and integrity. Without purpose, you're like an octopus on roller skates- there's a ton of activity, but you're not going anywhere.

What about you? Are you consistently investing in your craft, in making relationships, and moving toward your musical goals? If you haven't been, or if you're ready for that next step, I have a great opportunity coming up.

On August 14, I'm hosting a "Know The Row" event with Scot Sherrod of Rare Spark Media. This is your chance to hang out online and ask YOUR questions to a real hit music publisher.  Scot has had his hand in several hit country songs and film/tv placements, and his current roster includes rising country star, Walker Hayes ("You Broke Up With Me" and "Craig.")

This is YOUR chance to sit down face-to-face (online) with a real-deal music publisher, and I hope you won't let it slip away.

Here's the deal.  You can join us online from anywhere in the world on Tuesday, August 14, 2018 from 7pm-8pm Central time.  And "Know The Row" events are FREE to members of Frettie.com!  (But don't worry- a small number of tickets have been made available in case you don't want to take advantage of all of Frettie's membership benefits.)

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

Sherrod KtR Poster

God bless,

Brent

Your Friends Determine Your Songwriting Future

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on July 18, 2018


"Show me your friends, and I'll show you your future."

Yes, I know that probably sounds like something your mother would say. But I think it’s true. And, if it IS true, it really matters who you let into your inner circle.

Consider these thoughts:

“You are the average of your 5 closest friends.”

“A person seldom outperforms his inner circle of friends.”

“People tend to earn within 10% of what their friends earn.”

“Birds of a feather flock together.”

Now consider YOUR inner circle- your closest friends, family, cowriters and music business connections. If the above statements are true, then it really matters what type of people these folks are.

If your friends are lazy songwriters, you’re more likely to be a lazy songwriter.

If your inner circle is full of negative complainers, you’ll end up being one, too.

If your close friends aren’t pitching songs or networking, you won’t do as much of it, either.

However, if your friends are serious about becoming better songwriters, you’ll become a better songwriter, too.

If your inner circle is full of positive, motivated people, you’ll stay more positive and motivated, too.

If your close friends are pitching songs and networking, you’ll likely do more of that, as well.

In light of this, are there changes you need to make? Obviously, you shouldn’t leave your family. Nor am I saying that you should never talk to your “happy-with-mediocrity” friends again. But I am encouraging you to seek out and start spending time with the go-getters, the achievers, the folks with positive, can-do attitudes. After all, the people closest to you are the ones who rub off on you the most.

Do you want to rub shoulders with people who have the "pro" mindset? Are you not even sure what the "pro" mindset is, but you want to hear directly from a real pro? If that's you, I have a great opportunity coming up.

On August 14, I'm hosting a "Know The Row" event with Scot Sherrod of Rare Spark Media. This is your chance to hang out online and ask YOUR questions to a real hit music publisher.  Scot has had his hand in several hit country songs and film/tv placements, and his current roster includes rising country star, Walker Hayes ("You Broke Up With Me" and "Craig.")

This is YOUR chance to sit down face-to-face (online) with a real-deal music publisher, and I hope you won't let it slip away.

Here's the deal.  You can join us online from anywhere in the world on Tuesday, August 14, 2018 from 7pm-8pm Central time.  And "Know The Row" events are FREE to members of Frettie.com!  (But don't worry- a small number of tickets have been made available in case you don't want to take advantage of all of Frettie's membership benefits.)

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

Sherrod KtR Poster

God bless,

Brent

Are You A Shawshank Songwriter?

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on July 11, 2018


If you feel trapped in your day job- if you feel like you’re locked in a prison, I recommend watching “The Shawshank Redemption.” There is an important lesson in there for folks trying to escape their day jobs for the freedom of their dream jobs.

After years behind bars, Tim Robbins’ character, Andy, was finally able to tunnel his way out. No, I’m not suggesting you sneak a breakroom spoon into your cubicle and dig when your boss isn’t looking. The lesson is not about the tunneling itself, but how Andy went about it.

He was extremely patient and radically persistent.

You see, Andy knew he couldn’t just make a break for the wall and try to climb over. He would’ve gotten shot. He also knew that he couldn’t tunnel out in one night. There was just an impossible amount of work to do.

Andy knew he could only dig and remove a little bit of dirt a day without getting caught. So that’s what he did. Day after day, month after month, year after year, he dug a little dirt and spread it around the prison yard.

I’m sure there were times he must’ve been so frustrated that he was tempted to scream and hammer at the tunnel wall, desperate to finally get out! But he knew that would only lead to him getting caught- and getting caught meant, at the very least, changing cells and having to start all over.

And maybe that’s how you feel at your day job. You’re frustrated because you feel trapped, yet you can only do a little at a time to escape. Some days you want to walk into your boss's office quit your day job right then... but you can’t. Maybe you don’t have any savings built up. Or maybe you have a family that is depending on you to bring home a steady paycheck, and you know you can’t let them down.

Or instead of quitting, you’re tempted to lock yourself in your writing room every night after work and polish your songwriting chops or stay out late at songwriter nights every night to network. But you have a spouse and children who need you, so you can’t.

So what do you do? You do what Andy did.

You plan your escape tunnel. Decide how much and how often you can dig without causing certain financial or family ruin. (Notice I said “certain” not “possible.” There will always be risk in chasing your dream, but you don’t have to be suicidal.) Then you start digging at that pace- day after day, month after month, year after year. Dig as long as it takes. Adjust your pace when you can.

Yes, it’s going to test your patience. Yes, it’ll feel like it’s taking too long. But be patient. Yes, it will take longer than the mad scramble up the prison wall, but it’s worth it to dig a tunnel big enough to bring your family and a little money with you on your escape.

If you want to get out of your day-job-prison faster, to tunnel faster, it sure helps to have some relationships in the music business- and to get some real advice from some real professionals. And if you're ready to start building relationships in the music biz, I have a great opportunity coming up for you.

On August 14, I'm hosting a Know The Row" event with Scot Sherrod of Rare Spark Media. This is your chance to hang out online and ask YOUR questions to a real hit music publisher.  Scot has had his hand in several hit country songs and film/tv placements, and his current roster includes rising country star, Walker Hayes ("You Broke Up With Me" and "Craig.")

This is YOUR chance to sit down face-to-face (online) with a real-deal music biz professional, and I hope you won't let it slip away.

Here's the deal.  You can join us online from anywhere in the world on Tuesday, August 14, 2018 from 7pm-8pm Central time.  And "Know The Row" events are FREE to members of Frettie.com!  (But don't worry- a small number of tickets have been made available in case you don't want to take advantage of all of Frettie's membership benefits.)

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

Sherrod KtR Poster

God bless,

Brent

Day Job: Songwriting Prison… or Songwriter Patron?

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on July 04, 2018


If you have the dream of being a full-time songwriter, singer/songwriter, or other type of creative, I know it’s easy to think of your day job as a prison. You feel chained to your desk, or to the sales floor, or to the job site all day. You feel imprisoned by the 8-to-5 because you aren’t free to do what you love all day. This view of your day job as a prison understandably breeds resentment and despair.

But what if there’s another way to look at it? What if, instead of being your prison, your day job is your patron?

It’s never been easy making a living from art. Way back when, artists used to find a rich person to provide financial backing so they could work on their art. This person was known as a "patron."  Of course, these days I wouldn’t expect to find someone to give you room and board just so you can write songs. (Of course, there are a few publishing deals out there, but they don’t usually pay enough to feed a family.)

So let your day job be your patron.

Let your day job pay for the roof over your writing room and the coffee in your mug. Let your job during the day fund your art on nights and weekends. Get paid while you build connections in the music business. Let your boss pay for your demos- he won’t even ask for your publishing!

I know, I know. It’s easy to resent that your day job doesn’t allow you time to write as much as you want. Believe me, I’ve been there, and it pretty much sucks.

But, in reality, your day job DOES buy you more time. It buys you time to learn and get better while there’s very little to lose by failing. It buys you time to work on your craft. It buys you time to gather your cowriting crew. It buys you time to connect with baby artists. It buys you time you need.

It usually takes years to hone your craft. It takes years to build a strong network. Those are years you won’t have if you quit your job with little or no savings and only a few songs in your catalog. You’ll probably starve. And I know from experience that relying completely on songwriting to feed your family is extremely difficult. And I’ve had hits and publishing deals!

I’m not trying to discourage you from ever making “the leap.” That’s ultimately between God, you and your family. But if you have to be in a day job for now, I want to open your eyes to a new way of thinking about it. I want to help you have a perspective on it that will help you persist and grind until you can make that leap to being a full-time creative.

I encourage you to use this time to improve your songwriting, build relationships, and start growing your business.

Turn your prison into your patron.

If you're ready to start building some relationships in the music business, I have a great opportunity coming up for you.

On August 14, I'm hosting a Know The Row" event with Scot Sherrod of Rare Spark Media. This is your chance to hang out online and ask YOUR questions to a real hit music publisher.  Scot has had his hand in several hit country songs and film/tv placements, and his current roster includes rising country star, Walker Hayes ("You Broke Up With Me" and "Craig.")

This is YOUR chance to sit down face-to-face (online) with a real-deal music biz professional, and I hope you won't let it slip away.

Here's the deal.  You can join us online from anywhere in the world on Tuesday, August 14, 2018 from 7pm-8pm Central time.  And "Know The Row" events are FREE to members of Frettie.com!  (But don't worry- a small number of tickets have been made available in case you don't want to take advantage of all of Frettie's membership benefits.)

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

Sherrod KtR Poster

God bless,

Brent

Where Have All The Story Songs Gone?

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on June 27, 2018


It's easy to listen to current Top 40 country and pop and wonder, "Where have the great story songs gone?" And where are the songs that make you think? Are all the music fans REALLY this stupid and shallow these days?"

I love a good story song.  I love those songs that grab you right away, then keep your attention for a killer payoff 3 (or 4) minutes later.  "The Gambler," cut by Kenny Rogers.  "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" and "The Legend Of Wooly Swamp," cut by Charlie Daniels.  "Where Have You Been" by Kathy Mattea.  "The Thunder Rolls" and "That Summer" by Garth Brooks.  Killer, killer, killer.

Where are the NEW story songs on the radio?

It's not like writers aren't writing quality story songs.  Heck, I have several available for cutting RIGHT NOW (hint, hint- if you're reading this, Garth).  But artists aren't cutting many story songs these days.  And why aren't listeners demanding more story songs?  Are they too dumb to recognize great songs?  Are they too dumb to follow stories?

Listeners aren't dumb.  They're distracted.

Man, I remember getting a new album and cranking it up - either keeping my eyes closed or reading along with the liner lyrics.  You might remember doing that, too.  Heck, you might still do that.  After all, we need music like most people need air and water.  Music will get our full attention.

Music never gets the full attention of most people these days.

Think about it.  How much can you connect with a story song while you're texting, driving, eating, doing homework, making out, on social media, gaming on your phone, or any of the other billion things we can be doing while listening to music?

Ever try to talk to someone while they're also checking their phone?  Annoying, isn't it?  You know they're not REALLY listening, even if they are technically hearing you.

If our own friends and family won't give us their full attention, how can we expect strangers to give our songs their full attention?

I think that's why a lot of songs these days don't require much from the listener - either in thought or attention span.

In country music, production is being asked to carry more and more of the weight of the song, and there's less reliance on ideas and lyrics.  (Of course, that's a general statement, and there are examples to the contrary.)

Many lyrics are built where the listener can zone in and out and still get the point of the song.

They won't really be confused.  After all, "Girl, get your cutoffs on my tailgate" doesn't really need an intricate story.

Does this mean you should only write shallow songs? No. My suggestion is that you present your deep idea in a way that is easy to "get" by the short-attention-span audience.  My kids never have a problem eating their sweet gummy vitamins.  Why?  Because they taste good.  They want candy.  They need vitamins.

Solution: give them vitamins that look and taste like candy.  One cowriter friend of mine calls it "putting cheese on the broccoli."

Give the listener what they NEED, wrapped in what they WANT.

Part of this can be done with tempo.  If you have a "message song," try NOT to write it as a ballad. See if you can give it some tempo. If it's catchy, they listener might like it even if they NEVER hear the deeper message.

Another way is to wrap it in a simple story or in simple wording. Don't use "$5 words."  Use simple words.  Use simple phrases.  It's hard to explain, but don't present your song as "this is really important, so you'd better listen closely because it will change your life."

Of course, some ideas may NEED a serious presentation, and that's fine.  But it's usually a good idea to see if you can wrap your vitamins in sweet gummy goodness.

Try presenting a deep or positive message in a shallow way.

Still not sure what I mean?  Here's an example of a recent song I wrote with Steve Leslie and Zarni de Vette.  We take a positive message (praising a woman's inner qualities) and wrap it in fun.  See what you think.

LOVE YOUR BODY (Baxter, Leslie, de Vette)

Knowing simple things like this is how you write market-smart songs that have a better chance of getting recorded by a major artist.  If you want to learn more about how to write market-smart songs, I have a great opportunity coming up for you.

In July, I'm hosting Songwriting Pro's "Building A Hit: From Blank Page To Finished Lyric" online workshop series. This 4-week series will help you get your best song ideas ever, write them better than ever, and actually finish them! It's a game-changer. And since it's an online event, it doesn't matter where in the world you live. But space is limited, and the deadline to reserve your spot is Sunday, July 1.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

BaHit

God bless,

Brent

Are you writing songs from the most powerful point of view?

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on June 20, 2018


Sometimes we hit a roadblock with our song because we’re writing from the wrong (or less than best) point of view.

Let’s say you’re writing about domestic abuse. (I know, I know. It’s an uplifting topic, but bear with me.) Consider all the characters your singer could be:

The abusive husband.

The abused wife.

The child who is a witness / victim.

The neighbor who overhears them.

The police officer called to the scene.


And these are only some of the PEOPLE who could tell the story. If you get a little further out there, your singer could even be:

The wedding ring.

The family dog.

The hole he punched in the wall.

The bathroom mirror where she puts on makeup to cover the bruises.

The angel who comforts the child hiding under the bed.

God, watching the whole thing.


Or your singer could simply act as a reporter who says, “he did this, she did that,” and isn’t involved in the story as a character.

The options are pretty limitless. And each point of view will bring a different energy to your song. Feel free to experiment with the point of view in your song- you might just find something amazing.

What about you?  What is the most interesting point of view you've used in one of your songs?  I'd love to hear from you! 

Knowing simple things like this is how you write market-smart songs that have a better chance of getting recorded by a major artist.  If you want to learn more about how to write market-smart songs, I have a great opportunity coming up for you.

In July, I'm hosting Songwriting Pro's "Building A Hit: From Blank Page To Finished Lyric" online workshop series. This 4-week series will help you get your best song ideas ever, write them better than ever, and actually finish them! It's a game-changer. And since it's an online event, it doesn't matter where in the world you live. But space is limited, and the deadline to reserve your spot is Sunday, July 1.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

BaHit

God bless,

Brent

Pick Up The Tempo To Pick Up More Fans

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on June 13, 2018


You should probably be writing more uptempo songs than you already are.

Why? Let me tell you. Tempo is the speed of your song in beats per minute, or bpm. As a general principle, uptempo songs are in higher demand than midtempo or ballads. Therefore, your best bet to get a cut is by writing great uptempo songs.

Knock knock. Who's there? Math.

Look at the albums by the top artists. Most of their songs are mid- and uptempo. There’s usually only one or two true ballads on most albums these days. Radio mostly plays uptempo and midtempo. They want the listeners to feel good and stick around through the commercials. And, finally, artists want their shows to be fun- they want the crowd on their feet, singing along and having a great time so they buy a T-shirt at the merch table.

An artist works hard to get everybody on their feet at a show. Then he plays a ballad, and what does everyone do? They sit back down. Now the artist has to work hard to get them on their feet again. Because of this, most artists don’t play many ballads in their shows.

Shows, radio, and records all rely on tempo.

Therefore, it’s wise give your song, if possible, a faster tempo.

Here’s another reason to lean toward writing tempo. A lot of people listen “beat first.” This means they don’t pay attention to the lyrics of the song at first. They listen for a good beat or a cool groove first. Then, if they like the beat or groove, they MIGHT get around to connecting with the lyric.

Your song might have a great idea and a powerful lyric, but “beat first” listeners will likely never know. Writing songs with a good beat and a good lyric helps your song connect faster to both beat-first and lyric-first listeners.

Knowing simple things like this is how you write market-smart songs that have a better chance of getting recorded by a major artist.  If you want to learn more about how to write market-smart songs, I have a great opportunity coming up for you.

In July, I'm hosting Songwriting Pro's "Building A Hit: From Blank Page To Finished Lyric" online workshop series. This 4-week series will help you get your best song ideas ever, write them better than ever, and actually finish them! It's a game-changer. And since it's an online event, it doesn't matter where in the world you live. But space is limited, and the deadline to reserve your spot is Sunday, July 1.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

BaHit

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Write The Video Before You Write The Song

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on June 06, 2018


As songwriters, we sometimes to leave too much information IN our heads and OFF of the page.

This is a big mistake, and it can leave our listener either confused or emotionally disconnected from our song. So why do we do this? Maybe we know the story too well. Maybe we’ve lived the story, and our memories fill in the blanks that are in the lyric. Or we don't know the story well enough, and we end up with a vague, disjointed story. Either way, our lyrics can sometimes just tell about the story without actually giving us the story.

You might say, “Last night, you made me cry,” without telling us that he made you cry BECAUSE he “looked at me with cold blue eyes like I was some stranger he was telling goodbye.” It’s up in your head- you see the picture when you sing that line. But the listeners won’t see that. They can’t. They’re not in your head.

Don't just TELL the emotion. SHOW the cause of the emotions.

One way to help build the habit of showing-instead-of-telling is to “write the video.” This is not actual storyboarding, where you frame each shot and decide on all the edits and cuts. It’s just writing down what you see in your mind’s eye when you’re thinking about the story in your song. It can be stream-of-consciousness, or it can be more structured. Memories or make believe, it doesn’t matter. Just capture the sights, sounds, tastes, touch and smells of your story.

This process is good for a few reasons:

1. It gives you a stack of images to use in your lyrics.

Now you can pick out the coolest, most true images for your song.  You're not stuck just using what you can think of in the moment.  Instead of "well, that's the best I could think of at the time," you get to say "that's the best I could think of. Period."

2. It helps you really solidify your thoughts.

Instead of vague notions you’re trying to capture in your song, you’ve already sketched out your story. Now, instead of trying to come up with the next rhyme, you’re more likely to think about what the thought needs to be. And a cool thought is much more important than just a cool rhyme.

3. It helps you reach past cliche’ images.

It might be easy to just write about her “feet on the dashboard” because that’s what country songs say (and you’re just focused on finding a line that sings well). However, if you spend more time on the story without being constrained by “next line syndrome,” you’re more likely to say, “Well, no. Her feet weren’t on the dash. One leg was curled up under the other.” That’s way more original and more believable.

So, remember. Focus on giving the listener the cause of your emotions, not just your emotions. Write the video to your song, and you’re more likely to see the video OF your song someday. Oh, and if you do dream of getting your songs recorded by a major artist, getting cool videos made and all that, I have a great opportunity coming up for you.

In July, I'm hosting Songwriting Pro's "Building A Hit: From Blank Page To Finished Lyric" online workshop series. This 4-week series will help you get your best song ideas ever, write them better than ever, and actually finish them! It's a game-changer. And since it's an online event, it doesn't matter where in the world you live. But space is limited, and the deadline to reserve your spot is Sunday, July 1.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

BaHit

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Why Won’t A Music Publisher Respond To My Email?

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on May 30, 2018


Okay, you know the drill.  You email a music publisher, and you wait for a reply.  And you wait.  And you wait.  And then you say bad words and wait some more.  Man, I've been there, too- and it just stinks.

You're left to wonder why Publisher X isn't getting back to you, and your imagination goes to work.  And songwriters can have some pretty active imaginations!

     "She hates me."

     "He's a blankety-blank-blank jerk!"

     "The world is against me."

     "They stole my song and deleted my email!!!"


Honestly, the truth is probably nowhere near that nefarious.  Let's take a look at some of the more likely culprits:

The publisher never opened your email.

Maybe the publisher has a "no unsolicited email" policy for legal and waste-of-time reasons, so they don't open any email from unknown writers.  Or maybe they have an assistant who cleans out any emails that don't look legit.  Or maybe he's just so busy that he just never has time to get to emails from unknown senders.  That's why cold emails have such a low response rate.

You're unprofessional.

An unknown sender putting "HERE'S A #$%ING HIT FOR KEITH URBAN" or "Million Dollar Idea!" or "I have lots of hits for you!" just screams "unprofessional."  Or maybe you tell your whole life story in the body of the email.  Why would a busy pro want to waste his or her time reading so much from a complete stranger?  Even if the song is good, why deal with an unprofessional when you can get plenty of great songs from trusted professionals?

You're creepy or scary.

If your email somehow gets opened, but you come across as crazy or a stalker, forget it.  If you complain about how other folks have stolen your songs, you look like a lawsuit waiting to happen.  Delete.  If you ask him how his 3-year-old's birthday party went at Chuck E. Cheese- AND HE DOESN'T KNOW YOU- he's filing you in the "Read this in case I disappear" folder.  If you tell her you're about to lose your house if you don't "sell a song" right now, she doesn't want to be the one to send you over the edge.  Remember:

You want to be the solution to an industry pro's problems- you don't want to add to them.

Your song just wasn't that good.

Maybe your song is awful, but they don't want to tell you that. (Who likes to say that?  Especially when you might show up in their parking lot with a van and a bottle of chloroform?)  But they also don't want to give you false hope and invite more awful songs (which will make them want to use the chloroform on themselves.)  Or maybe your song wasn't bad, but it just isn't great or great for the album/artist in question, and they're just busy.

The publisher simply forgot.

It happens.  Maybe they wanted to take a second listen later and forgot.  Or maybe they did listen and just forgot to respond.  Or maybe they forwarded it for someone else's opinion, and it got lost in the inbox.  Hey, humanity happens.

So what do you do about this? Well, stop being creepy and unprofessional, for one thing. Not being creepy is ALWAYS a good option. And here's another good option: be there when the publisher listens and get their feedback immediately. Easier said than done, right? Well... maybe not.

On June 19, I'm hosting Songwriting Pro's quarterly "Play For A Publisher" event with hit music publisher, Tim Hunze of Parallel Music in Nashville, TN. Tim has worked with several #1 hit songwriters, and he's landed many, many songs with major artists. This is YOUR opportunity to connect face-to-face with a hit music publisher, have him hear YOUR song, and get immediate feedback! And since it's an online event, it doesn't matter where in the world you live. But the deadline to enter your song is May 31.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND ENTER YOUR SONG TODAY!

Hunze P4P

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

The Danger Of Songwriting “Shambition”

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on May 23, 2018


“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.

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? If it isn't, your dreams probably are NOT going to come true.

Are you happy just playing the part of struggling songwriter or a songwriter “on the rise?” Is the illusion more comfortable than the grind it takes 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 song 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 coming up.

On June 19, I'm hosting Songwriting Pro's quarterly "Play For A Publisher" event with hit music publisher, Tim Hunze of Parallel Music in Nashville, TN. Tim has worked with several #1 hit songwriters, and he's landed many, many songs with major artists. This is YOUR opportunity to connect face-to-face with a hit music publisher and have him hear YOUR song! And since it's an online event, it doesn't matter where in the world you live. But the deadline to enter your song is May 31.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND ENTER YOUR SONG TODAY!

Hunze P4P

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

How Pro Songwriters Know Who’s Looking For Songs

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on May 16, 2018


You might be writing great songs, but you won’t get them recorded if you don’t know who’s actually looking for songs to record. It’s hard enough just to write great, commercial songs. Finding out who’s looking for song like yours is a whole ‘nother ballgame.

Here’s how pro songwriters know who’s looking for songs.

1. Personal relationships.
If you personally know an artist, producer or label A&R, they can tell you if they’re actively listening for a project.  And they MIGHT even know what they need and when they need it.  But remember, any info is always subject to change at a moment’s notice.

2. Industry chatter.
If you can’t get the scoop directly from the horse’s mouth, publishers and other songwriters are always talking.  Keep your ear to the ground, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

3. Industry pitch sheets.
RowFax is a paid subscription service which lists projects, points of contact, etc.  It might even say what they’re looking for (usually “hits” or “great songs” or “uptempo positive”.  There are also a few inside-the-industry tip sheets, too.  But you have to know somebody to get them.  Now, these definitely carry some incorrect info- a buddy of mine was on there, and for a long time it listed the incorrect producer and music description.  So take it all with a grain of salt.  Oh, and tip sheets don’t provide contact information- you have to get that some other way.

4. Liner notes.
If an artist is doing well, you know they’re gonna make another album.  And they’ll probably be looking real hard when they’re on the second or third single from their current album.  Check the album’s liner notes for the name of their label and producer, then do some research for how to find them.  Of course, the artist may be changing producers for the next album, so you never know for sure.

5. Music publishers.
If you’re signed to a publishing deal or are friends with a music publisher, they’ll know who’d looking for songs and how to get songs to them. Correction. If they’re a LEGIT music publisher, they’ll know who’s looking and how to get songs to them. If you have the right song, they’ll get it to the right ears.

I hope that helps.  I know there’s no magic bullet, but that’s just the way it is.  That’s one reason why writers that have success can keep it going more easily- they have more accurate information because of their connections.  Good luck out there.

Oh, and I can help you meet a legit music publisher.

On June 19, I'm hosting Songwriting Pro's quarterly "Play For A Publisher" event with hit music publisher, Tim Hunze of Parallel Music in Nashville, TN. Tim has worked with several #1 hit songwriters, and he's landed many, many songs with major artists. This is YOUR opportunity to connect face-to-face with a hit music publisher and have him hear YOUR song! And since it's an online event, it doesn't matter where in the world you live.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND ENTER YOUR SONG TODAY!

Hunze P4P

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

The Cure For Your Songwriting Pain

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on May 09, 2018


Songwriters are a sick bunch of folks.

And, no, I don’t mean we’re crazy for doing what we do. (Okay, maybe a little, but that’s not what I’m talking about today.)  What I mean by sick is that we have a lot of aches and pains that really bother us. As a pro songwriter and teacher, I’ve had a lot of writers come to me over the years looking for a way to heal their pain.

Songwriter pains include:
*I’m not getting cuts.

*I can’t find good cowriters.

*Publishers won’t set me up with cowrites.

*My ASCAP/BMI rep won’t introduce me to publishers or cowriters.

*Publishers won’t give me a meeting.


Songwriters are often tempted to treat each of these conditions as a separate illness, but I think that’s usually a mistake.

These are just symptoms. The disease is having songs that aren’t good enough.

We can treat the symptoms all day long, but until we address the disease itself, your songwriting success will be limited. For example, we might be able to network our backsides off and finally talk our way into a cowrite with a pro writer - but so what? He or she will figure out pretty quickly that our songwriting isn’t up to snuff, and we probably won’t get a second cowrite.

But if we write strong songs, it’ll be a lot easier to get a pro to sit down to write. And when we prove our skill again- in the writing room- it’ll be easier to get a second cowrite.

It’s hard to think of a “songwriter symptom” that isn’t dramatically helped or fixed completely by writing better songs.


Want your ASCAP or BMI rep to start introducing you around? Write better songs.

Want better song evaluations? Write better songs.

Want better cowrites? Be a better cowriter yourself- by writing better songs.

Want cuts? Write incredible songs, which lead to more relationships in the biz which lead to more opportunities to write more incredible songs, which put you in a much better position to get cuts.

Treat the illness and the symptoms become a lot less severe or just go away on their own.

If you want to write better songs, one great way to do that is to get professional feedback. And here's a great opportunity for you to get that pro feedback.

On June 19, I'm hosting Songwriting Pro's quarterly "Play For A Publisher" event with hit music publisher, Tim Hunze of Parallel Music in Nashville, TN. Tim has worked with several #1 hit songwriters, and he's landed many, many songs with major artists. This is YOUR opportunity to connect face-to-face with a hit music publisher and have him hear YOUR song! And since it's an online event, it doesn't matter where in the world you live.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND ENTER YOUR SONG TODAY!

Hunze P4P

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

6 Ways To Make Your Songs More Commercial

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on May 02, 2018


If your goals are like mine- getting cuts and hits, then your best bet is by writing well-crafted COMMERCIAL songs.  Here are six simple (though not always easy) ways to make your songs more commercial.

1. Write uptempo.

Learn to write tempo!  If you don’t believe how important this is, count the ballads on the radio for an hour.  Or listen to a few of the current top albums and count the ballads.  Knock, knock.  Who’s there?  Math.  Math, who?  Math says major artists record a lot more uptempo and midtempo than ballads.

2. Write positive.

If you’re like me, your natural inclination is to write sad/negative.  When I come up with a hook, my first instinct is something sad.  Maybe for some reason pain is just more interesting than happiness.  But not for radio.  Radio likes happy. Knock, knock...

3. Write from the me-to-you point of view.

“I love you” is just more emotionally powerful than “he loves her.”  The artist wants to connect with the audience, and “I” to “you” is a good way to do that.

4. Write about love.

Love is a deep need.  It’s often our greatest joy and our sharpest pain.  Nothing is more universal. If you want to connect with a large audience, writing about love is a great way to do that.

5. Write in-the-moment.

The present tense- right now- has more power than the past or the future.  “You ARE killing me in that sun-dress” usually beats “you WERE killing me in that sun-dress.”  There’s power in the present.

6. Write with imagery.

Don’t tell me how you feel- show me.  After all, there are only so many emotions.  But there are endless ways to put those emotions into pictures. If you want your song to stand out, writing with interesting, fresh imagery is a great way to do that.

There are obviously many hits that weren’t written in the way I’ve described.  But, from both my experience (my own cuts) and observations, writing songs with these six qualities as your default setting will increase the commercial appeal of your songs.

And if you want your songs to get recorded my major artists, here's a great opportunity for you.

On June 19, I'm hosting Songwriting Pro's quarterly "Play For A Publisher" event with hit music publisher, Tim Hunze of Parallel Music in Nashville, TN. Tim has worked with several #1 hit songwriters, and he's landed many, many songs with major artists. This is YOUR opportunity to connect face-to-face with a hit music publisher and have him hear YOUR song! And since it's an online event, it doesn't matter where in the world you live.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND ENTER YOUR SONG TODAY!

Hunze P4P

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Turn A Negative Title Into A Positive Song!

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on April 25, 2018


Commercially-speaking, positive songs are in higher demand than negative songs. (That’s not a surprise if you listen to the radio.)  But what if most of the titles and ideas you come up with are sad/negative? Well, then... I humbly suggest you turn a negative title into a positive idea.

I believe that most titles that sounds negative can be used for a positive song if you’re creative enough.

And if you want to be better songwriter, your job is definitely to be “creative enough.”

Here’s an example. “You Broke My Heart” could mean “You Broke My Heart out of it’s chains, You Broke My Heart of stone wide open so I could love again.” “I Hate You” could be a love song about how “I Hate You took so long to come into my life. I Hate You didn’t grow up next door so I could’ve loved you since I was a kid, etc.”
Same negative titles, new positive angles.

I had an old idea called, “Minutes From A Memory” about a guy that knew his girl was about to leave him and become a memory.  Thankfully, my cowriter, Jason Cox, saw it as a guy knowing he and his girl are about to make a great memory.

That’s so much more commercial! As a matter of fact, my publisher at the time liked it enough to pay for a demo of it and pitch it around. That’s a positive result of a positive spin!

I confess to being a negative-first kind songwriter. Maybe pain just just more interesting.  Who knows? But I’ve really worked on not settling for a negative idea just because it’s my first impression of the title.  Not only are those negative-title-positive-songs more commercial because they’re positive, they’re also more interesting because you have to dig deeper into your idea and twist it more than most writers will.  That’a win-win!

Dig deeper. Turn some of your negative titles into positive ideas. Try it. If you don’t like the results, you can always go back to your original angles. There’s nothing to lose, but a whole lot to gain!

Speaking of having a whole lot to gain, here's a great opportunity for you.

On May 24, I'm hosting Frettie's quarterly "Know The Row" event with multi-hit songwriter, Jimmy Yeary. Jimmy's a writer on the CMA and ACM Song of the Year, "I Drive Your Truck" as well as #1 hits for Kenny Chesney, Jake Owen, Rascal Flatts and more. This is YOUR opportunity to connect face-to-face with a hit songwriter and ask him YOUR questions! And since it's an online event, it doesn't matter where in the world you live. And the best news is...

"Know The Row" with Jimmy Yeary is FREE for Frettie subscribers!

If you're on Team Frettie, you get free access to each of Frettie's "Know The Row" events, as well as exclusive access to a ton of other great songwriting resources and events, including replays of previous "Know The Row" events.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN FRETTIE AND ATTEND "KNOW THE ROW" FOR FREE!

If you aren't ready to take advantage of all the great membership advantages of Frettie, you can still buy a ticket.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

Jimmy Yeary poster

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Songwriter, Please Don’t Chase Rhymes!

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on April 18, 2018


It’s easy to start chasing rhymes. But it's a big mistake.

This is when you write a line with a setup rhyme and, instead of concentrating on what needs to be said, you just try to get the payoff rhyme to work.

For example, line 2 of your verse says, “You’re the one I love” setting up an “of”-sounding rhyme in line 4. It’s easy to spend lines 3 and 4 just getting to, “Girl, we fit like a glove,” without really stopping to consider what the thought behind the lines should be.

There is never a good time to chase rhymes, but it's especially bad when you do it in the line right before the chorus.

The line right before the chorus is one of the most important lines in your song- it sets up the chorus and helps determine the impact the top of the chorus has on the listener. (In basketball lingo, the last line of the verse or pre-chorus is the alley-oop so the chorus can slam-dunk it.)

But when you chase rhymes, the line before the chorus is trapped into serving the rhyme that comes before it. Instead, it should be following the thought of the line before it AND setting up the chorus. For example, a writer can get too focused on, “The line above ends in ‘blue’ so I have to write the next line so it ends with an ‘oo’ sound.” This can result in a line that’s weaker than it should be.

To avoid this trap, I’ll often figure out the IDEA of the set-up line, but intentionally leave it unrhymed before moving on to the last line of the chorus. I’d rather have the more important line dictate the rhyme of the less important line. This frees me up to focus on finding the strongest idea for the last line of the verse- on finding the best idea and figuring out how to say it. After I have that figured out, I can go back to the set-up line and figure that one out.

Remember: the thought behind the line is more important than the rhyme at the end of the line.

It requires intentionality, discipline and time to build the habit of putting the thought behind the line first. But it’s worth it. It helps your song to be more thoughtful (less surface) and more interesting (less cliche’). Figure out the THOUGHT first, then figure out the rhyme.

If you want to write powerful songs that connect with listeners, I have a great opportunity for you.

On May 24, I'm hosting Frettie's quarterly "Know The Row" event with multi-hit songwriter, Jimmy Yeary. Jimmy's a writer on the CMA and ACM Song of the Year, "I Drive Your Truck" as well as #1 hits for Kenny Chesney, Jake Owen, Rascal Flatts and more. This is YOUR opportunity to connect face-to-face with a hit songwriter. And since it's an online event, it doesn't matter where in the world you live. And the best news is...

"Know The Row" with Jimmy Yeary is FREE for Frettie subscribers!

If you're on Team Frettie, you get free access to each of Frettie's "Know The Row" events, as well as exclusive access to a ton of other great songwriting resources and events, including replays of previous "Know The Row" events.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN FRETTIE AND ATTEND "KNOW THE ROW" FOR FREE!

If you aren't ready to take advantage of all the great membership advantages of Frettie, you can still buy a ticket.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

Jimmy Yeary poster

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Are your songs on the inside or outside?

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on April 11, 2018


When an artist is working on an album, there are two types of songs which will (or will not) be considered: inside songs and outside songs. So what are these, and why does it matter to you as a songwriter? Let's get into that.

Inside songs are songs which are written by or with the artist, the producer, or a close associate. These are songs written or controlled/owned by someone with a close connection to the project.

Outside songs are basically all other songs- those written or controlled by people who do NOT have a close connection to the artist’s project.

Okay, so that’s pretty simple- some songs come from inside the circle of influence and some songs come from outside the circle of influence. Buy why is this important? It’s very important because, in most cases, inside songs have a much better chance of being recorded. Some artists, like Taylor Swift, write or cowrite all their own songs. If you’re not writing with Taylor, forget about getting a cut. Other artists may be very low key about the fact that they’re even working on a project. If you’re not in the loop, you might not even know the artist is cutting at all, much less what kind of song they want.

That’s why it matters if your songs are inside or outside- it affects their odds of being cut.

Examples:
I had two songs cut on Ray Stevens’ “We The People” album. One song was a true inside song. “Caribou Barbie” was written at Ray’s request with two of his staff writers. The other song, “Fly Over Country” was an outside pitch. However, since Ray didn’t advertise that he was doing a record, I never would've known to pitch a song (much less that song in particular) without some inside information. I’ve also had two Lady Antebellum cuts. “A Woman Scorned” was written with Hillary Scott, and “Last Night Last” was written with all three members of Lady A. Almost every song on that first album was written or cowritten by the band, so it definitely put those songs in a better competitive position. And while they ended up being bonus tracks to that first album, they’re still out there, are legit cuts and have generated some royalties.

This is not to say that ONLY inside songs get cut. I’ve had some outside songs get recorded, too. “Monday Morning Church” was written before either my cowriter, Erin Enderlin, or I had ever had a cut, and only Erin was working with a publisher at the time. Erin’s publisher played the song for Alan Jackson’s producer, who played it for Alan. Same thing for my Joe Nichols cut- I sent “Crickets” to the head of Joe’s record label (even though we'd never met). He loved it and sent it to Joe. The song became an outside cut- and the title track to Nichols’ album.

So, yes, both inside and outside songs still get cut. But inside songs have a definite advantage- and the inside track (pun intended).  How does this affect how I do business?  I try to get songs on the inside, of course!  It's worth thinking about how you can do the same.  Yes, I know you might think you're years away from being able to get any songs on the inside.  But simply knowing that there's a difference between inside and outside songs will help you make more effective choices, and you'll get there faster.

But, as I said, outside songs also get cut. Which brings me to hit songwriter, Jimmy Yeary. Jimmy has a good track record of getting songs recorded that he didn’t write with the artist or producer. His #1 single for Lee Brice, “I Drive Your Truck” became the CMA and ACM Song Of The Year, and it was an outside song. His Kenny Cheney #1, “Til It’s Gone” was also an outside song. As was his Jake Owen #1, “Anywhere With You.”

Each of these songs were written WITHOUT the artist or the producer in the room. And they not only got recorded, they went #1. Jimmy has repeatedly beaten the odds, and now you can ask Jimmy how he's done it.

On May 24, I'm hosting Frettie's quarterly "Know The Row" event with multi-hit songwriter, Jimmy Yeary. Jimmy's a writer on the CMA and ACM Song of the Year, "I Drive Your Truck" as well as #1 hits for Kenny Chesney, Jake Owen, Rascal Flatts and more. This is YOUR opportunity to connect face-to-face with a hit songwriter. And since it's an online event, it doesn't matter where in the world you live. And the best news is...

"Know The Row" with Jimmy Yeary is FREE for Frettie subscribers!

If you're on Team Frettie, you get free access to each of Frettie's "Know The Row" events, as well as exclusive access to a ton of other great songwriting resources and events, including replays of previous "Know The Row" events.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN FRETTIE AND ATTEND "KNOW THE ROW" FOR FREE!

If you aren't ready to take advantage of all the great membership advantages of Frettie, you can still buy a ticket.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

Jimmy Yeary poster

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Your songwriting needs to show, not just tell.

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on April 04, 2018


Imagery is a very important part of your lyric- especially in country music. The saying in Nashville is, ”Show me, don’t tell me.” There are a few reasons we’d rather you show us your song than tell us.

1. Images engage the heart, not just the brain.

You can tell me you’re sad. You can just say, “I’m sad now that you’re gone.” I will hear that and understand it. But I will only understand that with my head, not my heart. My head says, “Yes. The singer is sad. I understand what sadness is.” But that’s just information, and it stays in my head without moving to my heart.

However, when you show me what the sadness looks like- when I see the emptiness in your heart through the empty 2nd coffee cup you set out through habit and don’t have the heart to put back in the cupboard just yet- I FEEL your sadness. If I see you hugging his pillow at night because it smells like him, then I don’t just KNOW you’re sad, I FEEL your sadness.

Imagery is what gets your song through the head and into the heart.

2. Imagery makes it easy on your listener.

You can ask listeners to picture a lonely night AND be moved by whatever it is they imagine. Or you can SHOW your listeners a lonely night and ask them to be moved. Which one requires more from your listener? Exactly.

People are busy.

They’re probably listening to your song while doing something else- driving, eating, working, hanging out with friends, etc. If the listener doesn’t have enough mental bandwidth left to process your lyric, they may either just hear the melody only (which isn’t the worst thing in the world) or they ignore your song altogether (which IS the worst thing- love my song or hate my song, but don’t ignore it).

Painting the picture for your listeners is often an easier path to their hearts- which is directly connected to their wallets, by the way.

3. Imagery helps you be unique.

Let’s face it, there are only so many emotions that show up in songs. New love, old love, new heartache, old heartache, anger, hope, nostalgia, etc. Since we really just sing about a handful of emotions, our lyrics are going to be pretty bland and boring if we only write in emotional terms. After all, how many ways can you say, “I miss you” without imagery?

The use of fresh imagery allows you to talk about the same old emotions in a new way. So it’s really in your best interest (and you’ll be more likely to keep your listener’s interest) if you use fresh, believable images to tell your story.

4. People are visual.

Visuals impact us deeply. There’s a reason radio dramas were made obsolete by movies and television- people respond more strongly to visuals! If you can paint pictures with your lyrics, you can give the listener something to see in his or her mind.

So there you have it. Four reasons why imagery matters. If you’ve been a very emotional, non-imagery based writer, I encourage you to try incorporating images into your lyrics. I think it will serve you well.

But don't just take my word for it. You want to get advice directly from another hit songwriter? Well, then, you're in luck!

On May 24, I'm hosting Frettie's quarterly "Know The Row" event with multi-hit songwriter, Jimmy Yeary. Jimmy's a writer on the CMA and ACM Song of the Year, "I Drive Your Truck" as well as #1 hits for Kenny Chesney, Jake Owen, Rascal Flatts and more. This is YOUR opportunity to connect face to face with a hit songwriter. And since it's an online event, it doesn't matter where in the world you live. And the best news is...

"Know The Row" with Jimmy Yeary is FREE for Frettie subscribers!

If you're on Team Frettie, you get free access to each of Frettie's "Know The Row" events, as well as exclusive access to a ton of other great songwriting resources and events, including replays of previous "Know The Row" events.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN FRETTIE AND ATTEND "KNOW THE ROW" FOR FREE!

If you aren't ready to take advantage of all the great membership advantages of Frettie, you can still buy a ticket.

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

Jimmy Yeary poster

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Every cliche’ lyric is a missed opportunity.

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on March 28, 2018


Every time you use a cliche' in your song, you miss an opportunity to do something great.

Cliche's get used so much because the’re so easy. They are the first things that come to mind when we want to communicate certain things.

For example, it’s a lot easier to just say we’re “raising hell” or “painting the town” than it is to dig deeper and say “we’re filling Friday night full of empty cans” or “trying to make the Bar-hopper’s Hall of Fame.”

The cliche' gives the listener information, but it’s forgettable because the listener has heard it a thousand times. There’s no emotion left in it. (Unless you somehow set up the cliche' in a way that makes it fresh.)

When you go beyond the cliche', you have a chance to wow the listener with something they haven’t heard before.

A great example of this is "Summertime," recorded by Kenny Chesney and written by Craig Wiseman and Steve McEwen. It’s about being young in the summertime, and there’s a part in the chorus where they reference driving around.

Young + summertime + driving = radio up + window down. Right? Yes, and that’s why it’s a worn out cliche'. Sure, it’s true- we’ve all lived that line many times. But there’s nothing memorable or “wow” about it.

Instead, these hit writers reference a Yoohoo bottle on the floorboard. So much better!

It’s believable- I can totally picture young guys leaving a Yoohoo on the floorboard.

It’s fresh- I’ve never “seen” that image in a song before.

Bonus: It provides a fun melodic moment when Chesney sings, “Yoohoo!”

The writers took a cliche moment and made it a hit moment. It’s our job to do the same.

What do you think? What’s your take on this topic? I’d love to hear your comments. And if there are other examples where the songwriter make a cliche' moment into a hit moment, share those in the comments, too!

Knowing simple things like this is how you write stronger songs- and market-smart songs (songs that have a competitive advantage in the market).  If you want to learn more about how to write like that, I have a killer opportunity for you.

Every Monday night in April, I'm hosting The C4 Experience, or C4X.  It's an exclusive, live online event where I help 10 writers like YOU create explosive growth in your commercial songwriting.  I want you to win, and I'm going to help you write songs that artists want to sing, radio wants to play and fans want to hear. But you must hurry - THE DEADLINE TO JOIN C4X IS TOMORROW!

C4X Logo

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Do you call your own songs “great?” Don’t.

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on March 21, 2018


Stop calling your own songs "great."

YOU don't get to decide that.  And neither do I, to be fair.  Today, let's talk about who DOES get to decide if your song is great.

When I was writing my earliest songs back in Arkansas, my cowriter, Tim Meitzen, and I would feel great about some of our songs.  But I remember Tim being reluctant to call those songs "great."  Now, in the excitement of creation, we probably said things like, "Man, this is great!"  (I'm willing to bet that I did on several occasions.  I was wrong, but I didn't know that then.)  But when speaking about those songs outside the writing room, it was a different story with Tim.

I remember him saying once, "I have a hard time calling one of my own songs 'great.'  I'll say 'I love it,' but I don't think I can call it 'great.'"  I took it as a healthy dose of humility and uncertainty on his part.  After all, what qualified us to call our own songs "great?"  What had we accomplished, other than recording some work tapes around a campfire?  What gave us the right to proclaim greatness?  Nothing did.

We don't get to decide if our own songs are great.  Only the market gets to decide that.

If the market (the listeners) decide your music is great, then it IS great.  If the market decides your music is forgettable, then guess what?  It IS forgettable.  If the market decides that your current album isn't worth their time, then the market is right.  If that same album is "rediscovered" ten years from now and the market decides that it is brilliant... then the market is right.

Like it or not, the market is always right.

But how can that be?

Because the greatness of music is ultimately a qualitative decision.  It's subjective- a matter of opinion and taste.  Music isn't math.  2+2=4 no matter what the majority decides.  Music isn't like that.

Yes, you may be able to point out objectively how your song has a more sophisticated structure, rhyme scheme or melody than "cliche' and stupid" hit songs on the radio.  But at the end of the day, you haven't proven that your song is great.  You've only proven that is is more sophisticated.

I personally don't really care if you call your own songs great.  Sure, in certain settings, that will make you sound like an egotistical amateur.  But whatever.  That's not the biggest problem.
For many of you, your biggest problem is that you're too busy blaming the market for being stupid and wrong when you should be focused on writing better songs.

If people don't "get" your songs, it means one of two things:

Your music is in front of the wrong audience, and you need to find the audience that WILL love it.
Your music is in front of the right audience, but your music isn't good enough yet.  You need to keep working on your craft.


Let's say you love country music, but you hate "today's country music."  That's fine.  I can respect that opinion.  But if you want to write hits, what are you supposed to do?  Calling the market stupid does you no good.  Instead, study "today's country music."  What is it that the market likes about this music?  What makes it relevant to today's country audience?

Don't hate.  Investigate.

Once you start to understand that, you can incorporate some of those elements into your own songs - making them more relevant, or market-smart.  Or you can choose to stay inside your current musical box and hope that the market eventually changes its mind abut your music.  Hey, that's fine.  Some writers stick to their creative guns, and sometimes the market eventually decides to like it.  Either choice you make is fine - as long as you understand the implications.  Just...

Don't waste your valuable time blaming the market.

If you want some guidance on how to write "market-smart" songs that artists want to record and audiences want to hear, I have a wonderful opportunity for you.

Every Monday night in April, I'm hosting The C4 Experience, or C4X.  It's an exclusive, live online event where I help 10 writers like YOU create explosive growth in your commercial songwriting.  I want you to win, and I'm going to help you write songs that artists want to sing, radio wants to play and fans want to hear.

C4X Logo

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Here’s How Songwriters Can Make A Great First Impression

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on March 14, 2018


A few years back, I met the owner of a certain publishing company. It was the first time we’d ever met. Within ten minutes, he said he was interested in talking about a publishing deal with me. How did this happen?

I made a great first impression before we ever met.

Here’s the story:
I was at a lunch party at a cowriter’s publishing company. The owner, whom I’d never met before, was chatting in the kitchen with me and James Dupre’. He was telling James how much he loved a certain song that he had written with one of their writers. James smiled, motioned to me and said, “Thanks. Brent’s on that one, too.” The owner, let’s call him Mr. J, lit up, and the tone of the conversation changed. Within a few minutes, he asked each of us who we wrote for. When we said we’re independent, he nodded and said, “we should talk.”

We had a few meetings and got really close to closing a deal, but it wasn’t the right fit for us. But this isn’t about my particular fit (or not) with this publisher. It’s about the power of songs and connections to pave the way for you. Mr. J had never laid eyes on me. We had never communicated directly, either over the phone or via email. But he’d heard several of my songs. And his staff writer, a cowriter of mine, has mentioned me to him a number of times. He’d told him I’m a great songwriter who should have a deal. (Thanks, bud!)

My songs and my cowriter made my first impression for me.

So when I finally met Mr. J at that industry function, I didn’t have to manufacture some “wow” first impression, hoping to be memorable. I simply had to act in a way that confirmed his already-favorable idea of me.

There are a few lessons I think we can draw from this.

1. Your cowriters will be your PR team.
They’re the ones who will sing your praises to their circle of contacts. This is great if you’re in town, but it’s also great if you’re out of town. If you only make a few trips to Nashville (or New York or LA) per year, try to connect with local writers. Write together both in-the-room and over Skype or Google Hangouts. Before your next Nashville trip, ask them who you should meet with and if they can put in a good word for you. If your writing is worthy, they should be happy to.

2. Good songs solve a lot of problems.
If I want to get a meeting with Mr. J, I’m coming from a position of strength. I don’t have to say, “Mr. J, we met at a party the other day. I’m the tall guy...” That’s not a terrible starting place, but it’s not as good as, “Hi, Mr. J. I’m Brent Baxter, a writer on ‘Song X’ that you love. We met at the party the other day...” Even if he’s totally forgotten meeting me, he knows he likes that song. My odds of getting a meeting go way up.

3. It’s good to get out there and get social.
Even though he likes some of my songs and my cowriter told him about me, Mr. J hadn’t reached out yet. But we “happen” to bump into each other at a function, and he gets to put a face with my name. That’s worth another year of him just hearing ABOUT me. (Disclosure: I didn’t meet him by accident. I knew he’d be there, and that’s a big reason why I went.)

What about you? Have you had an experience where your music has made a great first impression for you that helped you get ahead? Or did it make a negative one that you had to overcome? I’d love to hear from you!

And if you're ready for your songs to make a good (or better) first impression, I have a cool opportunity for you.

Every Monday night in April, I'm hosting The C4 Experience, or C4X.  It's an exclusive, live online event where I help 10 writers like YOU create explosive growth in your commercial songwriting.  I want you to win, and I'm going to help you write songs that artists want to sing, radio wants to play and fans want to hear.

C4X Logo

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Are you building your songs in the right neighborhood?

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on March 07, 2018


The 3 most important things in real estate are also very important in songwriting: location, location, location.

In probably any town, certain neighborhoods have certain personalities. One neighborhood is full of SUV-driving soccer moms. Another is mostly middle-class country folk. Another is college kids, another is hipsters, etc.

Musically-speaking, most artists put down roots in one neighborhood.

They spend most of their time there, only venturing out to the adjacent neighborhoods every now and then. This is another way of talking about branding. An artist’s brand says, “I live in THIS neighborhood. I’m like THESE people, and I sing about them and for them.”

For example, an artist’s music may be most “at home” with the good ‘ol party boys. Most of his music is for those good ‘ol boys- bonfires and tailgates. The “good ‘ol party boy” artist doesn’t usually venture into the soccer mom neighborhood, where the music is more about family, lifelong love, kids, etc.

Most songs are also “at home” in certain neighborhoods. Some songs are built for the rednecks, some for the high school girls, some for their moms, some for their blue collar dads, etc.
But remember, most ideas can be built to fit in any of several neighborhoods. It just depends how you frame the idea (pun intended). The choices you make will determine your song’s neighborhood.

When you think about where to build your song, it's wise to think about the property values in the different neighborhoods.

Are the houses in the "good 'ol party boys" neighborhood in high demand? Are the houses in the blue-collar-working-man neighborhood in low demand? What type of songs are artists recording?

The concept of musical neighborhoods is important if you want to write commercial songs. I go into more depth on this topic in Songwriting Pro’s upcoming C4 Experience.
Every Monday night in April, I'm hosting The C4 Experience, or C4X.  It's an exclusive, live online event where I help 10 writers like YOU create explosive growth in your commercial songwriting.  I want you to win, and I'm going to help you write songs that artists want to sing, radio wants to play and fans want to hear.

C4X Logo

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

How To Get A Music Publisher To Remember… You.

by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on February 28, 2018


Last week, we discussed how difficult it is to get a music publisher’s attention. Basically, you and your awesome songs will remain invisible to publishers without two vital things. The first is reach, which we discussed last week. Now, let’s talk about the next ingredient in your “Now-A-Publisher-Knows-I-Exist” Soup.

You need FREQUENCY.

You need your name, face and/or songs to reach that publisher again.  And again.  And again.  You need to reach that publisher with enough frequency that they go from "I'm sorry... have we met?" to "What's your name again?" to "Yeah, you wrote that song about blah blah blah" to "Hey, Joe!  Great to see you again!  How ya been?"

Maybe you both frequent the same lunch spot and "howdy" over tacos. Maybe you both "accidentally" end up in the audience at the same writers night (one of the publisher's writers, of course) and you can get a little face-time. The occasional follow-up meeting is super-valuable, of course. Or maybe your name keeps showing up on cowrites with the publisher's writers. Or you keep popping up at other industry functions.

This takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to be patient.  But don't be so patient that you only reach out to them every other year. That’s simply too far in between contacts, and you’ll be starting over every time you reach them.

You also have to be persistent.  But don't be so persistent that you call them every other day. That will wear the publisher out, and they’ll quickly begin to hate your face and avoid you at all costs. You do NOT want that to happen! There’s a thing I call “professionally persistent.” This means you are persistent, but you’re not pushy. You are aggressive without being aggravating.

Where is the line between persistent and pushy? When do you switch from being aggressive to being aggravating?

Honestly, I can't tell you that.  It's going to be different for each songwriter and each publisher.

But I do know this:  If your songs are really great or really horrible, it won't take nearly as long for the publisher to remember and form an opinion of you.  So if you're really, really bad, you should probably focus on your craft before worrying about finding a publisher.

But if you ARE ready for you and your best song to reach (or have another “at-bat” with) a publisher in a friendly setting- I have a great opportunity for you- but TODAY IS THE DEADLINE!

Songwriting Pro's next Play For A Publisher event is coming right up! Our guest is Courtney Allen of BMG Nashville. Courtney works closely with hit songwriters Travis Meadows, Wynn Varble, Lucie Silvas, and more. If YOU have the song, SHE knows what to do with it! But the deadline to submit your song is TODAY- so don't delay!

P4P Courtney Allen

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND SEND IN YOUR SONG!

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

How To Get A Music Publisher To Notice You

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on February 21, 2018


If you're like most songwriters, it's really difficult to get a music publisher's attention.  You're simply invisible, or at least it feels that way.  And maybe your songs are good.  Maybe they're REALLY good.  But that doesn't matter much if you're missing the other key things you need to get on a publisher's radar.

You see, publishers are surrounded by songs and songwriters.  They find them at writers nights, they meet them at workshops, they often meet with new writers sent to them from PROs, other publishers, and friends.  Basically, they listen to songs and meet with songwriters. All. Freaking. Day.

Publishers are drowning in songs and songwriters.  And you're offering them a cup of water.

So, how do you get publishers to notice YOU and YOUR SONGS?

First, you need REACH.

Before a publisher can even form an opinion of you as a songwriter, he or she must know you exist.  And they'll never know you exist if you don't reach them.
There are several ways to reach a publisher.

1. You can ping them on social media with something kind or helpful.  (Don't be a taker.)

2. You might meet them at a workshop or event such as Songwriting Pro's Play For A Publisher event (details below).

3. They hear your name from another songwriter or see it on a lyric sheet as they listen to one of your songs.

4. They see you at a writers night or shake your hand at an industry function.


Congratulations! You've reached the publisher and you've gotten their attention for a second, a minute, or even an hour.

But it's not enough. Even if they like you. Even if they like your songs.

You walk out of that room, and "poof" - you're invisible again.  They'll have another meeting, go to another writers round or hear another batch of good songs.

You need something else, and we’ll talk about that next time.

But in the meantime, if you’re ready for YOU and your BEST song to reach a publisher in a friendly setting, I have a great opportunity for you. Songwriting Pro's next Play For A Publisher event is coming right up! Our guest is Courtney Allen of BMG Nashville. Courtney works closely with hit songwriters Travis Meadows, Wynn Varble, Lucie Silvas, and more. If YOU have the song, SHE knows what to do with it!

P4P Courtney Allen

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND SEND IN YOUR SONG!

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

How To Make A Music Publisher Fall In Love With You (Musically)

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on February 14, 2018


Getting a publisher to offer you a publishing deal is kinda like getting one 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.

The publisher has to (musically) fall in love with you.  Here are a few ways to help that along.

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

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 might 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, could 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 (although that sure doesn't hurt).  But being a good hang is only going to improve your chances of getting to second base. After all, if you get "married," you'll be spending a lot of time together - both one-on-one in the office and out at industry events. You want those times to be enjoyable for BOTH of you!

4. Be committed.
I don't mean you have to prove you're committed to that particular 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.

5. 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 medical school..." But be real.  Don't hype.  Hype is NOT attractive, and a pro can see right through it.

6. Go on a few dates.
A publisher who is interested in you will probably bring you back for several meetings. This gives them a chance to see if you're consistently writing new songs- and writing them at a high level. They may also set you up to write with their writers as another 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.  Six 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.

And maybe I can play matchmaker.

If YOU would like to play your song for a legit music publisher, Songwriting Pro's next Play For A Publisher event is coming right up! Our guest is Courtney Allen of BMG Nashville. Courtney works closely with hit songwriters Travis Meadows, Wynn Varble, Lucie Silvas, and more. If YOU have the song, SHE knows what to do with it!

P4P Courtney Allen

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND SEND IN YOUR SONG!

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Pitching Your Songs Is Like Playing Guitar.

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on February 07, 2018


Remember when you first picked up the guitar? It was a mystery. How do those great guitar players do it? Then you watch a YouTube video or pick up a Mel Bay book (showing my age) and it tells you how to form your left hand into G, C, & D. The first time you strum a clean G, it’s magic!

And that magic quickly becomes pretty dang painful.

Your soft, virgin fingertips haven’t built up their calluses yet, and it feels like they’re going to split open any minute. (And Heaven have mercy if your first guitar has high action.)

But if you play frequently enough and don’t quit, your fingers will toughen up. Making those chords won’t hurt. That high E string won’t be the razor blade it used to be. Now you’re not quite the beginner you were. Now you have a little “pro” about you. (I may focus on lyrics now, but there was a time I earned some calluses on an old acoustic.)

Learning guitar can teach you a valuable lesson about pitching your songs to publishers and labels. And that lesson is:

You need calluses.

If you’re like me, your first meeting with a publisher is full of excitement, hope and big possibilities. Well, that’s how it feels on your end, anyway. From the publisher’s perspective, you’re probably just the next person through their door- a stranger who may have potential but probably doesn’t have a hit to play that day.

The publisher is probably right. And it hurts.

Then you get another meeting, either with the same person or with someone else. Again, publishing deal offers don’t drop out of the sky like confetti at the end of your song. The disappointment stings.

But, over time, you build up your calluses and it doesn’t hurt like it did. Having someone pass on your song will never feel good, but you’re able to take passes in stride and move on to the next song.

Like playing guitar, if you stick with it and don’t give up, you’ll be rewarded for it.

If YOU would like to play your song for a legit music publisher, Songwriting Pro's next Play For A Publisher event is coming right up! Our guest is Courtney Allen of BMG Nashville. Courtney works closely with hit songwriters Travis Meadows, Wynn Varble, Lucie Silvas, and more. If YOU have the songs, SHE knows what to do with them!

P4P Courtney Allen

CLICK HERE TO GET ALL THE DETAILS AND SEND IN YOUR SONG!

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

The 4 Cornerstones of Songwriting Success

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on January 31, 2018


I believe there are four cornerstones to professional songwriting success. You can remember them by the acronym, “W.R.A.P.” They are:

1. Write

This one’s pretty obvious. We’re songwriters, aren’t we? If you’re a writer... write. If you don’t write, there’s nothing to get recorded. And it’s not enough to just write every once in a while. Write hard, write consistently. Write your very best.

2. Record

It’s not enough to have scratchy worktapes if you want someone else to cut and release your song. You have to get a good recording of your song- one that presents it in a good light. This could be a guitar/vocal, a full demo, or something in between.

3. Access

A great demo does you no good if you can’t get it into the hands of someone who can do something with it. Accessing is building relationships and otherwise gaining access to singers, publishers, labels, producers, etc. This is the relationship part of the music business.

4. Pitch

You have to ask for the cut, as simple as that. You have to give publishers, artists, etc. the opportunity to say “yes” to your song.

Note that each of these are cornerstones - you won’t have a stable, well-functioning career if you neglect one or more of them for too long. I’m not saying you should spend equal hours on each of these areas, but you should give them the proper amount of time based on your particular situation. For example, early in your songwriting journey, you need to spend most of your time just writing and becoming a better songwriter. Pitching songs that aren’t ready (at this stage) is a waste of time at best and a horrible 1st impression at worst.

WRAP is also good for helping you focus on what’s important. If an opportunity comes up, compare it to WRAP. If that activity doesn’t fall into one of those categories, it might not be a wise use of your time.

If you want to get professional advice to help you with "Write" and make a connection that will help you with "Access," I have a great opportunity for you.

Each quarter, Frettie's "Know The Row" series brings in a music industry professional to reveal what YOU need to know about breaking into the music business. Ask YOUR questions- and get answers. It's online, so you can join this live video-conference from anywhere in the world. If you miss it, Frettie members will have unlimited access to the video replay in Frettie's Member Area.

Our next guest is hit songwriter, Byron Hill!

Byron Hill

Since moving to Nashville and signing his first publishing deal in 1978, Byron Hill’s songs have generated more than 700 recordings, and have been released on ninety-one industry certified Gold and Platinum albums and singles. They have earned ten ASCAP awards, thirty-four U.S. and Canadian top-ten chart hits, and have become hits in many other worldwide markets.

So, yes, YOU want to hang out with Byron Hill and get his advice on the music business!

This exclusive event is February 8, 2018 from 7pm-8pm Central time.

Again, this event is FREE for subscribers of Frettie.com! However, if you don't feel like taking advantage of all of Frettie's membership benefits, you can still get all the details and purchase a ticket with a CLICK HERE.

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Songwriters, Don’t Count Lines

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on January 24, 2018


When you write a song with a cowriter, it’s standard practice in Nashville to have even splits between all the cowriters, no matter how much they contribute.  This means every writer on the song (or their publisher) owns an equal share of the copyright. For example, if you write the melody and half the lyric and the other writer writes the other half of the lyric, you each get 50% of the copyright. If there are 3 of you in the room, and each of you contribute different amounts, each of you own a third of the song.

I’ve heard stories of writers who “count lines” when determining their percentage of ownership of a song.  I am REALLY not a fan of this, for a few reasons.

Generosity wins.  This time, maybe your cowriter only contributed a few lines, if that.  Well, next time, they might contribute more than you.  It should all even out in the end, if you’re well-matched cowriters. If you're not well-matched, you'll eventually stop writing together, anyway.

Also, I want my cowriters focused on making the song the very best it can be.  I don’t want it to become a competition over who gets the most lines and the most credit.  Serve the song, not your percentage.

Plus, it’s sometimes impossible to tell who really wrote the line.  Maybe you got the final wording right, but you only got there based on a line suggested by your cowriter.  You wouldn’t have gotten to that line by yourself, so you BOTH created it.  It’s a collaboration.

And, lastly, counting lines is a good way to alienate your cowriter and make them less likely to write with you again.  Especially in a town like Nashville.  Be generous and win!

If you want to know more about cowriting "do's" and "don't's," I have a great opportunity for you.

Each quarter, Frettie's "Know The Row" series brings in a music industry professional to reveal what YOU need to know about breaking into the music business. Ask YOUR questions- and get answers. It's online, so you can join this live video-conference from anywhere in the world. If you miss it, Frettie members will have unlimited access to the video replay in Frettie's Member Area.

Our next guest is hit songwriter, Byron Hill!

Byron Hill

Since moving to Nashville and signing his first publishing deal in 1978, Byron Hill’s songs have generated more than 700 recordings, and have been released on ninety-one industry certified Gold and Platinum albums and singles. They have earned ten ASCAP awards, thirty-four U.S. and Canadian top-ten chart hits, and have become hits in many other worldwide markets.

So, yes, YOU want to hang out with Byron Hill and get his advice on the music business!

This exclusive event is February 8, 2018 from 7pm-8pm Central time.

Again, this event is FREE for subscribers of Frettie.com! However, if you don't feel like taking advantage of all of Frettie's membership benefits, you can still get all the details and purchase a ticket with a CLICK HERE.

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Boats & Rivers

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on January 17, 2018


In the music business, songs travel on relationships like boats on a river. Think of your song as a boat and your network of relationships as the water in the river.

You can have a big, deep river (a lot of good relationships), but if your boat (your song) isn't well-built, it's not going anywhere. Your song has to be built right to take advantage of your relationships. Just like your watercraft will sink if it has holes in it, your song-craft will end up at the bottom if it has holes in it. All those relationships just mean your song has further to sink.

But maybe your song is great. Maybe it's like a speedboat. Every square inch of it is built to "wow." That's awesome. But if the river is dry, you’re just sitting still. Your song has no relationships to support it. (Remember, songs travel on relationships like boats travel on water.) All that power is just stranded on the dry, rocky river bottom. Frustrating.

Amazing things happen, though, when you put a speedboat on a big river.

When your song is well-built AND you have a lot of good relationships in the music business, it can travel easily and quickly from you to publishers, potential cowriters, A&R, producers, and artists. It doesn't mean that hit singles come easy (they never do), but fast boats on big rivers have a lot of opportunities.

And speaking of opportunities, this brings me to a great one for you- one to improve both your boat and your river.

Each quarter, Frettie's "Know The Row" series brings in a music industry professional to reveal what YOU need to know about breaking into the music business. Ask YOUR questions- and get answers. It's online, so you can join this live video-conference from anywhere in the world. If you miss it, Frettie members will have unlimited access to the video replay in Frettie's Member Area.

Our next guest is hit songwriter, Byron Hill!

Byron Hill

Since moving to Nashville and signing his first publishing deal in 1978, Byron Hill’s songs have generated more than 700 recordings, and have been released on ninety-one industry certified Gold and Platinum albums and singles. They have earned ten ASCAP awards, thirty-four U.S. and Canadian top-ten chart hits, and have become hits in many other worldwide markets.

So, yes, YOU want to hang out with Byron Hill and get his advice on the music business!

This exclusive event is February 8, 2018 from 7pm-8pm Central time.

Again, this event is FREE for subscribers of Frettie.com! However, if you don't feel like taking advantage of all of Frettie's membership benefits, you can still get all the details and purchase a ticket with a CLICK HERE.

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Bullseye!

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on January 10, 2018


Imagine you walk into a room called “Country Music” and Mr. Music Row hands you darts.  He says, “These darts are your songs.  Hit a bullseye with a dart, and that song gets cut.”  You look at the wall on the far side of the room, and you notice that there are bullseyes of all different sizes.  Some are fairly large, and some are small.  Some are so small, you’re not sure they’re really even there.  It’s up to you to pick your darts and start throwing.

The room is also full of other songwriters.  Some are just lobbing darts in the air.  They don’t aim at anything, they just throw.  They figure if they throw enough darts, something is bound to land eventually.  Some songwriters throw dart after dart after the smallest bullseyes on the wall.  Some throw darts at blank spots on the wall, where they would like a bullseye to be.  Some are so busy aiming, that the dart never leaves their hand.

If your goal is to get a song recorded by major artist, your best bet is usually by throwing at “the big bullseye.”

Well, how do we do that?

We make choices as songwriters.  And the better we are at our craft, the more options are available to us.  For example, you can choose to write an idea as a slow ballad, or you can choose to write it as an uptempo (fast song).  The uptempo song is the bigger bullseye, because more artists want to cut uptempo songs.  You can choose an idea that makes your singer look good (big bullseye) or look bad (small bullseye).  You can write the song from the point of view of an 85 year old woman (small bullseye) or as a 21 year old guy (big bullseye).

How do you know what the big bullseye is?  Well, size of the bullseye is simply a measure of how much demand there is for a certain type of song.  This changes over time, so you need to be aware of the market.  Trends shift.  What was a big bullseye in the 1990’s might not be a big bullseye anymore.

However, one type of song always seems to be a big bullseye.  This is the “first-person uptempo positive love song.”  That’s not exactly shocking news, if you pay much attention to the radio.  This type of song is probably your best bet to get a cut.  I’m not saying, however, to never write a small-bullseye song.  Those can be hit from time to time- it’s just harder to do.  What I’m saying is: be aware of the realities.

Be intentional.  Be aware of the choices you make.

If you'd like to make better, smarter choices, it sure helps to get advice from someone who IS where you want to be. And this brings me to a great opportunity for you.

Each quarter, Frettie's "Know The Row" series brings in a music industry professional to reveal what YOU need to know about breaking into the music business. Ask YOUR questions- and get answers. It's online, so you can join this live video-conference from anywhere in the world. If you miss it, Frettie members will have unlimited access to the video replay in Frettie's Member Area.

Our next guest is hit songwriter, Byron Hill!

Byron Hill

Since moving to Nashville and signing his first publishing deal in 1978, Byron Hill’s songs have generated more than 700 recordings, and have been released on ninety-one industry certified Gold and Platinum albums and singles. They have earned ten ASCAP awards, thirty-four U.S. and Canadian top-ten chart hits, and have become hits in many other worldwide markets.

So, yes, YOU want to hang out with Byron Hill and get his advice on the music business!

This exclusive event is February 8, 2018 from 7pm-8pm Central time.

Again, this event is FREE for subscribers of Frettie.com! However, if you don't feel like taking advantage of all of Frettie's membership benefits, you can still get all the details and purchase a ticket with a CLICK HERE.

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

“Know The Row” with Hit Songwriter, Byron Hill!

Announcements by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on January 04, 2018


I'm excited to announce a NEW benefit for Frettie subscribers!

It's called "KNOW THE ROW." Here's the scoop...

Each quarter, hit songwriter, Brent Baxter, brings in a special music industry professional to reveal what YOU need to know about breaking into the music business. Ask YOUR questions- and get answers. It's online, so you can join this live video-conference from anywhere in the world. If you miss it, Frettie members will have unlimited access to the video replay in Frettie's Member Area.

Our next guest is hit songwriter, Byron Hill!

Since moving to Nashville and signing his first publishing deal in 1978, Byron Hill’s songs have generated more than 700 recordings, and have been released on ninety-one industry certified Gold and Platinum albums and singles. They have earned ten ASCAP awards, thirty-four U.S. and Canadian top-ten chart hits, and have become hits in many other worldwide markets.

The songs “Fool Hearted Memory” (George Strait), “Pickin’ Up Strangers” (Johnny Lee), “Politics, Religion, And Her” (Sammy Kershaw), “Nothing On But The Radio” (Gary Allan), “Born Country” (Alabama), “High-Tech Redneck” (George Jones), “Alright Already” (Larry Stewart), “If I Was A Drinkin’ Man” (Neal McCoy), “Size Matters” (Joe Nichols), “Nights” (Ed Bruce), and “Lifestyles Of The Not So Rich And Famous” (Tracy Byrd), are just a few of the notable songs in his recorded catalog that spans four decades and includes songs recorded by a long list of other iconic and current artists of our time including Ray Charles, Kenny Rogers, Reba McEntire, Don Williams, John Michael Montgomery, Anne Murray, Juice Newton, Joe Nichols, Randy Travis, Keith Whitley, Jason Aldean, Trace Adkins, Conway Twitty, Jeff Bates, Highway 101, Barbara Mandrell, Mel McDaniel, Mark Chesnutt, Rhett Akins, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Whites, Ricky Van Shelton, The Seekers, Rhonda Vincent, Colt Ford, Mo Pitney, The Grascals, Blackhawk, Doc & Merle Watson, Asleep At The Wheel, Dionne Warwick, Toby Keith, Gene Watson, Margo Smith, Tom Wopat, Mark Wills, The Kendalls, Porter Wagoner, Sha Na Na, Moe Bandy, Clint Eastwood, Joe Diffie, Brooks & Dunn, Hank Thompson, Mila Mason, Doug Supernaw, The Road Hammers (Canada), Tyler England, Bill Medley, Clifford Curry, Doug Stone, Hey Romeo (Canada), Gil Grand (Canada), Gord Bamford (Canada), Rockie Lynne, Charles Esten & Connie Britton (from the Nashville TV series), Dailey & Vincent, and many others.

So, yes, YOU want to hang out with Byron Hill and get his advice on the music business!

This exclusive event is February 8, 2018 from 7pm-8pm Central time.

Again, this event is FREE for subscribers of Frettie.com! (However, if you don't feel like taking advantage of all of Frettie's membership benefits, you can still get all the details and purchase a ticket with a CLICK HERE.)

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Set your goals like dominos!

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on January 03, 2018


Prioritize your goals like you’re setting up dominos.

Which of your goals, if you accomplish it, will make it easier to accomplish your OTHER goals? Like toppling dominos, which goal, when accomplished, will help to knock over your next goal, then the next, then the next?

Look at your goals and how they interrelate. Pick the goal which can really kickstart the others, and focus on that goal FIRST.

For example, let's say you have a few goals including "get more sleep," "write more songs," "eat less junk food." These are common goals- especially around New Year's. So, how do we line up these goals like dominos? The big domino to put first might be a new goal "go to bed at 9:30pm." If you go to bed at 9:30pm, you can sleep until 4:30am. That's 7 hours (which is probably more than you're getting now). That helps with the "get more sleep" goal. But what what about your other goals?

Here's where it gets fun.

"Write more songs." Getting up at 4:30am may give you more time to write- in the morning. Of course, it depends on your particular schedule, but let's say it gives you from 4:30am to 6am to write. That's 1 1/2 hours every workday. So over the course of a 5-day workweek, that's 7 1/2 hours of songwriting! That's like one whole workday just for songwriting!

"Eat less junk food." If you're like me, your junk food willpower goes away late at night. I'll do okay all day, then I'll say up too late and WHAMMO... a bag of chips or a bowl of ice cream right before bed. But you can short-circuit that routine with your lead domino- going to bed at 9:30pm. And since you're more likely to eat junk food during the day when you haven't had enough sleep (I can testify to that), getting more sleep also makes it less likely that you'll fall off the wagon during the day.

See how setting the right goal as your lead domino can make it easier for your other goals to fall into place? Take some time today to consider your goals and how you can line them up like dominos. When you do, everything is more likely to fall into place.

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Frettie just got more helpful for YOU!

Announcements by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on December 27, 2017


Frettie is taking it up another notch.

As you know, I want Frettie to be a great resource for songwriters like you. It's here to help you on your songwriting journey, and guess what? We've just added some great new stuff to help you even more!

Our top menu has changed. Now there's a button called, "Members Area." Login, and you'll see several new areas ONLY for Frettie subscribers, including:

PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP

Connect with your fellow Frettie members in our private Facebook group page. It's a great way to get inspiration, share your successes and learn from each other and the pros, and it's available exclusively to Frettie subscribers like you.


J.A.M. SESSIONS
Frettie's monthly J.A.M. (Just Ask Me) Sessions are a chance to hang out face to face (online). I start with a short lesson/topic, then we open it up to YOUR questions and topics. It's informative and a good way to get to know your fellow Frettie members (and it's free for Frettie subscribers). Here, you'll find recordings of our previous J.A.M.s as well as the link to our next session. Let's J.A.M.!


KNOW THE ROW
Each quarter, Frettie hosts a "Know The Row" online videoconference with a music industry pro. This is FREE for Frettie subscribers, and you can find recordings of our previous events and a link to our next "Know The Row" here.

QUICK TIPS

Looking for a songwriting tip, but don't have much time? Then this is the spot for you. All-killer-no-filler snack-sized songwriting tips!

And that's not all! So jump on over and check it out.

WHAT IF YOU AREN'T A FRETTIE SUBSCRIBER?

Well, if you don't have a login for Frettie, you should definitely join today!

CLICK HERE TO JOIN FRETTIE TODAY AND GAIN ACCESS TO ALL OF YOUR SUBSCRIBER BENEFITS!

Enjoy the new and improved Frettie!

God bless,

Brent

You Don’t Have To Be Great At Everything To Be A Songwriting Superhero

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on December 20, 2017


I’m bad at a lot of things.

I don’t sing well. I don’t write melodies. I’d be an atrocious producer. I hardly play guitar (don’t even take it to cowrites).

Yet... I’ve written cuts and hits.

You don’t have to be great at everything. If you have ONE skill that is your superpower, it gives you value in the music biz. For example, my superpower is lyrics and song ideas. You won’t call me if you need a killer melody, but you might call me if you have a killer melody that needs a lyric.

It’s better to be great at one songwriting skill than to be “okay” at several. It gives you an identity. It allows you to clarify what problems you solve. (We’re all in the problem-solving business, by the way.)

What’s your songwriting superpower?

Is it production? Lyrics? Melody? Instrumentation? Business skills? Networking? Whatever your superpower is, there are people that need that thing. Find them, and you’ll be their hero.

So if you’ve been stressing out about trying to be great at everything, I’m giving you permission right now to stop worrying about it. Focus on your superpower. Focus on your area of “greatest contribution.” You don’t have to be great at everything. After all, that’s why God made cowriters.

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Songwriting Inspiration Is The Quarterback

by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on December 13, 2017


If songwriting were football, inspiration would be the quarterback and the songwriter would be the receiver. Like any good receiver, we all want to catch the deep ball- the great idea that’s like a 50-yard touchdown pass. But, also like receivers, we can’t MAKE the QB throw us the ball.

However, there are some things we can do to make it more likely that inspiration will throw us the deep ball.

Get on the field.

Show up to work with your pads and helmet on. Nobody ever caught a touchdown in the locker room. You have to get into the game. Pick up the guitar or the pen and get on the field!

Run reliable routes.

You know you’re not going to get the ball thrown to you on every play. But you still need to build the discipline to be where you’re supposed to be when you supposed to be there... just in case. This means you show up to your writing room on a consistent basis. That way, in case inspiration throws you a great idea, you’re in the right spot to catch it.

Work to get open.

If you run your route halfheartedly and let the defenders cover you, they’ll either keep inspiration from throwing you a great idea, or they’ll knock it down before you catch it. This means you don’t show up to your writing space and spend half your time on Twitter or thinking about what you need to get at the grocery store. These distractions are like the defense- they’ll keep you from being able to catch that great idea. You have to keep your mind “open” to catching it.

Catch the short passes just like the long bombs.

Not every pass (song idea) is supposed to be a touchdown. But just because all inspiration has been throwing lately are short passes, it’s still your job to catch them with good technique... then run like crazy.  That way, when inspiration throws you a touchdown, all you have to do with it is what you’ve done time after time with EVERY idea. You don’t have to freak out (and maybe drop it). You’ve prepared for this moment with every song.

Play like a champion on every play. Write like a champion on every song.

God bless... and Go Team Frettie!

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Do you keep a Hook Book? You should!

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on December 06, 2017


I keep a hook book. It’s where all of my song ideas go. It’s a literal notebook I keep in my desk or carry around with me. There’s also a running list in a file on my computer. I’ve had it for years, and many of my cuts started out as a line in that hook book. Some of them sat around for a few years before I wrote them.

You probably need to keep a hook book, too.

Don’t just HOPE to remember your best ideas. Some titles might not even make sense right now, but they could in a few years when a new artist comes along, trends change, or you have new life experiences to bring to that title.

That’s why ALL my titles and ideas go in my hook book- even the “bad” ones.

I don’t do quality control when determining what titles/ideas to put in my hook book. Everything goes in. I keep my quality control focused on what I decide to write OUT of that book. But no idea is too stupid, dated, uncommercial, or whatever to go into the book.

Remember, it’s YOUR hook book. Nobody else has to see it, so you don’t won’t be embarrassed by what’s in it. Be bold, be fearless, be silly, be... a writer!

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Songwriting Success: Put It On Layaway

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on November 29, 2017


Remember the days when people largely believed in paying for something BEFORE they walked out of the store with it? A lot of stores like Wal-Mart and Sears used to offer something called layaway.

Back when I was a kid, it worked like this: My mom would pick out a big item like a bike for Christmas or something and “put it on layaway.” The nice folks at Wal-Mart would put it in the back with Mom’s name on it. She would come in periodically and give them some money toward the bike. When she finally paid off the whole thing, she could take the bike home to me. Merry Christmas!

Funny as it sounds, success is a lot like buying something on layaway.

We pick out our “bike” - our desired success. But just choosing your success doesn’t mean you get to leave the store with it. You still have to pay for it BEFORE you can take that success home. Your success, whatever it might be, goes behind the counter. How soon you get to actually OWN that success largely depends on how often and how much you put down on it.

You can have an awesome goal in mind, but if you never come back to the store and put payment toward it, you’ll never get it.

Even little successes never happen if you forget about them.

You put your payments toward your success with your time, your energy, your effort, and you wise decisions.

There is no credit card for success. You have to pay for it before you get it.

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Songwriting Patience and Endurance

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on November 22, 2017


Be patient in your pursuit of songwriting success.

It takes years of hard work to become a professional-level songwriter. It can also take years to develop the relationships that will open doors in the music business. So endurance is a major component of songwriting success. Being able to stick it out through the ups and downs, the rejections rejections and more rejections and just the time it takes to acquire world-class skill is, in itself, a world-class skill. Most people will quit before they get good enough or build enough relationships. But that doesn't have to be YOU. Your story can be different. You can be the one who sticks it out- the one who doesn't quit on the edge of success.

The antidote to quitting too soon is simple, but it isn't easy.

Keep working hard. Don't give up.

God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Is Your Song Telling Too Much?

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on November 15, 2017


Are you telling TOO MUCH of your story in your song?

Is it really important that you and your love had a fight over whether to go for tacos or pizza for dinner (and you wanted tacos because it was Cinco de Mayo and they wanted pizza because it was a new restaurant out of Chicago with a lot of buzz)? And does it matter that you were already annoyed because your sweetie pie had been on the phone ALL DAY checking sports scores or sale prices instead of paying attention to you? And that it had been building up for days 'cuz your maybe-future-mother-in-law had been in town and kept quietly taking shots at you and your love handles and your honey bunch didn't stand up for you?

Yes, a certain amount of details (especially in country music) are important. But don't let the facts get in the way of the emotional truth. Don't let the little details distract the listener from the important stuff. Sometimes it doesn't matter WHY you got into a fight. Sometimes all the matters if that you got into a stupid fight, and now you want to make up. You can still paint the picture of the current state of your love life without having to paint all the events that led up to that.

Sometimes all that extra, unnecessary stuff shows up in the first verse, and it can all be cut out. This makes your 2nd verse a jump-right-into-the-heart-of-the-story awesome 1st verse. Try it out. See if some of your songs are telling too much. Then get ruthless with the eraser or delete key. You'll be glad you did.

Keep writing and God bless,

Brent

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Debt is a dream-killer

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on November 08, 2017


Beware of debt- it’s a dream-killer.

Financial debt limits your options. Debt raises the amount you have to earn every month just to make ends meet. How free are you to transition from your day job to the roller coaster creative life if you have to pay on a ton of unnecessary debt every month? How supportive will your spouse be if you're already stretched to the max NOW? How much money can you put back for the transition if you’re in those kinds of chains? Not only does debt keep you in your day job, it puts pressure on you to work those overtime hours instead of using that time to write.

Is that REALLY the lifestyle you want? Really?

Say “no” to the 97" 3D virtual reality spray tanning TV. Say "no" to the 8-bedroom house with the Koi pond in the front yard. Say "no" to the "big boy toys."

Say “yes” to your dreams instead.

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable and learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips about the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Songwriting Monsters!

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on October 31, 2017


Happy Halloween!
There are more than a few monsters that haunt songwriters, so I thought I'd share a few of them with you today. Be on the lookout for these ghouls!

SCAMpires- These suckers are looking to bleed your wallet dry. They may look like real pro writers, but they are the UNpro. They walk among us, but only to feed upon us. The best way to defeat a SCAMpire is to expose his or her lies to the harsh light of day.

WHEREwolves- Where the heck is your cowriter? They were supposed to be here 30 minutes ago! And they won't answer their phone or return a text, either. It's as predictable as a full moon. The only silver bullet to defeat these WHEREwolf cowriters is to schedule them as part of a 3-way write. That way, when they no-show, you and your other cowriter can survive to write a song without them.

SONGbies- These slow, plodding songs drag themselves up and down Music Row. They overrun amateur writers nights. Their relentlessly sad songs try to bring a tear to your eye, but they only seem to eat your brain. The only way to escape them is with some fun uptempo songs. That will help you stand out from the SONGbie horde.

Fire-Breathing DRAG-ONS- These monstrous cowriters spew flaming negativity all over the writing room and on everyone they encounter. They make your cowrites DRAG ON and on. They will burn your positive attitude to the ground. They cannot be defeated- your only hope is to escape! If you're stuck in a cowrite with a Fire-Breathing DRAG-ON, try faking a stomach bug or simply go to the bathroom and climb out a window. It might be awkward, but it'll be worth it.

I hope you can avoid these songwriting monsters and have a very happy Halloween!

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable and learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips about the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Songwriting Truth Beats Real Life Facts

Tips & Resources by BRENT BAXTER on October 25, 2017


Remember, if you’re writing to get cuts, your songs aren’t about you. Your songs are about the artist and the listener. You might write a song inspired by a true story from your life, but don’t be so determined to keep ALL the facts true or accurate that it makes your song confusing, complicated, or boring to the outside listener. After all, real life is messy, and it doesn’t always fit neatly into a 3-minute song. Sometimes it does, and that’s great. But a lot of times, it just doesn’t.

What matters is the emotional truth- the feeling you want the listener to feel. The listener doesn’t care about you (heck, they probably think the artist wrote the song anyway). The listener cares about connecting to the song.

If you want to write the song (or an alternate version of the song) for yourself, that’s great. It’s a worthy thing to do. But if you want cuts, it’s to your advantage to give the truth a higher priority than the facts. It’s about communicating emotional truth, not facts.

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable and learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips about the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

You Win By Adding Value

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on October 18, 2017


You win by adding value.

Opportunities come to those who add value. For example, I brought the idea of “Caribou Barbie” (a Ray Stevens cut) to Matt Cline and Max T. Barnes because they added value by being in Ray’s camp and because they write that kind of song very well. The value I brought was a title that Ray himself told me I should write.

Lisa Shaffer and Bill Whyte brought the title and idea of “Crickets” (a Joe Nichols cut) to me because they thought my lyrical sensibilities would make the song better.

Artists bring the value of having a record deal. Published writers bring the value of experience and a team of songpluggers. What’s your value? Great hooks? Do you do your own demos, saving costs to your cowriters? Do you have artist potential? Great melodies? What can you do to add value? If you identify it, you can sell yourself on it.

PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable and learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips about the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Welcome Our Newest Pro Song Reviewers: The Mizells!

Announcements by Brent Baxter on August 02, 2017


I'm pumped to announce that Frettie's newest song reviewer is... TWO song reviewers! Sam and Becca Mizell are hit songwriters who have had cuts in the country world by artists such as The Band Perry and Jana Kramer. However, it's in the Christian market where they have REALLY excelled.

Highlight cuts include:

“King Of The World”
Soft AC NO. 1 radio single, Grammy Nomination

"The Motions” recorded by Matthew West
ASCAP song of the year, Grammy Nomination, NO. 1 AC radio single 14
weeks(co-produced and wrote)

"You Are Everything” recorded by Matthew West
ASCAP song of the year, NO. 1 AC radio single 4 weeks (co-produced and
wrote)

"The Words I Would Say” recorded by Sidewalk Prophets
ASCAP Award, AC NO 1. radio single 3 weeks

"All That Matters”
ASCAP Award, CHR NO 1 radio single 4 weeks

"Hear My Worship" Inspo NO 1 radio single

"Give This Christmas Away"
duet with Matthew West/ Amy Grant AC NO.1 radio single

Some of their achievements include:

24 top 10 radio singles
2 Dove Awards

"Greater Than Grace"
Christian Country recorded song of the year

"Our Time" (written and produced)
Gospel Hip Hop record of year

2 ASCAP Song of The Year
11 ASCAP top 25 most played awards
2 BMI Awards

Crazy, right??? And this is just some of their highlights! They've had songs recorded by:

Matthew West, Amy Grant, Sidewalk Prophets, Mandisa, Jana Kramer, The Band
Perry, Billy Ray Cyrus, Avalon, Point Of Grace, Jamie Grace, Natalie Grant,
Jordin Sparks, Kutless, Francesca Battistelli, Mark Schultz, 33 Miles, Salvador,
Phillips Craig and Dean, Addison Road, PureNRG, Building 429, Michael
English, Rush Of Fools, Geoff Moore, Anthony Evans, The Martins, Jump 5,
Rachael Lampa, Helen Baylor, David Phelps, Wes Hampton, Kathy Troccoli,
Chris Rice, Jenny Berggen(Ace of Bass), Bob Carlisle, Vestel Goodman and MORE.

These good people (and they ARE good people) are awesome songwriters! And as a Frettie member, YOU can send your song to the Mizells and get their professional feedback within a week.

God bless,

Brent

Are Your Songs Contagious?

Tips & Resources by Brent on July 19, 2017


I read this quote (of a quote) in the book “If You Want To Write” by Brenda Ueland. I think it’s worth considering, so I thought I’d share.

“Tolstoi, in a famous essay called, ‘What Is Art?’ said something like this: Art is infection. The artist has a feeling and he expresses it and at once this feeling infects other people and they have it, too. And the infection must be immediate or it isn’t art. If you have to puzzle timidly over a picture or book and try, try to like it and read many erudite critics on the subject so that you can say at last, ‘Yes, I think I really do begin to understand it and see that it is just splendid! Real art!’ then it is not art.”

Are your songs contagious? Do they infect the listener immediately with the feeling you put into the song? If not...

Keep writing.

PS- If you want to read more of my thoughts on the art, craft and business of songwriting, download my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter" at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

Welcome, Sandy Ramos!

Announcements by Brent Baxter on July 18, 2017


I'd like to welcome hit songwriter, Sandy Ramos, as our newest Pro Reviewer!

As a songwriter.... Sandy's songs have appeared on over 25 million CDs. Her first big cut came in 1989 when she had a Top 5 record "Don't Waste it On The Blues" by Gene Watson. Over her writing career Sandy has had major label cuts on Lee Greenwood, Faith Hill, Neal McCoy, Kenny Rogers, Anne Murray, The Whites among others. She's had Top 10 country hits, a #1 dance hit with Rhett Akins "I Brake For Brunettes" and her biggest album cut to date "Let 'er Rip" was on the Dixie Chicks "Wide Open Spaces" debut CD.

If you'd like for Sandy to give YOUR song her professional input and feedback, she is ready to listen! Just choose the Frettie song you want her to review, then click on "Purchase A Song Review" for more details. It's simple!

$91 vs. $91,000

Tips & Resources by Brent on July 12, 2017


Right now, the statutory mechanical rate in the US (set by Congress) is $0.091 per unit sold. Meaning, each time someone buys an album at Wal-Mart or iTunes, each song generates $0.091 to be split among that song’s writers and publishers.

Just for the sake of easy math, let’s say you write a song by yourself and own the publishing. All that $0.091 goes into your pocket. If you get one song cut on an indie project which sells 1,000 units, that’s $91. Okay.

Now, say that same song is cut on a platinum-selling album (1,000,000 units) That’s $91,000 you just made- before taxes.

Indie cuts are great, and I’m thankful for every one I get. But I’m careful about how much time I spend on them (pitching, writing for, etc.). After all, it takes 1,000 indie cuts like that to equal just one platinum cut. That’s 91,000 reasons to spend a lot of time working on a song and cut with platinum potential.

Keep writing.

PS- If you want to read more of my thoughts on the art, craft and business of songwriting, download my free ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter" at www.GiftFromBrent.com.

The Big Yes

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter on June 28, 2017


When pitching a song, there is a “Little Yes” and a “Big Yes.”

The Little Yes is a person who ONLY has the power to pass your song up the ladder. The Big Yes is one of those very few people on a project who actually decides what gets cut.

Don’t just assume that the artist is always the Big Yes.

If the artist is brand new, the producer might be the Big Yes. Or the head of A&R at the label might be the Big Yes. If you’re pitching for a specific project, don’t be satisfied with just pitching to the Little Yes. Try to identify the Big Yes.

Keep writing.

PS- If you want to read more of my thoughts on the art, craft and business of songwriting, check out SongwritingPro.com. Thanks!

Jigsaw Songwriting

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter on June 21, 2017


If you’ve ever put (or attempted to put) together a jigsaw puzzle, you know how you set the box right in front of you so you can keep looking at the finished picture?

That’s how it should be with your songwriting career.

It’s hugely helpful to keep your “big picture”- your goal- in front of you as you sift through the massive stack of puzzle pieces. The pieces are your everyday choices- what you decide to do (and not do) and when you decide to do it.

Keeping your finished picture in mind helps you see how certain pieces might fight together and where they go on the board. Keeping the finished picture in front of you also helps you stay motivated. You can look at it knowing it’ll be beautiful when it’s complete.

Keep writing.


By the way, I'm so thankful that you've decided to drop by Frettie, that I want to give you a FREE GIFT! It's my ebook called, "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and you can get it at www.GiftFromBrent.com. In addition to some great insight just from that book, you'll also receive regular songwriting tips, creative kickstarters and advice right to your inbox. It's a great way to keep learning and to stay inspired. Thanks!

Ignorance Is Bliss… And Sometimes Helpful

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter on June 14, 2017


“My song is just as good as the stuff on the radio!”

Beginning songwriters everywhere have said it, and I was certainly no exception. And, like beginning songwriters everywhere, I was WAY wrong. Not only did I not know I was wrong, I had no idea just how wrong I was. And I’m glad I didn’t know! If I had realized just how far I had to go, I might’ve been so embarrassed by my suddenly-bad songs and so intimidated by the journey ahead, that I might’ve put the pen down for good.

If you have that “I’m almost there!” mindset along with a strong work ethic and willingness to learn, you might eventually get as good as you originally thought you were!

By the way, I'm so thankful that you've decided to drop by Frettie, that I want to give you a FREE GIFT! It's my ebook called, "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and you can get it at www.GiftFromBrent.com. In addition to some great insight just from that book, you'll also receive regular songwriting tips, creative kickstarters and advice right to your inbox. It's a great way to keep learning and to stay inspired. Thanks!

The Links Between You And A Cut

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter on June 07, 2017


I think of getting a song cut as a chain- I’m on one end and the cut is on the other. Each link in the chain is someone who has to say “yes” to the song and pass it along down the chain. However, each link is also a person who might say “no” and break the chain. The longer the chain, the greater the chance somebody will say “no.” If the chain is broken, you have to find a different link to pass along your song. It's kind of like a board game where you have to go back a couple of spaces.

Therefore, it’s worth taking time to build the relationships which make your chain shorter. This is one of the reasons it’s valuable to write with the artist or the producer- it really shortens the chain. Cut out as many links in your "cut-chains" as possible!

God bless and keep writing,

Brent

Pick Your Pain

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter on May 31, 2017


Success comes at the cost of comfort. And once you have the dream of writing songs for a living (or just getting a song cut) pain is unavoidable. So pick your pain. You can either have the pain that comes from trying or the pain that comes with NOT trying.

There’s pain in putting your songs out there just to have them rejected. There’s pain in getting up early to write before you go to your “day job.” And there’s the possible pain of failure- of never getting that cut or getting to make a living writing songs. There’s pain when you cut back on eating out so you can pay for that demo. But on the other side, there’s pain in knowing you didn’t try. There’s pain in not knowing what might’ve happened if you had really put your heart into it.

If you have a dream, pain WILL happen. So... which pain will you pick?

Facts vs. Truth

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter on May 24, 2017


Remember, if you’re writing to get cuts, your songs aren’t about you. Your songs are about the artist and the listener. You might write a song inspired by a true story from your life, but don’t be so determined to keep all the facts true that it makes your song confusing, complicated, or boring to the outside listener.

What matters is the emotional truth- the feeling you want the listener to feel. The listener doesn’t care about you (heck, they probably think the artist wrote the song anyway). The listener cares about connecting to the song.

If you want to write the song (or an alternate version of the song) for yourself, that’s great. It’s a worthy thing to do. But if you want cuts, it’s to your advantage to give the truth a higher priority than the facts. It’s about communicating emotional truth, not facts.

Busy is lazy

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter on May 17, 2017


Too many times, our busy-ness is really just laziness. We keep ourselves busy with organizing our writers room, checking email, or checking out an artist’s new record. And none of these are bad things- but neither are they usually the BEST thing.

To many times, these activities are just a way to avoid the important things. And why do we avoid the important things? Usually, it’s because they’re difficult, unpleasant, or scary.

Staring at a blank page is hard- staring at a full email inbox is easy, and we fool ourselves into thinking we’re being productive. But we aren’t. We’re just scared and lazy. Or sometimes it’s easier to work on a song than to make those uncertain phone calls that might land that big cowrite.

So put on your big-boy or big-girl pants and do what you know is the important thing- not the lazy thing.

Going Nowhere

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter on May 10, 2017


Do you have cowriters that are going nowhere and taking you with them?

You can’t drag a cowriter or potential artist across the finish line. If an artist or songwriter isn’t willing to do the hard things it takes to be successful, you can’t make them.

It’s frustrating to watch people with a ton of potential waste it, but that’s their choice to make- not yours. It’s time to let go so you can have more time to partner with people as motivated and hard working as you are.

Why won’t a pro write with me?

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter on May 03, 2017


I know it can be frustrating trying to land a cowrite with a pro songwriter. I've heard writers ask before, "Why won't a pro write with me?"

The question you might want to ask yourself is, “Why SHOULD a pro write with me?”

Remember, you are asking for at least half a day with a writer who has limited time and who is trying to keep a gig in one of the most competitive industries on the planet. Every day he or she says “yes” to someone is a day they say “no” to everyone else. This is not to say that pros never write with non-pros. They sometimes do. But when they don't, it's usually nothing personal. It's business. Part of YOUR job in this business is to position yourself to be one of those people.

Good luck!

What It’s About

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter on April 26, 2017


The publishers and A&R reps on Music Row don’t want YOU to tell them what your song is about. They want YOUR SONG to tell them what your song is about. Your song needs to be self-contained and self-explanatory. After all, if your goal is to get your songs on the radio or on an album, it has to stand on its own.

How many songs get a spoken explanation on the radio or a playlist? Yeah... that's what I thought.

Don’t let your introduction of “I wrote this song about..." or "I wrote this song because...” become a crutch to prop up your songwriting. Make sure your song stands on its own.

Before Your Pitch Meeting

Tips & Resources by Brent on April 19, 2017


Before you call to set up a pitch meeting, assume the A&R person or producer will have an appointment with Luke Laird right before you and Don Schlitz right after you. (Look ‘em up if you don’t know who they are.)

If your song can’t compete with the best of the best, put down the phone and pick up your guitar. You still have more work to do.

The Necessary And The Difficult

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, hit songwriter on April 12, 2017


The music business is a tough, tough business, and the path to success travels through setbacks, failure, and doubt. The journey requires you to have patience, and it requires you to do difficult, challenging things. I don’t know of any hacks or tricks which avoid hard work.

In the marathon that is the music business, it's easy to want to avoid the difficult thing. For you, it might be picking up the phone or sending that email asking for a publisher meeting. Or it may be learning ProTools. Or finishing that stack of songs. But when those things are the things necessary for your success, you just have to suck it up and do it. But we often finding ourselves staying busy with the easy (unnecessary) things as a way of hiding from the necessary, difficult things. We have to be honest with ourselves, know what we tend to avoid, and face those things head-on. You might need an accountability partner (or the Frettie Members Forum on Facebook).

However, it is important to remember that not all hard things are necessary, nor are all necessary things difficult. For example, you may find writing lyrics easy, but writing melodies to be terribly difficult and just plain not fun. Well, maybe writing melodies is difficult but not necessary for you success (that's the angle I take). Or maybe it's the reverse. Your necessary/difficult mix will be unique to you.

But to maximize your efforts, you want to identify which is which, and avoid the unnecessary and do the necessary, whether difficult or not. Wisdom, experience, and the advice of the wise and experienced is vital to telling the difference. Good luck and God bless!

“The Song”

by Brent on March 29, 2017


I’ve run into some aspiring songwriters who believe they have “the song" - the song that will set the world on fire. And if they can just get “the song” to Kenny Chesney or Carrie Underwood, they know it’ll be a surefire hit.

Well...

The hard truth is that it’s foolish to put all your hopes on ONE song.

So much timing, luck, and networking goes into getting a cut, much less a hit, that you need a CATALOG of great, commercially-viable songs. If you have a bunch of great songs working their way through the system, MAYBE one will get cut.

If you've really written one great song, that's awesome. Now focus on writing more great songs.

So… what’s up with Frettie?

by Brent on March 22, 2017


So... what's up with Frettie?

Hello!
Just in case you missed the previous announcement from Dennis, I'd like to catch you up on some major new developments at Frette. The sad news is that Frettie's amazing co-founders, Dennis and Julie, will be stepping away from the daily responsibilities of shepherding the Frettie community. They've done a wonderful job, and I'm very thankful for them. I'm sure you are, too.

The exciting news, though, is that Frettie is NOT going away!

I've been a fan (and member) of Frettie for a couple of years now. So when Dennis approached me about serving the Frettie community as its new proprietor... I jumped at the chance!

I've been teaching the art, craft and business of songwriting for a few years now - through my blog, podcast, live events and workshops. Shepherding a great group of songwriters like you and the others in Frettie is an exciting next step in helping songwriters grow and earn success.

I want Frettie to continue to be a great place for you to post and get feedback on your songs. But I also have some exciting new things I want to make available to members of Frettie- things that are really going to add to the value of your membership.

I look forward to going on this journey with you!

God bless,

Brent Baxter
ps- If you'd like to know more about me, you can check out at www.songwritingpro.com/about

Indie International Singer-Songwriter Contest!

All, Announcements by Frettie Team on August 03, 2016


-The contest is only open to the Singer-Songwriter genre
-Artist can submit up to 3 songs
-This contest is capped at 150 entries..so limited spots available.
-Choose between a Basic Entry ($30) numerical score, or a Written Critique ($40) to which the pro judge will give feedback on different aspects of the song.

Deadline is Aug 26th, 2016

View complete rules & contest details here: https://www.indieinternational.com/rules.php

Check out Indie International Website

Get your songs reviewed by an industry professional today!

All, Announcements, Product Updates by The Frettie Team on February 17, 2016


Today we're excited to announce that you can now get your songs reviewed by a number of industry professionals right here on Frettie. Choose from hit songwriters, award-winning producers and more! We tested this service out awhile ago and the response was overwhelming so we decided to create a more integrated experience for you all and gather a larger panel of songwriters for everyone to choose from. We think is just one more great addition to the Frettie platform!

Here's how it works:

We're excited to connect you to some of the most recognized songwriters, producers and industry representatives in the industry so that you can get even more feedback on your music. Song reviews on Frettie are super simple:

1. Upload your song to Frettie or send them a song that has already been uploaded.
2. Select an industry progressional from the list.
3. Complete the order form and purchase your review through Paypal.

That's it. The industry professional will then be in touch with you and deliver the review back to you.100% of the purchase goes to the songwriter. We take nothing. All that we ask is that you tell your friends of this great new service and give a big thanks to the professionals who are making themselves available to the community!

Who's currently excepting song submissions through Frettie?

- Don Poythress, Hit Songwriter
- Holly Steele, A&R Rep and Award-Winning Songwriter
- Jonathan Roye, Award-Winning Producer
- Bobby Boyd, Hit Songwriter
- Lon Van Eaton, Platinum-Winning Producer & Songwriter
- And more!

Have questions? Check out our FAQ's page or drop a note in the comments below. If you'd like to be considered for the panel, please shoot us an email!

Spotlight: Meet February’s featured songwriter Mary Segato

All, Featured Songwriters by The Frettie Team on February 09, 2016


We’re excited to announce that Mary Segato is our featured songwriter for February. Mary's been a member of Frettie from the very beginning and we're excited to finally get a chance to learn about her process and see what she's been up to these days. As always, if you like it and find it valuable, please don't hesitate to share it with others!

Where do you call home?
Wolfville, Nova Scotia

Where did you grow up?
Halifax, Nova Scotia

When did you write your first song?
I wrote my first song at 16 years old.

How did you get started in songwriting?
I had been writing poetry for a few years when my children were young. As they became older, I picked up my guitar after a very long absence and started writing songs.

Did you have any parents, siblings or was someone else in your family musical?
No, but my uncle had played guitar. This introduced me to my passion for music.

Do you have an ideal setup?
Although I did set up a small space for music with a tascam recorder and mic, I don't use that space to create, but rather to record my demos. But now with the usage of cell phones, I usually just record on that. It is always nearby when I'm feeling creative.

What book(s) or blogs are you currently reading?
I recently finished "A house in the sky" by Amanda Lindhout, "The World in Six Songs" by Daniel Levitin, and "Virgin Cure" by Ami McKay. I am now reading "The Paying Guests" by Sarah Waters.

Who are your top three favorite artists or songwriters?
This is difficult because I have many. But definitely Carole King, Diane Warren, and Adelle would be among my favorites.

What is your songwriting process typicaly like (from start to finish)?
Well I usually pick up my guitar by my fireplace, and if something is brewing inside my brain, it is usually apparent very quickly. I then keep playing what ever piece of the melody is with me until a song starts to take shape. Sometimes the lyrics and music come together in which case I quickly record and write the lyrics down. Other times, I just have the melody which I record and come back to at a later date if lyrics come. Other times a phrase has come to me that I write down which usually ends up being a title to a future song. Once I have the bulk of the song down, I then go back to it for a few days or longer to refine my lyrics. Often, I find if I don't at least get the majority of the song down, it is unlikely that I go back to it. I have lots of melodies on my phone that I never seem to get back to. If I think the song is reasonable, I will then have it recorded.

What album are you currently listening to?
Today, I have been listening to Adelle, Ed Sheeran, and Dean Brody.

What other creative outlets do you have besides songwriting?
Throughout the years I have done scrapbooking projects, knitting, beading, poetry, and cooking.

How do you stay inspired?
I think life experience everyday is what inspires me, either through my own personal experience or from others around me. It could be something I hear on the news that has a strong affect on me which inspires me to write down those feelings. I find songwriting to be a great form of self expression and dealing with feelings that sometimes we are not really conscious of.

What's your biggest challenge as a songwriter?
I think my biggest challenge as a songwriter is getting my songs heard. I am not a singer/songwriter and do not perform.

How important is environment in your writing process?
I am definitely a creature of habit! I always write in the same place. I like to have quiet and be by myself when I'm creating. I need to break out of this and start the co-writing process which I recently have done with my daughter. This was a very interesting process for me. I hope to do more of this.

What time of day do you prefer to write your music and where?
I usually write in the evening by my fireplace, but the odd time have written in the morning; although seldom, because I don't seem to be that disciplined. There are always other things I feel I have to do first.

What's your favorite memory as a songwriter or musician?
I think my favourite memory would be the first award I ever received for placing a song in "Song of the year". It was one of the first songs I'd ever written and it was recorded with me singing and playing which I don't like to do. I guess it was a confidence builder to keep trying and writing more!

How do you maintain your professional growth?
Well I have only been into songwriting for the past 5 years, so haven't done a lot of networking with others. In the beginning there is a lot of self-learning, but I have gone to 3 or 4 songwriting workshops over the past few years. I also try to read the various articles to different music sites I belong to, for example Songwriters Association of Canada.

When it comes to lyrics: pen and paper, or computer?
I have never used the computer to write. I always have my notebook nearby.

What are some of your greatest accomplishments to date?
I have won numerous awards as a semi-finalist and finalist with ISC, UK, Song of the year and a few others. I also won Songwriter Universe January 2015. Most recently I won Toronto regionals for IMSTA FESTA songwriting competition. I am presently competing against the winner from NY, Chicago, and LA. We each had to write a new song with "Santorini" in the title. The winner will go to Black Rock Studios in Santorini, Greece. The winner to be announced at NAMM in California the end of January.

If you could provide any advice to up-and-coming songwriters, what would it be?
I think the biggest thing for me to realize is that you must be "thick skinned" and not take too seriously what anybody has to say about your music. Music is very subjective, and just because one person doesn't like it, doesn't mean you're not a good songwriter. Also, I will always learn something from every critique regardless of whether it is favourable or not. Most importantly, the more songs you write, the better you get. Like anything in life...practice, practice, practice.

What online tools do you use today for songwriting?
I really don't use any online tools, sometimes the dictionary online if I'm looking for a word.

How has Frettie benefited you and the songwriting community?
I think Frettie is a great resource for songwriters, especially for getting feedback from other like minded people. When you are starting out as a songwriter, it is a little intimidating when there is no support network. Getting feedback on your song from non-musical friends and family is not as helpful as it is from other songwriters.

What's next for you?
Hopefully good things:) I don't really know, but hopefully the near future brings me to Santorini, Greece! I would like to concentrate on getting my music placed, and writing new songs. Maybe get another FACTOR Grant, which I was grateful to benefit from in 2015.

Thanks for the time Mary! One final question.. Besides Frettie, where can readers and songwriters find you?

You can find me on Frettie, Facebook, Soundcloud, and my Website!

We encourage everyone to give Mary a shout out, say hi and check out the awesome music she's writing on Frettie!

Until next time!

- The Frettie Team!

P.S. Want to be a featured songwriter on Frettie? Hit us up in the comments below!

Sell your music through Frettie with Gumroad, iTunes, CD Baby and more. What are you going to sell?

All, Announcements, Product Updates by The Frettie Team on January 15, 2016


Part of what makes Frettie so great is that it’s the perfect platform to share your song ideas with others for validation and feedback. Frettie makes it easy for you to share a song in progress, refine or rewrite it and then share it again for more feedback from the community or industry pros. That's been awesome, but we figured why stop there? We think that one of the ultimate forms of feedback, is whether someone will actually purchase the song or not, so we built a quick way for you all to test that.

Now, whenever you post a song on Frettie, you have the option to include a "Purchase link/URL” for that song and add a price. Once you add a link and a price a “Buy” button is then added to that song for anyone to purchase it. If someone clicks that button, they’re taken right to the source to purchase that song. A purchase link could be any link from iTunes, CD Baby, Paypal, Gumroad (our preferred) or wherever else you may be selling your music. Since no transactions are happening on Frettie, we take nothing from you. You’ll get 100% of the sale from our end. However, it’s important to note that you are still subject to any fees from any other service that you may be selling your music through.

Julie and I feel not only is this the ideal next step for getting feedback, but selfishly, it also finally gives us a way to purchase some of the great music that you all are posting to Frettie. Plus, there’s the added bonus of the community helping each-other fund their careers. And there's more.. this feature is not just limited to the community. If you share your Frettie song detail page with your fans or anyone else, they too can purchase the song though Frettie. This is a great way of maybe selling a song that may not be ready for mass distribution on iTunes etc., but does fit the Frettie mold of sharing and selling the music you’re creating as you’re creating it.

Want to see an example? http://frettie.com/track_detail/219

We think you'll really enjoy this new feature and we welcome any feedback. Let us know if you have any questions and we look forward to seeing what you begin selling on Frettie!

Want to take your songwriting to the next level? Join Frettie today!

Spotlight: Meet January’s featured songwriter Wonder

All, Featured Songwriters by The Frettie Team on January 12, 2016


We’re excited to announce that Wonder is our featured songwriter for January. Wonder's been with Frettie for some time now and we're excited to have had the chance to learn about her process and see what she's been up to. Check our her interview and songwriting process below. As always, if you like it and find it valuable, please don't hesitate to share it with others!

Where do you call home?
The grand northwest and everywhere else.

Where did you grow up?
Boomeranging back and forth between Portland and Olympia, Washington so I gestated a healthy sense of perpetual displacement.

When did you write your first song?
I was five. It was about rainbows and butterflies. I liked pink. If the pumpkin spice latte had been a thing then, I would have repped that #PSL swag for days. #basicwhitefiveyearold

How did you get started in songwriting?
As a kid who struggled to make friends, once I learned to write I became my own best friend and entertainer by writing stories. When I turned into a teenager and discovered that boobs and hormones do not in fact better equip you to talk to people, the stories turned ino poems of angst and self-pity. Then, one day, the poems became songs. And now the songs are stories again. (And I have friends who are real and not imaginary, so sometimes I even write happy things).

Did you have any parents, siblings or was someone else in your family musical?
Everyone on my dad's side of the family has a penchant for singing. The rest of my relatives love and fear musical ability as an unattainable sorcery which is either to be revered or probably kept as a hobby.

Do you have an ideal setup?
I performed spontaneously in the dining car of a train to Portland on morning and never recovered. I'm a sucker for ninja gigs and just being asked to play on the spot. But house concerts come pretty close. There's magic there I haven't been able to find anywhere else. That atmosphere of intimacy is what I live for.

What book(s) or blogs are you currently reading?
I read "The Art of Asking" by Amanda Palmer pretty religiously. "How to be a Woman" by Caitlin Moran, and "On Writing" by Stephen King keep me company often as well. I recently picked up "Poetry as Insurgent Art" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti when I was in San Francisco at City Lights. It's a tiny, beautiful book.

Who are your top three favorite artists or songwriters?
That's a cruel question to ask someone who makes music. I worked on Carnival Cruise ships as a performer for the last year and a half, playing covers for four hours every day. It's a job that demands versatility and a huge repertoire. But if you want names, I'll give you names. The Band Joseph, Penny & Sparrow, and Harm (they're from Alaska. They're my friends. Go listen).

What is your songwriting process typicaly like (from start to finish)?
It varies, but usually the song starts putting itself together at a super inconvenient time when I'm far, far away from anything to write with or play on. Last night I started composing one in my head while driving home from Redmond at midnight. I burst in the door, brusquely informed my bandmate I would be ignoring him for the rest of the night, collected my guitar and notebook from my room, and holed up in the mostly-soundproof-but-tiny-and-also-freezing laundry room. An hour later, I had a brand new song finished and recorded onto my phone.

What album are you currently listening to?
The 1975's self-titled album. #allweseemtodoistalkaboutsex

What other creative outlets do you have besides songwriting?
I have a super secret morose poetry blog on tumblr that I nurse when I'm feeling extra pretentious. My Instagram is @WonderTruly, which is a public and smaller version of my blog but with pictures and less whining.

How do you stay inspired?
It's hard not to, honestly. I'm empathic to a fault, so I have the problem of trying to contain everything I'm feeling or sensing from the world around me. I immerse myself in art--sounds, colors, syntax--my creativity is a vital organ. I don't know what I'd do if it wasn't constantly running at the front-middle of my brain somewhere.

What's your biggest challenge as a songwriter?
What's challenging is not just being a songwriter. It's also being a human being, and trying really, really hard to be a good one. Like most (all) artists, and most (all) humans, I've got my messy bits. I entertain thoughts and say things that are brutal and ugly and mean. Sometimes I hurt people without ever saying sorry.

In my songwriting itself, I am constantly challenged weighing the honesty of my writing against the musicality and how digestible it is as a finished work. Ultimately I hope to never compromise on the integrity of my honesty to get something to sound a certain way.

How important is environment in your writing process?
Fairly important. I absolutely can't write if someone else is in the room with me, or if there's a TV on or other music playing.

What time of day do you prefer to write your music and where?
I can write just about anywhere, at any time. I've definitely woken up at 4am to no alarm to write a song before. We just got back from our first tour, where on our 20-hour drive day I co-wrote a song with my bandmate from the driver's seat while he juggled a ukulele and a notebook in his lap to transcribe my neurotic songwriting process.

What's your favorite memory as a songwriter or musician?
The classic response of playing someone a song you wrote for them, and seeing them be touched in a way no other gift or words could reach them. That's really special.

How do you maintain your professional growth?
My friends and colleagues know me as a social media ninja. I'm constantly updating my platforms. I make a point of staying plugged in to the regional music community, always challenging myself to do better, and be inspired by my musical peers. I treat my brand like what it is: work. It's a job. I put more energy and time into this daily than I do with any other job or project I have. And it shows. The response wasn't immediate, but after three years of building a social media presence, I have a fanbase that's robust, devoted, and constantly growing.

When it comes to lyrics: pen and paper, or computer?
I'm very tactile. Pen and paper, all the way.

What are some of your greatest accomplishments to date?
Finishing our first tour was a huge milestone. We played 23 shows in 29 days, playing down the west coast everywhere west of the Rockies. All our shows were donation-based, and most of them were house concerts hosted by my fans. More than one person mocked me to my face when I announced that I wasn't going to demand a guarantee for the shows, but we profited more from the house concerts than I ever have from a bar gig.

Also, on our second to last show of the #WonderWinterTour on New Year's Eve at the Beery House in Seattle, I got to play my music for Jason Webley, one of my heroes whose music changed my life. That was a big deal.

If you could provide any advice to up-and-coming songwriters, what would it be?
Be honest. Throw rhyme scheme to the wind. Don't worry about whether you're echoing what other people have said--as long as you're writing true to what's on your soul, it'll be authentic. Surround yourself in equal measure with friends who will fawn over your writing like it's the second New Testament, and also friends who are educated in music, better than you are at it, and who will give you some hard criticism. That's the only way we grow.

What online tools do you use today for songwriting?
Sometimes if I'm stuck and don't know what chord scheme I want to use, I'll open up Ultimate Guitar and find one of my favorite songs and pick through it on guitar until I get bored enough or inspired enough to play something new and different.

How has Frettie benefited you and the songwriting community?
When I first joined Frettie, I had only just moved to Seattle. I was playing at open mics, or "shows" where there was no guarantee and no bar percentage, so completely free labor. I was just breaking into the music scene and making friends. Frettie was a cyberspace parallel to that. It was awesome to get feedback from strangers on songs I'd just written, especially when most of the bars I played were either empty or semi-full of people who were there to ignore me.

What's next for you?
More touring! And finishing up the next couple albums that have been in gestation for the last two years.

Thanks for the time Wonder! One final question.. Besides Frettie, where can readers and songwriters find you?

You can find me on Frettie, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, YouTube and my Website!

We encourage everyone to give Wonder a shout out, say hi and check out the awesome music she's writing on Frettie!

Until next time!

- The Frettie Team!

P.S. Want to be a featured songwriter on Frettie? Hit us up in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Ray² Photography

Announcing the top Frettie songs of 2015.

All, Announcements by The Frettie Team on December 28, 2015


2015 has been a great year for Frettie and we can't wait for 2016 and for everything that we have planned. Before we close the chapter on 2015, we thought it would be great to look back at some of the most popular song from the year. Below are the most popular and reviewed songs from this past year. We'd love for you to check them out and chime in on the discussions if you've not already. It's never to late to give some feedback!

1.) "Outta Your Head" By Luke James Shaffer
2.) "I'll Be Your Rain" By Jayne Sachs
3.) "Carnival" By Mikalyn Hay
4.) "Wishing" By Mary Segato
5.) "Get All Your Troubles" By Roman Villar
6.) "Hallowed Ground" By Ross Hemswort
7.) "Love Happens" By Sarah Spencer
8.) "Turn On The Light" By Martin Lorentzson
9.) "She's A River" By Brent Baxter
10.) "Light It Up" By Ryan Langford

Cheers to 2016 and happy songwriting!

Spotlight: Meet April’s Featured Songwriter Brent Baxter

All, Featured Songwriters by The Frettie Team on March 29, 2015


We’re excited to announce that hit songwriter and blogger Brent Baxter is April’s featured songwriter on Frettie. Brent’s interview with us is full of great advice for songwriters at all levels. Learn how Brent first caught the songwriting bug, how he works songwriting into his busy schedule as well as the importance of staying lean so you can follow your dreams. As always, we hope that you enjoy this interview. If so, feel free to share it with others.

Q: Where do you call home?
I live just outside of Nashville, having been in Tennessee since 2002. But I grew up in Batesville, Arkansas, and that will always be home. It's a town of around 10,000 in the beautiful Ozark foothills.

Q: How did you get started in songwriting?
By accident, I guess. Growing up, I was always writing words- parody lyrics, bad poetry, short stories, making my own comic books, and even a song lyric or two. But it wasn't until my buddy, Tim Meitzen, put a melody to a lyric my sophomore year in college (1994) that songwriting hit me like a ton of bricks. I fell hard, and I've been writing lyrics ever since!

Q: Did you have any parents, siblings or was someone else in your family musical?
Growing up, my mom sang in the church choir and would do the occasional solo. Dad played a little piano. But that was about it. Of course, now that my folks are retired and have moved here to Nashville, Mom has her own band. I kid you not. They play shows. Maybe I should write with her...

Q: What is your songwriting process typical like?
Being a lyricist, I'm a title-first or idea-first kind of guy. Once I get a title that I think is interesting, I roll it around to see where it could go and if it would be a good fit for an upcoming cowrite or project. If so, I might map it out by deciding where the first verse, chorus, and second verse could go. I might have some specific lyrics written out. Then I'll take it in to a cowriter. I usually don't walk in with a complete draft of a lyric. I like to have a good nugget and leave things open enough for my cowriter to have a lot of melodic options. And once the melody starts happening, it'll inform the lyrics- the language, phrasing, tone, etc. But sometimes we'll work the other way around. My cowriter will have a melody or feel, and we'll look for a hook that fits that feel and go from there. I enjoy both.

Q: Do you have an ideal setup for writing music?
Laptop, cup of coffee, and a meeting somewhere on Music Row with a good trusted cowriter. I love the energy. Also having an artist in the room always helps!

Q: What book(s) or blogs are you currently reading?
Between the kids and work and everything else, I'm afraid I don't have much time for reading (though I love reading). Takes me forever to finish a book. I like non-fiction: Christian, economics, politics, business, and some history. When it comes to fiction, I usually grab a Vince Flynn or Brad Thor political thriller. Light reads, but fun books. As for blogs, I have my own blog on songwriting called, "Man vs. Row" at www.manvsrow.com.

Q: Who are your top three favorite artists or songwriters?
Man, I'm sure everyone says that's a tough question! My top all-time artists would have to include Garth Brooks, George Strait, Jimmy Buffett... and everyone who ever cut one of my songs! As for songwriters, there are some folks whose songs just have staying power with me. Bob McDill, the Garth Brooks crew: Pat Alger, Kent Blazy, Kim Williams, Garth himself. It was really the songs on those albums that made me such a huge fan. Same with those George Strait writers like Dean Dillon and Aaron Barker.

Q: What album are you currently listening to?
I like the current Eric Church record. I'm sure by the time this interview gets out that I'll be spinning the new Garth Brooks. And the new Ruthie Collins album on Curb. She's a buddy and cowriter. And awesome. Plus I have a song called “Vintage" on there!

Q: How do you stay inspired?
I don't! I mean, I'm not ALWAYS inspired. Even when it's time to write, sometimes the craziness of life and stress can take you out of your creative headspace. The challenge is to find a little quiet and to push past the "I don't feel like it right now- I just want a nap or to veg out" feeling. I know I'll be glad I did. Walking into the writing room with a trusted cowriter is always inspiring, though. I'm just happy to see them, and I'm excited to see what the session will hold.

Q: What's your biggest challenge as a songwriter?
Making time to write! I have two kids under 4 years old, a wife who (thankfully) likes me to be home, a full time day job... and I might try to sleep when the kids let me. It's hard. My job takes me on the road a lot, so I try to do some thinking in the truck and stay up after the family has gone to bed. And I get up around 5am to have a little time (although our baby likes to get up then so I end up with her a lot). Then I'll schedule a couple cowrites a month. I've had a full-time writing gig, and I hope this time away from it is just a season. But it's what I have to do right now to feed the family. I'll sleep later, I guess.

Q: What time of day do you prefer to write your music and where?
Anywhere and any place! Ideally, it's daytime somewhere on Music Row. But that's not an option right now. So I write at night at a cowriter's place or on the Row.

Q: What's your favorite memory as a songwriter or musician?
Hearing Alan Jackson's cut of "Monday Morning Church" for the first time. It was at the Billboard office in Nashville. One of their writers, Deborah Evans Price, had a reviewer's copy of the upcoming single. My roommate at the time worked there and told her I hadn't even heard the song yet. So she invited me in and played it for me. It was a GREAT feeling. I had her play it for me twice! If you want to hear the demo you can listen to it on Frettie.

Q: What are some of your greatest accomplishments to date?
Professionally... Having a top-5 hit with Alan Jackson. Getting to write a song with Randy Travis. Getting to be a full-time songwriter for several years.

Q: If you could provide any advice to an up and coming songwriter, what would it be?
Be in it for the long haul. Keep your monetary overhead low. The more money you have to bring in each month to pay for mortgage/rent, cable, credit card bills, etc., the harder it's going to be to make enough to be a full-time songwriter. Build a side-gig that brings in enough money and gives you enough flexibility to keep writing and ride out the highs and lows. And keep hungry, humble, and teachable. Always work to stay current. Write better songs, build better relationships, repeat.

Q: What’s next for you?
Well, I hope to continue with the growth of Man vs. Row, turning my teaching into a solid platform which will allow me to write more (it's that flexible side-gig I mentioned earlier). And I'll continue to write as much as I can with a few select folks, mostly artists. With limited time, you have to be a lot more careful about where you put your energy and effort.

Q: What value do you think Frettie can bring to the songwriters? What value have you received from it?
I wish there had been a Frettie when I was starting out! First of all, the site isn't spammy- it isn't about people just yelling "look at me!" Folks are willing to share their feedback on others' songs, and that's cool. I think that outside perspective is really valuable as we grow as songwriters. Thanks for all your work!

Q: Thanks for your time Brent. We look forward to connecting with you on Frettie. Where can readers find you online to keep updated on what you are doing?
My home on the web is my blog, www.manvsrow.com. From there, you can connect with me on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. Drop by and say "hi!” You can also connect with me on Frettie.

We hope you enjoyed that. Let us know what you think in the comments below. Until next month.

Spotlight: A Follow Up Interview With Sarah Spencer

All, Featured Songwriters by The Frettie Team on December 08, 2014


It's great to hear what our featured songwriters have been up to since we last spoke with them. This month we reached out to Sarah Spencer who’s been with Frettie since the very beginning. She gave us some great insight on how Frettie has helped her and how she incorporates Frettie into her writing process. She also filled us in on a new project she’s working on called SongFancy and we think everyone will find that useful as well.

Q: Can you believe it has been over a year since we last interviewed you? What have you been up?
I know, right? Things are good! I'm still writing a lot, and doing a lot more co-writing. I found a group of friends that I really love writing with, and we've got some killer songs. I’ve also been playing out more and more - Played at the Bluebird, and did my first house show. I think I've also gotten a cut since we last spoke, so that's pretty cool. These days I’m also putting a lot of energy into a new blog called SongFancy.com. I started SongFancy as a place for other writers to go for inspiration. I’ve had fun taking photos, writing and planning out the content.

Q: How have things changed for you since the last time we talked?
Honestly, I feel like I was sprinting for a while, and now I've started to slow down! Certainly this is not in a bad way. I've taken a little more time for myself. I’ve been focussing on figuring out how I want to shape my career. I've started putting a lot more emphasis on playing, connecting with people, and writing for myself. More artist-type stuff.

Q: What have been some struggles this past year that you think other songwriters could relate to or would find interesting? How have you learned from them?
Funny you should ask! This past year has forced me to learn a lot of hard, but reassuring truths about being a songwriter. The main struggle I keep running into is, everyone has an opinion! There's a rule for everything! That drives me crazy. I really do appreciate guidelines, advice, and other people's expertise. However, this year, it's been all about finding my own voice in the mess of "proper commercial songwriting".

It's so easy to get caught up in workshops and feedback. One person wants the chorus to lift more. The next person thinks your verses are too long and that the song needs to be more conversational and blah blah. It can be hard to inject your own artistic vision into a piece when all you're thinking about is, "Will this song tick off someone who could potentially get it heard?" I'm learning that there's a happy medium between "commercial" and "innovative". I'm constantly writing to that.

Q: What have been some of your wins our proudest moments this past year?
Playing the Bluebird was pretty cool. And I'm playing it again on December 14th at 8pm, if any of y'all Frettier's are in town!

Q: How has Frettie or the Frettie community contributed to any of the successes you’ve had this year?
I've absolutely forgotten how helpful it was to have Frettie as a part of my songwriting process. I've posted a few new tunes this month, and I've already gotten some great feedback from the community. Not only that, but the addition of the new Frettie Facebook group has integrated itself into my social media life! I'm on Facebook more than anywhere else online, and it's nice to have the Frettie community right there for conversation and collaboration.

Q: Have you adapted Frettie into your songwriting process?
I have! It's so simple to just toss up a worktape when I first write a tune. I literally 1. write the song, 2. play it into my phone, then 3. upload the worktape and lyrics to Frettie. I get to ask specific questions about points in the song I could use some input on. Usually after the first round of writing a song, I'm full, and don't go back to it till later. So during that time, I'm sharing it with Frettiers and gaining valuable feedback to take into the rewrite. Frettie is perfect for my process.

Q: What is your next goal as a songwriter?
To always improve and write better. Ultimately, I'd love to be a staff writer at a publisher with a bunch of friends.

Q: What new projects are you working on?
Well, I just had my first online streaming show and I had a blast. I hope to do more of those steaming shows in the future, but this first one was a test run! Along with that, I've also started a songwriting inspiration blog called SongFancy.com. I write about my experiences as a writer, some things I've learned along the way, and really focus on getting people amped for their writing.

Q: Thanks for your Sarah, how can the songwriting world connect with you?
You can find me on Frettie. I’m also on Twitter and Facebook! I play pretty frequently around Nashville at various writer’s nights, so if you’re in the area, come on out and say hey!

Receive 50% Off On Frettie Membership and Advertising

All, Announcements by The Frettie Team on December 01, 2014


We’re excited to announce that now through the entire month of December we're offering 50% off on Frettie memberships and advertising! Starting today songwriters can purchase their lifetime membership to Frettie for the price of a coffee ($4.97). But that's not all. If you’re interested in promoting your EP or reaching a network of songwriters our Ad blocks are now just ($35.00) a month!

Take advantage of this amazing sale while you can. Purchase your membership today! or contact us to get your Ads scheduled!

Of course we want every songwriter in the world to know about this great offer so please help us spread the word! Click here to Tweet this offer!

Happy holidays songwriters!

New Announcement: Join the official Frettie Facebook Group.

All, Announcements by The Frettie Team on November 17, 2014


The Frettie brand has always stretched beyond the Frettie.com website. Since the very begining, we've supported songwriters, organizations and even publications. It's all been in an effort to create a brand that helps songwriters connect, grow and write better music together no matter where you are in the world. Today we're excited to add one more resource to the Frettie brand.

Introducing the official Frettie Facebook Group!

We've created this group so songwriters from all over the world can continue to learn from one other. This Facebook group picks up where Frettie.com leaves off. Here we encourage you to ask questions, have discussions around the industry and share tips and resources with one another to help each other grow as songwriters.

Many of you have asked for a resource like this on Frettie.com, but instead we decided it would be much more effective and beneficial to create this community outside of Frettie.com. Utilizing a platform that you're already sharing useful information on.

This is the latest resource created through the Frettie brand that will help you become a better songwriter and we are really excited to see how you all utilize it. We encourage you to join the group today and make an introduction by linking to your Frettie profile.

Jon the official Frettie Facebook Group Today!

Congratulations to Frettie member Amanda Williams for her cut on Garth Brooks’ latest album.

All, Announcements by The Frettie Team on November 12, 2014


We want to congratulate fellow Frettie member and songwriter Amanda Williams for her latest cut “She’s Tired of Boys” that is on Garth Brooks' recently released come back album “Man Against Machine“. What an incredible opportunity to get to write with him.

Amanda has taken the time to write all about her history and experience writing this song with Garth Brooks on her "Songwriting And Music Business" blog. It’s a great story that is sure to motivate songwriters at any level.

You can read the full article here: http://songwritingandmusicbusiness.com/articles/Shes_Tired_Of_Boys_Garth_Brooks_Song/

You can hear “She’s Tired Of Boys” written by Garth Brooks and Amanda Williams on Ghost Tunes or buy the album in stores.

Congratulations again Amanda and thank you for the continued support for Frettie and everything else that you do for the songwriting community!

Songwriting Magazine launches their mobile app.

All, Announcements by The Frettie Team on November 10, 2014


Songwriting Magazine has been a great supporter of Frettie since the very beginning and we’re thrilled to help them spread the word on their latest announcement. Songwriting Magazine now has a mobile app so you can take advantage of their great articles and resources while on the go! This announcement includes apps for both Android and iPhone as well as PocketMags.

If you want to read about the full release and what’s included in their app, you can find the complete breakdown on their website.

You can find the article here: http://www.songwritingmagazine.co.uk/news/songwriting-magazine-now-available-in-app-form/20075

Congratulations guys on the launch!

Spotlight: Meet this month’s featured songwriter Mackenzie Benish

All, Featured Songwriters by The Frettie Team on September 30, 2014


For the month of October, we're excited to showcase Wisconsin songwriter Mackenzie Benish. In our interview with Mackenzie, she shares her greatest accomplishments as a songwriter, fills us in on her new project and talks about some upcoming goals. We hope you enjoy learning about another member who makes up the great Frettie community. Never hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments below or reach out to Mackenzie on Frettie if you have any questions for her or would like to work with her on a project. I'm sure she'd love to hear from you.

Q: Where do you call home?
I live in the beautiful cheese land of Wisconsin!

Q: How did you get started in songwriting?
Since before I can remember my sister Morgan and I would spend hours trying to write songs. I would tell her how I felt and she would write the lyrics. I would then play the guitar and come up with a melody. I would try to add my two cents as far as lyrics go but I wasn't the best. Morgan could always create the most poetic, meaningful lyrics and I always admired that, so I kept pushing myself to become half the lyricist she is! I've gotten better at writing over the years but she still helps me out when I'm blocked.

Q: What is your songwriting process typicaly like?
I am very inconsistent whilst writing songs. I have done it every which way. Music first, lyrics first, both together. As of late I will start writing 2-3 songs with just the first verse and chorus. I"ll let those linger for a few weeks or months till I get around to either discarding or finishing them.

Q: Who are your top three favorite artists or songwriters?
Christina Perri is one of my biggest inspirations. For me she is the whole package. With her vocals and lyrics you can’t get much better than that! She keeps it simple and keeps the lyrics as the main focus of her music. I also love The Civil Wars. They are amazing! Their harmonies and lyrics are perfection. I could go on for days about them!

Also, The Head And The Heart. They sing my favorite song of all time “Rivers and Roads”. If you have not heard it be sure to check it out!

Bonus: 4th favorite artist/songwriter (because I am a rebel like that), London Grammar. Yhey can do no wrong.

Q: What album are you currently listening to?
Speaking of London Grammar... I've been listening to their album “If You Wait”. I have been telling EVERYONE that they need to listen to them and love them. Every song on that album is beautiful. Not to mention her crazy voice! Gah!

Q: How do you stay inspired?
I keep thinking and feeling deeply. I try to stay vulnerable and write about things I need to say to myself and others.

Q: What's your biggest challenge as a songwriter?
I think confidence is a big thing that affects my writing and preforming. I don’t really fit in to a mold. I can’t do things the way other people do things. It just doesn’t work and that can be very intimidating. Thankfully that has improved over this past year as I have developed my style! I have had a hard time with recording. I have decided to dedicate some time to really focus on at least laying down a few tracks for demos. Frettie pushes me to record, because I can see what the other artists are doing and also get great feedback from them on my stuff. I just put out my song “What I Am Singing For” and will hopefully get more up soon.

Q: What time of day do you prefer to write your music and where?
I write my music late at night, usually 2, 3, 4 in the morning. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to bed thinking I just wrote the best song ever on the planet, only to wake up and realize that it is completely horrible! The struggle is real folks!

Q: What's your favorite memory as a songwriter or musician?
I took a trip to Nashville with the family for a wedding and we stopped and toured the Ryman Auditorium. My sister had looked ahead and saw that they do this tourist attraction where they will record you singing a song from a list of music they have. You can also sing an original. I decided to do an original song and that's where “Somewhat Intriguing” was recorded.

Q: What are some of your greatest accomplishments to date?
Like I stated above, being able to say I recorded a song in Nashville! From that recording people started to take me more seriously as a Singer-Songwriter. I have also been able to play a couple bigger shows in Madison and Milwaukee. This summer, I was able to be a part of the Make Music Madison which is a festival apart of the summer solstice celebration around the world! I also just played at my grandma’s senior living center along with a few of my friends. My grandma was the talk of the town for a few days after!

Q: If you could provide any advice to up and coming songwriters, what would it be?
Don't force it. Music should come from your soul. Be vulnerable, don’t be afraid to say your own thoughts and feelings. Simple as that. People relate to people who are honest and real so don’t be afraid to show people your vulnerable music.

Q: What online tools do you use today for songwriting?
Obviously, Frettie has helped with feedback on songs from respected writers! I also use the dictionary.com and their thesaurus to find new and better words and Rhymezone.com when I'm looking for exact or close rhyming words.

Q: How has Frettie benefited you and the songwriting community?
Frettie has pushed me to the next level. It motivates me to try and keep up with some very talented artists and receive feedback and advice on my songs. I always like to connect with artists and follow and support their music. Frettie's profiles and the added ability to link to other social media sites help me keep up with what's going on with others in the industry as well as put myself out there to receive the same support!

Q: What's next for you?
What is next? Well, as I stated previously I am going to try and record some more songs in the next couple weeks/months. And as always play for whoever is willing to listen.

Q: Thanks for your time Mackenzie. We look forward to connecting with you on Frettie. Where can readers find you online to keep updated on what you are doing?

Thank you to everyone involved in running Frettie. I am thrilled to be a part of this community. I am impressed with the quick responses to questions and the willingness to further this website! Keep up the great work guys! You can find my information by liking my Facebook Page. You can also download a few of my songs at my Bandcamp Page.

Photo credit: Joelle DeMeyer Photography

Education: “Keep Your Story Moving” by Brent Baxter

All, Tips & Resources by Guest Author: Brent Baxter on September 04, 2014


Today we are excited to have Nashville songwriter Brent Baxter contribute to the Frettie Journal. If you're not familiar with Brent Baxter, he's not just a songwriter with songs recorded by Alan Jackson (the top 5 country hit “Monday Morning Church”), Lady Antebellum, Randy Travis, Joe Nichols, Lonestar, Ray Stevens, Gord Bamford, Andy Griggs, Steve Cropper, Buddy Jewell, and others. He's also the man behind the growing songwriting blog called Man Vs. Row. On his blog Brent shares valuable tips (like the one below) with his audience every week. We want to thank Brent for opening his mind to you. We encourage you all to check out his blog and join his mailing list.

Here's the guest blog post!
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Keep Your Story Moving by Brent Baxter

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the phrase, “you sound like a broken record.” Well, if your song sounds like a broken record, it will probably never end up on a record.

A song is a story, whether it’s a classic story song, like “The Gambler” or more of a moment-in-time. And the primary characteristic of a story is that it has a distinct beginning, middle, and ending.

There should be motion. The song should leave the listener in a different place than where they were when the song started.

If your songs don’t have that motion, they usually get pretty boring to the listener. Why? Because you’re not telling them anything new. And I don’t mean “new” as in something they’ve never heard in a song before (although, it’s good if you can do that). By “new,” I mean something the listener hasn’t already heard in that same song.

I know when I was a younger writer, my first verse would say something like, “she just walked out the door” with a chorus that said, “I can’t live without her.” And that’s fine, but my second verse would also basically say, “she just walked out the door.”

There’s nothing new there! I might have different details, but if the story doesn’t go anywhere, I’m not doing my job. So I started using a technique I probably got from Pat Pattison’s book, “Writing Better Lyrics.” It’s a great book- you should check it out.

The technique is called “song mapping.” Here’s how it works: in the most simple terms, write out what each part of the song is saying. I mean in the most simple terms- no colors, no visuals, just as simple as you can say it. For example:

Verse 1: She just walked out the door.
Chorus: I can’t live without her.
Verse 2: She just walked out the door.
Chorus: I can’t live without her.

So, if the verses on your map both say the same thing, like “she just walked out the door,” you know you aren’t taking the listener anywhere. Take another look the verses.

If one verse says, “she just walked out the door,” the other verse should tell us something else. Maybe it says, “I don’t know how I’ll make it through tonight.” That way, when you come back to your chorus us “I can’t live without her,” you see it in a different light. I’ll talk more about this in a moment.

Verse 1: She just walked out the door.
Chorus: I can’t live without her.
Verse 2: I don’t know how I’ll make it through tonight.
Chorus: I can’t live without her.

Song mapping is helpful when you’re rewriting existing songs, and it’s also helpful when you’re starting on a song. Map out the song ahead of time. Visualize where you want it to go. That way, you’re more likely to spend your writing time wisely.

You want to make the chorus fresh every time you hear it. Sometimes, you do this by altering the lyric each time. There are some great songs that do that, such as “Everywhere” by Tim McGraw.

In this song, the writers list the different places the singer encounters the girl’s memory. Another way to do this is what I call the “three-act play.” A great example of this is “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye” by Patty Loveless.

In this song, the same chorus is applied to three situations throughout the singer’s life: when she is moving away from her best friend, when her marriage is falling apart, and when her mother is dying. That’s a proven way to bring new power to the chorus each time you hear it.

Let’s take a look at a story song I wrote with Byron Hill. It’s called “Over A Drink.”

OVER A DRINK
(Brent Baxter, Byron Hill)

VERSE:

She slipped on the little black dress
Tried to ignore that voice in her head
The one that says blind dates never work out right
He was waiting there in that corner booth
With his smile showing he was nervous, too
And that voice in her head kept saying it’ll be a long night

LIFT:

But the next thing she knew it was ten o’clock
And they were still laughing and carrying on

CHORUS:

Over a drink
Over a bottle of wine
Falling deeper and deeper
One glass at a time
Looking back now
She can hardly believe
She fell in love with him
Over a drink

VERSE:

The next few weeks were all a blur
And he said he was in love with her
That sounded so good she slipped that ring right on
With all that talk of a house and two kids
She never saw the change in him
The one that kept him out and brought him stumblin’ home

LIFT:

But now she knows that love was blind
As he looks though her with bloodshot eyes

CHORUS:

[REPEAT]

BRIDGE:

So she’ll leave that ring on his pillow
And she’ll pack up all the hurt
And she’ll move on because she knows
That he will never choose her

CHORUS:

[REPEAT]

TAG:

Looking back now
She can hardly believe
She fell in love with him
Over a drink

Hopefully, this song is a good example of what I’ve been talking about. It’s a story song with a beginning, middle, and end. She meets him, they fall in love, but she leaves him because of his drinking problem.

The chorus lyric doesn’t change, but the way the verses set it up, you hear it a different way each time. The first time, it’s all positive, they fell in love over a drink. The second time, he’s staring through her with bloodshot eyes over a drink. The third time, she knows he’ll never choose her over a drink.

If you can keep the story moving, it’ll keep the listener’s attention. And if you can keep the choruses fresh, it’ll add more power to them each time you hear them.

Best of luck with your songwriting. And remember to keep it moving.

God Bless,

Brent Baxter
manvsrow.com

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Thank you for checking out Brent's guest post. I encourage you to follow him on Twitter and subscribe to his blog. If you or anyone else you know are interested in sharing valuable tips with the Frettie community of songwriters, we'd love to hear your ideas. Just send us an email.

Spotlight: Meet this month’s featured songwriter Ross Hemsworth!

All, Featured Songwriters by The Frettie Team on September 02, 2014


This month, we are excited to showcase UK songwriter and producer Ross Hemsworth. In in our interview with Ross, he shares with us his greatest accomplishments as a songwriter as well as provides young songwriters with advice about feedback and how to stay motivated and focussed through the ups and the downs. As always we hope you find this interview not just helpful but a great way to learn about another member who makes up the great Frettie community. Never hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments below!

Q: Where do you call home?
Home is in rural Somerset, I guess I'm just a li'l 'ole country boy at heart! I was born in North Kent but moved to Devon in 2003 and then to Somerset in 2005. Been here ever since!

Q: Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Gillingham in Kent.

Q: When did you write your first song?
My first attempts at songwriting was at the age of 14, but the only person who seamed to like them was my mum!!

Q: How did you get started in songwriting?
I started writing properly in the 80's inspired by listening to Bruce Springsteen albums.  I did some co-writing with Suzi Quatro back then too, that was great fun, I had idolized her from my teen years!

Q: Did you have any parents, siblings or was someone else in your family musical?
I was adopted at 6 weeks old so was unaware of any music in my family until I traced my birth mother when i was in my 30's! Turns out that they were a very musical family! My birth mother was a singer and brothers and sisters also had varying musical talents

Q: What’s your songwriting process typically like?
These days, I have my own studio and try to write something every day. Ideas can start as lyrics, hook lines or just an acoustic guitar idea. I usually write the basics of the song on the guitar but it will change along the way as the idea starts to form. It is often the case that the first recorded lines get deleted as the song takes shape.

Q: Do you have an ideal setup for writing music?
I don't think anywhere is ever ideal. You always want more! I'm a bit of an “equipaholic!” That said, I am lucky in that I have all the tools necessary very close to me.

Q: What book(s) or blogs are you currently reading?
I'm studying law at the moment with the Open University, so most of my reading is legal manuals and modules. I read The Music Row blog and always enjoy that!

Q: Who are your top three favorite artists or songwriters?
Bruce Springsteen, Little Big Town and The Eagles

Q: What album are you currently listening to?
I have been listening to Ward Thomas just lately, a brilliant country duo from the UK, doing Nashville VERY well!

Q: How do you stay inspired?
That's hard - when things are going well, inspiration and creativity comes easy, but when things are going badly, I suffer from a lack of motivation and have to fight the negativity vibes, and pull myself out of it (because you can be sure nobody else will!)

Q: What's your biggest challenge as a songwriter?
Lyrics! I believe I write really good hooky melodies and hook lines, but I struggle with good meaningful lyrics, which is why I enjoy co-writing.

Q: What time of day do you prefer to write your music and where?
My studio is at home so not far to travel! I tend to write in the afternoons, after doing my legal studies in the morning.

Q: What's your favorite memory as a songwriter or musician?
Writing with Suzi Quatro. There was a kind of magic in the way the music just came together. There are plans to do some more co-writing with her soon and I can't wait!

Q: How do you maintain your professional growth?
I always believe the best is yet to come and never sit back and admire a song, because tomorrow is a new day. In the modern age, songwriting is a numbers game, you have to keep throwing good songs out there and hope that some will get cut and maybe a few will be hits. But if you sit around waiting for those, you will have nothing to follow them with.

Q: What are some of your greatest accomplishments to date?
I had a recent No. 14 position in the US Roots Country/Pop charts with my own band Temptation Road. That was quite a buzz.

Q: If you could provide any advice to up and coming songwriters, what would it be?
Listen to advice, but never let negatives put you off, learn from them. If someone says you don't have what it takes, set out to prove them wrong. The best answer to other people's criticism, is to take it constructively and then hit them with a chart topper!  Also, when writing songs, never settle for a good song when you could make it a great song. Sometimes taking two of your composition ideas and making one great song is the way forward.

Q: What online tools do you use today for songwriting?
I use Reaper software which is very affordable but in my opinion, every bit as good as much more expensive packages, and works with many plug ins. they have a great forum too where you can get tips from other writers and Reaper users. I also use Steven Slate Drums (SSD4) which has to be one of the best drum programs out there at the moment.

Q: How has Frettie benefited you and the songwriting community?
I'm fairly new to Frettie and having had a lot of projects on recently, I haven't had as much time as I would like, to listen to the work of others on the site. But it's a great place for writers to share ideas and concepts and maybe even team up to write together. I often use singers in Nashville on songs where the vocals were written here in the UK. We now work in a truly global environment where we can use Dropbox to share files. Along with Dropbox, Frettie also helps close the gap on global songwriting." 

Q: What's next for you?
I have a number of songs currently being pitched to some very big names in the USA and if things take off, then a move to Nashville may be on the cards in the future. For now, I'm enjoying things just the way they are and want to keep writing great music

Q: Care to add anything else?
I managed to get accepted by the USA's choosiest rights agency SESAC this month, and also joined the US Songwriter's Hall of Fame, so I'm hoping to put sleepy old Somerset on the Nashville map!

Q: Thanks for your time Ross. We look forward to connecting with you on Frettie. Where can readers find you online to keep updated on what you are doing?
You can find me on Frettie, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and at
www.songwritersuk.com

Spotlight: A follow up Interview with Emma Lane!

All, Featured Songwriters by The Frettie Team on August 26, 2014


It’s been just over a year since we launched Frettie to the songwriting world. We’ve got a number of exciting things that we are going to be doing to celebrate that milestone. One of the things that we will be doing is following up with some of our earlier Showcased Songwriters. We thought it would be great to see what they’ve been up to since we last spoke with them a year ago. To kick this off, we reached out to Emma Lane who’s been with Frettie since the very beginning. It was a great interview. She gave us some insight on how Frettie has helped her and what some of her challenges and proudest moments have been this past year. We hope you enjoy the interview!

Q: Can you believe it has been over a year since we last interviewed you? What have you been up to?
I'm in disbelief that it's been over a year since my first Frettie interview. It's all been a beautiful blur. I've gone to Nashville to record my EP, Noise From The Basement with the Nashville based rock band, Hip Kitty who have become my good friends. The chance to record in Nashville was a huge blessing, and had a lot to do with a producer reading my Frettie "Songwriter of the Month" interview.

Q: How has the EP been going?
The EP, Noise From The Basement, was slow at first but once it caught on social media, it's really taken off. I never expected the reviews and acclaim for a project of mine.

Q: How have things changed for you since the last time we talked?
Things have changed a lot since we last talked. The interview alone made a lot of doors open for me, especially in the songwriting community. After I put my EP online alongside the Frettie interview, I was contacted by a BMI awarding winning songwriter for Reba McEntire. Together we penned my next single. I've gained respect and recognition from insiders and that's still so insane to me.

Q: What have been some struggles this past year that you think other songwriters could relate to or would find interesting? How have you learned from them?
Everyone hears a song differently. The music, the lyrics, down to the smallest detail, it's different to everyone's ears. It's incredible what different people take from a song. When I first put the EP out there, I heard so many different opinions on structure, my melody, the lyric I chose for the verse, even why does my Rochester accent show up in my singing on one word? (We say it Raaachester). It's like a little bug gets into your brain and all you can think about the next time you write a song is to not hit any of the points and try to please the critics. It's always great to listen to criticism if you can learn and improve from it, but at the end of the day, you have to be you and write the song you want to write. A Willie Nelson song isn't going to be the same as a Rolling Stones song. Everyone likes different things, and I've learned you just can't take it to heart and derail yourself from that passion.

Q: What are some of your wins our proudest moments from this past year? Have you learned anything from them?
My proudest achievements that I consider "wins" are every little step I can make to share my music with people. I've been played on national and international radio stations and I've been nominated for 6 awards this year and won once! Literally my first trophy ever in my existence. I got chosen to play at SXSW in March. It makes me very proud to say I've done this on my own. I've learned that if you want something bad enough and you put in positive work, anything is possible. Just because people tell you no, or you don't have a manager/agent doesn't mean you can't do this. It's completely possible.

Q: How has Frettie or the Frettie community contributed to any of your successes you’ve had this year?
I attribute much of my success to Frettie. The interview was my first in my career and it showed that someone other than my parents and local following believe in my talent and showcased it. It opened a bunch of doors and I will forever be thankful for Frettie! The community is incredible. Even if you just sit back and listen to the other songwriters on the site, you grow as a writer. It puts those "huh, that's a great song, I wouldn't have thought of writing a lyric that way" into your mind. A "maybe I'll try that next time" for songwriting. Frettie opens up the mind of a songwriter but it's done with heart and respect to one another. There isn't bashing or egos. It's real and truthful perspective from industry big shots to someone who is just starting to write.

Q: What have you gained from being a part of the Frettie community since you joined a year ago?
I've gained knowledge and get to see all the great creativity out there. But I've also built friendships and networked. I've become friends with Caryn Womack, another Showcased Songwriter and we'd love the opportunity to play a show together in the future. I'm from NY and she is from GA, I would have never have met her if it wasn't for Frettie and this community.

Q: Have you adapted Frettie into your songwriting process?
For sure! One of my first thoughts when wanting to release a demo is, "Is this Frettie ready?". Since joining Frettie it has been more than anything I could have ever imagined.

Q: What's your next goal as a songwriter?
My next goal as a songwriter is to step it up to the next level. Ideally I would love to get signed to a record label. I write so frequently and record these songs, it would make the most sense and of course all of the other benefits that go along with it. I would love to get my music and lyrics out to a much larger audience.

Q: Thanks for your time Emma, how can the songwriting world get in contact with you for any future opportunities?
You can connect with me on Frettie, my website, Youtube, Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Meet this month’s featured songwriter Charlie Katt

All, Featured Songwriters by The Frettie Team on August 05, 2014


This month we're excited to feature Frettie songwriter Charlie Katt. In this interview he shares his process, go to resources as well as his favorite memory as a songwriter and artists.

Q: Where do you call home?
I’ve lived in Knoxville, Tennessee for about nine years now and I can’t imagine living anywhere else at this time in my life. It’s beautiful.

Q: Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Elmont, New York and lived most of my life on Long Island.

Q: When did you write your first song?
I wrote my first song when I was about fourteen years old. It was for my girlfriend. It was a cheesy, clichéd love song called Endless Love.

Q: How did you get started in songwriting?
I got started teaching myself piano at home. I’ve always been a visual artist and someone who loved creating things, so creating my own music was the next, logical step for me. I grew up in church and churches are always full of music, and that really rubbed off on me. Since I was little, music was like a seed in my heart. Through the years it kept growing and growing. With each new, musical experience, I liked it more and more and wanted to keep on creating it.

Q: Did you have any parents, siblings or was someone else in your family musical?
My older brother sings and play drums and my aunt sings. When growing up I always looked forward to hearing her sing in church.

Q: What is your songwriting process typical like?
I start out by taking notes. My notes consist of both lyrical and audible ideas. Writing down everything that comes to my mind wherever I am or whatever I’m doing is the most important part of my process. Great ideas can be forgotten if I don’t do this. I also record every random melody and tune that pops into my head, whether it’s accompanied by piano or guitar or simply just me humming into my phone while I’m driving. I record everything I think of. I’ve accumulated literally thousands of little, musical ideas over the course of many years. But only a very small percentage of these recordings actually become songs.

Next, I listen to my most recent ideas over and over again. By doing this, I’m sorting through them to single out the most catchy or musically pleasing ones. I figure out what the “mood” of the recording that I’ve chosen is and then skim over my lyrical ideas and notes to find something that fits. That’s when I start writing my lyrics. So, to break it all down, you could say that I compose my music first and then write the lyrics to the song.

Q: Do you have an ideal setup for writing music?
My setup is usually me sitting on my bed with my laptop and my guitar or ukulele. If I’m not at home, it’s same setup, except in my car somewhere.

Q: What book(s) or blogs are you currently reading?
Ironically, I’m half way through a book on how to write stories called How to Be a Writer by Barbara Baig. Even though it’s not about writing songs, the processes that she teaches in the book are great for collecting ideas from all of your senses and has helped me tremendously in my songwriting, especially with my story songs. I also listen to The Music Biz Weekly Podcast by Michael Brandvold and Brian Thompson. Again, it’s not specifically about songwriting, but they do discuss many aspects of the music business from the artists point of view such as marketing, performance and much more.

Q: Who are your top three favorite artists or songwriters?
Josh Groban for his amazing vocal abilty, Jason Mraz for his great and unique songwriting and Michael W. Smith for being a great role model when I was a young, learning musician.

Q: What album are you currently listening to?
I’m not specifically listen to any one album but I do usually listen to folk and indie artists on Pandora.

Q: How do you stay inspired?
There are three things that keep me inspired. Regret is probably the biggest. I’ve taken breaks from music in the past and I regretted it every time. I would have been much further ahead than I am now if I’ve not taken those breaks. The second thing that keeps me inspired and moving forward is knowing that, someday, I might be able to actually have a career in music if I stick to it. It’s my dream and my passion and it something that I want more than anything. The third is simply listening to artists that I love and whose songs make me feel something deep in my heart.

Q: What's your biggest challenge as a songwriter?
The things that are more important than songwriting are my biggest challenge. Sometimes there are not enough hours in the day to what I need to do. Writing often takes a back seat to those things. But the main thing that takes priority over my writing is my family, but that’s well worth it.

Q: What time of day do you prefer to write your music and where?
I usually write at night, when I’m home from my job and dinner is done. I lock myself in my room and get to work.

Q: What's your favorite memory as a songwriter or musician?
One of my favorite memories is a bittersweet one. Shortly after 9-11 I was asked to sing the National Anthem at an outdoor memorial service in Medford, New York. You never forget the way your voice sounds as it echoes through the quiet streets.

Q: How do you maintain your professional growth?
I keep myself surrounded by other songwriters. I belong the the Knoxville Songwriters Association. They help keep me on the path and keep my skills sharpened.

Q: What are some of your greatest accomplishments to date?
Besides my four, amazing kids, my greatest accomplishment is the decision to continue in songwriting at the age of thirty-nine.

Q: If you could provide any advice to up and coming songwriters, what would it be?
From my own experience, I’d say the thing that has hurt me the most is not writing. So my advice would be to never stop, no matter how discouraged you get. It hurts less when others let you down than it does when you let yourself down.

Q: What online tools do you use today for songwriting?
My top three online tools are:

Google Drive - This is where I write and store all my lyrics and ideas in basic documents. I use it because it’s easily accessible from anywhere I go. Work, home and or on any mobile device.
Rhymezone.com - Is the first, and probably the best site I’ve ever used for finding rhymes. It also has tools within itself that come in very handy such as the ability to find related words and near rhymes.
RhymeBrain.com - This is also a rhyming website, but it has a very unique tool that comes in extremely handy in a bind, an alliteration finder.

Q: How has Frettie benefited you and the songwriting community?
Frettie just opened up the world of song critiques from just me and my songwriting buddies from Knoxville to all songwriters from every corner of the planet! I think that if you’re just not getting the feedback you need, Frettie is there 24/7 and people are always helpful.

Q: What's next for you?
Getting to that next step in my music. Since I’m also a performer, I’m always trying to get out there, play concerts and get my name known. It only takes that one, amazing opportunity to boost your career and I’m hoping that will come soon for me.

Q: Care to add anything else?
One thing I didn’t talk much about is that I have four kids and how important family is me, and although songwriting may be very important to you, don’t let it trump the things that matter most. Whatever you do and wherever you need to go, music will always be there when you get back.

Q: Thanks for your time Charlie. We look forward to connecting with you on Frettie. Where else can readers find you online to keep updated on what you are doing?
The three top places that I keep updated at this point are my official website, Facebook and YouTube.

Spotlight: Meet this month’s featured songwriter Jayne Sachs!

All, Featured Songwriters by The Frettie Team on July 01, 2014


This month we're excited to feature songwriter Jayne Sachs. In this interview she explains her inspiration for her first song as well as one of her most proudest moments as a songwriter. She also shares some of the challenges she faces as a songwriter and how she overcomes them. Enjoy!

Q: Where do you call home?

Dayton, Ohio

Q: Where did you grow up?

Springfield, OH, Dayton, OH, Bloomfield Hills, MI

Q: When did you write your first song?

I wrote my first song at age 18.

Q: How did you get started in songwriting?

I wrote my first song because I wanted to give my boyfriend at the time a present that was homemade. I was trying to become a better guitar player and it just seemed like a good idea for a gift. Its a song called "Just A Start". I still have it on a cassette with the title written on masking tape that is peeling and turning yellow. I guess he gave it back to me when we broke up. Hmmm... I have no memory of that. I still think of him and I still think of that song and sing it every once in a while. I sent him a copy of it about 5 years ago.

Q: Did you have any parents, siblings or was someone else in your family musical?

My mother, who died when I was 12 , she was 37, was musical. I have her guitar. She wasn't a songwriter yet but was learning to play guitar before she got too sick. She had a very good, strong voice... like a theatre voice. She performed in plays in college and introduced me to musicals. I love show tunes. Before she died she took me to as many musicals as possible. My most favorite song of all is "Where Is Love" from the musical "Oliver!".

Q: What is your songwriting process typically like?

I have a split personality going on with my songwriting right now. I have my own project as an indie alt/pop artist and I also am very much concentrating on writing for Nashville right now. The songwriting process for both sides of "me" is very, very different. For me as an artist, my process is to just pick up my guitar, or sit in front of my keys (not often with keys), and just play around. And typically if something strikes as far as a chord progression, riff or rhythm, I will sing a melody with any words at all. Most of the time I might be just looking around and start singing words that I see... that might be words on a television commercial, or words I may see on a book cover, etc... This helps to have words to sing as my brain is creating phrasing and cadence. Sometimes when I'm playing around like that I just start singing the first few lines of what will be my next song, not from anything that I'm looking at but just from some inspiration happening simultaneously with a chord progression, etc.. And for me as an artist I just go from there and let the song tell me what its going to be about. For Nashville, my process is considerably different. I usually do the same thing with my instrument and the same thing with singing any words I see or think of as I flesh out melody, phrasing and cadence, but for country I have in my mind a concept already complete with title/hook. So the song actually started at some other point as I was developing its concept and title. On the one hand this type of writing can feel more restrictive, but on the other hand those barriers give me a chance to keep very focused. Its more of a challenge for sure but I feel it has made me a better songwriter. I hope anyway.

Q: Do you have an ideal setup for writing music?

My instrument, my iphone, my computer, my coffee, my pajamas. That's about all I need. I use my iphone a lot because I can record what I am doing and listen right away. I have a drum loop app in there for groove ideas and to play against.

Q: What book(s) or blogs are you currently reading?

I am almost done reading The Craft And Business Of Songwriting by the late John Braheny. It was suggested to me by my songwriting coach Mark Cawley, who also has a blog that I read.

Q: Who are your top three favorite artists or songwriters?

My favorite songwriter is Leonard Cohen. Hands down. Other than Leonard, there are two many songwriters and artists to narrow it down to just a few.

Q: What album are you currently listening to?

I am not listening to full releases right now. I do however listen constantly to country radio. Since I am writing and concentrating on this genre right now. I have been diving into it by learning everything I can. For me, I started by listening to what the country market is currently playing. Its a way to see if what I am writing is even in the ballpark. Hard to tell what the next trend will be, but its helpful to compare what is getting played to what I am writing. I study the songs. I dissect them. I look at the lyrics. I see how hooks/titles are being used. Its very analytical which seems to go against the creative process. But its no different than learning where to put your fingers on a guitar to make chords.

Q: How do you stay inspired?

I am in a major learning process right now regarding writing for Nasvhille. I started this endeavor less than a year ago, so inspiration is easy to come by. I am anxious everyday to take what I am learning and incorporate it into my writing. My inspiration is to get my first cut in Nashville. So the pattern continues to be: Learn, write, share, learn more, write more, share, learn even more...etc..

Q: What's your biggest challenge as a songwriter?

My biggest challenge as a songwriter is something I have total control over and have chosen to not do anything about it. I do not read music or understand a single thing about theory. This can be changed and I am planning on taking some lessons to learn more about what I am doing. Now that I am co-writing more because of the country genre, I feel I need to be able to communicate a little better with other musicians. I have had a band for almost 20 years and my band mates haven't had a need for me to understand theory... but now that I am learning more about the Nashville number system, I feel I should learn enough to understand charts and to be able to communicate with other writers and musicians.

Q: What time of day do you prefer to write your music and where?

I love writing in the very early morning. I love getting up about 6am and make coffee and get my day started by writing. I LOVE that.

Q: What's your favorite memory as a songwriter or musician?

One of my songs "Twisted Ballerina" won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the pop category back in 2006. The director of the contest called me personally to tell me that the song had won. I had been sleeping because of the flu. I hardly had a speaking voice. I had a fever. BUT as soon as I hung up the phone I jumped on the bed in celebration, knocked the lamp over, then fell off the bed. I was so excited. But that wasn't even the best memory of all as it related to that contest. The best was when I started receiving emails from people all over the world as that song started traveling and raising awareness about child sexual abuse. Getting emails from people who felt the song validated their experiences was the most rewarding thing that has happened to me as a songwriter.

Q: How do you maintain your professional growth?

I learn. I'm open to suggestions. I trust myself and I trust others who have been there and who know.

Q: What are some of your greatest accomplishments to date?

Winning the John Lennon Songwriting Contest was a huge accomplishment. Winning a well know tri-state radio contest (97X WOXY) back in the 90's was a big one. Being asked to write again with a Nashville hit songwriter has been a recent big accomplishment.

Q: If you could provide any advice to up and coming songwriters, what would it be?

Depending on what a writer's goals are, my advice might vary. In general though, I would say be a nice person, keep your antenna up, learn as much as you can about the genre you are writing in and keep it fun. Writing should be fun.

Q: What online tools do you use today for songwriting?

I check out YouTube a lot. I like to hear songs at will and be able to listen and listen again. I also like to google lyrics. I use a website called rhymezone to give me rhyming and near rhyming ideas. I google potential song titles to see if it's a hook thats been used before.

Q: How has Frettie benefited you and the songwriting community.

Frettie is an easy and non-threatening way to get stuff out there and to get feedback. Its fun that people can post worktapes as well as post more finished product. People on Frettie are songwriters and share that creative spirit so feedback is from people who care about the muse, the songs, the process.

Q: What's next for you?

I will be traveling to Nashville a lot and am very determined to keep learning and writing and having a blast! I am beginning to build relationships with publishers and continuing to learn from those who are directly in the business.

Q: Care to add anything else?

I love that Frettie exists. Such a friendly environment of people who care and share.

Q: Thanks for your time Jayne. We look forward to connecting with you on Frettie. Where can readers find you online to keep updated on what you are doing?

My website is being updated at jaynesachs.com I am on Facebook and I have several of my country cuts on Frettie and Reverbnation.

Who’s ready to start connecting? Now you can message other songwriters on Frettie!

All, Announcements, Product Updates by The Frettie Team on June 19, 2014


We love hearing about all of the great relationships that have formed through song feedback on Frettie and today we are excited to announce two new features that take connecting with songwriters on Frettie to a whole new level.

As of today songwriters can message other songwriters on Frettie as well as request direct feedback on their music from other songwriters from across the community.

Here's what you can expect with these two new features:

Messaging a songwriter on Frettie is simple. All you have to do is click on the "Message Me" button on a songwriters profile page and once clicked, a dialog window will open up allowing you to fill out your subject line, write your message and send it off!

We know songwriters are mobile. So, every message that gets sent to you will end up in your email client's inbox waiting for you to continue your conversation as you do with any standard email chain. There's never a need to login to Frettie to reply or manage your email messages!

If you think messaging a songwriter on Frettie is simple, requesting feedback from them is even simpler. Just like messages, find a songwriter who you'd like to get feedback from and click on the "Request Feedback" button on their profile page. Once clicked, a dialog window will open up allowing you to select any of your available songs on Frettie to send to them. Once sent, a default message with a direct link to your song's detail page will land in their inbox.

If at any point you don't want to receive messages or feedback requests from other songwriters on Frettie, you can turn those features off under the "Communications" tab under settings.

As of today this feature is live for everyone on Frettie and we hope you enjoy it!

What are you waiting for? Send your first message on Frettie today!

Opportunity: The Indie International Songwriting Contest

All, Announcements, Tips & Resources by The Frettie Team on June 04, 2014


The Indie International Songwriting Contest is an annual song competition to give recognition to some of the best emerging songwriters in the world, help develop their talent, and provide useful tools for developing the success of the artist. Over $54,000 in useful prizes have been awarded! They are the first contest of its kind to be conducted completely online.

Their latest contest is now open for submissions. It's open to the singer-songwriter genre. There's no limit to the number of songs that you can submit and the contests closes at 150-songs or on July 15, 2014. Whichever comes first.

1st place awards $750
2nd place awards $300
3rd place awards $150

Click here to learn more and submit your songs today!

Opportunity: A Songwriter Spotlight on Country Uncovered

All, Announcements, Tips & Resources by The Frettie Team on June 03, 2014


Country Uncovered is the only show that features songwriters the way they should be! It's a two-hour radio program that airs weekly on WCLT-FM/T-100 in Newark, Ohio – part of the Columbus, Ohio radio market. In addition to interviewing hit songwriters from Nashville, Country Uncovered showcases local songwriters with weekly performances and interviews. They believe that songwriters are the pulse of the music industry and deserve as much attention as the artists themselves. They are currently seeking songwriters who are interested in being featured. In studio performances will also be filmed for a social media campaign for their sponsors.

If you're interested in this weekly opportunity, please contact Country Uncovered and let them know Frettie sent you!

Education: Cool Songwriting & Writing Spaces For Your Inspiration

All, Tips & Resources by The Frettie Team on May 19, 2014


When ideas start to run dry every songwriter knows the importance of their own hideaway to encourage inspiration. These spaces can be anywhere, though of course different places will encourage different thoughts.

The key for many songwriters is to vary up where they write, so that their songs can take on new dimensions and fresh turns. Others have their one writing space where they feel comfortable and ideas flow.

Whatever your approach consider incorporating some of these locales into your writing regimen. Who knows, they might just give you the inspiration you’ve been searching for.

The Garage: It may be a rock cliché but if you have a garage in your house it can be the perfect private area for you to write your songs, listen to music or have jam sessions with other musicians. The important thing is that this is a personal space where you can work on your songs without waking the neighbors. Or as Rivers Cuomo succinctly put it on Weezer’s ode to this hermitage of teenage rock bands “In The Garage”, “In the garage where I belong/No one hears me sing this song.” Not all of us are lucky to have a garage out back so whether it’s a study, the basement or just your bedroom try stake a claim to some area of your apartment or house which is just for your song writing.

Out In Nature: Yes ok, another rock cliché but “getting it together in the country” can work wonders for your inspiration, especially if you’re a city dweller. Here you can be alone with just the sounds of the birds and animals to accompany your thoughts. Whether that means taking an acoustic guitar out to a field or going the whole hog and renting a country house, getting away from the noise and stress of city life can get inspiration flowing again by allowing you time to reflect and free up your thinking processes.

On The Street: If heading out to the sticks can give you the peace of mind to access your personal ideas then the bustle of busy city streets can stimulate your song writing juices by observing the sights and sounds of what’s going on around you. Find a café with a view of the street, a square where you can sit and watch or simply wander the streets with notebook in hand. It may seem like a slightly less personal way of mining for ideas but the people and places you encounter could spark invigorating and fresh inspiration.

Museums: Dip into the higher arts for some divine inspiration. The obvious places to go are art and music museums though if you have an interest in something a bit different then expand your knowledge of it; it could give your song writing a certain edge. Museums also have the advantage of usually being comfortable, silent buildings where you can sit and gather your thoughts. Also, consider taking an interest in reading and even writing poetry if you are a lyricist. The themes, techniques and tropes of poetry can give a more thoughtful feel to your words and push you to improve the quality of your writing.

Somewhere a little more personal: Think about places that are meaningful to you in your past. Perhaps somewhere with good memories, like your grandparent’s house, or with bad, like the site of a rough break-up, or a bit of both, like your old school! Walk around and think back to those times, whether happy or sad. Pinpoint specific memories and remember how you felt. The goal of all of this soul-searching is to tap deeper and more clearly into past memories and emotions to stimulate ideas for song’s right now. It can happen that the most heartfelt songs come from embarking on this kind of process, even if at times that means digging up difficult memories. After all the sad songs are often the best.

Gigs: So it might be difficult to jot down your ideas at a sweaty concert but the truth is that listening to how other musicians do it has always been a major source of inspiration for budding and veteran songwriters alike. As many writers of all kinds know it’s not about if you steal, but how well you steal someone else’s ideas. Think of the amount of kids that picked up guitars when they first saw The Beatles play, or the many musicians who decided punk was the way forward when they saw The Sex Pistols for the first time. Could Tom Waits have really gotten so weird in the 80’s if he hadn’t developed a monumental Captain Beefheart obsession? Taking pointers from listening to and watching other musicians work doesn’t make you a poor songwriter, what it’s all about is how you make those ideas your own, something that’s true to your personal style. The same applies to just putting on a record. Sit, listen and let the inspiration come to you.

Anywhere: Finally it’s important to remember that inspiration can hit at anytime and in the most unexpected of circumstances so always be prepared with a means of recording your ideas. You can find some ideas of how to do this here. As an example of this I’ll leave you with a video of Bob Dylan playing word games with signs outside an unassuming store front. Not many of us have The Bard’s gift for crafting words and, to be honest, a fair amount of what he comes out with here is nonsense. Still it gives a sense of how inspiration really can come from anywhere while also reminding us that while song writing is a serious business, sometimes ideas can come from just having some fun.

Until next time...

Sounds Garden 1: Alternate Tunings For Guitarists

All, Tips & Resources by The Frettie Team on May 12, 2014


Since we already started a series dedicated to helping lyricists expand their range and avoid writer’s block, we thought it would only be right to start a series to help out with the musical side of things. So we’re happy to introduce Sounds Garden, a series of posts to help you think of ways to give your music a fresh edge.

For the first Sounds Garden post let’s take a look at alternate tunings for guitarists.

Some people can be pretty reluctant to break away from the standard E-A-D-G-B-E method of tuning guitars. In fairness this is understandable given that this method of tuning has been the norm for over 300 years.

Still it never hurts to break out of your comfort zone. Alternate tunings can provide an incredible amount of new sounds and possibilities for different chord progressions whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro.

For newbies quite a few of your favorite songs may have been written in tunings that differ from the standard. Many popular rock, metal, blues, jazz and folk musicians utilize an array of different tunings so a knowledge of some of these tunings can help you learn more songs and get a deeper understanding of how certain musicians get that special sound.

For more advanced players and songwriters alternate tunings can be the key to a different sound world that really isn’t possible if you are just using the regular method of tuning. Also, it can be a great way to make your sound and your songs stick out from the competition.

The world of alternate tunings is about as big as you want it to be and can leave a lot of creative room for you to develop your own favorite selection of tunings. Here are a few of the most common ones to get you started:

Drop D (DADGBE): Drop D could be the most popularly used alternate tuning amongst rock and metal players thanks largely to its ubiquity in the Seattle grunge scene of the early 90’s. It also helps that it is a very easy tuning to arrive at. All you have to do is tune the low E string down a tone to D to give off a very deep sound. Take a listen to Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” and Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick” as examples of this tuning’s power when it comes to big rock riffs.

Open D (DADF#AD): Open D isn’t too difficult to play or to tune to and it also gives off a great sound. In this open tuning you can produce different major chords simply by barring all the strings of a particular fret, so for example if you bar all the strings of the third fret you will get an F major chord. This makes it a tuning well suited to slide players. To arrive at this tuning simply tune the lowest string to D, tune the 3rd string down a semitone to F#, tune your 2nd string down to A and tune your 1st string down a tone to D. Listen to Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”, or “Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills, Nash to get an idea.

Open C (CGCGCE): Open C may not be so common but it still gives off a rich full sound. To get this tuning you will first have to re-tune your 6th string down four semi-tones to C. Then tune the 5th string down a step to G and the 4th string to C just like your 6th. Finally re-tune the 2nd string up a semi-tone to C. Give “Friends” by Led Zeppelin and John Fahey’s “Sunflower River Blues” a listen to hear what is possible in this tuning.

Open G (DGDGBD): Open G is a tuning which is always associated with Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones, who himself inherited it from the Delta Blues tradition. This tuning is also popular with slide players as it is another example of a tuning that allows you to create different chords simply by barring an entire fret. To re-tune to Open G you must first of all tune the 6th string down a step to D. Then tune the 5th string down a step to G and the first string down a step to D. There really are so many Rolling Stones songs written in this tuning, try “Honky Tonk Women” and “Start Me Up” to get going. Or if you’re not a Rolling Stones fan then George Thorogood’s “Bad To The Bone” is another great song that uses this tuning.

D Modal: Finally we come to D Modal which is more commonly referred to simply as “DAD-GAD” after the notes that make it up. DAD GAD is a hugely popular tuning with folk players and features heavily in Celtic folk music as well as in North African and Arabian music. Tune your 6th string down a step to D. Then tune your 2nd string down a step to A and finally tune your 1st string down to D. Simon and Garfunkel used this tuning on “Scarborough Fair” while 60’s English folkie Davey Graham also used it extensively for example on “She Moved Through The Fair”.

There is ton of information on the web to help you get started with alternate tunings. Here’s a video that takes a closer look at Drop D and DADGAD tunings, and another that takes a more in depth look at how to arrive at alternate tunings, though a bit of knowledge on musical theory might be necessary to make the most of this one.

Remember the world of alternate tunings is wide and weird; don’t be afraid to take full advantage of this chance to change up your style.

Until next time....

Open Exposure 1: Online Platforms To Start Releasing Your Own Music.

All, Tips & Resources by The Frettie Team on May 05, 2014


To start releasing music out into the general public is a daunting task that can quickly fill you with doubt. Will anyone like my music? Are my songs ready? Will people even listen to it?

Once you have gotten over the initial hurdle of recording something you can stand by (check out our last post on home recording to get started on that) the next issue to worry about is where to find the best place to release your songs. Where on the internet will give you the best chance of reaching the most fans?

In fact since getting your music out into the big bad world and actually getting people to listen can be such a difficult thing we’ve decided to start a series of posts entitled “Open Exposure” to help you get noticed. Simple tips, industry tricks and various ways and means of gaining the most exposure for you and your music will all be explored in these posts.

To get going it’s good to start off small. So this first article is meant for those taking their initial steps at releasing music and who presumably are not yet expecting to make their living from their music. Things get a bit more complicated further down the line when you begin to look for distributors, or even record labels, while the issue of marketing and promotion could fill a book on its own.

But what is important when starting off is to simply get your music online and direct it to potential fans and other musicians who can give you feedback while also hopefully making a bit of money while you’re at it.

Here’s a few easy to use free, or at least affordable, web platforms you can utilise to get your music online and start promoting it:

Soundcloud: may be the most famous and straight forward way to get your music up quickly onto the net. You can take recordings from any digital source whether it’s your iphone or a full professional studio setup and everything in between. Then simply post your music on your soundcloud profile, which is free to set up. Once you’ve done that you can embed your tracks using their simple player onto your blog or website or share it on social media sites.

Bandcamp: Bandcamp connects you directly to potential fans and provides music players for your tracks in a similar manner to Soundcloud which you can embed elsewhere. What sets it apart from Soundcloud though is that here you are provided with a free platform to sell your music and merchandise to your audience. Well, pretty much free. The site charges a commission of 15% on digital sales and 10% on merchandise. If those rates sound fair to you then you can go ahead and design a stylish webpage and decide for yourself at what price you want to sell your wares.

Reverbnation: Reverbnation site gives you a great number of ways to promote your music on a lot of different sites as well as providing major store distribution, widgets, help with finding gigs, social media synchronisation, a store to sell your merch and music and more besides all this. The only problem is that after their free trial you will have to fork out $20 a month, though for all their features the price may be worth it.

Whiz-Bang: Whiz-Bang promises to release you from the burden of designing and managing your website. They do it all! You simply just email them with any changes that you may have. It’s a no hassle service focussed on helping you spend more time writing your music and less time on managing your website.

Nimbit: Nimbit is another major player in the Direct-to-fan movement. Like the majority of these sites they offer basic services for free and more if you pay a monthly fee. A cool feature on Nimbit though is their MyStore application which allows you to set up a storefront on your Facebook, blog or website where you can sell your music and merchandise. They also provide help with marketing and promotion.

Last.FM: Last.FM is essentially a music recommendation site which is great for connecting people to your sounds. With over 50 million artists on the site and millions of users logging on worldwide its biggest selling point is the international community you have at your disposal as soon as you sign up. You can upload your music onto your own profile and then keep a track on statistics about your popularity and the habits of your listeners to get a view into how people are enjoying your music.

These are just a few suggestions to get going, take a look at each and see which you like the look of, then start uploading your tracks!

Of course aside from all these sites don’t forget that right here on Frettie you can upload your own songs, whether it’s a new idea or the finished work, you can get valuable and quick feedback on it from others in the songwriting community.

Until next time...

Education: Setting Up a Home Studio

All, Tips & Resources by The Frettie Team on April 28, 2014


Getting a professional sound from home recording gear has never been easier thanks to the range of cost effective, good quality equipment and digital recording devices on the market today. With a little time and research you can put together a great setup without breaking the bank.

Depending on your budget, the music you intend on making, whether you are recording solo or with a band and other more general audiophile preferences your equipment can vary hugely. This post is meant simply as a general overview to ground you in the basics of home recording and give a couple of suggestions of quality gear to get you going.

With that in mind I have tried to keep the suggestions relatively cheap to fit into anyone’s budget. Another reason to start cheap is that you can have all the best kit in the world but without knowing how to get the best out of it it’s pretty much useless to you. So while learning the subtleties of recording it can be good to start cheap and then upscale once your clearer on the finer points and what sound you actually want.

Computer: Your computer will be at the centre of your setup. Most modern computers, ie. those built and bought in the past 3 to 4 years, should be fine with handling the relevant software. A laptop can also be sufficient though a notebook won’t be up to the task.

Check your computer’s sound card and make sure it’s of good quality, though a good audio interface (we’ll get to that in a minute) takes a lot of the strain off and is highly recommended if you’re serious about your recordings anyway.

Then you will need Digital Audio Workshop (DAW) software, which is sometimes referred to as sequencing software. This is basically for mixing your music on your computer as well as adding effects and some digital instruments. There’s plenty to choose from, Avid Pro Tools is probably the most famous, Garageband is a good one for MAC users while Reaper is a solid, affordable option.

Audio Interface: This is sometimes called a breakout box. Basically you hook your mics in one end and connect the other to your computer so that this little box can convert analog to digital before entering your mixing software.

They come with individual mic pre-amps where you can change and regulate the recording level of each mic before going into the interface. The most basic ones come with two mic inputs, if you need more than this it will cost a bit more.

A good starter is the MBox2 Mini which comes with the latest version of ProTools, while the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is a nice, easy to use option.

Microphone and Cables: Your microphone is hugely important so be willing to put between $100-$200 dollars into it to get a good quality one. What you intend on recording has a bearing on what type of microphones you get and of course you may need more than one if you depending on how many instruments you may be recording.

Condenser mics are ideal for acoustic instruments and vocals, while you may consider investing in a pop filter to help get cleaner vocals. The CAD M179 and AKG Perception 220 are both versatile and affordable condenser mic options.

If you plan on recording a louder band setup investing in some dynamic mics could be a good idea. Good value ones to get you started are the Shure SM57 or Shure Beta 58A and the Sennheiser E602.

Obviously you’re going to need cables to hook everything up. Which ones you need again change depending on what you want to record, for example you’ll probably need XLR cables for your vocals and ¼” TS cables for your guitars. Luckily they are usually pretty cheap and if you’re really not sure what goes with what just ask at your local music store.

Headphones and Monitor Speakers: A decent pair of headphones are essential to recording. They are great for overdubbing but monitor speakers are much better when it comes to actually mixing. If your budget can’t spring for monitor speakers headphones will do the trick for the moment though your mixes may not turn out the way you want as a result. The Sony MDR-7506 or MDR-V6 and the Sennheiser HD-280 Pro are all good options for about $100 or less.

A decent pair of monitor speakers are different from regular stereo or computer speakers as they provide a more accurate representation of the true acoustic balance of the mix without any colouring typical to regular stereos. Be willing to set aside between $300 and $500 to get a genuinely accurate pair of monitor speakers when starting off. Solid buys in this price range include the Yamaha HS80M speakers, the Samson Resolve 65 monitors and the M-Audio EX66 monitors.

There is so much more you could add to this setup that may even be essential to the type of music you want to make from keyboard synths to electric drums, MIDI controllers, turntables and much more. Still, for covering the basics this is the best way to start.

Before you record anything you should take some time to get comfortable with whatever DAW software you have invested in. The more familiar you are with the layout of your system the more proficient you will be when it comes to mixing and the better your recordings will sound. Once you’ve done that plug everything in, hook it all up and start recording!

So what about you? What's your ideal home recording setup? Let us know in the comments below!


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