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

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.

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.


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


Jimmy Yeary poster

God bless,


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

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