Songwriting resources and instruction
Nashville Songwriters Association International
If you want to learn about the craft and business of songwriting NSAI is one of the best possible resources. They are also leaders in the ongoing battle to keep copyright law strong and to adapt it to the digital age.
Global Songwriters Connection
Founded by music industry professional and songwriter mentor Sheree Spoltore, they offer webinars, career guidance, song evaluations and frequent opportunities to pitch to publishers.
Songwriting and Music Business
An online community run by hit-writer/artist Amanda Williams. They provide excellent education and opportunities for networking with other writers and people in the music business. Her focus is on being a “songpreneur,” finding outside-the-box ways of placing your songs.
This online songwriting community was formed by hit writers Clay Mills and Marty Dodson. They know the craft and business and have created numerous ways to share their wisdom and guidance. Even if you don’t sign up, do yourself a favor and checkout the wonderful stream of information on their Facebook page.
It’s an online school run by pro writers with a variety of excellent teachers and mentors. Once you sign up you can take as many classes as you want for no extra charge. There is no long-term commitment. They also create opportunities for songwriters to network with each other online.
Professional Song Evaluations
Barbara will record her feedback and email it to you as an mp3, or if you prefer, you can have a 20 minute phone or Zoom call to talk about the strengths, weaknesses and commercial potential of your songs.
Jason no longer does song critiques personally but has an excellent staff trained to give honest, insightful feedback.
Chris proved his understanding of the craft of songwriting with a string of hits including “Don’t Blink” and “Something to Be Proud Of.” In addition to being a great writer, he is an excellent teacher who can guide you with honesty and kindness.
Cliff is a songwriter, producer and educator who divides his time between New York and LA.
This service helps independent songwriters and artists get their music to record labels, film and TV music supervisors, music libraries, publishers, licensing companies, ad agencies and video game companies.
Pitch to Pro Pipeline
Hit songwriter Sandy Ramos works with industry professionals who, for a fee, will consider your songs for their projects and, if they don’t select your song, will provide feedback on why they didn’t.
This is the brain child of publisher/mentor Steve Bloch. For a fee you will have 13 minutes with each of 6 pros to play them a few songs and ask them all of your questions. You can do it in person or via Skype.
NSAI Online Pitch Service
The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) has an online pitch to a publisher, producer or record label twice a month. It is only open to members and each member can participate twice each year.
Evening with a Publisher
Studio owner Larry Beaird draws upon an impressive list of publishers to offer this opportunity, free of charge, to songwriters who record demos at his studio. You can participate in person or via Skype.
Jason Blume workshops at BMI These two hour classes are held online once a month. They are free and open to all writers even if they are not affiliated with BMI. Jason is one of the best songwriting teachers around and in addition to teaching on a particular topic the workshop might include song critiques for the participants, a chance to pitch to a publisher or a guest speaker. Click the link for the schedule. Register at BMI.com.
This online music community was founded in 1999 and boasts half a million members. The many services they offer include peer song reviews, professional song reviews, contests with great prize packages, networking with other members and opportunities to submit music for film and TV placements.
SongRamp has been an online music community since April 2001. It is an interactive community with music, forums, chat, blogs, photos, store, and artist homepages.
The Muse’s Muse
This site has been around for many years and it’s loaded with songwriting information, forums and resources.
Indie Connect is a business club for independent artists, musicians, songwriters, labels & industry who want to join together to help and support each other. They offer on-line opportunities as well as local meetings and seminars.
Jason has taught world-wide and he shares a wealth of informative article on his website
Music Starts Here
Video interviews with lots of Nashville music industry people covering just about every topic.
Cliff Goldmacher is a former Nashville staff writer who currently owns studios in Nashville and Sonoma, CA where he produces and engineers. He knows both the craft and business and his website is full of accurate information and practical advice.
If you’re not gonna buy the book (see below), at least read some of the articles by the late Ralph Murphy on the ASCAP website. No one talks about songwriting with more accuracy and humor than he did.
Murphy’s Laws of Songwriting
The late Ralph Murphy, hit writer, successful publisher and long-time VP of ASCAP, wrote a column for the ASCAP website for years andy pulled together his insider’s insights into a book that will keep you laughing as it tells you the hard truth.
Six Steps to Songwriting Success
If you buy one book on songwriting, buy this one by Jason Blume. Read it slowly and carefully – it is so loaded with accurate and important information you may not realize that every sentence counts.
This Business of Songwriting
Jason Blume does meticulous research and this volume demystifies the process of doing business as a songwriter. It includes information on pitching songs and an explanation of how the charts work.
The Dos and Don’ts of Music Row
Hit writer Liz Hengber’s account of landing a staff-writing deal will entertain you and help you avoid some of her mistakes.
Things I’ve Learned From the Audience
Veteran performer Don McNatt, who hosts the open mic at the Frank Brown Songwriters Festival, offers tips on how to shine at writers nights and open mics.
Tin Pan South
If you want to binge on great songwriting, get to Nashville for this five-day event put on every April by the Nashville Songwriters Association.
Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival
If you love sugar-white Gulf of Mexico beaches and great songwriting, you need to check out this event that happens for 12 days each November. Barbara played there first in 2000 and has been back almost every year since.
Gatlinburg Songwriters Festival
Set in beautiful Gatlinburg, TN in the heart of the Smokies, this new festival features some of Nashville’s finest along with local and national independent artists. Workshops and a songwriting contest round out the experience.
Key West Songwriters Festival
Hit writers hit the Keys for this BMI sponsored music & fun fest.
30A Songwriters Festival
Located along the beautiful Gulf Coast of the Florida Panhandle, the feature a stellar line-up and open applications for writers who want to play.
Performance Rights Organizations
They collect airplay royalties when their members songs are played on radio and TV, in concert halls and nightclubs, etc. They also have member representatives who help developing songwriters. As a writer you can join only one. All three are excellent. Check them all out, try to meet with representatives and join the one you think will best support you.
American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
Broadcast Music Incorporated
According to their website, the name was originally an acronym for Society of European Stage Authors & Composers but today they are world-wide and the name is simply SESAC (pronounced SEE sack) and not an abbreviation of anything.
This is by no means meant to be a complete list of all the good studios in Nashville. If a studio is not on this list it does not mean it isn’t good. But if it is on the list, you can trust that you will be treated fairly and get a quality recording. Please check with them personally to find out about their rates and facilities.
Direct Image – Kenny Royster – 615-321-8532 .
Says Barbara, “So many times when I’ve been impressed by the quality of a demo from a writer I was working with and asked where it was done, the answer was ‘Direct Image.’” Kenny is a perfectionist and knows how to get master quality sound on a demo budget.
Quality Recording, Steve Goodie, 310-467-4200
Steve can accommodate a simple guitar vocal or can build a whole track with any instruments you want in any style you want. He works fast and you can come away with a fully-produced demo for significantly less than a typical Nashville demo.
Mason Douglas, 480-695-9891
Mason not only produces great tracks but his strong vocals deliver a professional, commercial sound. He is a great choice for anyojne wanting a clean, stripped-down guitar vocal.
When you hear the high quality of Pete’s guitar/vocal and piano/vocal demos you will be surprised to discover how low the price can be.
The Smokehouse – Vaughn Lofstead, 615-975-3548, firstname.lastname@example.org
Vaughn gets great production ideas and works with a team of top demo musicians. In order to give songwriters a reason to make the trek to his studio in Goodlettesville (just 15 minutes north of Nashville) he keeps his rates well below comparable studios. This allows for a lot of creative freedom because you won’t go broke if you want to take some time experimenting to get just the right arrangement. It’s not a luxurious facility, but it’s always an exciting creative atmosphere. An added benefit is that Vaughn is a first-rate guitar player and does not charge anything above his hourly rate if he plays on your song. This can be especially economical for songwriters who want to sing their own guitar/vocal demos.
Denny Martin – 615-361-6073
Denny’s studio is in a beautiful facility. With his many years of experience producing demos, he manages a session with a confidence that immediately puts you at ease.
Knowledge is power. Learn all you can. Here are some coaches and teachers that can help you improve your songwriting and performing. It certainly isn’t a complete list of all the good ones – just a few that Barbara knows personally and trusts completely.
Janet Kenyon – this former faculty member of Belmont University went out on her own in 2003 and has worked with a steady stream of clients including Rodney Atkins, Melinda Doolittle, Josh Turner and Jana Kramer.
Kim Wood Sandusky – 615-327-2523 – used often by the major labels to coach their artists.
Phoebe Binkley – 615-832-4199 -she’s been teaching for many years and could charge a lot more, but cares too much to price herself out of the range of aspiring singers. She understands the music business and can give career advice along with the vocal lessons. Barbara studied with her personally and grew a lot under her gentle guidance.
Susan Anders – 615-353-7869 – a masters degree teacher who has worked with many signed artists including Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott. If you can’t make it to Nashville you can take lessons from her through Skype.
Denny Sarokin – The people I know who have taken from him love his gentle, supportive instruction. If you can’t take from him personally you can learn a lot from his “Licktionary” DVD.
Gary Talley – A former member of The Boxtops, Gary has developed special methods for working with songwriters and has a DVD and workbook you can purchase. He is also available for lessons online.
Next Workshop is June 16 – 18 in Nashville TN
This three-day workshop is a crash course in what it takes to write for the commercial Nashville market. During the two days there will be three listening sessions attended by two publishers each time. Sixteen applicants will be chosen to present one song at each session and the publishers will give feedback on the craft and commercial potential of the writing. Hearing the feedback given to all the writers gives an in-depth look at what makes a song a hit. At the end of each session there is time to ask questions. Additionally, there is a class analyzing hbitg songs and a session where two pro writers share their music, talk about their journey and answer questions.