‘Craving You,’ ‘Unforgettable’ score No. 1 awards

 Thomas Rhett picks up ‘Gold’ album, too

Nashville is turning into a party town. A ‘Number One’ party town, that is, with frequent festivities to honor the writers of recent chart toppers.

It was a ‘twofer’ party for Thomas Rhett on February 16, as the writers of two of his recent hits, ‘Craving You’ and ‘Unforgettable,’ were recognized for their achievements.  The party at Von Elrod’s was jointly hosted by ASCAP and BMI, commemorating Rhett’s eighth and ninth career Number Ones.

(L to R) Julian Bunetta, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley, Thomas Rhett, Shane McAnally, Dave Barnes and Dann Huff attend the BMI Thomas Rhett # 1 Party on February 15, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for BMI)

Dave Barnes and Julian Bunetta were recognized for writing Rhett’s RIAA Platinum-selling mega hit, ‘Craving You,’ that also featured the voice of Maren Morris. Interestingly, it was not certain that ‘Craving You’ would be released with the Maren Morris backing vocals. Versions were mixed both with and without Maren’s vocals. On comparing the two, Rhett and his team decided that the ‘with’ version was better, even though he had originally felt that ‘Craving You’ wasn’t really a duet song.

Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley and Shane McAnally co-wrote “Unforgettable” with Rhett, released as the second single from Rhett’s 2017 album, ‘Life Changes.’  Frasure, Gorley and McAnally are all veteran hit writers with literally scores of No. 1 notches on their belts.

Both Frasure and Gorley better not stray too far: they’ll be back on February 21 to receive awards as writers of John Pardi’s No. 1 hit, “Dirt On My Boots.” co-written with Rhett Akins – who happens to be Thomas Rhett’s dad.

‘Life Changes’ goes GOLD

(L-R): Big Machine Label Group’s Nicole Csabai, BMLG’s Mike Rittberg, G Major Management’s Virginia Davis, Thomas Rhett, BMLG’s Scott Borchetta, BMLG’s Allison Jones, The Valory Music Co.’s George Briner and BMLG’s Jake Basden. Photo Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

If that wasn’t enough, Rhett was also surprised with a plaque to commemorate ‘Life Changes’ (The Valory Music Co.) earning RIAA Gold Certification for achieving 500,000 units sold less than six months after its release. Additionally, his current Top 5 single “Marry Me” has been certified Gold as it continues to climb the Country radio charts.

As a songwriter, Thomas Rhett is a force to be reckoned with. Next week, Thomas Rhett will be recognized as a CMA Triple Play Award recipient, which honors songwriters who have penned three No. 1 songs within a 12-month period (“Die A Happy Man,” “Star of the Show” and Michael Ray’s “Think A Little Less”).

Rhett is keeping up the momentum with his ‘Life Changes Tour 2018,’ set to kick off in April. For more information and for a full list of upcoming tour dates, visit www.ThomasRhett.com.

Preshias Harris is a music journalist and music career development consultant with the emphasis on new and aspiring artists and songwriters. Her book, ‘The College of Songology 101: The Singer/Songwriter’s Need to Know Reference Handbook’ is available at www.collegeofsongology.com Follow her blog at www.nashvillemusicline.com

Kip Moore, songwriters celebrate No. 1

‘More Girls Like You’ lead single from ‘Slowheart’

(L to R): Steven Lee Olsen, David Garcia, Kip Moore, Josh Miller. Photo credit: Preshias Harris

MCA Nashville artist Kip Moore was at The Hutton Hotel’s Analog on Tuesday, February 13 to celebrate with fellow songwriters of his newest Number One, “More Girls Like You.” The party, co-hosted by ASCAP and BMI, honored the song’s four writers David Garcia, Josh Miller, Steven Lee Olsen and Moore.

“More Girls Like You” is the lead single from Kip’s third studio album, Slowheart, following 2012’s Up All Night and 2015’s Wild Ones.

Kip has undeniably paid his dues on his trek to stardom. He made his first public appearance singing at a Mellow Mushroom in Valdosta, GA, and moved to Nashville in 2004. He was signed to a songwriting deal with the help of producer/songwriter Brett James. It would be a further eight years before Kip was signed to a recording contract with MCA.

“There was no Plan B”

During the media session before the award presentation, I asked Kip what he did with his career during those long eight years to keep his eyes on the prize. With a smile, he said, “It was knowing I wasn’t going to be happy doing anything else.  There was no Plan B.” He admitted, however, “It was a battle to keep one foot in front of the other.”

(L to R): BMI’s Bradley Collins, songwriters Steven Lee Olsen, David Garcia and Josh Miller, Moore and ASCAP’s Evyn Mustoe. Photo credit: Ed Rode

The four writers reminisced about the way “More Girls Like You” came about. Steven Lee Olsen (whose first No. 1 as a writer was the Grammy-nominated “Blue Ain’t Your Color” for Keith Urban) noted that when the writers got together, “something magical” happened. “We started talking and that’s how it started.”

“It started falling together fast,” added Kip. “They knew where my head was, coming back from Cost Rica!”

“Kip almost didn’t show up,” said Josh. “He was headed to the lake for some wake boarding.”  We were reminded that Kip has a passion for the water, having been something of a ‘beach bum,’ surfing in Hawaii before making the commitment to come to Nashville.

Discussing tour plans, Kip said he is joining Luke Bryan on his ‘What Makes You Country’ Tour.  “Luke has always been a gracious and nice guy,” said Kip. “I’m looking forward to touring with Luke and the Cadillac Three.”

CMA Songwriters’ Series in Europe

Kip will soon be crossing the pond for concerts in Dublin Ireland, Glasgow Scotland and London England as part of the CMA Songwriters’ Series. He’ll be joining his old friend Brett James for the European dates, along with Luke Combs, Natalie Hemby and Nicolle Galyon.  In addition to a packed U.S. tour schedule, Kip also has 2018 shows booked in Canada and Australia.

Kip’s story of his arduous journey to the top is yet another reminder to aspiring artists and songwriters that there is no such thing as ‘overnight success.’   There will always be a battle to ‘put one foot in front of the other’ as he put it. For Kip, there was no Plan B.

For tour dates and more info on Kip Moore’s new album Slowheart, go to http://www.kipmoore.net

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Preshias Harris is a music journalist and music career development consultant with the emphasis on new and aspiring artists and songwriters. Her book, ‘The College of Songology 101: The Singer/Songwriter’s Need to Know Reference Handbook’ is available at www.collegeofsongology.com Follow her blog at www.nashvillemusicline.com

Brett Young celebrates third No 1, “Like I Love You”

“We used our own money to cut the demo”

Jesse Lee and Brett Young answer questions before the No. 1 party. Photo: Preshias Harris

Big Machine Label Group’s Brett Young celebrated his third Number One at a party honoring him and co-writer Jesse Lee, Monday, February 12.  “Like I Love You” is his third chart-topper and comes just over a year since the release of his debut self-titled album.  The party was co-hosted by ASCAP and BMI.

Brett is one of only three acts in the Country music genre to achieve RIAA ‘Gold’ certification for an album released in 2017.  His breakout single, “In Case You Didn’t Know,” has already reached 3X Platinum status, making him the only debut artist since 2014 to achieve that level. He is also the only new Country artist with a 2017 song to go multi-Platinum, too. All three Number Ones are from his debut album.

Second No. 1 for Jesse Lee

Pictured (L-R): Scott Borchetta, BMI’s David Preston, Jesse Lee, Ole’s John Ozier, Brett Young, ASCAP’s Michael Martin, BMLG Records’ Jimmy Harnen and Big Machine Music’s Mike Molinar. Photo Credit: Ed Rode

Co-writer Jesse Lee was celebrating her second No. 1 as writer, following 2016’s “Peter Pan,” a hit for Kelsea Ballerini.

“Like I Loved You” spent three weeks at Number One, but its release as a single was by no means a guarantee, following the success of Brett’s two previous hits.

“My first two singles were happy love songs,” said Brett at a pre-presentation media session. “Then Jesse and I wrote this one that is really different. My songs are like my babies. A part of me is attached to that song,” he noted. “I fought for getting this song on my record. We used our own money to cut the demo.”

Speaking about the writing session that resulted in “Like I Love You,” Brett said that this was a different kind of co-write, too. “We’d never met before.  We went to lunch then came back and wrote it. That was in late 2014.”

The long road to Nashville

Both Brett Young and Jesse Lee might seem like newcomers, but as with most successful people, that isn’t really the case. At the media session, Brett noted that he’d been playing and performing for 14 years before moving to Nashville.

Jesse Lee is not new to the music business either. Signed to Atlantic Nashville in 2007, Jesse had some minor chart success as a recording artist, but then took a different path.

‘I reinvented myself and started to write’

Jesse Lee

Speaking of her early career as an artist, she said, “People didn’t want me one the radio! So I reinvented myself and started to write.  Then I realized I was getting into publishing companies because of my writing not my artist talents.”

Reminded that Nashville is often referred to as a ‘ten-year town’ when it comes to developing a career in music, Jesse laughed and said, “it’s been more than a ten-year town for me. It’s been eleven!”

Speaking about the diversity of his musical styles and interests, Brett said, “I grew up with rhythm and blues and soul music, so You will hear the soul in my music.”

Brett is about to head out on Thomas Rhett’s ‘Life Changes Tour 2018’ this spring.  Find tour updates at brettyoungmusic.com.

“it’s been more than a ten-year town for me. It’s been eleven!” Jesse Lee

ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo 2018 set for May 7 – 9

Unforgettable experience” for music creators

ASCAP has announced the first wave of music creators who will take the stage at their 2018 “I Create Music” EXPO. Among these ASCAP members from across genres and generations are multi-platinum recording artist Jason Mraz, Grammy Award-winners Marc Cohn, Darrell Brown and Dan Wilson, multi-time ASCAP Latin Songwriter of The Year selection Claudia Brant, jazz legend Marcus Miller, Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees Desmond Child and Paul Williams, rising pop star Billie Eilish and her close collaborator Finneas O’Connell. Now in its 13th year, the ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO is the largest conference of its kind in the United States, attracting over 3,000 music creators for three days of panels, workshops, master classes, keynotes and one-on-one sessions with the industry’s top hitmakers.

The 2017 “I Create Music” EXPO included nearly 200 panelists from across the music business covering dozens of compelling topics, from Congressional legislation benefiting songwriters to expanding the role of women in film music to a case study with the team behind Justin Bieber’s Purpose. The 2018 EXPO will feature a comparable amount of panels and panelists, with a host of noteworthy lineup additions planned for the coming months. This will include the announcement of 2018’s keynote speaker, an honor previously given to Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones and Justin Timberlake.

Registration now open

Registration is now open for this year’s EXPO, to be held Monday, May 7 through Wednesday, May 9 at the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles. ASCAP’s New Year discount is active on all pricing levels through February 14 at www.ascap.com/exporegister.

Six songwriters honored at Number One party

Dan + Shay celebrate two consecutive Number Ones 

What’s better than a Number One party? A DOUBLE Number One party, and that’s what happened Tuesday January 30th for writers of two of Dan + Shay’s recent chart-toppers.  The double-header, co-hosted by ASCAP and BMI, was held at ASCAP’s Nashville HQ.

“From the Ground Up” and “How Not To” are the second and third U.S. Country Airplay chart toppers for Warner Bros. Nashville artists Dan + Shay (Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney) following 2015’s “Nothing Like You,” a cut from the album WHERE IT ALL BEGAN.  The two latest Number Ones are both cuts on OBSESSED.

The honorees for “How Not To” were songwriters Kevin Bard, Paul DiGiovanni and Adam Hambrick. Publishing honors went to Kevin Bard Music, Ole Red Cape Songs, Paulywood Music, Sony ATV Music Publishing, Red Like The Sunset Music and Universal Music.

Accepting songwriters’ awards for “From the Ground Up” were Chris DeStafano, Shay Mooney and Dan Smyers, while the publishers’ nod went to Beats and Banjos, CDS Words & Music, Shay Mooney Music, Sony ATV Publishing and Warner/Chappell Music Publishing.

Inspired by grandparents’ long-lasting love

From left: Dan Smyers, Shay Mooney, Chris DeStafano talk during media session. Photo: Preshias Harris

At a pre-presentation media session, Dan, Shay and Chris talked about the origins of “From the Ground Up.” The idea was sparked by a very personal incident. “Driving back from my grandfather’s funeral, we ended up at [Chris] Stefano’s place,” said Dan.  “When Chris stepped outside to take a call, [Shay and I] started talking about how both our grandparents were married for 65 years. it so incredible to married for 65 Years!” It was from that discussion and family memories that the song took shape. “We knew we had something special and it was written in about 45 Minutes,” Dan added.

‘Personal moments’ shape songs

Personal life moments are often the genesis for songs, as Dan and Shay can attest. During the media session, they recalled writing “When I Prayed For You.” The song, about a soon-to-be-father praying for his child, was featured in the movie, “The Shack.”  Shay noted that it was written when he and his wife Hannah were expecting their daughter, Asher. Anticipating the birth of a child in real life added poignancy to the writing, Shay recalled.

Getting back to “From the Ground Up,” Chris DeStefano said, “It’s amazing to me to be part of a song that fans can connect with.” Chris is no stranger to chart toppers, having written or co-written Number One songs for Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Brett Eldredge, Jason Aldean and more. “I won’t ever take it for granted, being a songwriter,” he said.

Wexford, Pennsylvania, native Dan Smyers and James Shay Mooney (from Natural Dam, Arkansas) met in Nashville in December 2012 and began songwriting together. They were quickly signed to Warner/Chappell Music. The following year, their first single – “19 You + Me” – went to Country radio.  Although it never topped any chart, the song continued to sell steadily since then and has since been certified Platinum by RIAA.

Pictured (l-r): Songwriters Chris DeStefano, Paul DiGiovanni, Kevin Bard, Adam Hambrick and Dan+Shay’s Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney. Photo: Ed Rode/ASCAP

On the road with Rascal Flatts

Continue reading “Six songwriters honored at Number One party”

Sign the Petition and Ask Congress to Pass the Music Modernization Act

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION

For too long, songwriters have had to work within an outdated system that over-regulates and undervalues their music. The Music Modernization Act of 2017 will help change that.

[Note: the text of this post is reproduced from an email sent out to ASCAP members. You do not have to be an ASCAP member to respond to this request that is supported by all Performing Rights Organizations and other entities involving songwriters and music publishers. You can find the original message here.]

Improved compensation for music creators

ASCAP has long advocated for a more flexible framework that can adapt to the realities of the modern music marketplace. The Music Modernization Act is a bipartisan music reform bill that represents months of compromise and collaboration between stakeholders from the music and tech sectors.

It includes provisions that we hope will ultimately result in compensation for our members that better reflects the true value of your music:

  • Rate court reform: replacing a single rate court judge for each PRO with different judges randomly assigned to each rate-setting proceeding (the “wheel” system)
  • Removal of Section 114(i) of the Copyright Act: allowing a rate court to consider all relevant evidence when determining songwriter compensation – including the rates that recording artists earn – an ability that is currently prohibited by law.

The Music Modernization Act of 2017 also includes provisions to reform Section 115 of the Copyright Act to create a single licensing entity that will administer the mechanical reproduction rights for all digital uses of musical compositions like those used in interactive streaming models. This replaces the “bulk NOI” process that often failed to result in payments to songwriters and music publishers with a system that will enable digital music services to find the owners of the music they use.

While no legislation will solve all of our industry challenges, on balance we believe this is a significant step forward for all music creators.

You can help now. Ask Congress to pass the Music Modernization Act today. Click here to sign ASCAP petition.

If you are a member of BMI or SESAC and have received notification from them about a petition regarding the Music Modernization Act of 2017, you are of course welcome to respond to their communication.

ASCAP, BMI creating joint music database

Set to go live by end of 2018

ASCAP and BMI, the nation’s two leading performing rights organizations, have joined forces to create a single, comprehensive database of musical works from their combined repertories that will deliver an authoritative view of ownership shares in the vast majority of music licensed in the United States.

As you know, virtually all other countries get by with one P.R.O.  The USA has three: ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Actually, there are four, if you include Global Music Rights (GMR) an invitation-only organization formed by Irving Azoff in 2013. Although all the P.R.O.s have a good working relationship, there have been limited instances of any of them truly working together. Until now.

We now have what appears to be good news for songwriters, publishers and those wishing to more easily identify information to, say, acquire sync licenses. The announcement came a few days after news that Rep Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis) had introduced the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act that was not viewed favorably by the P.R.O.s representing songwriters and publishers.

Predictably, the lawmakers who sponsored the bill reacted negatively to the announcement from the P.R.O.s. Also expressing a negative opinion was the Music Innovation Consumer (MIC) Coalition. MIC is an organization that lobbies on behalf of the radio and tech sectors, such as the Digital Media Association and the National Association of Broadcasters.

ASCAP, BMI issue joint statement

The remainder of this post mostly contains the text of a joint release issued by ASCAP and BMI on June 26, 2017.  You can read the original release at ASCAP’s website here and at BMI’s website here.

Elizabeth Matthews, ASCAP CEO

Expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2018, the first-of-its-kind database will feature aggregated song ownership data from ASCAP and BMI and offer greater transparency to music users and the industry.  The announcement was made today by Elizabeth Matthews, CEO, ASCAP and Mike O’Neill, President and CEO, BMI.

Michael O’Neill, BMI CEO

A cross functional team of copyright, technical and data experts from BMI and ASCAP began working on the project over one year ago in anticipation of the demand from licensees and the industry for more clarity around ownership shares.  The database, which will be publicly available initially via ASCAP’s and BMI’s websites, will feature aggregated information from BMI’s and ASCAP’s repertories and will indicate where other performing rights organizations may have an interest in a musical work. The joint database will serve as a foundation that can evolve to include a broader range of music information across the entire industry.

Matthews commented, “ASCAP and BMI are proactively and voluntarily moving the entire industry a step forward to more accurate, reliable and user-friendly data. We believe in a free market with more industry cooperation and alignment on data issues.  Together, ASCAP and BMI have the most expertise in building and managing complex copyright ownership databases. With our combined experience, we are best positioned to make faster headway in creating a robust, cost effective market solution to meet the needs of the licensing marketplace.” Continue reading “ASCAP, BMI creating joint music database”

ASCAP and YouTube Reach Multi-Year Agreement

ASCAP to combine database with YouTube’s Data Exchange

ASCAP and YouTube have signed a multi-year agreement, effective immediately, for US public performance rights and data collaboration. The mutual goal of this agreement is to work together to ensure that ASCAP members get paid more fairly and accurately for the use of their music on YouTube, according to an ASCAP press release.

As part of the P.R.O.’s negotiated, voluntary licensing deal, ASCAP will combine its database of 10.5 million musical works with YouTube’s data exchange. The evolution of the agreement between the two entities leverages YouTube’s data exchange and ASCAP’s vast database of musical works to address the industry challenge of identifying songwriter, composer and publisher works on YouTube, and demonstrates ASCAP’s commitment to building industry-leading data capabilities. This innovative collaboration will enable new levels of monetization and transparency for ASCAP and its members.

‘Higher compensation’ for ASCAP members

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews commented: “This agreement achieves two important ASCAP goals – it will yield substantially higher overall compensation for our members from YouTube and will continue to propel ASCAP’s ongoing transformation strategy to lead the industry toward more accurate and reliable data. The ultimate goal is to ensure that more money goes to the songwriters, composers and publishers whose creative works fuel the digital music economy.”

“YouTube is dedicated to ensuring artists, publishers and songwriters are fairly compensated,” said Lyor Cohen, Global Head of Music at YouTube. “As YouTube delivers more revenue to the music industry through a combination of subscription and advertising revenue, it’s great to see ASCAP take a progressive approach towards the long term financial success of its members.”

According to an article published on Billboard’s website, ASCAP and its counterparts BMI and SESAC still don’t have a choice about whether to license their music to YouTube or other licensees – they are required to grant interim licenses under the terms of their decades-old consent decrees with the Justice Department if they can’t immediately come to voluntary licensing agreements. ASCAP and BMI have been lobbying lawmakers in Washington to reform these consent decrees so that they can seek market rates for their music instead.

Other societies, such as Global Music Rights, have more freedom because they aren’t governed by consent decrees. GMR, founded three years ago by music manager Irving Azoff, does not currently license its works to YouTube because the two companies haven’t been able to agree on a price.

BMI has a direct license with YouTube and is currently discussing a new long-term agreement. BMI spokeswoman Liz Fischer said that YouTube has been “a good partner.” Read the full Billboard article here.

More at the ASCAP website and @ASCAP on Facebook.

“I Met A Girl” is a Musical Milestone for William Michael Morgan

His first number one song, four years in the making

Congrats to Warner Bros / WMN’s newcomer William Michael Morgan and the co-writers Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally and Trevor Rosen who were feted on January 30th for Morgan’s Number One hit “I Met A Girl.” The Number One party, held at South, was co-hosted by ASCAP and First Tennessee Bank.  The song, produced by Scott Hendricks (Blake Shelton) and Jimmy Ritchey (Mark Chesnutt), is from Morgan’s debut studio album, VINYL (Warner Bros Nashville) which was released on September 30, 2016, following his self-titled EP.

Photo Credit: Preshias Harris
Left to Right: Shane McAnally, William Michael Morgan and Trevor Rosen. Not pictured is Sam Hunt.

“I Met a Girl” is the debut single and first number one record for Morgan and has sold over 300,000 copies since its radio add date of August 24, 2015. It was also included on his debut studio album, “Vinyl,” which was released on September 30, 2016, following his self-titled EP.

During the media interviews prior to the Number One celebration, Shane said that they’d written the song about four years ago. Morgan said, “We hung on to it and hung on to it.” He recalled. “Once it was recorded, we kept listening to it.  We believed it was just a wonderful song all around.”

The lyrics have special meaning for Morgan

The song has a poignant meaning for Morgan. Thinking back to the birth of his daughter and meeting his fiancé brings a whole new meaning to the song for him. “God was moving the chess pieces around,” he said. “We found out the song was Number One on the same day as the album ‘Vinyl’ came out.”

“I Met A Girl” Number One Party

It seems the song has resonated with listeners, too. “I Met A Girl” spent 52 weeks on the charts and has reached an airplay audience of 1.1 billion. The song has also been streamed 25 million times.

The song has received positive reviews from music critics. Taste of Country® awarded “I Met a Girl” with the Taste of Country® Critic’s Pick, saying that the single is “a warm country love song that slows time” adding that “strong songwriting and Morgan’s smooth baritone make the song tough to resist.” So hit replay! More at www.williammichaelmorgan.com.

It takes perseverance

Personal note: Aspiring artists and songwriters should take note of Morgan’s progress along the road to chart success. Around four years elapsed between the time the song was written and the afternoon he stood up to receive his Number One award.  If you expect fame and fortune within months of arriving in Music City, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.  It takes perseverance and strength of character to keep improving your musical skills, perfecting your stagecraft, building your network of industry contacts and learning from your co-writers.  When the real opportunity appears, you’ll be ready to grasp it!

Cole Swindell’s long road to success

Three ‘Number One’ parties in one day

three Number One parties in one day for Cole Swindell
three Number One parties in one day for Cole Swindell

Celebrating a Number One song is a big moment in any songwriter’s life, particularly if you also happen to be the artist who recorded it. How about THREE Number Ones, celebrated at three different parties on the same day?

That’s what happened to Cole Swindell on Monday, September 12. The three party ‘pub crawl’ started off at South on Nashville’s Demonbreun Street, where ASCAP and BMI got together to honor Cole Swindell, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley (all BMI writers) and Michael Carter (ASCAP) for co-writing “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight.”

At the party, Swindell revealed that the idea for the song title came from a

Pictured (L-R): BMI’s David Preston, manager Kerri Edwards, Big Loud Mountain’s Craig Wiseman, Round Hill’s Penny Gattis, songwriter and producer Michael Carter, ASCAP’s Beth Brinker, BMI artist Cole Swindell, Sony/ATV Tree Publishing’s Terry Wakefield and Warner Music Nashville’s John Esposito. Photo: Steve Lowry.
Pictured (L-R): BMI’s David Preston, manager Kerri Edwards, Big Loud Mountain’s Craig Wiseman, Round Hill’s Penny Gattis, songwriter and producer Michael Carter, ASCAP’s Beth Brinker, BMI artist Cole Swindell, Sony/ATV Tree Publishing’s Terry Wakefield and Warner Music Nashville’s John Esposito. Photo: Steve Lowry.

text he received, maybe from an old flame, that said, “Hope you get lonely tonight.” He was getting ready to go on stage and showed the text to Luke Bryan’s guitarist Michael Carter. They agreed that it sounded like a great song title, and together with Florida Georgia Line’s Hubbard and Kelley, they developed the idea and the song came together quickly. They made a ‘work tape’ and played it for anyone who’d listen… all of whom agreed it sounded like a hit. They were right.

The party then moved next door to Dawg House to recognize Swindell along with Josh Martin (SESAC) and Adam Sanders (ASCAP), the writers of the Number One hit “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey.” Finally, the third party took place just down the street at the Tin Roof, honoring Swindell, Michael Carter and Jody Stevens (BMI) who wrote “Let Me See Ya Girl,” another Number One single from Swindell’s self-titled album (Warner Bros. Nashville). All three Number Ones were produced by Michael Carter.

As icing on the cake, Swindell was presented with an RIAA-certified Platinum disc for his self-titled album, only the second Platinum certification so far in 2016. All in all, a pretty memorable day for Mr. Swindell.

‘Write your way to a record deal’

If anyone is the poster-child for ‘write your way to a record deal,’ it’s Cole Swindell. First and foremost, he sees himself as a songwriter. And he has certainly paid his dues with eyes always on the prize of his own recording contract. After leaving college in 2007, he moved to Nashville and got a job selling merchandise on the road for three years for his friend Luke Bryan, constantly songwriting, honing his craft.

It paid off in 2010 when he signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing. He started racking up writing (and co-writing) credits with cuts such as Craig Campbell’s “Outta My Head,” Thomas Rhett’s “Get Me Some of That,” FGL’s “This Is How We Roll” and numerous songs recorded by Luke Bryan including “Roller Coaster,” “In Love With The Girl,” “Beer in the Headlights,” as well as Scotty McCreery’s “Water Tower Town” and many others. He became known as a songwriter who could consistently deliver.

Cole Swindell, in his distinctive Georgia Southern baseball cap
Cole Swindell, in his distinctive Georgia Southern baseball cap

In 2013, Swindell recorded a single of “Chillin’ It” and released it independently. He got the single to SiriusXM’s “The Highway” channel and began to get airplay, and that – along with his proven track record as a writer – brought him to the attention of Warner Music Nashville who signed him to a record deal. . With Warner’s boost, “Chillin’ It” made it to Number One on Billboard’s Hot Country chart.

It was no “overnight success” for Swindell. It virtually never is, for anybody. He found a way to start out “in the business,” selling merch for his college frat brother, Luke Bryan, then writing songs at every opportunity, co-writing with others, developing his skills, building his network, learning his way around the music business. It was a steady, progressive journey – almost ten years – that took him from selling tour tee shirts to celebrating three Number One hits and receiving a Platinum album on a single day.

Cole’s inspiring story

If you are an aspiring artist and it seems “like forever” that you’ve been plugging away, writing songs and looking for the big break, take heart from Cole Swindell’s story. If you have friends and family members suggesting “you’ve been in Nashville for a year and you still don’t have a record deal,” tell them about Swindell and how you are following his example, dedicating yourself to developing your writing skills and proving to record labels that you have the potential to be a ‘product’ worthy of their investment, possibly of millions of their dollars.

It takes time to achieve success. The most brilliant and successful brain surgeon started off as an anonymous intern in a hospital. Major League baseball players work their way up to ‘The Big Show’ by developing their abilities playing at A, AA and AAA minor league clubs before getting called up. They know that success takes time because they have to develop their skills and prove their worth. The same applies to you in the music industry.

If you have a ‘Doubting Thomas’ in your family who thinks you should give up the dream, tell them the story of Cole Swindell’s long (but worthwhile) road to success. While you’re at it, tell it to yourself, too. Just as he did, visualize yourself holding your first Number One plaque!

More about Cole Swindell here.

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Writers awarded Kyser Capos

It's Kyser Capo time!
It’s Kyser Capo time!

All ASCAP songwriters receive a Kyser KG6K 6-String Guitar Capo on the occasion of their first Number One. Each custom-made Capo is gold-tone and inscribed #1 ASCAP. Pictured left to right at the Dawg House, celebrating the Number One hit, “Aint Worth The Whiskey:
Cole Swindell, Michael Carter, Adam Sanders and ASCAP Nashville’s Mike Sistad.

Photo Credit: Mike Harris.