My journey with songwriting started when I moved to Nashville. After a few weeks of living here, I had a meeting with Brian White, who ended up getting me a job interning at his brand new publishing company called SB21 Music. The CEO is Steve Pasch, who wrote the Number 1 hit for Lenny Kravitz, “Stand By Your Woman,” among many other songs, and Brian wrote the Number 1 hit for Rodney Atkins, “Watching You,” as well as many other big country hits.
They needed someone to register their catalogue of songs, keep things organized, and answer the door when the writers arrived for their co-writes. I had no knowledge of songwriting or music publishing at all. Honestly, I don’t even think I knew what a Music Publishing Company even was. But soon enough, I was in the middle of listening and watching songwriters write songs every day and learning about copyrights and registering songs with PRO companies (the people who count your radio play and then give you your money!). I also learned that many artists write their own songs. I just thought that artists sang other people’s songs, but I learned that songwriting is an essential step in becoming an artist.
So, I decided to try my own hand at songwriting. The SB21 writers were so sweet to me and often mentored me about songwriting. After I was done interning for the day, the writers would sit me down and give me tips on how to write a song. I got out a pen and paper and wrote down everything they said and would apply the principles at home with my own songs. They would tell me things like the use of opposites (like Katy Perry’s song “Hot N Cold”…tons of opposites in there!) and mixing tempos between the verse and chorus- I began to look at all music differently and see these techniques being used in songs on the radio.
Then, right before I left the publishing company to go work for Reba’s Business, I asked Brian if he would co-write with me as a Christmas gift. (I wasn’t getting paid, so I figured they owed me one!) He agreed, and there it was, my first co-write of all time, with someone who had written a Number 1 song. I have a feeling not everyone gets to do that on their first go at it- but also feel that no one should…I quickly realized the songs I had brought in were elementary and anything but impressive. But, he kindly gave me some pointers and we did end up finishing my first song called, “Faster Slow Down.” (Can you say opposites?!)
Since that first co-write, I’ve written with many other great writers, and am happy to say that my songwriting has vastly improved. I’ve even gone back and written with the writers at SB21 Music, so everything has come full circle.
Stay tuned for part 2, about how I approach songwriting and how I come up with lyrics and ideas, and give some insight about how I wrote my last single.