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Music Row in Nashville Tennessee

Music Row in Nashville Tennessee in many ways is an odd little place. It seems so accessible with Record Labels in houses just off the sidewalk. Recording studios are also often in remodeled homes. It seems accessible, but it is not. To gain access to the row, the publishers, record companies and studios, one must create a strategic plan for your first visit. You need to get to know the people, secretaries and publishers by name and schedule quick song demos, and have everything polished, organized and presentable. BE PREPARED! MAKE A PLAN! (See the songwriting guide below my songs)

1) Melody
2) Listening to what's coming out of Nashville and Music Row
3) Popular Chord Changes
4) Popular Song Forms
5) Songs Tell a Story
6) Songwriting Materials and Books to Enhance Your Song
7) Publishing Your Song
8) Resources in Nashville and in or around Music Row
9) Recording Your Songs
10) Self promotion? or the Nashville / Music Row route?


Read the article and browse some of the recordings below.

This is a favorite song of mine. Lyrics and More Information Here



Michael Droste
Brief Bio: Song Writer. Audio Engineer. Teacher and Musician. These are a few of the hats worn by Chicago-native Michael Droste. Having earned a Bachelors and Masters Degrees, his song writing is the perfect mix of musical craft and sparkling creativity. As a teacher of Audio/MIDI and composition, his passion for music thrives. His main song writing goals are to “write a great melody” and “paint a clear picture in the listener’s mind.” No matter the subject, Mike’s ability to fuse melody and lyrics makes his songs stand out in a crowd. Mike can currently be found recording original music in his studio. (BMI Member)

We're The Cubbies
This is another favorite of mine. Lyrics and More Information Here.

(The ‘Chicago Cubs’ are the trade mark of the Chicago Cubs organization and Major League Baseball.  This unofficial song which claims absolutely no rights to these trademarks.)

Concise Nashville Music Row Songwriting Tips and Tricks

If you have been around Nashville you know the stuff below and should skip it. A newbie might glean some new ideas ;) The following is a guide to songwriting and how to get the ball rolling and access music row in Nashville.

1) Melody
2) Listening to what's coming out of Nashville and Music Row
3) Popular Chord Changes
4) Popular Song Forms
5) Songs Tell a Story
6) Songwriting Materials and Books to Enhance Your Song
7) Publishing Your Song
8) Resources in Nashville and in or around Music Row
9) Recording Your Songs
10) Self promotion? or the Nashville / Music Row route?


Quote:
Great Songwriting can be done anywhere!
~Mr. Droste

1) Song Melody

Song Melody Probably the most important aspect of your songwriting is the melody. Your song needs to have a catchy hook and/or something that can attract the attention of a record producer, record company or music industry contact in Nashville. The melody should be singable, memorable, and unique. Think of your favorite songs, what about them do you like? Often times it's the melody, combined with the lyrics that make such a strong connections in our mind.

2) Listening to what's coming out of Nashville and Music Row

Listening to what's coming out of Nashville and Music Row
What's going on in the music industry? What kinds of songs are coming out of music row and Nashville? These are questions you need to consider when composing your song.  You'll want to listen to everything you can, all musical styles and forms. Consider purchasing popular songbooks (pop and country) and analyze the chord structure and musical form.  What kinds of chords are used in the verse?  What kinds of chords are used in the chorus? (be sure to check out the transition chords also)

3) Popular Chord Changes

Popular Chord Changes
Popular chord changes used in a Nashville music row song, can include the famous ;) 1 chord, 5 chord and of course the 4 chord. In a C major scale the 1 chord is c, e, g,  the 5 chord is g, b, d, and the 4 chord is f, a, c.  Often times a song will use chord substitution.  Chord substitution is a nice way to break up a tune and add a different flavor to a verse, or chorus of a music row song. This is very common in all songwriting - not exclusive to Nashville or music row.  For example: instead of using a 4 chord f, a, c, on could substitute a 2 chord which is d, f, a. As you can see, the common note of the 2 and 4 chord are f and a.  The only difference is, the 4 chord has the c, and the 2 chord has the d.  This substitution adds a nice little change, and draws in the listener.

4) Popular song forms in Music Row Songs

Popular song forms in Music Row Songs
One of the most popular song forms (and most pop songs) is:
Intro
A Verse
B Chorus
A Verse
B Chorus
C Bridge
B Chorus
Ending

Sometimes an added transition section or second half of the verse is made as a type of introduction or lead in to the chorus. (very popular song format)  Experiment with starting with the chorus, or trying unique and different things to make your song stand out amongst the other writers in Nashville.

5) Songs Tell a Story

Songs Tell a Story
Most songs tell a story. Your song has to be truthful and authentic.  Tell the story of an event that happened - try creating conflict - resolution. Perhaps you want to create a problem (conflict) found in the verse, then resolve, or fix the problem in the chorus.  Songwriting is highly competitive and most great songs truly tell amazing stories.  Nashville is filled with extremely talented storytellers and your song and story need to stand out. As you explain and tell your story, use verbal imagery.  Let people 'see' and experience in their minds, the taste, the smell, and the sounds of the places you visit in your story. This is what will make your song stand out from others.

6) Songwriting Materials and Books to Enhance Your Song

Songwriting Materials and Books to Enhance Your Song
Every songwriter has the following arsenal in their hands - whether in book form or through songwriting software.  They have a Dictionary, Thesaurus, Rhyming Dictionary and/or Cliche Phrase Books. Get these books and go through them - and use them in your songs.  Also try contradictory or turn around statements: ie I never thought it would hurt so bad, or that it would turn out to be oh so good.

7) Publishing Your Song

Publishing Your Song
There are literally hundreds of music publishing companies and other outlets available to you in Nashville.  Guides to the names and addresses should be found in the songwriter’s market book and other book sources. Quite honestly some online web lists are totally fake. You might simply be wasting your money sending out demos and materials to companies that don't exist. Make the necessary phone calls to the secretary at the company, be business like, polite, and get to the point. Understand and appreciate that their time is valuable. Get to know them over time, and introduce yourself on your phone calls. Nashville and music row are in the music business and need to be treated as such.

8) Resources in Nashville and in or around Music Row

Resources in Nashville and in or around Music Row
Go to the Bluebird Cafe. In Nashville, this is the premiere outlet where singer songwriters and big name acts go to showcase upcoming songs and work.  This is a must do activity.  You'll probably drive right by it.  It's in a little strip mall, and one can easily miss it.  The Bluebird Cafe is a must see place. Of course you'll want to go up and down Music Row also.  Houses and small office buildings along the row have been turned into recording studios and offices for music publishers and producers.  It really is a fun experience to see all these places.  They LOOK very accessible, but they are not.  Call ahead to get appointments, get in / out, don't take too much of their time. If you get in, and take too long, they will not let you come back for another visit.  Be professional and listen to the critiques.  Go in with the CD and a presentable typed lyric sheet. (see my pdf)  You may not get a nibble FOR MANY years.  If they say you have a good song, great!  (only great songs - not good - are considered for the next level.) Ask them if you could submit your future projects and then - follow through - create more songs and keep in touch.  There are numerous stories of pros, in the business, (with previous record contracts) not getting their songs under contract or on hold.  It takes time and effort.  You are competing with the best songwriters in the world, in the row and in Nashville.  On the row you will also find the performing rights organizations that include BMI, ASCAP.  Research the two and join one. (I am in BMI) You can also visit them on the row and have them critique your songs. NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International) is a great place to learn about songwriting. Many cities around the U.S. have NSAI groups you can join, plus NSAI has songwriting conferences, contests and other resources.  You can even use their Nashville office as a base when visiting music row.  Great resource!

9) Recording Your Songs

Recording Your Songs
I highly recommend you get an Apple computer. Whether it is a Macbook, or an iMac you will be completely set up with a stable OS and a stable computer system.  I have been on the Apple platform since 1992 and never looked back. Purchase Logic Studio Pro (now owned by Apple) and get an Apogee Duet II (an audio in/out USB device). The only thing left to get is a good condenser microphone and the Antares Auto Tune AU plug in. Many have called Nashville the Auto Tune capitol of the world ;) Every notice how the vocals are in PERFECT pitch? That's from Auto Tune. It's on every vocal track. Every Nashville song on music row and most pop songs everywhere else use auto tune or some other form of pitch correction. One should also consider purchasing music songwriting software such as Masterwriter and business software such as Microsoft Office for Mac.

10) Self promotion? or the Nashville / Music Row route?

Self promotion? or the Nashville / Music Row route?
Should one use Music Row and go the Nashville way? Or should one try self-promotion? I say that one should do both.  One can use Blogs, Social Networks and
Tunecore or CD Baby to self publish and get their music out there for others to hear.  It is very gratifying to have people purchase your music.  Understand, that unless you are able to get press, radio play, or promoting it aggressively - that you will not sell many songs.  But it is nice to see your stuff up on iTunes. You should also consider making a music video and add it to YouTube!