Man vs. Row

by Brent Baxter

How To Keep Your Head In The Songwriting Game

Man vs Row

If you’re a professional songwriter living in Nashville, it’s pretty easy to keep your head in the game. It’s really easy to keep your goals in mind because it’s in your face every day.
That’s very much NOT the case if you’re working a regular job in another town. Add to that any family obligations you may have, and it can be pretty easy to stop thinking like a songwriter. One day you might look up and realize it’s been two months or more since you’ve really even picked up the pen or guitar.
Yes, there are natural ebbs and flows to the creative life. And, yes, there are times when family needs will limit your writing time (I couldn’t do any co-writing for about 3 months right after Ruby Jean was born and Emily needed me at home every night). Hey, stuff happens.
I suggest keeping your head in the game by appointment and subscription.

APPOINTMENTS:

Cowriting:

I don’t just start thinking about my cowrite as I’m walking in the door of the writer’s room. I’m thinking about it ahead of time. The appointment forces me to spend time gathering ideas, prepping, etc.

Solo Writing:

It’s very easy to skip out on solo writing in the midst of daily life. Try to have a standing appointment with yourself, even if it’s just every other week. Hopefully, you’ll find some other times, too. But if nothing else, you (and your family) know that “every other Thursday night” is your writing time.

SUBSCRIPTIONS:

Blogs:

Get informed, educated, entertained and inspired- all from your inbox. I humbly suggest Man vs. Row, but there are several other good blogs, too.

Podcasts:

I haven’t found an abundance of songwriting podcasts, but I can recommend Daredevil Productions and Life In The Woods. Podcasts are great for your commute to and from work.

YouTube:

Try Rick Barker’s “25 Minutes From Nashville.” It’s good stuff from a guy who has had a hand in a lot of success.  There are other channels out there, too.  Just look around.

Magazines:

Check out American Songwriter and Music Row Magazine, among others. Turn the hall bathroom into your own personal “inspiration zone.”

What about you? How do you keep your head in the game?

God Bless,

Brent

This Thursday- Learn How To Make Your Songs More Cut-Worthy!

You’re invited to be a part of an exclusive ONLINE Google Hangout I’ll be hosting on Thursday, October 23, from 8pm-9pm Central. That’s this week! In this live event, I’ll teach from my new book, “Cut/able: Lessons In Market-Smart Songwriting.” Not only will you receive a FREE copy of “Cut/able” with your ticket, I’ll answer your questions face-to-face as we discus how you can make your songs more market-smart. Space is very limited, so click on the image below to find out more! (Or click here.)

MvR Top 10 2

Become an MvR VIP!

If you like this blog and don’t want to miss a single post, or if you want special discounts on Man vs. Row products and services, become an MvR VIP!  Simply enter your email in the “Become an MvR VIP” section on this page.  It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below.   Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it.  I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

Brent’s Instagram: Man_vs_Row

Wordplay Thursday #64

Wordplay Thursday

Welcome to Wordplay Thursday!

Here’s a writing prompt for you.  It’s a simple fill-in-the-blank. You can use one word or several. Feel free to get as crazy, genre-appropriate, or as imaginative as you want. The point is to get the creative juices flowing. And it’s a good thing to dig deeper, so don’t stop at the first idea that hits you. Try coming up with at least five things.

“My closet is messier than _____.”

I’ll give you an example to get you started:

“My closet is messier than a rockstar’s divorce.”

I’d love to hear what you come up with, so please share in the comments. Oh, and please keep your posts below an R-rating. It’s a family show, after all!

SHOUT OUT!

Thanks to Jeff Green, Roger Vines, Janet Goodman, Jeff840, Dan Retz, theresavenesky Willa Thompson, Ken Matthiesen, and terrygene for your great additions to Wordplay Thursday #63 (read it here)! Great job!

Oct. 23: JOIN MAN VS. ROW IN THE TOP 10!

You’re invited to be a part of an exclusive Google Hangout I’ll be hosting on Thursday, October 23, from 8pm-9pm Central. In this live event, I’ll teach from my new book, “Cut/able: Lessons In Market-Smart Songwriting.” Not only will you receive a FREE copy of “Cut/able” with your ticket, I’ll answer YOUR questions face-to-face as we discus how YOU can make your songs more market-smart. Space is very limited, so click on the image below to find out more! (Or click here.)

MvR Top 10 2

BECOME AN MVR VIP!

If you like this blog and don’t want to miss a single post, or if you want special discounts on Man vs. Row products and services, become an MvR VIP! Simply enter your email in the “Become an MvR VIP” section on this page. It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below. Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it. I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else. Thanks!

Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Facebook: www.brentbaxtermusic.com

Instagram: Man_vs_Row

God Bless,

Brent

MvR Live Event: Cut/able Top 10 Workshop!

MvR Top 10 2

On Thursday, October 23, 8pm-9pm Central, I’m hosting a live Top 10 Workshop.  I’ll answer questions and share extra content from my new ebook, “Cut/able: Lessons In Market-Smart Songwriting.” You’ll get “Cut/able” FREE with your ticket (a $20 value), so you’re ready for the workshop ahead of time.  Oh, and there are only 8 spots available, so don’t wait!

SO, WHAT IS “Cut/able?”

“Cut/Able: Lessons In Market-Smart Songwriting” is four powerful lessons for songwriters who want cuts and hits, who want to learn how to write commercially marketable songs, and who want their songs to connect powerfully with both fans and Music Row pros.

“Cut/able” exists to help you write songs that fit the commercial market- songs that are “market-smart.” Each of these four powerful lessons challenge you to take an in-depth look at current and recent country hits and compare them to YOUR best songs.

WHO IS “Cut/able” FOR?

*Songwriters who want cuts and hits.
*Songwriters who want to better understand market-smart songwriting.
*Singer-songwriters who want their songs to connect more deeply and successfully with their fans and radio.

“Cut/able” isn’t about “___, ___ and ___ is popular right now, so write that.” No, it’s much more than that. It’s about teaching you how to study the charts and radio so you can identify what kind of songs are market-smart at any time.

Not only that, “Cut/able” helps you add the characteristics of market-smart songs to YOUR songs.

Cut/able WILL ENABLE YOU TO:

Connect on a deeper level with the artist and listener through effective use of imagery. (Lesson #1: W.I.L.L.power: Proving Personality & Emotions Through Your Lyrics)

Give the artists what they need, give radio what it wants, and give the fans what they like by learning the importance of writing positive, uptempo, love/depth songs. (Lesson #2: P.U.L.’D To Success: The Value of Positive, Uptempo, Love/Depth Songs)

Develop skills to identify an artist’s “brand” so you can write songs that fit that brand and speak to the artist’s core audience. (Lesson #3: Neighborhoods: Where Will You Build A Home For Your Song?)

Pinpoint areas of opportunity within an artist’s catalog- slots you can fill with your songs, songs that fit the artist’s brand without being just like what they’ve already done. (Lesson #4: Fill The G.A.P.S.: Growth, Achievement, Preaching/Positioning, Songwriting)

I’d love to have you join me at the workshop!  If you can’t make it, “Cut/able” is available for sale on its own- and it’s super-helpful all by itself.

So, if you’re interested, just click on the link below to find out more and purchase tickets.  Remember, there are only a few tickets left!

I’M READY TO WRITE CUT/ABLE SONGS!

God Bless,

Brent

ARE YOU READY TO MAKE YOUR SONGS “CUT/ABLE?”

“Cut/Able: Lessons In Market-Smart Songwriting” is four powerful lessons for songwriters who want cuts & hits, who want to learn how to write commercially marketable songs, & who want their songs to connect powerfully with both fans and Music Row pros. If you want those results, these lessons can help. To get a FREE EXCERPT of “Cut/able,” just click on the image below:

photo-18

Become an MvR VIP!

If you like this blog and don’t want to miss a single post, or if you want special discounts on Man vs. Row products and services, become an MvR VIP!  Simply enter your email in the “Become an MvR VIP” section on this page.  It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below.   Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it.  I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

Brent’s Instagram: Man_vs_Row

Your Chorus Is Your Punchline

Man vs Row

In certain ways, writing songs is like writing jokes.

You start with your setup, or your verse. You tell a story which draw your listeners in. Then you hit them with your punchline, or your chorus. That’s your big emotional highpoint of the joke / song.

But here’s the difference…

When we write songs, we don’t hit the punchline and then move on to the next joke. With songwriting, we have to write a 2nd verse that leads right back into the same punchline- and we have to write it so well that it’s an even MORE powerful emotional moment- then maybe we write a bridge and do it again!

That’s hard.

And it’s no laughing matter.

God Bless,

Brent

Learn How To Make Your Songs More Cut-Worthy!

Man vs. Row invites you to be a part of an exclusive Google Hangout I’ll be hosting on Thursday, October 23, from 8pm-9pm Central. In this live event, I’ll teach from my new book, “Cut/able: Lessons In Market-Smart Songwriting.”  Not only will you receive a FREE copy of “Cut/able” with your ticket, I’ll answer YOUR questions face-to-face as we discus how YOU can make your songs more market-smart.  Space is very limited, so click on the image below to find out more!  (Or click here.)

MvR Top 10 2

Become an MvR VIP!

If you like this blog and don’t want to miss a single post, or if you want special discounts on Man vs. Row products and services, become an MvR VIP!  Simply enter your email in the “Become an MvR VIP” section on this page.  It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below.   Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it.  I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

Brent’s Instagram: Man_vs_Row

Wordplay Thursday #63

Wordplay Thursday

Welcome to Wordplay Thursday!

Here’s a writing prompt for you.  It’s a simple fill-in-the-blank. You can use one word or several. Feel free to get as crazy, genre-appropriate, or as imaginative as you want. The point is to get the creative juices flowing. And it’s a good thing to dig deeper, so don’t stop at the first idea that hits you. Try coming up with at least five things.

“The margaritas had her buzzing like _____.”

I’ll give you an example to get you started:

“The margaritas had her buzzing like the blender she made ‘em in.”

I’d love to hear what you come up with, so please share in the comments. Oh, and please keep your posts below an R-rating. It’s a family show, after all!

SHOUT OUT!

Thanks to Steve, Dan Retz, Matt Martoccio, Roger Vines, Dana Russell, Todd Storinge, Mae Young, Barney Coulter, Janet Goodman, and Willa Thompson for your great additions to Wordplay Thursday #62 (read it here)! Great job- you folks are funny!

LIVE WEB-WORKSHOP! ARE YOU READY FOR YOUR SONGS TO BE “CUT/ABLE?”

“Cut/Able: Lessons In Market-Smart Songwriting,” is four powerful lessons for songwriters who want cuts & hits, who want to learn how to write commercially marketable songs, & who want their songs to connect powerfully with both fans and Music Row pros. If you want those results, these lessons can help.

As part of the release of “Cut/able,” I’m hosting a live web-event where I’ll answer questions and provide extra content from “Cut/able.”  You’ll also receive a copy of “Cut/able” FREE with your ticket (a $20 value).  The web-shop is on Thursday, October 23, 2014 from 8pm-9pm Central.  Click on the image below to find out more!

MvR Top 10 2

BECOME AN MVR VIP!

If you like this blog and don’t want to miss a single post, or if you want special discounts on Man vs. Row products and services, become an MvR VIP! Simply enter your email in the “Become an MvR VIP” section on this page. It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below. Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it. I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else. Thanks!

Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Facebook: www.brentbaxtermusic.com

Instagram: Man_vs_Row

God Bless,

Brent

Are You Writing Your Song From The Best Point Of View?

Man vs Row

Sometimes we hit a roadblock with our song because we’re writing from the wrong point of view.

Let’s say you’re writing about domestic abuse. (I know, I know. It’s an uplifting topic, but bear with me.) Consider all the characters your singer could be:

The abusive husband.
The abused wife.
The child who is a witness / victim.
The neighbor who overhears them.
The police officer called to the scene.

And these are only some of the PEOPLE who could tell the story. If you get a little further out there, your singer could even be:

The wedding ring.
The family dog.
The hole he punched in the wall.
The bathroom mirror where she puts on makeup to cover the bruises.
The angel who comforts the child hiding under the bed.
God, watching the whole thing.

Or your singer could simply act as a reporter who says, “he did this, she did that,” and isn’t involved in the story as a character.

The options are pretty limitless. And each point of view will bring a different energy to your song. Feel free to experiment with the point of view in your song- you might just find something amazing.

What about you?  What is the most interesting point of view you’ve used in one of your songs?  I’d love to hear from you!

God Bless,

Brent

ARE YOU READY TO MAKE YOUR SONGS “CUT/ABLE?”

“Cut/Able: Lessons In Market-Smart Songwriting” is four powerful lessons for songwriters who want cuts & hits, who want to learn how to write commercially marketable songs, & who want their songs to connect powerfully with both fans and Music Row pros. If you want those results, these lessons can help. To get a FREE EXCERPT of “Cut/able,” just click on the image below:

photo-18

Become an MvR VIP!

If you like this blog and don’t want to miss a single post, or if you want special discounts on Man vs. Row products and services, become an MvR VIP!  Simply enter your email in the “Become an MvR VIP” section on this page.  It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below.   Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it.  I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

Brent’s Instagram: Man_vs_Row

Wordplay Thursday #62 “Skunk On A Plane”

Wordplay Thursday

Welcome to Wordplay Thursday!

Let’s mix things up a little this week.  Growing up, I was a fan of Weird Al Yankovic (heck, I guess I’m still a fan, really).  As a word guy, I loved writing parodies of songs.  It was great creative training, though I didn’t know that then.  It gave me practice writing words that fit a certain phrasing and melody, and I got to make up funny stories.  Good times.

So here’s today’s writing prompt.  Let’s write a parody.  Or at least a few lines.  Don’t feel like you have to do the whole song.  Just do whatever you have the time or inclination for.  It’s just a fun creative exercise.

Today, let’s write a parody of:

“Drunk On A Plane” by Dierks Bentley

You can write about anything, but here’s a suggestion:

“Skunk On A Plane”

I’d love to hear what you come up with, so please share in the comments. Oh, and please keep your posts below an R-rating. It’s a family show, after all!

SHOUT OUT!

Thanks to tri4balance, Bill Soprano, Nila, Roger Vines, Jim King, Barney Coulter, Robert Sans, Matt Martoccio, Dana Russell, Todd Storinge, Janet Goodman, Michael Flanigan, James Mitchell, Debbie Convoy, Lance Sims, Julie, and theresavesnesky for your great additions to Wordplay Thursday #61 (read it here)! Great job!

THE PRO KNOWS

To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro. In this complimentary report, learn the mindsets that help the pro songwriter get cuts, earn respect in the industry, and maintain long-term success in the music business. Just click on the picture below to download this complimentary report today!

The Pro Knows

 

BECOME AN MVR VIP!

If you like this blog and don’t want to miss a single post, or if you want special discounts on Man vs. Row products and services, become an MvR VIP! Simply enter your email in the “Become an MvR VIP” section at www.manvsrow.com. It’s either in the upper righthand corner of the site or at the bottom (mobile). Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it. I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else. Thanks!

Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Facebook: www.brentbaxtermusic.com

Instagram: Man_vs_Row

God Bless,

Brent

Single Of The Year… Now What?

Gord When Lips Single

I was blessed to be a cowriter on “When Your Lips Are So Close,” which recently won “Single Of The Year” at the 2014 Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMA). I wrote the song with the artist, Gord Bamford, and his co-producer, Byron Hill. I’ve written three songs with them, and Gord has cut each of them. Three cowrites= 3 cuts, 1 #1 single, 1 gold single, 2 CCMA nominations and 1 CCMA win.

Now what?

Thankfully, Gord wants to write again. That’s great. But now that we’ve written a #1 together, now that we’ve had that success, the challenge is to keep my mind right. Possible pitfalls include:

Analysis paralysis.

It’d be easy to lock up creatively. To not write ANYTHING unless I’m sure it’s at least as big of a hit as “When Your Lips Are So Close.” Truth is, we didn’t know “When Your Lips Are So Close” was a #1 when we wrote it. We knew it felt really strong, but that was it. I can’t get trapped into having to think it’s a sure #1 before I’m willing to roll the dice.

Repeating myself.

I also have to avoid the temptation to play it safe by bringing in ideas that are too similar to “When Your Lips Are So Close.” Yes, there are elements of it we’d be wise to bring into another song. But we don’t want to just repeat ourselves. We need to write his NEXT hit, not rewrite his LAST one.

Getting complacent or cocky.

I’ve been blessed to have Gord cut all 3 of our cowritten songs, but nothing is guaranteed. If I just get lazy, thinking on some level, “Oh, he loves all my stuff,” then I won’t bring my best work (while his other cowriters will). Gord deserves better. So does Byron. So does my family.

Identifying these head-game tripwires should help me avoid them (hopefully). Now it’s mainly a matter of carving out enough creative space to be prepared. Then we’ll all just have to hope the muse shows up.

What about you?  What are some head-game tripwires that you run into, or have to actively avoid?  It doesn’t have to be about following up a hit- it could be about “wow, we had a great first cowrite… now what?” or “wow, that was a terrible first cowrite… now what?” I’d love to hear from you!

God Bless,

Brent

READY FOR YOUR SONGS TO BE “CUT/ABLE?”

“Cut/Able: Lessons In Market-Smart Songwriting” is four powerful lessons for songwriters who want cuts & hits, who want to learn how to write commercially marketable songs, & who want their songs to connect powerfully with both fans and Music Row pros.  If you want those results, these lessons can help.  To get a FREE EXCERPT of “Cut/able,” just click on the image below:

photo-18

Become an MvR VIP!

If you like this blog and don’t want to miss a single post, or if you want special discounts on Man vs. Row products and services, become an MvR VIP!  Simply enter your email in the “Become an MvR VIP” section on this page.  It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below.   Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it.  I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

Brent’s Instagram: Man_vs_Row

The Cure For Your Songwriting Symptoms

Man vs Row

Songwriters are a sick bunch of folks.

And, no, I don’t mean we’re crazy for doing what we do. (Okay, maybe a little, but that’s not what I’m talking about today.)  What I mean by sick is that we have a lot of aches and pains that really bother us. As a pro songwriter and teacher, I’ve had a lot of writers come to me over the years looking for a way to heal their pain.

Songwriter pains include:

*I’m not getting cuts.
*I can’t find good cowriters.
*Publishers won’t set me up with cowrites.
*My ASCAP/BMI rep won’t introduce me to publishers or cowriters.
*Publishers won’t give me a meeting.

Songwriters are often tempted to treat each of these conditions as a separate illness, but I think that’s usually a mistake.

These are just symptoms. The disease is having songs that aren’t good enough.

We can treat the symptoms all day long, but until we address the disease itself, your songwriting success will be limited. For example, we might be able to smooze our backsides off and finally talk our way into a cowrite with a pro writer… but so what? He or she will figure out pretty quickly that our songwriting isn’t up to snuff, and we probably won’t get a second cowrite.

But if we write strong songs, it’ll be a lot easier to get a pro to sit down to write. And when we prove our skill again- in the writing room- it’ll be easier to get a second cowrite.

It’s hard to think of a “songwriter symptom” that isn’t dramatically helped or fixed completely by writing better songs.
Want your ASCAP or BMI rep to start introducing you around? Write better songs.
Want better song evaluations? Write better songs.
Want better cowrites? Be a better cowriter yourself- by writing better songs.
Want cuts? Write incredible songs, which lead to more relationships in the biz which lead to more opportunities to write more incredible songs, which put you in a much better position to get cuts.

Treat the illness and the symptoms become a lot less severe or just go away on their own.

God Bless,

Brent

READY FOR YOUR SONGS TO BE “CUT/ABLE?”

“Cut/Able: Lessons In Market-Smart Songwriting” is four powerful lessons for songwriters who want cuts & hits, who want to learn how to write commercially marketable songs, & who want their songs to connect powerfully with both fans and Music Row pros.  If you want those results, these lessons can help.  To get a FREE EXCERPT of “Cut/able,” just click on the image below:

photo-18

Become an MvR VIP!

If you like this blog and don’t want to miss a single post, or if you want special discounts on Man vs. Row products and services, become an MvR VIP!  Simply enter your email in the “Become an MvR VIP” section on this page.  It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below.   Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it.  I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

Brent’s Instagram: Man_vs_Row

Wordplay Thursday #61

Wordplay Thursday

Welcome to Wordplay Thursday!

Here’s a writing prompt for you.  It’s a simple fill-in-the-blank. You can use one word or several. Feel free to get as crazy, genre-appropriate, or as imaginative as you want. The point is to get the creative juices flowing. And it’s a good thing to dig deeper, so don’t stop at the first idea that hits you. Try coming up with at least five things.

“My heart beat faster than _____.”

I’ll give you an example to get you started:

“My heart beat faster than hummingbird wings.”

I’d love to hear what you come up with, so please share in the comments. Oh, and please keep your posts below an R-rating. It’s a family show, after all!

SHOUT OUT!

Thanks to Andrew Clayton, Matt Martoccio, John Shouse, Ken Matthiesen, Barney Coulter, David Micheal, James Mitchell, Debbie Convoy, Michael & Mikalyn Hay, Mae Young, Janet Goodman, Willa Thompson, and Dana Russell for your great additions to Wordplay Thursday #60 (read it here)! Great job!

THE PRO KNOWS

To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro. In this complimentary report, learn the mindsets that help the pro songwriter get cuts, earn respect in the industry, and maintain long-term success in the music business. Just click on the picture below to download this complimentary report today!

The Pro Knows

 

BECOME AN MVR VIP!

If you like this blog and don’t want to miss a single post, or if you want special discounts on Man vs. Row products and services, become an MvR VIP! Simply enter your email in the “Become an MvR VIP” section at www.manvsrow.com. It’s either in the upper righthand corner of the site or at the bottom (mobile). Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it. I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else. Thanks!

Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Facebook: www.brentbaxtermusic.com

Instagram: Man_vs_Row

God Bless,

Brent

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