Man vs. Row

Helping songwriters turn pro.

22 July


Man vs Row

The goal of Man vs. Row is to help you think and write like a pro songwriter.

Welcome to Man vs. Row!

The purpose of MvR is to help you turn pro.  And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about being a pro songwriter in my 10-plus years in the music business, it’s that being a pro doesn’t start with your first cut or your first publishing deal.  It doesn’t even start with your first hit.  Being a pro songwriter starts with thinking and acting like a pro.  Cuts are just the result.

A great place to start, along with the blog, is with my FREE ebook, “Think Like A Pro Songwriter!” In this book, I share many of the mindsets that have helped me get cuts by Alan Jackson (the top 5 hit “Monday Morning Church”), Lady Antebellum, Randy Travis, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford (the #1 Canadian single and Single of the Year, “When Your Lips Are So Close”), and more. Songwriting is a tough business, and I want to help you turn pro. Are you serious about your songwriting? Sign up, get the free download, and start thinking like a pro songwriter today!


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This blog is an extension of my experience in the music business.  Mainly, I’ve been a songwriter- I’ve been blessed to have publishing deals and to have my songs recorded by some incredible artists.  I’ve spent countless hours in the writing room with just about every kind of writer: the newbie, the artist-writer, the writer-artist, the commercial writer, the non-commercial writer, and even a Nashville Songwriting Hall of Fame member or two, and I’ve picked up some helpful information along the way.

I’ve worked on the administration/royalty/licensing side of a publishing company.  I’ve also done hundreds of hours of mentoring with aspiring songwriters both on my own and with Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI).  While writing is my first love, sharing what I’ve learned about songwriting is a lot of fun and pretty fulfilling, too.

It’s my hope that MvR will be helpful to everyone from the songwriting novice to the seasoned pro.  Topics will range far and wide- business, craft, inspiration, writing prompts, and whatever else catches my interest.  As of this writing, I think I’ll post twice a week- a topical blog on Tuesday, then “WordPlay Thursday,” which will be some sort of writing prompt- something to get the creative juices flowing.

So, thanks for stopping by.  If something you read here is helpful, please pass it along to someone else.  Maybe even leave a nice comment.  If there’s a topic you’d like for me to address, drop me a comment about that, too.  Thanks.

God Bless,



17 Responses to “Welcome!”

  1. Jeroen says:

    Hi Brent,

    I really like your posts, very helpful, thanks man!
    I might have a subject for you for an article/blogpost, regarding co-writing.

    I was wondering what happens if, say you as a lyricist, come to the co-write with a great, original hook ( something like Bryan Adams’ “The only thing that looks good on you is me”, or Gary Allans’ “Nothing on but the radio”…).
    What happens if the song that comes out of it is not really good (story not well developped, poor melody…whatever)
    Can the other co-writers than use your hook (the title really, which is not copyrighted) to go write another song. Or can you use that hook with other writers? How does that work?

    Or what happens if you open up your hook book and share some of your best titles/hooks with your co-writers? How do you make sure that they are not being used by others in other co-writes without you.

    Do you document your sessions, is it allbased on trust, any stories, bad experiences you heard or experienced, that you can share?
    Would be interested in your views about this.


  2. Janet Goodman says:

    Hey Brent,

    Just wanted to let you know that your blog posts are informative and inspiring. They’ve encouraged me to start “A Song A Week” challenge for myself, and some of my own posted comments on WordPlay have evolved into lyrics.

    So thanks sharing your thoughts and experience here.

    – Janet Goodman

  3. Jana says:

    Hi Brent,

    I’m an aspiring songwriter and also a keyboard player. I have a question that’s been on my mind for a long time, and I know with your experience you could shed a lot of light on it: In your experience, what are the most common reasons that an aspiring songwriter doesn’t make it, or can’t get their songs sold. I’d be very grateful for your response.



    • Brent says:

      That’s a tough one. There are countless reasons someone might never get a major cut.

      Lack of talent is one. Some folks just may not have “it,” and the best they’ll ever be is just 85% of what is required (though that’s not for me to ever judge about someone else).

      Lack of discipline: the unwillingness to learn what you need to learn and sacrifice what you need to sacrifice. Lack of head-game. If your mind isn’t right (pessimism, social phobias, inability to learn, grow, and be flexible), your odds aren’t very good.

      Sometimes it’s just more like the luck of the draw, and no one can figure out why you haven’t made it.

      Oh, one more reason: Only writing 6-minute murder/suicide ballads. That pretty much murders your chances of a major cut.

  4. Howard Wand says:

    Brent – your tips and feedback to comments are excellent and inspiring to songwriters. Thanks for what you do and the time and effort you put forth..

  5. Darwin Lodge says:

    One whose Quotes: is confined to books and whose wealth is in the possession of others, can use neither his Quotes: nor wealth when the need for them arises. Chanakya

  6. Wm. says:

    Brent can’t thank you enough for the encouragements of your blogs, your integrity to drive us all to become the best we can be is inspirational. Thank you for your contentment in this business I for one value your blogs.
    Thanks pal.

  7. Nancy Deckant says:

    I know this stuff already, but you tell it to me so good Brent, I wanna hear it all over again.
    How is this blog going to work? Will I get this blog instead of the email you send all the time?

    • manvsrow says:

      Hi, Nancy! If you subscribe to the blog on this site, you’ll receive each post in your email inbox as soon as it appears on the site. You’ll also receive the weekly recap email, which contains some extra tips and info that isn’t on the blog. Glad to have you here!

  8. Martin Weeks says:

    We work every day to improve our songwriting based on your suggestions and advice. Thanks much.

    Marty & Linda

  9. Ric says:

    I’d like to become a member.
    Thanks, Ric

    • manvsrow says:

      Awesome, Ric! Just put your email address in the box that says “Never miss another post” or sign up for my free ebook. Either one will add you to my email list so we can stay in touch! Thanks!

  10. larry carsten says:

    I have been writing, mostly the music, for a long time. Am looking forward to this site. I don’t have the lyric knack, but I have the tune knack and find it very hard to find those with lyric talent and or desire. Is there any way to expose songs without physically going to Nashville homeless? Thanks

    • manvsrow says:

      Hi, Larry! You can check out pitch-to-publisher services from Nashville Songwriters Association International or Global Songwriters Connection. Best of luck and God bless!

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