songwriting

Weight of the Name

So, this piece is going to be informational – about what I’ve learned of publishing deals, the benefits (and consequences) of having one, etc., etc. As I go on writing and cranking out songs that I think have potential in the country realm – or even in another realm that simple isn’t my type of music – the idea of having a channel of selling and ultimately bringing these songs into being becomes all the more enticing. Enter the publishing deal.


Before I dive into what a publishing deal can offer, I’ll tell you what you’ve got to do without one: co-write with people who do. Sure, there are ways to be independent and sell your songs freelance, but at the end of the day, it comes down to getting those demos into the hands of artists or the people who make decisions for those artists. One major benefit of a publishing deal is having people called, “pushers,” on your side and willing to pitch your song to those aforementioned important people. Otherwise, you could have written the best song anyone’s ever heard, but with no one accepting unsolicited submissions and no one listening to the new kid on the block, it’s pretty likely that no one will ever hear it. Connections, connections, connections.

With that being said, one major downside of a publishing deal is the percentage the publishing company gets for their services – especially if you don’t lawyer up and have someone actually review the deal before you get involved. I’ve heard horror stories of people getting wrapped up into deals where all they get is an advance – which is stable income in an unstable financial market – and maybe a sliver of the royalties earned on a song, while the publishing company gets the rest. But, I think if you enter into meetings with the mindset that businesses are out for themselves, you can usually come out with a deal that benefits you both.

Money aside, there are things that publishing companies offer that are just simply unattainable on your own – the main one being those, “connections, connections, connections,” I mentioned earlier. I’ve heard a few cases now where artists are actually being developed by these companies, which involves everything from co-writes with big names to setting up shows in well-known venues, and it all comes from the weight of the name. It’s everything in Nashville – where number-one hits can be bought, artists can be produced, and pitch can be tuned.


I did try to keep this short and sweet, so I could highlight the benefits and the major consequences of having or not having a deal. As a sort of exercise for myself, it’s good to write through these things and view them in a tangible sort of way because it’s easy to get swept off your feet in this town by promises of fame, money, success – or whatever – and never see those things come into being. Clarity is key when contracts are involved, and whether you remain a freelance writer or sign up to be on a company’s payroll, it’s essential to know what you’re getting into and if it’s right for you – if it fits into your goals and your path through music.

"Black & White"

I’m often asked to explain my songs – to elaborate on everything from an overarching inspiration to a single line. But – I have to say – I don’t like doing it. Not because I’m not proud of what I wrote or because there’s not meaning to it, but because there’s something deeply personal and beautiful about drawing your own conclusions from another’s art. I could spell it out for you, and I could say, “This is what this means,” but in a sense, I’m limiting what could have been by giving you even the slightest bit of direction. As I think I’ve said, I’m a huge proponent of the “There’s no right answer,” dogma that has been set in place for literature and art in general, so I encourage you to say, “This is how that makes me feel,” rather than, “Oh, I get what you’re saying,” – if you know what I mean. With that being said, I’m going to try something with the blog: Below, you’ll find one of the songs I’ve written that will be going on my new album. It’s a song called, “Black & White,” and it’s probably one of my lyrical favorites. Read it. Brew on it. Come to your own conclusions. Next week, I’ll tell you how it came about in a line-by-line manner, and we’ll see if our opinions are the same.


Well, she said, “Yeah, you must be dreaming

Cause you know this can’t be real.”

Then all the colors fade to black & white

As she slowly disappears,

And I don’t move cause I don’t understand,

Like waking from a sleep.

I rub my eyes, and then I play pretend

I’m imagining these things.

 

I look around, step back, and count to ten,

And before I know, she’s here again.

Well, I just want to hear her whisper,

So I cave, and I lean in.

And she says so soft, “I’ll be right here,”

As she drifts away from my eager ear,

So there I am, and there I’ll be, and there is she

Lying right in front of me.

 

But she says she can’t change,

And why would I want her to?

“Why do you care if when I stray,

I come back to you?”

And I say that, “All I am – and all of this –

Is wrapped up around your fingertips,

And if it slipped the slightest bit, you would

Watch from above for the thrill of it.

 

Cause you don’t what it’s like to feel like this.

No, you don’t know what it’s like to feel like this.

 

She reaches out. She takes my hand –

If only for the moment –

And I hope that maybe this is when

She won’t let go.

But it’s fleeting like the rest of her.

She’s a ghost that knows my name,

And she says, “Well, I’ll be back tomorrow,”

And we fall into the same old thing –

The same old scheme.

 

Oh, but she says she can’t change,

And why would I want her to?

“Why do you care if when I stray,

I come back to you?”

And I say that, “All I am – and all of this –

Is wrapped up around your fingertips,

And if it slipped the slightest bit, you would

Watch from above for the thrill of it.

 

Cause you don’t what it’s like to feel like this.

No, you don’t know what it’s like to feel like this.

I said you don’t what it’s like to feel like this.

No, you don’t know what it’s like to feel like this.

 

Well, I’ve listened to that same old line,

Said only once or a thousand times that

I’m reaching for a rope that isn’t there.

Cause we’ll just sway to the same old tune,

Oh, and I’ll fall right in and out of you

Cause you can’t change – you couldn’t.

But it’s not fair.

 

Cause you don’t what it’s like to feel like this

No, you don’t know what it’s like to feel like this

I said you don’t what it’s like to feel like this

No, you don’t know what it’s like to feel like this


Like I said, there’s no right answer. Your thoughts are as good as mine when it comes to how these words, put in this form, made you feel. So, tell me what you think. I’d love to hear from you.