Success Strategy #5 Tune Into Others and Really Listen!

Adapted from the book, The Success Strategies 99 Timeless Strategies for Life’s Journey by Deb Austin Brown.

Have you ever had a friend who really listened to you? They just didn’t hear you: they listened to understand what you were trying to say. That is what real friends do, they listen!

The music  business is a marathon, not a sprint. You will make friends in the business, develop relationships and want to help others on the journey – that comes with building your peer group.

One of the best ways to gain someone’s trust and develop that relationship, is to really tune in – listen to what is important to that person. They are not asking you to solve the challenge, just listen to them. There will come times when they ask what do you think they should do – to promote that new song, to get an appointment with someone in the business, to listen as they are dealing with real life.

Stay tuned in when someone is talking, do not let thee distractions of the computer, your cell phone, texts, noodling on the guitar when someone really needs your ear. Remember two ears and one mouth for a reason!

Success Strategy #5 Tune Into Others and Really Listen!

A great story from the Rich Redmond 2nd Annual “Drummer’s Weekend” in Nashville on October 31 through November 2nd, 2014.

Drummer Jack Bruno who played 20+ years with Tina Turner and a couple years with Joe Cocker, Elton John and now Delbert McClinton, told an interesting story of how he got his gig with Tina Turner (which led to the Elton John and other gigs).

Jack  got a phone call about an audition for Tina Turner – this was before her comeback, “Private Dancer” tour in the 80’s.  The person on the phone asked if Jack would audition and said he’d call back. A week later Jack called the person and was told they already had a drummer, and asked Jack if he knew a guitar player that may be interested in auditioning. Jack mentioned a friend of his that played guitar, which resulted in his friend getting the gig to play with Tina Turner.

A month later Jack got a phone call from the band leader, who told Jack the other drummer did not work out and asked if he’d like to audition for the job. Jack went to audition for Tina and his friend was there with Tina, Jack got the job! The bandleader said the guitar player that Jack recommended a month earlier, recommended Jack for the job!

For the next 20+ years, Jack played drums, toured the world many times, earned a great living doing what he loves, playing drums and making music for one of the world’s favorite and most successful entertainers – because he recommended a friend for a gig even though at first, he did not get the gig!

Lesson – help others, even when you are disappointed – do the right thing, keep a positive attitude! A  Zig Ziglar quote, “In order to get what you want out of life, help enough others get what they want out of life”!

THANKS Rich Redmond for a great drummers weekend and to all the pros giving advice!


From my friend, Ryan Bizarri, who recently has his first major song cut by a major artist:
My life long dream to have a major country artist record a song that I wrote has been fulfilled! On April 7th, my buddy Walker Hayes and I wrote a song called “Eat Sleep Love You Repeat” A cool fun up-tempo country love song. On April 16th, country super star Rodney Atkins put our song on hold. On April 17th, the very next day, Rodney took it to the studio and cut it! Saying “Eat, Sleep, Love You, Repeat” could be the next “Take A Back Road” one of Rodney’s fastest rising chart toppers. It has been the longest summer of waiting for this very moment to share this news. Available Today, order “Eat Sleep Love You Repeat” on Itunes and Amazon right now. It is already playing on country radio and the official add day is November 17, keep your ears peeled. LIKE my facebook fan page and post something to my page when you hear it! The celebration is ON! My wife, Jennifer and I moved to Nashville in March of ’03 to make this very thing happen; so after Eleven Years and some change.. the dream comes true! Never ever, ever give up! Never. God Bless ya’ll and thank you for believing. Here we go! !A BIG ol’ thank you to Rodney Atkins, Ted Hewitt, Curb Records, Walker Hayes, Lynn Gann, Russ Zaviston, my wife Jennifer & daughter Taylor Bizarri & Baylor Hayes and the Hayes family! And of course, country radio for spinning it over and over again! Oh and request “Eat Sleep Love You Repeat” at your local country radio station. Thank you & God Bless!

October 29th Paul Simon will perform a house concert at a private residence at 6:00 in Nashville. This is to honor the legacy of Phil Everly and benefit COPD Foundation. This is a special Acoustic Performance with Paul Simon. Tickets are $1,000.00 for reserved seating and $500.00 for standing room.  For more info or contact Shannon Shryne.  Only 200 tickets are available for this event and they are going fast!

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Paul Simon in an acoustic concert in Nashville. Perfect for a once in a lifetime date night, great for a client night out that they will always remember and anyone who truly loves music and will remember this for the rest of your life!

Go on-line to the above link to reserve YOUR TICKET!  Nashville Muse is proud to be a media sponsor of the event!

October 15th, 2002 I made the move to Nashville (12 years ago), with the help of some friends. My friend, Roger Hughes flew from Charleston, WV to Charlotte, NC to help me finish packing and drive the 19′ U-Haul that I and my friends, Jade, Vernon and Brandon Jones had help packed – also needed a 12′ trailer on the back of that truck.

I remember that drive as if it was yesterday, calling my friends and family as I followed Roger – what a friend, drove that truck all the way to Nashville from Charlotte, I wrote some notes on a pad I found a couple years ago and have packed away with some things in plastic container a couple years ago with the times of the trip, phone calls, feelings as I followed the truck up I-77 and then hang a left on I-40 at Statesville, NC.

I-40 through the mountains of Carolina, cross into Tennessee and all the way to Exit 209 on the West side of Nashville on Charlotte Pike to Brook Hollow Road and to my next house at 701, owned by Steven McClintock, who would become a very good friend that just this past weekend, flew into Nashville and stayed in my house I’ve been in the past two years.

Gary Talley, a member of the band, The Box Tops (The Letter, Cry Like A Baby, Soul Deep) was the one who called a couple months earlier and told me he needed a roommate and since we’d become friends over the past couple years, thought we’d work out as roommates (we did for about 2 years until he moved).

We pulled into 701 Brook Hollow probably about 11:00 PM,  fell asleep and the next morning, unloaded the truck and Roger was on a plane back home to Charleston, WV. I was excited and trying where to put all the stuff and get used to surroundings. Thursday the 16th was spent around the house, on Friday an event with the Songwriters Guild of America on Music Row and to 3rd & Lindsley for a songwriters event “Songs that will never be on the radio” and Lisa Carver flirted with me, seeing the new kid in town – all harmless flirtation, yet memorable of what would become something we laugh about to this day!

The first days of figuring out where the store was, learning what to do and not to do, till now in 2014 and still in Nashville, thanks to so many good and great people in this town that have become aquaintences, friend and really good friends.

Experiences of making friends, writing songs, attending concerts, TV tapings, working on award shows, having many “Nashville Moments”, #1 parties that inspire me ( I just visualize getting those #1’s and having my family and friends to share the award – hasn’t happened yet and still on that journey) challenges, starting Nashville Muse, 112 of 3rd Sunday at 3:00 events, 7 Guitar BQ’s, writing songs with some of the greatest songwriters in the world,  writing songs with my friends in my peer group that became friends and vice versa,

There are days I’ve woken up, wondered what in the heck am I doing with my life, why am I in Nashville instead of along the coast as I thought I’d be at this age in life 25 years ago, until that summer of 1989 when I started writing lyrics and got me on the path of a songwriter, writing probably 600 lyrics and a big book I call the “hook book” to Nashville that now has 25 years of hooks/ideas for songs, another hook book and a cell phone full of songwriting ideas.

I am still in Nashville twelve years later, crazy as it seems, believing in songs I’ve written with other co-writers, most have not given up. About 20 independent songs cut, many songs that are on with the belief and hope that some of those songs will be on major artists albums, TV, Movies, Radio and make a difference to listeners of the songs that I write, many to encourage people on their life journey. I’m not afraid to dream big! They are by my desk in my home office.

I’m thankful for each day, each challenge I’ve made it through, each meal shared, each encouragement from those who have taken the time to say words to help keep me on the journey, each sponsor and event, those whose love and support keep me going with hopes of making them proud of me and for loving me.

Sometimes it is the stories of the songs and songwriters that keep me going, the songwriters and industry people that share their challenges of their journey was not easy and somehow, their big dreams came true.

Reading books of people’s journey as I just finished reading tonight, Jimmy Wayne’s book, “Walk To Beautiful” about his challenges in life, yet he kept going somehow through the toughest childhood I’ve ever read about, to having some people in life come along and keep him going on his journey which led him to Nashville and his dreams coming true and now making a difference in the world to many homeless kids.

THANK YOU – for being somehow on my journey for the past 12 years and those that were there at the beginning in 1989 when I started writing lyrics and having a dream of being a songwriter. I want to make you proud with success and dreams coming true. THANK YOU LORD for those people and affirmations (that I should stay on the journey) along the way that keep me on the journey of a SONGWRITER.


This is a new series for the Music Industry, adapted from the book, The Success Strategies 99 Timeless Strategies for Life’s Journey by Deb Austin Brown. Deb’s book was written from teaching these strategies to her students in St. Albans, WV and is available at  and is a new series for this blog and another website to be named in the very near future.

The first Character Message in the book is Success Strategy #1 Use the body language of Success!

Successful people look and act differently, and they air a certain confidence. They look others in the eye and smile. they hold their heads up high: they sit straight up. They have perfect posture. The are comfortable with themselves.

One of the keys in the music business is building great relationships which involves meeting people in the music community. Stand up proud, look everyone in the eye when you meet and talk with them, have confidence, a firm handshake and positive attitude. Think about who you like to talk with and build relationships with in life – positive people. When you attend a workshop in the music business, sit up straight and learn in these workshops and when you attend events.

Use the body language of success and make sure you have that confident look at all times!

Note: I did this interview in November 2008 and it was published in American Songwriter Magazine, January 2009.

A native of Isola, Miss., Hank Cochran moved to Nashville in January 1960 after living in California and touring the country with Eddie Cochran and Lefty Frizzell. A staff writer for Pamper Music for many years, Hank co-wrote “I Fall To Pieces” with Harlan Howard, a song that shot No.1 when Patsy Cline recorded it. He’s credited with “discovering” Willie Nelson. A 1974 inductee into the Nashville Songwriter Association’s Hall of Fame (by unanimous vote, the only songwriter to receive such a vote), Cochran has received over 30 BMI Performance Awards for his timeless compositions. Among his many hits are: “Make the World Go Away,” “I Fall To Pieces,” “Don’t You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me,” “The Chair” and “Miami, My Amy.”

His songs have been recorded by a slue of other legendary songwriters and performers: Lynn Anderson, Eddy Arnold, Chet Atkins, Junior Brown, Jimmy Buffett, Tracy Byrd, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Elvis Costello, Bing Crosby, Don Gibson, Vern Gosdin, Ty Herndon, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Joe Henry, Harry James, Waylon Jennings, Tom Jones, Loretta Lynn, Dean Martin, Reba McEntire, Wayne Newton, Buck Owens, Elvis Presley, Ray Price, LeAnn Rimes, Linda Ronstadt, Nancy Sinatra, George Strait, Carla Thomas, Ernest Tubb, Lee Ann Womack and the list could go on.

His contribution to the craft of songwriting is undeniable. AS caught up with Hank to catch up on some of his newer songs and a few of his favorite memories. Since our meeting Hank underwent surgery to remove to two tumors and six months of chemotherapy, and is recovering nicely.

Will you tell me about writing one of my favorite songs, “The Chair” recorded by George Strait?
Dean Dillon and I were on my boat working on songs my wife was laying down in the back of the boat and said, “Somebody already has a song with a title of a song ya’ll are working on.” Dean said, “Well. Excuse me” and I said, “I think you’ve got my chair” and he said, “We have the start of a song right there!” I said, “I’ve got the ending, the melody. You start at the beginning and I’ll start at the end and we’ll meet in the middle for the song.” I wrote the second, he started the first and we matched up lines. I had the line, “Can I drink you a buy and that matched up with a line that he had, “Awe listen to me can I buy you a drink?” He said, “Do ya know how great that is”? We sang it to George next time we saw him, and “The Chair” is one of his favorite songs he ever cut. He put it on his Fifty Number Ones album years later after it was a hit. He put it also on 22 More Songs!

I love your CD, Livin’ For a Song and the song “You Wouldn’t Know Love.”
The song is 35 years old-Ray Price had a hit in Europe on it. I wanted it on the CD.

Another song had the great rhyme “pickle” and “nickel” in a song.
“When coke was a nickel and people canned their own pickles!” That was the opening line in the song.
Somebody else told me I was their hero because I rhymed door and goat!

Do you have a “hookbook” that you use for writing songs?
I do not have a hookbook or rhyming dictionary. I do not know where the ideas come from. Some of those lines come through me. I tell the co-writers, “That’s God Given.” I do not have a book of lines. Sometimes when I am going to sleep and get an idea I write it down, but usually do not go back to them. A couple weeks ago I wrote a gospel song-had the idea before going to sleep one night. I wrote the song a couple days later without the notes that I had written. Last week, I found the tablet that I wrote the idea on as I was looking for a phone number. Those ideas were in the song, but I did not use that tablet for the notes on the song. When you are going to sleep, your mind relaxes and those lyrics or ideas come into your mind. You’d better write them down.

You have a song on your CD, “He Little Thinged Me.” Tell me about it.
I wrote it in 1975 as I was burned up and burned out. I said, “I’ve got do something” and went to California and bought a boat, 50-foot Grand Banks. I hired a captain; he was John Wayne’s captain and said he could only work for me for a couple months at the most. He stayed with me four years! We took it from San Diego to Hendersonville, Tenn.-took us a year-through the Panama Canal. We made it through some terrible storms. One of the storms that I remember was just horrific. There was a pump behind the wheel and at times the boat was gong over and you could hear one of the props going out of the water. I asked him if this is it. He said “We’ll know in a minute”. He (the boat captain) got it turned around and we made it. We made it to Columbia to survive that storm. When we found a marina and were glad to see land!

Did you write a lot that year?
I wrote “He Little Thinged Me” on that trip.

Did you take anything to write with such as recorders, notes, guitar or anything else?
I had some tapes I liked to listen to and my gut string Martin that I played. That guitar was about to give up when we arrived in Nashville from all that salt water. I took it to the Martin Guitar rep and they fixed that guitar back up for me.

“Make it short, make it sweet and make it rhyme” is a quote attributed to you. Where did you get that phrase?
Just my philosophy, such as nickel and pickle. It has always been with me. I’ve been in Nashville since January of 1960. As you can see, it has grayed me and scarred me.

“Magic in the Band.” Every artist should listen to that song every night!
I wrote that song for George Strait and do not know if it ever got pitched to him.

Tell me about your song, “The Pen.” That really touched me as I am a songwriter.
I wrote the song on the guitar that I took on the boat. I was trying to put down my feelings. I was just talking, not singing. My wife Suzi thought I should be singing instead of talking the song. The title of my CD, Livin’ for a Song is all I’ve done for 48 years and try to do what is right and try to help some others. I am just a pen in his (The Lord’s) hand. It was just the old man in me running through.

I signed autographs Sunday (North American Country Music Association International which gave Hank the Legendary Songwriter of the Year) for two hours-kids, teenagers, good looking ladies, older folks that told me they are glad we still have someone in country music that still has soul and feeling. I got a standing ovation-I cannot understand it as they stood as I was crying while singing, “I Fall To Pieces.” I was thinking about Patsy Cline as I was singing the song. I don’t know if I deserved it, but it was sweet for sure. That ain’t work, playing songs and talking to people and them asking for photos and autographs! It was a heavy load and I wasn’t accustomed to it. I’ve played for 20, 30 and 80,000 people and wasn’t as touched as I was on Sunday.

“Miami My Amy” was a breakout song for Keith Whitley-how did that come about to write and get to Keith Whitley?
I got to know Keith before writing that song and that song was Keith Whitley’s first hit. I got to know him. Dean Dillon and I were on my boat in Florida. Dean and I would go and sit on a boat in Palm Beach. My son came to see us. My wife introduced my son, Donny, to a good looking young woman. Donny had to go back to California. He asked if he should stay with that girl. I told him I didn’t know. I could look at him and see myself at that young age. Her name was Amy. I told Dean, “Did you see the way Danny feels about that girl?” What do you think about putting it together in a song. “Miami My Amy” loves me after all kind of song. We wrote it!

How did you get it to Keith?
I just took, “Miami, My Amy” to Keith as we were friends. He and I even wore the same size boot. A friend of mine in Oklahoma made me a nice pair of boots. Keith told me he loved my boots. I told Keith Whitley, “Give me a number one song and I’ll give them to you.” He tried them on and they fit perfectly. I told him we may have that song right here for your new boots and we sang it to him! He recorded it. Keith got a new pair of boots a little while later when that song went up to No. 1 on the charts! It knocked me out as he and I were great friends. It really got to me when he passed. The guy that lived next to him was a friend of mine. He called me one morning and said he has bad news. I said, “When you call in the morning it is bad news.” The neighbor said, “They just took Keith out of his house… I thought I recently talked to Keith. He was drinking, an alcoholic…

…I understand. Let’s talk about another friend of yours that you helped in the business-Willie Nelson! You said somewhere, “He was so different and so much better than anyone in town,” about Willie Nelson. What was it like back in those days in Nashville and what was it about Willie that made you say that about him?
We had a guitar pull on day about 4:00 with 4 or 5 of us upstairs at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge as someone had introduced me and Willie. After a couple of rounds of songs, Willie played better than anyone of us! I asked, “Whose songs are those?” Willie replied, “Mine.” I said, “You wrote those songs” and he said “Yes.” I asked about his publishing and he said everyone in town had turned those songs down. I told him, “If you can meet me the next day in Goodlettsville, you will not say everyone turned them down!” He said, “I can probably make it out there if you can bring me back to town” [laughs]. I said, “If you make it out there I’ll make sure you make it back.” He came out and sang me some songs and I went in to talk to Harold Smith, my publisher and told him I found this guy that he has to sign. He asked what Willie would have to have for a weekly pay. I said, “I’m getting $50.00 a week and reckon he has to have the same amount as he has three kids and a wife.” Harold said, “We were fixing to give you a raise, but I cannot give it to you and pay him too.” I told my publisher, “Give it to Will and sign him”! He said “Are you sure.” I said, “That’s how much I believe in him.” The publishing company signed him and we’ve been friends ever since.

The same thing happened with a record deal a little on down the road too-right?
Yeah, the record company executive said he cannot sign both of us at the same time. I told him, “Well, sign Willie as he is more of an artist that I am.” Willie got that deal!

I want a Willie story that hasn’t been printed?
OK-here’s one for you, kind of a road story. I was on the road with Willie and my boat was in the Bahamas. We had a couple days off and suggested we go to the boat. He called his wife and I made the reservations. We had to fly into Treasure Key and take a water taxi to the boat at Green Turtle. I told him “Don’t take any smoke or anything ‘cause there is a lot over there anyway. He put on a clean pair of jeans and put his dirty jeans in his duffle bag. I just packed three pair of jeans and bought T shirts on the island when I visited my boat. I told Willie not to check our luggage as I went to change my clothes. I came back and our luggage was checked with the airline. My briefcase was part of my luggage with my passport in it. I told him they will lose it for sure. Yeah-it got lost. They all knew me and Willie at customs, stamped some papers and let us go to my boat. After two days, Willie thought we should go get out luggage at the airport. I told the captain of the boat to take us to Treasure Key and wait for us to return. If anything happens send someone for us.

The luggage had come in and they guy sat Willies’ bag up on the counter. He asked Willie if that particular bag was his. He asked when pulling a bag out of Willie’s jeans that were in the bag, “Mr. Nelson, what does this look like to you?” Willie said, “Kinda looks like marijuana to me.” The gentleman then said, “Mr. Cochran, what does this look like to you” and I said, “Looks like I need a drink” [laughs]. They had to call the police from Cooperstown-only ten miles away. The customs officer said, “I didn’t know this was Willie’s bag and I have already called the police in Cooperstown. Well, they took us to Cooperstown. I asked if they were going to put us in jail. The policeman replied, “No, but you will have to make bail.” Neither Willie nor I had any money on us. We stood around outside and a friend of mine, Donny, went to the boat for me and got the $800.00. While we were waiting on Donny with the money we stood around and had a beer. Finally, Donny came back with the money. One of us made a mistake after they released us and asked if they would give us the marijuana back [laughs]! Willie jumped over a rail as we were going down the street back to the boat and sprained his ankle! The next day he was flying to the White House. He did a network TV show with Barbara Walters soon after the trip. One of the questions she asked if he had ever had a problem with smoking, Willie looked right in the camera and said, “No.”

Would you tell me about one of my favorite songs, “Make the World Go Away”?
That is one of my favorite songs too! I was at a movie with a girl, Fred Rogers secretary, when I was divorced and living in a little apartment in Madison, Tenn. I was intently listening to the lines in the movie, and the woman in the movie said something, “How do I look” and she said. The guy replies, “You look like you could make the world go away.” I grabbed my date’s hand and she asked, “Where are you going, the movie ain’t over,” and I said, “The hell it ain’t’ come on let’s go”! [laughs]. So I drug her out and we got in the car and I started to write the song and got my guitar out as soon as we got to my apartment. I thought I had a good one. I told my publisher, Mr. Smith the next day, “I think I got one.” He told me to play the song for him. He looked at me and said he thought it is the worst song that I had ever written. I told him, “Everyone wants to make the world go away and get it off their shoulders.”

I knew I was right and he was wrong. He told me I had proved him wrong before and I was determined to do it again. I proceeded and wrote the song lyrics on a big piece of paper and put a big one on each end of it put it on my desk so I would have to see that song every time I was in my office. I got it got cut in a week by a girl named Timi Yero [a minor pop hit] and then by Ray Price [a No. 1 song].

Billy Walker came in one day and said he is doing an album with Eddy Arnold and said he is looking for songs about the world, I told him I have one “Make The World Go Away” and he said that Eddy heard Ray Price’s version and could not sing that song with the high notes. I told him he has to hear the way that I wrote it. I had someone bring up my version that was recorded and Bill said Eddy could sing it like I had originally did it. A film crew from the Jimmy Dean Show happened to be in the studio when Eddy was recording the song. I told them it should be a single and they could put that part on the show, so they put it out as a single and the song quickly went to No. 1. Elvis Presley also cut the song. Timi Yero sang the song to him and he loved it. Elvis wanted the publishing and even tried to buy our company to get the publishing on the song and I would not sell it to him. He loved the song anyway and cut it!

Congratulations! You beat Colonel Tom Parker on a publishing deal!
You know a few years back they found a video of Elvis cutting it for a movie and they took it out of where they stored tapes. I worked the an Elvis celebration in Memphis a few years back and the radio personality from Sirius Radio asked me which one of my songs that Elvis cut as he was interviewing me on stage. All of a sudden they dropped a full screen and instantly “Make the World Go Away” with Elvis singing the song came on the screen! The 50,000 fans thought Elvis came back! The fans all rushed the stage and the radio guy said, “Run” and he didn’t have to tell me twice!

Who helped you when you came to town?
Billy Walker was the first person that I met in town.

Did you tour with Willie Nelson?
I was opening the shows for his fair dates in the ‘70s.

How did that happen?
Buddy Lee of Buddy Lee Attractions asked me if I could get Willie to play some fair dates for him. I told him I could call Willie. I told Willie that Buddy and I are working together for some fair dates and wanted to talk with him. Buddy Lee and I went to Houston and up to Willie’s room. Willie told Buddy that he wanted $51,000 up front for each of the dates, plus so much of the profit and he wanted me to open all of his fair dates for five years. Buddy said yes! I didn’t make the total five years [laughs]. I do not know exactly how long, but didn’t make it all those years. I’m 72 and spent the last 48 years in Nashville. I am very thankful and I am still writing songs!

What advice would you give to songwriters?
I wish I had a way of telling all the songwriters how to do it. All I know for sure that I would tell you what I did and what has happened to me and you can do whatever you want to with it. It’s a long, hard and rocky road-and even now after 48 years of being in this town. Do not ever let anyone tell you that your song is no good if you believe in it. I am determined to prove someone wrong if they do not like my song. Have the determination and you will do it!

Ballad After Ballad After Ballad After….zzzzz.   NOT THE WAY TO HAVE a Songwriters round!

I recently attended a round at a well known venue and for about two hours, 95% or so of the songs were ballads or songs that never changed the melody from verse to chorus.

It was a story song ballad after ballad made everyone in the room just sit and stare, not react to songs. Some of the songwriters told as my friend, Rob Wolf has a song, “Ten Minute Intro For A Two Minute Song” which was the case, however some of the songs went on and on(Ten minute story for a 6 minute song) and you could just see the people in the audiences trying to stay attentive but loosing interest in songs they’ve never heard yet were told a long story to begin the song as it could have been half over by time the story was told about a song that was a ballad.

Unofficial rule – NEVER follow a ballad with a ballad. Thank goodness one of the songwriters had uptempo songs from time  to time and he did not bore us with long stories about the song prior to playing.

As a friend in town, Marc-Alan Barnette says after hearing a couple ballads in a row, “I want to get a butter knife and cut my wrist”.

We all write ballads and love to play them, just do not follow a ballad with a ballad  when playing to an audience, talk among your other writers in the round and ask when they are going to play their ballad, so you will not follow their ballad with your ballad.

I saw people nearly falling asleep in the audience, disappointed looks on their faces and most of them had been standing in a long line, traveled from many states and countries to visit this venue and had to listen to 95% ballads and long stories about the songs they have never heard of and will not hear again. zzzzzzz

Solution – If you are putting together a night with songwriters, think about their songs and you may not want two or three people known for their many ballads and sad songs playing in the same round, especially if it is at a venue or house concert and the round is a couple hour. Have songwriters that play uptempo songs to wake the audience up and keep up the energy in the room!



Songwriters and Venues – a great match – sometimes. I have been in Nashville for nearly (12) years and 100’s of songwriter nights. I’ve seen great things happen – such as hearing a great song for the first time and later hearing it on the radio to hearing rounds of ballads after ballads that make people leave the rounds.

As a songwriter I have noticed many times songwriters coming early, ordering food and beverages and supporting the venues – YEA, and sometimes songwriters that show up, play their songs, then leave soon after their round or just order water all night and not tip the staff – NOT GOOD.

Songwriters and venues need to work together to keep the venue open and providing a night of some songwriter rounds, networking, relationship building in our Nashville Music Community.

I recently had the opportunity get to know Dan, the owner of 360 Burger  near the Hickory Hollow Mall – in the plaza across the street on the hill. His goal is to build the best of the Bluebird and Puckett’s – providing good music and food and a place you look forward to playing and hanging out to watch your friends play their songs.

Dan asked me about songwriters, his prices on the menu and how he can work with the songwriter community to provide a great venue for the songwriters and those that support them. The prices for a GREAT hamburger and fries are very in-line with other restaurants. 360 Burgers are made from Fresh and locally produced, grass-fed beef, organic veggies and fresh baked bread.

Dan wants to do something special for the Songwriters who play and those in the music community. After a couple e-mails of ideas, Dan came up with (2) sliders and fries for $2.25. That is a great and affordable deal for all songwriters and not listed on the menu – you have to ask for the Songwriter Special Slide for ANY Songwriter playing or supporting a Songwriter! Those specials are for Tuesday and Wednesday Songwriter Nights at 360 Burger!

THAT is a venue working with and for Songwriters! In return as a music community, we need to support those venues by having our meals at the venues that serve meals. When going out for a meal, how about supporting the venues. If you are playing, eat at the venue – do not stop at another restaurant, have a meal, then go play at a venue that serves food!

If you are a host of songwriter nights, let your songwriters know they are supposed to support the venue – not go, play, sit down and drink water all night and expect the venue to support our community. Order beverages and tip the staff – hey some of them may be the next big artist or songwriter in town and you want them to like you – right?

There are many stories of restaurant workers having success after working in the venue business   - Liz Hangber – hit songwriter that worked in TheBluebird, Kathy Mattea was working at Friday’s in the early 80’s,  Heidi Newfield and also Josh Jones were people parking cars at venues  and others that have had success in our world after working in the restaurant venue industry. Your waiter tonight may be the next great artists or hit songwriter!

WHAT ideas would work for all the songwriters and venues to work together with food, beverages and songs to build our Songwriter Community – keep the venues in business, make the hosts of the Songwriter Nights look good and everyone working together in Nashville?


Scott Borchetta: Behind The Curtain  PART 1 go to  for part 2.

Big Machine President/CEO Scott Borchetta spoke to an intimate group of business leaders on behalf of Capitol One at Inc Magazine’s Grow Your Company Conferenceheld in Nashville May 20-22 at the Omni Hotel.

Interviewed by Senior Inc. writer Burt Helm, Borchetta offered attendees an inside look at his successful BMLG label and artists, plus some extremely personal insights. Helm arrived prepared and asked the self-made entrepreneur a wide range of questions tracing his career trajectory from MCA in the ’90s to the present day. Borchetta offered inside details about working with his Dad, getting “unceremoniously” fired from MCA, working with Toby Keith, scrambling for funding to start Big Machine, finding Taylor Swift and recognizing her potential, sealing the deals with Clear Channel and Cumulus, why Big Machine holds new music back from Spotify and more.

At the start of the interview Helm asked, “Why form Big Machine in 2005 when sales were falling and it looked like a terrible time to start a new label?” Borchetta’s response reveals his competitive personality as he quietly replied, “It’s easy to say the sky is falling, and if enough leaders say it then everybody starts to believe it. It was absolutely an opportunity. Every time I saw these companies getting smaller and giving up space I thought, great, we’re going to take that space. Keep retreating because we’re going to keep charging.” And that’s just what he’s done…

The following questions and answers have been edited for focus.

Helm: Big Machine began with help from Toby Keith. How did you convince him to put in an equity stake?
Scott Borchetta:From 1991-1997 I was at MCA Nashville which was part of Universal Music Group. I was unceremoniously fired in March 1997. Literally the next day we started making plans for Dreamworks Nashville which started in 1997 and Toby was one of our early signings. He had some prior success, but never really went all the way. We got him at Dreamworks and reimagined what he was doing and what he should be doing. It was really us shutting up and listening to him, going out to his shows. We realized this guy is a redneck, badass, raucous, beer drinking guy, not a crooner like the prior label tried to image him. I remember my very first meeting with Toby. He didn’t trust anyone because the previous label wouldn’t let him put out the music he wanted. So I said, “Pal, we can continue like this or you can trust me. You lead, I will follow, I have your back. Run like hell.” We started putting out these raucous songs like “How Do You Like Me Now?” and “Who’s Your Daddy?” and Toby went from a B player to one of the biggest artists in country music. It was just us doing what we are supposed to do. Provide an arena for our artists to do their best work. We were having massive success at Dreamworks Nashville which was a joint venture with Universal, but in January of 2004 Universal picked up its option and Dreamworks became a wholly owned company of Universal Music Group. I literally was pulled back into the place that had fired me and ironically it was also the place where Toby had been unhappy. So we both returned with trepidation. Soon afterwards, Toby dropped the bomb on everybody and made a famous announcement at Radio Seminar in March 2005 that he was leaving Universal. I made it clear I didn’t want to stay. So Toby called me and said, “Why don’t we do this together?” I said, “You have more money than I do and I’ve got the staff building experience. Maybe it could work.” It was never designed to be a long term thing, just a great way for us to use each other’s leverage to get in the game.

Helm: What was your plan for the first year?
Borchetta: Just to stay alive. There were a lot of hurdles and broken promises. I had an investor who said he would fund the label with $10 million. On that handshake Toby and I started. Then I got a call in June 2005, (we were planning to open in Sept. 05), and he says, “Wanted to let you know I’ve invested your $10 million in Morocco.” “Does that mean you aren’t in?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. That guy is still around and unfortunately he lost everything on that Morocco deal.

Helm: How did you recognize that Taylor was star material?
Borchetta: My Dad has been a promotion guy from the late ‘50s to today. In the ‘60s he worked for Mercury, RCA and Capitol; then in 1969 he started his own independent business. I was always around him. I never realized until later in life how much I had learned from his successes and his failures. I got the most valuable education possible and didn’t even realize it. The answer is it’s a gut feeling. I can’t put it into words or tell you that a multiple of this number and this letter equals Taylor Swift. But when I met her, I knew.
Helm: No doubts at all?

Borchetta: Our world doesn’t allow for doubt. The minute you doubt is the minute you start to lose. Taylor is an absolute world class rock star, my Mick Jagger. I look at the crazy things I wrote down Nov. 2, 2004 like ‘Taylor takes Japan.’ It was kind of an odd Nostradamus moment. I knew this artist could be on the cover of Rolling Stone or host Saturday Night Live. I’ve been around big stars my whole life so whatever that chemistry is, whatever kind of juice they have more of than us mere mortals, I’ve been able to recognize it. Helm: Has technology changed your ideas about artist marketing?
Borchetta: There’s one thing we really can’t afford to do—what I call hope marketing. That’s where you say, “I hope they saw it.” So more and more we are investing in one-to-one engagement from band-to-fan. Justin Moore did almost 100k units first week earlier this year because his fans knew the record was coming out. Brantley Gilbert is going to sell well over a 100k units this week because his fan base knows. Brantley is going blow for blow against Coldplay for first week sales. ColdPlay will probably win, but they didn’t even see us coming. It’s our job to continue to build those individual data bases.

Go to  for the rest of the article! Thanks David Ross for the great article!