In the summer of 2011, I was sitting on the balcony of a hotel in Isle of the Palms overlooking the South Carolina Coast, writing the lyrics to “Take Me To Nashville.” Little did I know that a year later, I would be living in Nashville recording that song on a demo album with some of Nashville’s greatest musicians.
It was during that same summer that I had made some pretty major changes in my life and leaped into the unknown that would later catapult me to Nashville. My wife and I were sort of living like a couple of gypsies on the S.C. coast doing a lot of beach bumming. We were riding my motorcycle up and down the coast line, spending a lot of time watching the dolphins from the top of Red’s Ice House and following Darius Rucker’s bus around town trying to get him to listen to some of my songs.
Something inside me kept telling me to take a chance… and so I did. I quit my job, packed my old guitar and with my last $200 dollars, headed to Nashville. All I knew about Nashville was that there was a place called music row where all the important people that I needed to talk to were. So, my wife and I went from door to door up and down music row with lyric sheets and a handful of CD’s we burned before we set off for our journey.
But all we discovered were a lot of closed doors and folks unwilling to accept unsolicited material from an unknown songwriter. My wife, Joelle did manage to walk into a few offices that were not occupied and leave some of my material on the desks of people we didn’t know, but I’m sure it only made it as far as the trash can. As we coasted back home towards Raleigh, NC on gas fumes and a little change in the ashtray, we discovered that about half the CDs we had burned were blank. I felt like all my dreams were on hold, but I knew… somehow, someway, someday, we’d be back!
A few years earlier I met hit songwriter Dan Demay at a songwriters showcase in Fayetteville, NC. It was he and a few of the songwriters with him that told me if I ever wanted to get my songs heard to move to Nashville and meet the folks that could make it all possible.
Once I was financially able to make the move, I got in touch with Dan on Facebook and he guided me to the right places. Probably the single most important place he sent me to was Nashville Demo Studio. This place is a songwriters dream come true. The studio musicians they use have worked for the industries top recording artists; folks like, Garth Brooks, Clint Black, Kellie Pickler, Bon Jovi and many others. They are also connected to many of the VIPs on music row and can help open many doors that would otherwise be closed.
Residing in Nashville, I am currently working out of country as a private contractor for the government to be able to pursue my dream of having my songs on the radio. Every few months I return home to co-write, pitch, network and go into the studio. In between, my wife pitches online and runs the business end of my songwriting.
Nashville Demo Studio is a state of the art studio that allows me to sit on the other side of the world and live stream and Skype with them as my songs are being recorded. I can listen in while music tracks and vocal tracks are being recorded from my work tapes. If anything needs to be changed or corrected, I can do it live just as if I were in the studio.
After recording my first demo album and upon returning home recently, I pitched a number of my songs to publishers from BIG TRACTOR, OLE, and RCA. These are the guys who take songs to some of the industries biggest acts. Even though I didn’t get a bite on anything I presented, I got an opportunity to network, get some great pointers and advice, plus an open invitation to submit material in the future.
Now back in the studio working on a second demo album, I have been co-writing with several hit songwriters that I have admired for years.
In closing, my advice to anyone heading to Nashville is to get connected to a studio like Nashville Demo Studio so you can network, join a songwriters association like NSAI and get connected to TAXI. Yes, it takes money to make all these things happen, there is no way around it. How do you make that happen? I don’t know, a loan, a credit card, a great paying job… your imagination is your only limitation. But, remember, a year ago I came into town with my last $200 dollars, didn’t know a soul and left after giving out a handful of blank CDs to a few people that wouldn’t have listened anyway. Don’t let your dreams get away… If I can do it, you can too.