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5 Best Places to Write a Song In Nashville

While thousands of country music fans descend upon Nashville this week for CMA Fest, many songwriters will also be traveling through Music City. Today, The Workshop owner Austin Evans offers his tips on the five best places to write a song in Nashville.


1. The Workshop

The Workshop is Nashville’s only 24-hour songwriting space. While many other places shut their doors at 5 p.m., this little spot on historic Music Row has songwriters penning hits around the clock. It’s hard to beat the location, which is among industry giants Big Machine, Ole and Liz Rose Music Publishing. Not to mention, it’s just a short walk to Edgehill Cafe for some coffee.

The Workshop has four different writing rooms, each with its own particular vibe. Large enough to comfortably accommodate at least three people, none of the rooms share a wall, which cuts down on distracting outside noise. Two guitars and a full-size keyboard are available if writers aren’t able to bring their own instruments.

The Workshop’s time slots are 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. but if you want to use that 5 o’clock slot or later you’ll have to sign up for a membership. The memberships don’t have a contract, so you can cancel at any time. Writers are also welcome to book a room for a one-time fee of $20. A “first write free” policy is in place so songwriters can come use the location once before they decide if it is for them.

Contact:

Austin Evans – austin@theworkshopmusic.com
Website: www.theworkshopmusic.com
Phone: (615) 933-1337

2. InDo Nashville

InDo Nashville is one of the premier co-working spaces in the city. While the focus here is more than just songwriters, they still offer a special Songwriting Membership. InDo is located in the heart of downtown Nashville. These writing rooms are comfortable, warm and inviting. Since InDo is primarily a co-working space, it one of the quieter places in town to write.

InDo books its writing session in two 3-hour blocks from Monday-Friday with the first session starting at 10 a.m. and the second starting at 2 p.m. Some of the amenities include a friendly concierge, coffee/tea/water service, high-speed Wi-Fi and community & networking events throughout the year.

Writers coming from out of town can book one-time writes for $20.

Contact:
John Richardson – john@indonashville.com
Website: indonashville.com
Phone: (615) 656-0077

3. NSAI

NSAI, or the Nashville Songwriting Association International, is one of the biggest players in the songwriting world. They have chapters all over the world so if you need a place to write outside of Nashville, research to see if there’s a group near you. While NSAI’s main focus is on education and legislation, the headquarters in Nashville has several writing rooms available as well.

The rooms here are cozy and most come with a keyboard for piano players. Also located off Music Row, NSAI sits next to some of the largest publishing and management companies in the industry. While they don’t let non-members reserve rooms, membership here comes with several perks beyond the writing rooms. NSAI holds weekly seminars, pitch-to-publisher meetings, and the opportunity to attend the world-renowned NSAIs Song Camp.

To book a room here, members should call the front desk to reserve a day and time.

Contact:
Website: nashvillesongwriters.com
Phone: (800) 321-6008

4. The Nashville Public Library

Believe it or not, the library has writer rooms available as well. There are four separate spaces here with names like the Eskind Writer’s Room, Schweid/Mills Writer’s Room, Jack Knox Writer’s Room and the Fred Russell & Robert Churchill Sr. Writer’s Room.

Writing rooms at the library are free to use but there is an application process to access them. According to the library’s website:

“Usage of a Writer’s Room is restricted to persons who have a signed publisher’s contract, are underwritten by a third party, have been formerly published (with evidence of previous publication), who have a letter of interest from a publisher, journalists possessing valid press credentials, visiting scholars and academicians (current and retired).”

If you’re brand new in town you might not qualify, but if you fit the requirements this is one of the best options in town. It also comes with complimentary parking just a few blocks down from Lower Broadway and some of the best live music in the world.

Contact:
Jennifer Schmid – jennider.schmid@nashville.com
Website: library.nashville.org/about/policies/writers-rooms-guidelines
Phone: (615) 862-5800

5. Performance Rights Organization (PRO)

Whether you are affiliated with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC, each of these has a headquarters in Nashville with writer rooms available. The rooms are stylish and comfortable with plenty of space to stretch out. Like NSAI, booking these writer rooms is completely free for members.

The only trouble you might run into is the sheer number of members these organizations have, so if you have a day that you absolutely need a room, make sure to book it well in advance. Membership to all three is free, although you have to be invited to join SESAC. To join BMI or ASCAP, simply sign up on the company’s website.

Contact:

ASCAP
Website: ascap.com
Phone: (615) 742-5000

BMI
Website: bmi.com
Email: nashville@bmi.com
Phone: (615) 401-2000

SESAC
Website: sesac.com
Phone: 615-320-0055

Categories
Features Songwriting Session

Songwriting Session: Country Edition

Dierks Bentley

(Dierks Bentley/Courtesy: The Green Room)

Songwriting Session is a new weekly column that goes behind-the-scenes with artists and songwriters. Each Sunday, a new songwriter will share their journey and provide lessons they’ve learned along the way. This week, country artists Dierks Bentley, Kacey Musgraves and Charlie Worsham share what they have learned as songwriters.

 

Charlie Worsham admits that songwriting is “just a switch you can’t turn off.” He is quick to explain that it’s something that never leaves him.

“I’m always jotting something down on an airplane,” he says. “It’s this thing that keeps you up at night. It wakes you up in the middle of the night, it gets you up early. You just can’t shut it off. You can’t ever put the pen down. It’s constantly gnawing at you in an excruciatingly beautiful way.”

Stuck on a chorus or song idea? Charlie suggests stating a universal truth.

“Some of the best advice I ever got on chorus writing was listen to the Beatles and Tom Petty,” he admits. “If you listen to their choruses, ‘And I’m free. Free fallin.’ ‘All you need is love.’ If it’s a really powerful truth sometimes all you need to do is say it and then repeat it two more times.”

Most of the artists I’ve spoken with in the past have said the best songs often come from something he or she has experienced firsthand, Kacey Musgraves being no exception.

“The best songs for me come from things that I have actually experienced or have some kind of insight on,” she says. “It all has to resonate somewhere within me. It can’t be completely fabricated. It always starts from me and that’s my favorite kind of music. You can tell it’s truthful.”

 

 

So you want to be a songwriter? The most important advice Dierks Bentley has for an aspiring songwriter is to write every day.

“One guy said to me, ‘You know what? You need to write about 500 songs, and just put them all in a drawer. When you get done doing that, call me up and I’ll write with you,’” he recalls. “I thought he was being a dick, but basically what he was saying was—you can’t be precious with your songs—you just got to write ’em and file ’em.”

He continues: “You want to be a songwriter? Write every day. 500 songs is a lot, but I got what he was saying. Don’t type them up on a nice sheet of paper and put ’em in a three ring binder. Just write ’em up, then go on to the next one. Keep writing.”

For more tips from country songwriters, visit my article on Radio.com.

Categories
Features First Person Interviews Q&A Songwriting Session

Songwriting Session with Kip Moore

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(Kip Moore at New Jersey’s Starland Ballroom)

Songwriting Session is a new weekly column that goes behind-the-scenes with artists and songwriters. Each Sunday, a new songwriter will share their journey and provide lessons they’ve learned along the way. This week, country singer-songwriter Kip Moore shares what he has learned as a songwriter.

 

Songwriting is a serious trade. It’s not for the faint of heart. In fact, as Kip Moore once told me, he doesn’t encourage people to take the path of songwriting as a career.

I have to preface this by saying that Kip Moore is my all-time favorite country songwriter. While I’ve interviewed him four times now, my most vivid chat happened last November backstage at New Jersey’s Starland Ballroom, a venue I grew up seeing shows at. It also consisted of him telling me that songwriting isn’t for everyone. It’s all or nothing he basically told me. It was a bit of a slap in the face, but something I’ve come to realize I desperately needed to hear.

You see, before that interview I had dabbled in songwriting. I took an online class over the summer that taught me the basics of songwriting and wrote my first song. But nothing quite prepared me for his honesty. As he told me, though, songwriting isn’t something you necessarily can learn but something you have to pursue with every ounce inside of you.

“I always tell people to chase their passion,” he tells me. “My advice to songwriters is, unless you’re truly serious about it, and it’s all you can think about doing, it’s all that’s in your heart, leave it alone. Trying to do it for a career, it has to be all or nothing. It’s gotta drive everything in you.”

Kip is a passionate guy. If you’ve been to one of his shows you can see that unyielding energy he leaves on the stage every single night. In person, he’s quite serious and even a bit intense. When I mention this to him he laughs and says he can be playful, too.

In an interview with Kip, you have to know your stuff. He can read right through you if you don’t. He says he’s a no BS type of guy and that couldn’t be a truer statement. Lucky for me, I have lived with his excellent debut album Up All Night for three years now so I’m pretty well researched before our big chat on songwriting. Possibly a little nervous too.

 
At first, he admits that he truly doesn’t know where to start when I ask him how to write a song. And then there’s a long pause. Right away I’m thinking maybe this wasn’t a good topic to discuss. But before I have a chance to ask another question he begins to tell me about his journey as a songwriter. He explains that he used to sit down for years and years and make himself write two songs every day.

“I would force myself to write, write, write,” he admits. “Now it’s more of an organic process where I almost always come up with the guitar groove or melody in my head and then I sing it into a recorder and then I live with it for days in my bunk and let it soak into my brain and what I feel like it’s supposed to be saying.”

Like many songwriters, he said the process varies every time. Sometimes he has an idea for a song, sometimes he has a title and other times he has a groove. While he says that you can teach the craft of songwriting, ultimately songwriting has to be in your soul to succeed.

I explain to him that what’s most difficult for me is writing a catchy chorus. I want to create something people want to sing along to–like a big Kelly Clarkson chorus–but often struggle getting there. Then he gets honest, simply saying, “You gotta fuckin’ study.”

He elaborates on that point. “You’ve got to sit down and you have to listen over and over for hours and hours of laying there at night and trying, understanding who your greats are, who your favorites are and paying attention to how they did it. It will soak in your mind and teach you how it’s done. That’s what I did. I studied the greats and the guys that I loved, and that’s how I learned how to write songs.”

Some writers are lucky enough to find mentors the moment they step foot in Nashville, but Kip is quick to admit that was not the case for him. In fact, he couldn’t get in the door to save his life. So, instead he had to teach himself. He did this by listening to the people he loved. By the time he got into the room with guys like his producer and songwriter Brett James, he was ready to go and just paid attention.

So why is he hesitant to urge others to follow his path into a songwriting career? He admits that things are even more difficult today than when he first started and often he doesn’t know what to say to songwriters.

“I don’t encourage people to take this path. It’s fucking hard and the window is getting smaller and smaller and the publishing companies are going away every day. I don’t know if I want to encourage someone to chase something that seems so out of reach all the time.”

But if songwriting is truly the career path you want to pursue? He says to study your butt off like he did.

“I can remember how discouraging the whole process was for me and how much it beat me up to where I just don’t know how to tell people. It was such a tough road. It was all I wanted to do, that’s what kept me going.”

 

Kip Moore’s sophomore album ‘Wild Ones’ will be released August 21. Pre-order it on his Website. His single, “I’m To Blame” is out now.

My hommie Annie..always a pro A photo posted by kipmooremusic (@kipmooremusic) on