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Song Pitching from the Pros

Here's great songwriting - and pitching - advice from a hit music producer.

Ted Hewitt produced Rodney Atkins' multi-platinum breakthrough album "If You’re Goin' Through Hell,” which yielded four consecutive #1 singles and an ACM nomination for "Album of the year" ~ To date he has produced six #1s as well as 3 top 20 hits on Rodney. He’s also a producer on Rodney’s current album, “Caught Up In The Country.” And that’s not all.

Ted was a recent guest on's "The Hang," and he shared some great, real-world advice for songwriters.

Here is a bit of Ted's advice (paraphrased):

On searching for songs for Rodney Atkins: I get songs through Laurel (A&R) at Curb Records. She's great. There are also some publishing companies that I go to that I know have done their homework on Rodney and where he is as an artist. And they have great writers and great songs, too. So that’s mainly where I go. But it’s not the only place I go. Rodney’s manager is a good song person, too. It’s sort of a joint effort.

I ask myself, “Can Rodney sing this? Can he be the character in this song?”

When pitching to an artist, there’s a brand involved, and there’s also where the artist is at that point in his/her life. The song may be great, but it may not fit the artist’s current life. That’s as important as understanding the artist’s brand.

It’s important to study the artist and pitch for where the artist is going. Don’t just pitch to where the artist has already been.

In Nashville, everybody’s talented. The songwriters that are doing really well are also really hard workers. In this town, you can’t get by on talent alone.

Songwriter mistakes when pitching:

Don’t misspell the artist’s name. It’s Rodney Atkins, not Rodney Adkins. If an artist sees their name misspelled, it’s just not gonna fly.

It’s hard to pitch songs about life with kids. It’s just so personal.

A songwriter may have a great idea, but they often mess up by making it a ballad when it didn’t have to be. Give it some energy! And so many songs are written with the “default groove.” Go for something different and more interesting!

There are a lot of things you can do as a songwriter to increase your odds of a cut. Write with more tempo. Avoid the "default groove." Write with the artist. Find your peer group, your fellow travelers, so you can all rise together. Focus on the people you really click with.

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