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Who Is Happening Now?
March 2017

Last night in Nashville Maren Morris closed the Country Radio Seminar on the New Faces Show by declaring, “good music is coming back!” This statement was inspired by many voices today, from Vince Gill to Miranda Lambert, who have expressed publically their dislike of rap music and anger that rappers call themselves country artists in order try to sell records.

We were there! Maren is for real. She has a tremendous voice and loves the songs she sings; what more can you ask for. Maren records for Columbia Records and has had two hits so far including MY CHURCH and 80s MERCEDES. Maren won the Grammy Award for New Artist of the Year and was nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year.

While this is Maren’s first album on Columbia she previously recorded and released several independent records with her publisher and producers, which resulted in her song SECOND WIND being recorded by Kelly Clarkson, which is what brought her to the attention of the executives at Columbia. Maren will be recording again this Spring with her producer Michael James Ryan Busbee (known as simply busbee) here in Nashville. We are looking for crossover songs for Maren; a little pop, a little country, a little rock, or as she says it, “What people like!” Maren is from Texas, 26 years old, and has been singing for more than ten years. Write us a song for Maren; we will get it her!

Every year we attend the CRS, especially every since the year Tim McGraw played the New Faces Show and the radio disc jockeys shook our hands and slapped our backs and promised to play DON’T TAKE THE GIRL “as soon as we get home!” Ninety days later to the surprise of Curb Records, Tim McGraw, and us, “GIRL” was the #1 song in the nation! Since then it has sold more than 24 million records and has had 4 million radio airplays. It just goes to show you what our president Eric Zanetis has long said, “If you truly love a song, pitch it, because somebody else may, too!”

A reminder: the writers of DON’T TAKE THE GIRL were Craig Martin and Larry W. Johnson and we were their publisher. Craig set music to Larry’s lyrics, we recorded DON’T TAKE THE GIRL first, pitched it Tim McGraw and his producer Bryon Gallimore, an old friend of ours, and the rest is history. So, you can understand why we love the Country Radio Seminar.

WHO ELSE IS HAPPENING NOW: Below is a partial list of artists and their record labels who are looking for songs and to whom we will be pitching songs to over the next 90 days:

Maren Morris, Columbia Records
Colt Ford, Average Joes Entertainment
Jason Aldean, The BBR Music Group
Jennifer Nettles and Rascal Flatts, Big Machine Label Group
The Charlie Daniels Band, Blue Hat
Alison Krauss, Rounder Label Group
Third Day and Casting Crowns, Provident Label Group
Brad Paisley, Arista Nashville
Miranda Lambert and Old Dominion, RCA Nashville
Brett Eldredge and Hunter Hayes, Warner Music
Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley, Capitol Nashville
Eric Church and Brothers Osborne, EMI
George Strait, Clare Dunn and Vince Gill, MCA

If you have a song for one of these artists, please send it to us. Of course, you may pitch your songs yourself. The mailing and email addresses of these labels are in the phone book and on the internet.

We prefer that you allow us to pitch your songs because first, we record them properly, then we keep track of each time we pitch a song and to whom, so the same songs will not get pitched to two different artists at the same time, and we have a reputation for quality songs and professionalism that rubs off on every song we pitch.

We do not share personal contact information on artists and their producers, that is, their phone numbers and home addresses, because it is just that, personal and proprietary. However, if you want us to pitch one of your songs to a particular artist, let us know. If we think it is a good song, we will.

Also, if you need to know the address of another record label, artist manager, or booking agency, we have them on file. Thank you for your continued support and trust in our endeavors. And, here’s to an incredibly successful 2017!

Networking in Nashville
May and June 2016

Times change of course and so does the music business. Forty years ago if we wanted a singer to hear a new song, we might have gone to a concert and made our way backstage and when the timing was right, said “Boy, do I have a song for you!“  Then we would offer to play it for them live.

Sometimes a singer would come to us! While traveling the countryside, between shows at county fairs and in gymnasiums, artists would slip into Nashville and invite a half dozen songwriters to their hotel room. They would spend the night drinking and passing the axe (flat top guitar) playing their newest tunes. Often an artist would find a number of songs for their next album at these fun and talent-filled guitar pulls.

Sometimes we would go to a producer’s office to play them a new song. However, if your song was no good, you might not get another chance. Their idea was, “If you can’t play me a hit song, I don't wanna hear no more!” If your song was at the least entertaining, then you had gained an ally in the music business and were loyal to them.

Twenty-five years ago it was much the same, you could go to any recording artist just about anywhere, and if you were polite and quick, you could put a cassette tape in their hand. Again, with just one song on it.

You could also call an artist or producer and simply say, “I’ve got something you’ve gotta hear!” That was code for one good song! They would almost always invite you to come over exclaiming, “Can you be here in fifteen minutes?” as if they are desperate for a hit song (because they often are). But, you have to be ready.

Whether the producer was able to use your song at that time did not matter as much as that you played them a darn good song. Because that was your ticket; your first impression was the first song you played.

One-on-one and personal is still the best way to pitch songs. Networking events can get you noticed, but unless your timing is just right, rarely can you get a new song heard, or would you want to, in a crowd of people.

Fan Fair once brought 5,000 hard core music enthusiasts to Nashville each year led by stars who would detour off their summer tours to hang out in Nashville for a few days and meet and greet their fans. It also gave a songwriter a chance to play a song for an artist late at night in someone’s hotel room.

Fan Fair has grown into the CMA Music Festival with 85,000 fans plus hundreds of singers, musicians, and stage hands in town. We cannot be everywhere at once, but there are many opportunities to mingle with artists and industry folk virtually everywhere. You may not get much personal pitching done this week, but a lot of networking, which means next week you will be making calls to old friends and new friends alike saying, “I got somethin’ you gotta hear!”.

News from Nashville
April 2016

Nashville News: This year's Country Radio Seminar was one of the best in memory. Held last month here in Nashville for five days, hundreds of record company executives and radio station programmers from across the country shared their thoughts and ideas about the future of country music radio. Casual breakfasts, lunches, and dinners brought everybody closer to their main objective: making sure radio stations remain a viable delivery system for new music.

The CRS has always been the most important event on our calendar. As originators of new music, that is, as songwriters and publishers, it is important for us to meet with people from the marketing side of the music industry as often as possible. Radio programmers and on-air personalities enjoy hearing stories of how our newest songs were written and learn about what music we are working on for 2016.

After they return to their radio stations across the U.S., they often call us to thank us for a great visit. They often thank us by playing our songs! Several of our biggest hits were a direct result of our introducing the songs at the CRS and therefore going directly to radio and the public with our songs.

Some of the New Faces of country music this year are:
Frankie Ballard
Eric Paslay
Jon Pardi
Danielle Bradbery
Brothers Osborne
Kelsea Ballerini
all of whom we have delivered new songs to over the past 90 days.

The next big event in Nashville is the CMA Music Festival this June. We will be there supporting the artists as we have for more than 25 years.

Getting New Songs Heard
January 2016

Music publishers work behind the scenes delivering songs to artists, producers, and other commercial users of music. A few such as ourselves have a website to invite new writers to share their songs with us. Many publishers do not have websites and those that do are not always open to receiving songs from new writers.

There several reasons most publishers are not open to listening to songs from new writers, one being that new writers often do not understand the dynamics of the industry. Try calling Universal Music or Sony and talking to a publisher. Big music conglomerates do not make it easy for you to call them and certainly will not allow you to talk to them about your songs. Their lawyers disallow it because they are afraid people not familiar with the music industry will try to accuse them of something nefarious. To avoid the possibility of misunderstandings, they simply do not accept unsolicited material.

The difference is we are a relatively small company although our songwriters have enjoyed 15 number one records and sold more than 25 million copies. The phone number on this site is public. It rings in our office, but when we are busy, it goes to a computer that takes a message so we can call you back.

Most of our business with recording artists and producers is conducted in person and in private. Artists may spend a year searching for 12 songs for an album and listen to 500 to 1,000 songs to find those they fall in love with. That is what we are doing, creating songs and letting artists hear them so they will have the opportunity to fall in love with one of our songs. Because love is fickle, we write and pitch scores of songs every year written by perhaps a dozen writers.

Not Always Smooth Sailing for Publishers
December 2015

The most difficult thing about being a professional songwriter is getting your songs heard by the right people, namely famous singers who will record your songs. This is where music publishers come in. In fact, singers depend upon music publishers to bring them high-quality songs.

Songwriters and publishers are usually fifty-fifty partners, which means the publisher has as much to gain from the success of a song as the songwriter does. Both earn money when a song is popular and when sales occur. These earnings are called royalties.

Publishers listen, record new songs they feel strongly about, and pitch them to singers. When a singer loves a song and when their label approves, publishers handle the licenses, which include mechanical reproduction (CDs), internet downloads, public performances (radio and television) and synchronization (movies). Publishers see that the songwriter receives his or her legal royalties based upon actual sales and commercial uses of their songs.

Being a knowledgeable music publisher is therefore an important role and tremendous responsibility. Publishers are seasoned professionals, and as you can imagine, experienced songwriters sometimes become excellent publishers. This is how Diamond Garden Music got started (you can read about that on the Our People page of this website).

It is not always smooth sailing. Tim McGraw fell in love with one of our songs and a week later he was singing it on television. That is quick. It soon became the number one song in the country, called DON’T TAKE THE GIRL. Then, McGraw fell in love with another of our songs called MAMA’S PLACE. A couple of months later, singer Sammy Kershaw wanted the same song. Out of fairness to both singers, we told Kershaw that McGraw had already requested the song, so Kershaw backed off. Most of the time two singers do not want to record the same song at the same time. To make a long story short, neither McGraw or Kershaw recorded the song! McGraw changed his mind and Kershaw lost interest. There was nothing else we could do.

Another horror story was when the great George Jones recorded one of our new songs. How is that a horror story, you might ask? George had already recorded several of our songs on past albums. Come to find out the record label decided to leave this new song off his new album after George had already recorded it.

Then, the same thing happened again! George recorded another of our songs. We celebrated with steak dinners and wine, and then it too did not make his next album! How many songwriters or publishers can say they have had two songs recorded by George Jones that never made it onto his CDs? Not too many. There was nothing we could have done differently, there was no one to blame, that is just part of the music business. You win some; you lose some.

We thought you might like to know a little bit about what a music publisher goes through - basically the same things a songwriter goes through - one day people love your song and the next they love another.

We keep looking for new songs, recording them, and pitching them. If there is a secret to success, that is it: staying at it!

Winter is the Songwriter's Season
October 2015

At Diamond Garden Music we pitch our newest songs either directly to the artists themselves or to the artists’ record producer. The quality of the “demonstration” recording is important because it reflects our song, our writers, and our company.

In the “old days”, songwriters would pitch their new songs “live” to an artist because not everybody had a reel-to-reel tape machine handy to record or play back. Today of course music has become much more portable; we often sit in our Nashville office and text or email a new song to an artist on the road in Montana or the producer across town!

Also very effective and efficient are promotional albums (called EPs) containing five to six songs. Professionals use these to deliver new songs to a wide variety of commercial end-users such as singers, producers, record labels, television and movie producers, radio stations, etc.

Professional songwriters and publishers usually do not put their new songs on the internet; there are several reasons for this. Ideas are not songs; ideas float freely and cannot be owned. A unique idea only becomes a song and therefore something you can own when it is included in a unique piece of work, such as a poem or song lyric. At that point, once you have written a new idea into a song or poem, you automatically own it. That is the law.

However, to keep a new idea fresh for as long as possible, professional songwriters do not play their newest songs live or put them on the internet. Instead, they only share new songs with their music publisher, who shares it with professional recording artists and their producers, and of course selected up-and-coming new singers.

Also, when an artist records a new song, everyone involved remains tight lipped until the record is released, to again insure that the song and idea are fresh and original the first time audiences here it.

Once a song earns money, everybody earns, including the songwriter, publisher, artist, producer, label, and distributor. At that point, any other artist can also record the song as long as they pay the legal royalties to the songwriter and publisher.

Winter is the season for songwriters because artists are coming off their summer tours and getting down to business finalizing the songs they will include on their next album. If you have a new song that needs to be heard, send it to us. We will do everything we can to allow your song to warm the hearts of music lovers everywhere this season.

Good Politics! Networking in Nashville and enjoying the show.
June 18, 2015

When you are new to Nashville and striving to find your way into the music industry, you have choices. You can hang out at a bar and try to learn the business from others hanging out at the bar. You can attend every writer’s night in town and try to co-write your way around the other new singer-songwriters, exchanging business cards that say “songwriter”. However, if you want to find out what’s really going on, you should try to make every industry event possible.

These events are sometimes called private showcases but more often simply “mixers”. They are often held at non-public locations such as a publishing company office, trade organization meeting room (CMA or BMI), a parking garage of a record label, or often a rehearsal hall.

Historically the purpose of a mixer is to introduce a new artist to the community of professional songwriters and publishers to whom they hope to be indebted to for supplying their first or next big hit. Mixers are “behind the scenes” events rarely publicized and a great way to put faces with names, share stories, and simply keep up with the changes that are constant and inevitable.

Mixers occur often, especially around every conceivable holiday. The offices of Diamond Garden Music and Eric Zanetis Publishing Company have been the site of many popular mixers over the years, a mainstay if you will, that have enjoyed the antics of such luminaries as Vince Gill, Hank Williams, Jr., Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, Merle Kilgore, Harold Shedd, Larry Shell, Larry Cordle, Larry Weiss, Larry Butler, and the staffs of virtually every major record label, in particular Mercury, RCA, Curb, and Universal - all sipping beer, wine, or water and telling tales interspersed with shop-talk about their next project and what they need to bring it to fruition. And, of course, Mr. Zanetis is usually in the corner tickling the ivories.

Some people call it politics and maybe it is without the negative connotations, but rather the politics of getting to know people in your industry, your peers, understanding everyone’s roles, and that the world does not revolve around one person alone.

There is a tendency among some singers and songwriters to be aloof and not play well with others, however inter-industry mixers are a great leveler, they let you connect to people outside your immediate sphere who may have your next hit in their pocket or may want to sing your song, or may wish to promote it or invest in it, or simply love it! Because, after all, as everyone should know, in the music business working together is the way to achieve success.

Why does a lot of country music today sound exactly the same?
February 18, 2015

NASHVILLE, TN - The music business in Nashville started with singer-songwriter Hank Williams, Sr. and his publisher Fred Rose. Together they delivered a catalog of songs that still serve as the foundation of country music today. This team with Roy Acuff also created the first “independent” music publishing company in Nashville called Acuff-Rose Music with their first office in Mr. Rose’s home.

Their success at creating music that positively impacted people’s lives attracted other songwriters and singers to Nashville. Some of these new adventurers started publishing “houses” on 16th Avenue South that became known as Music Row. This is where many of today’s music companies got their start, including Diamond Garden Music. Such independent music companies are still the key to nourishing new, innovative songwriters and singers by encouraging creativity and providing mentors, keeping Nashville at the heart of country music today.

Often independent music companies are bought by large corporations or investment groups whose primary goal is to financially dominate the music industry. Therefore, by their very makeup they are less qualified to mentor artisans and or give new singers and songwriters the personal attention they need. To make up for these short-comings, the “major labels” create copycat music with “manufactured” artists and promote them quite heavily, preoccupying radio and other media. Audiences may be forced to accept this music at first, but eventually most music lovers reject manufactured music because they cannot relate to it, it is not based on true stories, and does not positively impact their lives. These are the reasons people lose faith in the “music business” and sales go down which hurts everybody.

The upside is that every few years a few small creative publishing houses and brave record labels break through the corporate ice and deliver new songs and singers of real country music to hungry audiences everywhere - and Nashville is re-born. Today we are in one of those periods of re-birth.

In answer to two commonly asked questions: how do I pitch songs to artists? Should I use the internet for pitching songs?
November 11, 2014

We generally pitch songs one at a time to an artist directly in person or through their producer. If they do not respond immediately, we give them a couple of weeks and then pitch the song to the next artist on our list. Ultimately, we intend to pitch to every artist who has product on the shelves as well as up-and-coming new ones. Therefore, it is an ongoing process. I have also been known to jump on their bus and ride for a few days entertaining the artists and pitching them songs!

As the songwriter, you may play your songs for anyone you wish. However, if an unknown songwriter sends a CD to a manager, producer, or record label it is often returned with the message, "we do not receive unsolicited material" which simply means they do not know who you are. This is because attorneys often suggest they not listen to songs from folks they do not know. Artists therefore tend to use what little time they have for listening, listening to songs from other professionals, such as known publishers and songwriters.

If you have an address for an artist or producer I suggest you simply write a short cordial note asking their permission to send a CD of one song and ask what you should write on the outside of the package - and if they write back and say okay, you are no longer unsolicited! Send the song with a copy of their response. If they say, no thank you, you may wish to find a professional publisher to represent you and your songs.

It does not do any good to put new songs on the internet such as iTunes simply because there are literally billions of songs on the web and unless someone is particularly looking for your song, they will never find it. Moreover, it would be exceedingly rude and unprofessional to ask an artist to look up your song on the internet. Nobody has time to play hide and seek like that. Artists and their producers want to hear new songs directly from professional songwriters and publishers because they trust us - anything else is disrespectful to the profession and breaks that trust.

I hope these questions were answered adequately. If you have other questions, feel free to write us at the e-mail address on the Submit Songs page.

Traditional Country is Alive and Real!
August 6, 2014

Is traditional country music dead or alive? It depends upon who you ask. But, those of us who work on music row every day have a positive outlook for traditional country music - it is not only doing GREAT but it is growing in popularity! More people all over the world are listening to and buying traditional country music than ever before!

Just because many of the new singers are rocking and rapping their country songs does not mean that traditional country music is dead. The so called “new age” country music is simply a method record label executives are using to reach young people who have grown up with hip hop and rap.

In the last couple of decades, record labels operated by committees of business people (not songwriters or country music fans) have paid lots of money for market research. That research said traditional country music was not selling to teenagers so they created a new style of music that teens like - the country/rap/rock hybrid that you hear on radio and TV today. And yes, many kids do like it! However, it is a style of music that has been artificially created - like artificial sweetener - it serves no other purpose but to make money.

This leaves a huge number of country music fans slightly out of their teens searching for new, more traditional style country music. In addition, what we mean by traditional style is not so much the music itself, but the words. Traditional country music is honest songs about real life. They can be happy songs, or sad songs, about love or heartache, but real stories about honest emotions. That is what traditional country music is all about.

Diamond Garden Music still writes and pitches the best songs we can, period. It is in our genes. In fact, we have learned first-hand over the past 52 years that market research does not work well in the real music business. The approach has repeatedly been proven wrong when it comes to music. Most of the biggest hits over the past 50 years have failed or would fail those tests, including our own biggest hit DON'T TAKE THE GIRL, which did not even register on the market researcher's Richter scale and yet went Number One, sold more than 20 million copies, and helped make Tim McGraw a household name!

That is our opinion. This is our mantra. We encourage songwriters to be different and explore new styles of writing, but if you want audiences to fall in love with your song, we encourage you to be honest, because ultimately that is what real country music is.

Thank you for reading.

How Do I Know If My Publisher Is Pitching My Song?
July 2, 2014

You have every right to ASK your publisher if they are pitching your song; however, the truth is, a professional songwriter does not sit back and wonder if their publisher is pitching their song and then blame the publisher if nothing happens.

To the contrary, a pro songwriter will take the initiative to help their publisher by seeking out a recording artist or producer and playing their new song for them! Artists love to hear a song directly from the writer anyway!

All songs must be published before reaching the marketplace. You can be self-published or you can have a professional publisher such as Diamond Garden Music represent your songs, which is usually recommended for new songwriters.

A good professional publisher will listen, coach, help you choose the best songs to pitch, and yes pitch your songs, but they also have other responsibilities in the music business. You and your publisher should work as a team.

By the way, George Strait is looking for songs now.

Answers to Commonly Asked Questions
April 4, 2014

One of the most commonly asked questions is: How many songs do we receive from new songwriters? The answer is, we receive from 5 to 10 new songs each month, and out of those, we work with perhaps 4 or 5 new songwriters a year.

Singers depend on great new songs to keep their careers going! Everything follows the selection of that new song. It is our job as publishers and songwriters to find and deliver to artists the best songs possible.

Another question is: Can I send just the words to a song? The answer is yes. One of our specialties is setting fitting music to words and creating fresh new songs that artists and audiences want to hear. Many of our biggest hits began as poems.

Another often asked question is: What are the chances of my song becoming a hit? Picking which songs will be hits is the job of everyone in the music business. It starts with the songwriter and then the publisher. We must create and deliver songs that we feel strongly about.

Nobody can predict the future, but you cannot win a race if you do not run it. Having a song professionally recorded and delivered to recording artists and other professionals in music and entertainment is a vital first step to enjoying a future hit song.

Traditional verses Modern Country Music
February 27, 2014

Fifteen years ago people in Nashville were saying things like, “You have got to get back to the traditional country style music!” Today you hear, “You have got to put some ROCK in your country!” This just shows that tastes in music change over time.

The reason people have such a strong opinion about country music is because they love it! If you have ever truly loved a country song, you know that it can become part of your life; that it can be as important as an heirloom.

Why do people love sad songs? Because sad songs make you realize that you are not alone in the world with your troubles, that somewhere someone else is going through difficult times, too. Sad songs share your personal heartaches, your triumphs, and your tragedies.

Traditional country music has not gone anywhere - it is still alive every time you hear a recording of George Jones singing his 1962 #1 hit SHE THINKS I STILL CARE written by Dickey Lee and Steve Duffy, or Merle Haggard singing his self-penned MAMA TRIED (#1 in 1968). Or, Kenny Rogers singing his 1977 #1 hit (YOU PICKED A FINE TIME TO LEAVE ME) LUCILLE written by Roger Bowling and Hal Bynum. These songs and many others like them are still enjoyed by millions of fans and are an inspiration for today’s country music songwriters.

All songwriters must find their own style. You may pattern your style after your favorite writer or recording artist, but no one wants to simply copy someone else’s song or style. The best songwriters emulate the techniques they enjoy most, while searching for ideas and melodies that are new and different. A true writer strives to tell a story from a different angle – tries to put a new slant on a love song, as the saying goes among professional songwriters.

Protecting Your Songs
January 13, 2014

Recently a songwriter called and asked how he could protect his songs from theft. My quick and I believed clever response was: “I wish someone WOULD steal my song and sell a million copies! At least that way people would hear it!” He didn’t laugh.

In reality, people are not stealing other people’s songs; that is highly unlikely if not impossible. When you write a song you automatically own it – that is the law. Someone would have to have proof that they wrote the song before you did to even be able to attempt to steal it. Certainly, professionals in the music industry would not steal or borrow from another writer’s songs and would not tolerate anyone who did.

You do not have to copyright each song you write, professional songwriters do not. Simple record keeping will usually suffice until you have a publisher or a commercial release. That is when a copyright of a song is usually filed and the publisher usually handles that.

Record keeping is part of a songwriter’s job. If your songs are not yet published, then you are in effect “self-published.” That means you need to do the things a publisher would do, including keeping a list (catalog) of the titles of your songs with their Date of Completion (D.O.C.), and write the author’s name and the D.O.C. on each lyric sheet. If you have a music publisher, each time you turn in a song, it is cataloged.

Protecting Your Songs (continued from above...)
January 23, 2014

If you are going play your songs in public or share them on the internet, it does not hurt to have a friend or relative sign and date your catalog or lyric sheets every so often as a witness.

Everybody in the music business must work together every day to deliver the best music they can to audiences. Respecting each other’s rights is an important part of what makes the music business work. If those rights are trampled on, everybody loses.

If you compose music to your words, you should make a simple “work-tape” recording if you can. These do not have to be full-blown, expensive recordings, but can be simple work tapes with words and melody (voice with guitar or voice with piano).

Most professional publishers prefer to produce their own demo recordings of songs they choose to pitch. Publishers and songwriters customarily share in the costs.

(New subject next time...)

Telephone: 615-754-7055

E-Mail: newsongs@diamondgardenmusic.com

Diamond Garden Music
346 Belinda Parkway
Mount Juliet, TN 37122
(a suburb of Nashville)

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