“If you love your job, you don’t have to work a day of your life.”
Chris has been instrumental in developing artists and songwriters for 3 decades now and has recently received a promotion as the BMG Senior Vice President of Creatives.
“How did you get started?”
Chris started out by singing gospel music with his family and traveled during summers growing up.
He moved to Nashville and discovered music publishing and never turned back.
“What is a music publisher?”
Someone who finds writers to sign to an agreement and write for the publisher. The publisher’s job is to find a “home” for those songs and pitch them to artists who might like them.
Managing the artist’s calendar is a big part of a publisher’s job today. Getting the writer in a room with another writer who they will really connect with and be a good creative fit with is so important too.
A&R work more on the artist side and helps the artist or writer get a vision for their project and convey the message. The publisher will pitch a song to an A&R and that relationship is important.
“How do I get my songs cut?”
Chris talks about this being an evolving thing, because what works for one artist’s record may not work for another.
These days, it is about getting in the room with the artist to write the song because so many songs that get cut are written/co-written by the artists themselves in the industry today.
“When should a songwriter start getting in contact with a publisher?”
Being a writer is a full time job. A successful songwriter is someone who works hard and shows up all day everyday to write good songs. Ask yourself…can I do this? Can I work hard and can I say things in a way that hasn’t been said yet? Am I making good demos and presenting my songs in a professional way?
You will be the same writer skill wise, whether or not you are signed. The goal isn’t always to just get a deal, but to become a better writer… and that takes discipline and time.
“Why would a writer want to sign their publishing instead of keeping it for themselves?”
This is a relationship business and you have to have connections within the business. You focus on what you do best, and when the whole team works together, you get better everyday.
“Songs are written for all kinds of reasons…Some are meant to be hit songs, while others are just meant to get you to the next song.”
“What is your process for finding and signing new writers?”
Chris finds people at writers nights, through word of mouth, and it is through a combination of specific lines, rhymes and melodies and a good relationship that will get the writer a pub deal. He calls this the “match made in heaven”.
“What is something you wish your younger self would have known?”
When I look back, it has really been a dream. Even though there have been obstacles and challenges, I wouldn’t change a thing. I do wish that I could dive in more to the people that went before me in all areas of the business. I wish I leaned into those individuals more when I had the chance to be around them.
Advice to someone starting out:
“Follow your heart and gut and remember that you do not have to know everything. Learn as you go and be on input. Learn from those who come before you”.
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