European pie
September 23, 2007 8:04 PM   Subscribe

As a European, how do I get my country songs played in Nashville?

Through some twist of fate, I was brought up in a 3rd world country where the military administrator loved american country music, having studied in the U.S south. So country music was played daily on the radio, and I grew to appreciate the twang of the banjo and the drawl of the deep south.

I've kept up with modern country, and being somewhat musically inclined, I've written a few country songs.

However! I live in mainland Europe right now, and quite apart from the problem of recording a demonstration, I have the problem of : how do I get my songs into the hands of people who could play it for somone significant?

I don't want to sing or perform, I just want to be a country song writer.
posted by markovich to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Record your songs. Get a myspace music page and self-promote.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:20 PM on September 23, 2007

Myspace. Metafilter music. Youtube.
posted by lain at 8:35 PM on September 23, 2007

Im not an expert, but I know Nashville works a bit different than other parts of the music industry, in that it's extremely traditional and still more into the "Tin Pin Alley" assembly-line style of music-making.

So although plenty of alt-country artists are breaking through myspace, blogs, and etc., I dont know how far that will get you in the closed society of Nashville country music.

however, since you just want to be a writer, maybe look on myspace for up-and-coming performers who are in NAshville, and try to talk them into recording one of your songs? if they record it and play it around town, people will want to know who wrote it.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:53 PM on September 23, 2007

I don't have advice, but it may encourage you to know that Keith Urban is an NZer/Australian who is getting a lot of airplay in the States.
posted by stavrogin at 8:57 PM on September 23, 2007

Luckily, country music is one of the few genres (other than R&B and pop) where songwriters can really flourish without ever having to become performers themselves. Unfortunately, Nashville is to struggling songwriters as Los Angeles is to struggling actors: There's A LOT of stiff competition. Your foreignness sets you apart from all those other songwriters in Nashville. Use that to your advantage.

If you're not able to record, you could always just go for broke and write letters to all your favourite country artists introducing yourself, saying what you do, where you're from, etc. Maybe ask for a signed photo. Worst case, the letter gets thrown in the garbage; best case, they write back asking about your music. I think you're in a unique enough position that people will remember about you.

Are you Polish by any chance? What is it with the Poles and country music?
posted by Reggie Digest at 9:15 PM on September 23, 2007

I don't have advice, but it may encourage you to know that Keith Urban is an NZer/Australian who is getting a lot of airplay in the States.

Marrying Nicole Kidman might be helping a bit with that too (although he was doing very well in his own right before he met her).
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:21 PM on September 23, 2007

Nashville doesn't make "country" records anymore. Nashville makes pop records for country people.

I echo earlier comments: MySpace, YouTube, MeFiMu.

Network with the folks who run bluegrass and folk festivals. Many of these are mom-and-pop operations run out of somebody's barn, and they are always looking for performers. Develop a following there, and Nashville will come to you.

Then you can tell them to go fuck themselves, and move to Austin.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:26 PM on September 23, 2007

aeschenkarnos, I didn't know that and I liked "Stupid Boy". I hate the pop country shit on the radio, but it's one decent song out of a mountain of maudlin, patronizing crap.

Markovich, It also depends on the type of country music that you want to write. Johnny Cash, for instance, couldn't get played on popular country radio if his label let'm play his stuff for free.
posted by stavrogin at 10:49 PM on September 23, 2007

Taxi might be exactly what you're looking for. It's an organization devoted to getting songs by unknown songwriters into the hands of A&R reps. For an annual membership, they send you music industry listings (lots of country music opportunities), you submit songs, they critique and if it's a good fit, they forward the song to the A&R rep. Their connections are incredible - the annual convention is a who's who of the music industry - and everyone I've met through the organization is really passionate about music and about helping independent songwriters get heard.

The fee may seem steep ($300/year + $5 each submitted song), but is extremely worthwhile if there's any way you can take advantage of the free passes to their annual songwriter's convention in Los Angeles, and it's still a pretty good deal even if you can't, considering the other resources they have to offer.

(I'm not in any way affiliated with Taxi, other than being a member for the last three years.)
posted by platinum at 12:17 AM on September 24, 2007

nashville actually does have a good alt country scene, too--not as popularized as austin's, but that's because the country scene in austin doesn't have anything to compete with.

honestly, youtube and myspace might be enough to get you a booking, but you'll probably have to move here to get anyone of any significance to hear you.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:25 AM on September 24, 2007

A small insight into a European in Nashville is in Tony Hawks' (UK comedian not the skater) One Hit Wonderland. Amusing read if nothing else.
posted by i_cola at 4:57 AM on September 24, 2007

I echo earlier comments: MySpace, YouTube, MeFiMu.

All basically worthless for your purposes. You need to get demos of your songs recorded and shop them to music publishers. I'm afraid I don't have any firsthand experience with that, though.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:34 AM on September 24, 2007

Our lead singer has some Nashville connections. I posed your question to her and will post a response.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:39 PM on September 24, 2007

It's a shame that no one here has a goddamned idea about how Nashville works. Myspace, Youtube, Metafilter music? Just writing country stars?

Look, there's a whole industry based around what you need— they're called "song-pluggers." Unfortunately, the ones that I've known have turned into legitimate stars themselves, though if you were really serious, I could email a couple of Nashville contacts and have them recommend some folks. Ideally, you want a firm with which you have a personal relationship, because if they really believe in the songs, they'll work harder for you. If you're just a job, well, you're just a job. But google "song pluggers nashville" and see if you can't turn up at least a few leads to pursue.
posted by klangklangston at 1:45 PM on September 24, 2007

I really don’t think it makes a difference, in this stage of the game, whether you're in Europe, New York, Nashville, or Botswana.

Getting stuff in the hands of someone significant is the challenge no matter your geographical location or, in many instances, as you know, your talent.

While in Nashville, I have met people from England who were doing some songwriting stuff and their main resources were the songwriting organizations:

NSAI. TSAI. Songwriters Guild of America. That’s a good place to start.

posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:14 PM on September 24, 2007

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