Songwriting

Songwriter Marty Dodson’s History Of A Cut

by Marty Dodson
Dec 2, 2016

On January 16th, 2013, I met with Mark Nesler and Josh Osborne at my publishing company at 10:30AM. The three of us had never written together before. We threw around ideas and finally found one we were all excited about. We decided on the title “Don’t Hold It Against Me”. My idea was “If you can’t give me your heart, don’t hold it against me”. We wrote the song fairly quickly. Maybe an hour and a half.

We knew that we liked the song, but we weren’t jumping up and down over it. We tend to be overly pessimistic in regard to any given song’s chances. We turned the song in at our respective publisher’s. We got some decent feedback, but nothing overwhelming. All of our publishers liked it, but none of them were jumping up and down either. We decided to demo it because we didn’t get any negative feedback on it. We recorded a great demo on it and turned it in. The responses started to get better. All of our publishers thought they could get the song cut.

A little competitive energy started to develop. All of the pluggers involved were trying to beat the others to the punch and get the song cut. The pluggers started getting positive feedback on the song. Everyone they played it for wanted a copy or they wanted song on “hold” until they could play it for their artist. Sometime during the summer of 2013, Easton Corbin’s record label put the song on hold. They told us they planned to cut it in August.

August came and we found out the day after their recording date that they did not cut the song, but they “really loved it” and wanted to record it in October. October came and word came down that they didn’t record it once again but they “loved” it still and were going to cut it “for sure” in January when they finished the record. You can imagine the skepticism that evoked in me.

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They had passed the song by on two consecutive recording sessions and they had the song on hold for over 6 months. On January 5th, 2014, I got word that the song was still in “the mix” but Easton was wanting to cut songs he wrote. The forecast for getting the song cut was not good. My publisher and I started contacting everyone involved to lobby for the song. I e-mailed Easton’s producer and reminded him that he had only cut two of my songs previously and they were both #1 songs. I suggested that “Don’t Hold It Against Me” could be our third #1 together.

On January 6, 2014, they finally cut the song on Easton. Whether or not it makes the album remains to be seen. (Note from August 2016 – It didn’t make the record, so we are pitching it again).

More often than not, I have had songs go through this process and NOT get cut. The more they put it off, the less likely the song is to get recorded. The moral of the story is this. It takes a LONG time to move from writing a great song to getting it cut.

There’s a lot more involved in getting a cut than simply writing a great song. Unrealistic expectations trip up many songwriters. We get the idea that things need to happen on a certain time schedule. In reality, they never will.

Trying to hurry our careers along won’t work. Things have to happen organically. There is no way to “hurry” a song along. Once you write it, it is largely our of your hands. There are many layers between your writing a great song and getting one cut. There can be a large delay between writing a song and seeing something happen.

A REALLY LONG delay is not uncommon. My advice to every aspiring writer is this: Just write a lot and enjoy it. Don’t obsess over trying to get EVERY song you write cut. Make sure that every song you write is real and honest. Give your best to every song. The secret is to write good songs every day and never give up. Some of those songs will turn out to be great. Others will be elevated by an amazing demo and BECOME great. You do all you can do and then you move on.

There is very little you can do after you write the song. So, you dig deep, you write the best song you can write on any given day, and then you – write on.

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson is a multi-hit songwriter, co-founder of SongTown, and co-author of  The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Cowriting and Song Building: Mastering Lyric Writing

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