The Right of First Release: It’s Importance to a Songwriter


When you write a new song you automatically have an intangible, yet potentially valuable, right called “the right of first release.” It simply means you have the right to determine the when, where and who of the song’s first public release.

After that first public release that right is forever lost. From that point on it’s open season. Anyone who wants to record the song after the initial release can simply notify you of their intention and request that a mechanical license be issued. You do not have the right to refuse that request. If you fail to honor it, and they have proof they requested a license but were ignored, they can proceed without it, and if you pursue them, pay you at that point.

You have the option to grant a license for up to 10.000 copies with a small sum paid in advance to cover the first 2,000 copies downloaded or sold. The current statutory rate is 9.1 cents per copy so it totals $182.00. Get it, if it’s an independent release it may be your only payment from that version.

Yes, this means if you are a singer and want to record a cover of a hit song by a famous artist you may do so provided you obtain the mechanical license.

Giving up your right to first release can affect your options later. It may limit the number of outside artists who will be interested in your song. If you have a “big name” artist interested, but a less popular artist releases it just prior, the big name may lose interest. That situation isn’t common, just possible; many songs have a first release plus multiple covers by many different artists. Some songs have been recorded by hundreds of artists.

Also rare but possible, a music publisher may decide to pass on signing a song that doesn’t have the right of first release attached- b.e.

Sax Tracks Online! Real, Custom Saxophone Tracks For Your Self Produced Project

Have a Nashville session sax player, the sensational, John Heinrich, ready to add his work to yours! Oh it will sound so good!

Check out:

Sax Tracks Online

You don’t have to worry about what microphone to purchase. No worries about acoustics or microphone placement. No fretting over where you can find a great sax player who can actually deliver you a useable track. Just make an mp3 mix, e-mail it, pay via Pay Pal and a pristine sax part played by the amazing John Heinrich comes back at you in no time!

Sax Tracks Online

John Heinrich, Sax Tracks Online

Songwriting: Tips On Writing Contemporary Christian Rock Songs

Just a few quick tips gleaned from working with the church band the last few weeks that will help you when writing Contemporary Christian rock songs. There are several elements that are common to them you might keep in mind as you write:

1. They tend to follow the intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus format.

2. They frequently present a twist on that format: A chorus upfront. Or perhaps an instrumental interlude appears very early in the song and again just prior to the bridge or final chorus. Or a chorus or a bridge repeats many times more than you might in a secular tune aimed at getting radio airplay, this is usually in a worship song at a medium or slow tempo.

3. There are Christian songs and there are worship songs. The lyric in a worship song focuses on worship God in a personal way, i.e., “You are The King, the savior, you are the glorified one.”

4. The chords tend toward simple four chord progressions but an amazing number use the tonic, a.k.a. the 1 chord, followed by the 5 chord with the bass playing the third of that chord instead of the root, then on to the relative minor (E, B/D#, C#m) or (G, D/F#/ Em) to give two examples. In the Nashville Number System it’s the 1, 5/7, 6- progression.

The “Glorify You Alone” video above utilizes that very progression as well as several other tips presented in this post.

5. The lyrics tend to be simple, there aren’t many CC rock tunes that feature wordy lyrics or complex concepts. One exception to that is the lyrical masterpiece “He Loves Us” (Jesus Culture, David Crowder Band and others) with it’s lines like this in the Jesus Culture version: “And Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss and my heart turns violently inside of my chest.”

6. The bass line and drum chart often create the dynamics of the arrangement, which typically builds as the song progresses. In some songs, the build reaches an apex then quiets up at the end, some songs plow right on through at full tilt, apex to end.

7. The bass guitar lays out a lot. It might stay out until the chorus appears or even until the second chorus. Sometimes, even in a chorus or verse where you’d normally expect it to continue, the bass and drums drop out, then drums play alone, then the bass comes in to provide power, maybe thumping quarter notes then going to eighths and the bass/drums really drive the song hard at that point.

7. Thumping out eighth notes on bass is very common, especially at tempos around 80 beats per minute, but it can occur at any tempo anywhere the lyric gets intense and emotional. Sometimes it’s “pound out 8ths” beginning to end with just a few runs tossed in here and there.

“Glorious” by B.J. Putnam is 145 BPM and most of the choruses are driven by 8ths while verse 1 is whole notes and V2 does a cool little delayed scale walk starting on the “&” of beat 2.

Although you can write your song on acoustic guitar and let the musicians on the demo provide some of the elements discussed here, as well as decide where they should happen, I believe envisioning, or “hearing” how it will sound in regards to dynamics- where does the supporting music stay quiet and where does it get huge- can positively affect the lyric writing process- B.E. Watson

Breaking News: David Northrup Takes Oak Ridge Boys’ Gig

David Northrup at Red Rocks

Our studio session player is ready to cut your drum track!

One of our two studio drummers, David Northrup has accepted a position to drum for The Oaks. David’s credits are extensive. His last steady artist gig was with Travis Tritt. Much luck David!

Unfortunately that means Chris Golden, son of William Golden, has been let go. We were told that William Golden was not part of that decision, but was gracious when informed.

David Northrup will remain available to record on your songs when he’s in town.

Hear David play.

Mr. Mike Rocks : Steel Guitar Tracks Over The Internet

If your project needs excellent pedal steel guitar, rather than hire a local player consider getting your steel guitar tracks over the Internet.


Because there are no frets steel can be pitchy. Because steel can be hard to control, it needs to be played evenly and smoothly. Because steel needs to fit into a track like a hand in a glove you need a player with extensive experience at doing just that. And because tone quality is everything.

To get all that you need a Nashville session quality player. Our pedal steel player, Mr. Mike, available through our Nashville Trax Recording Studio service, Steel Guitar Tracks Online, is your guy. He delivers world class tracks on demand. His resume is so extensive it would require pages to list every famous artist he’s worked with but a few of his performance and recording credits include: Bonnie Raitt, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Peter Frampton, ZZ Top, Conway Twitty, Neil Young…some of the true legends of rock, blues, folk and country.

Here’s Mike just ten days ago getting cued by Billy Gibbons to play a solo in ZZ Top’s “La Grange” with Peter Frampton and Randy Bachman (BTO) staring him down. He nails it, of course. The pedal steel solo begins at 5:18:

Like everyone who is a regular on the roster here, Mike is a Christian and well knows his talent is a God-given gift. If you’re a player wondering how you can have a career like Mike’s don’t emulate his playing, develop your style and emulate his faith in God. It’s He who makes amazing things happen.

Clients Report Success with YouTube, iTunes, Kickstarter and Other I-venues.

Bill Watson, music producer Nashville Trax, Play It Again Demos

Bill Watson, music producer @ Nashville Trax

Wow, what a time in history to be a songwriter, it’s amazing!

Google Play, You Tube, iTunes, Amazon Advantage, Kickstarter, websites, e-mail marketing through Constant Contact…Songwriters don’t need record labels anymore to recoup an investment in demos and promo!

Clients are reporting great success with Play It Again Demos and Nashville Trax productions!

Gary Nowak’s YouTube video “Gasoline” (a song produced at Play It Again Demos which Gary posts under the name “Jess Mei”) is closing in on a half million views. You Tube pays for views of original song material as well as cuts the owner in on ad revenue.

Help Gary get the ball rolling on our latest work for him, the song A Miracle At Work which he built his new video around, just posted under his “Jess Mei” moniker.

And yet another client, Nicholas Gianetti reports getting a Nashville Trax single funded for $40,000 for a video, CD and promo through Kickstarter.

When I received an e-mail from Jim Bussey saying that he’d earned over $300,000 on his song “I can See It In Your Eyes” from various Internet sources to date, it struck me that he invested $1.200 in the recording and profited by over $298,000! Yet there’s likely some guy out in Ames, Iowa somewhere who had an equally good song but chose a different company over Nashville Trax, and received the typical competent, but bland, recording.

And the song went nowhere.

He’s probably walking around the streets of Ames thinking, “Man, good thing I saved that extra $250 bucks that Play It Again company wanted!”

When I started into the business everything was done by mail. There were no MP3s to shoot around on the Internet in seconds. No YouTube videos to instantly publish your song to the world.

Looking back, it was ridiculous what songwriters went through to get a song contracted with a major label or major music publisher. But that was the only game on the planet. Impress the gatekeepers or else.

Or else your songs stayed in a drawer or you played a home made demo for family and friends only.

People did “indie projects” but good luck getting anywhere, advertising in print medium was too costly to sustain. And getting the free publicity necessary via radio airplay? It happened, but very rarely. Now free and nearly free marketing opportunities abound.

The gatekeepers are still there generating 1.000 rejection letters and e-mails for every, “please let us contract this song” phone call.

They are still a valid path to try in pursuit of a major label Billboard hit but songwriters don’t need them anymore to be heard! There was an article in the last Nashville Scene noting that some songwriters are making more on YouTube than they would with a Billboard hit through a major label deal.

Google Play, You Tube, iTunes, Amazon Advantage, Kickstarter, websites, e-mail marketing…Songwriters simply don’t need the big company investment anymore to recoup an investment in demos and promo!

Songwriters don’t need them to make income from songs!

Frankly, if the gatekeepers ever disappear entirely, I won’t miss them much. How about you?– b.e. watson

Artists Looking For Songs: Jason Aldean

acoustic guitar photo

Producer Michael Knox is looking for songs for Jason Aldean.

Knox is the Creative Director of Peer Music and is known mostly for his work on previous Jason Aldean recordings. Only established music publishing companies with a well established relationship with Michael Knox or Peer may submit.

Unpublished songwriters should submit their work only through a Nashville music publisher as described above.

One such publisher is: Contact for permission before submitting.


There is currently no deadline for this project.

Now Tracking: Perry Zorini’s Foolish Pride

How would YOUR song sound with a Nashville pro singing it? Awesome!

How would YOUR song sound with a Nashville pro singing it? Awesome!

We’ve picked up a new client and from Japan no less! Songwriter Perry Zorini has committed to a guitar/vocal of his song “Foolish Pride” which we’ll write charts on this coming Friday and hopefully record Monday. How’s that for fast?

Banjo Tracks Online Gives Home Recording Producers Banjo Tracks Over The Internet

SSL 4000 E Series Console Channel Strip Being Used On Banjo Recording

SSL 4000 E Series Console Channel Strip Being Used On Banjo

Need a session quality banjo track played by a full time Nashville session player? You could spend hundreds to come to Nashville, rent studio time and hope you get a great player. Or simply order your banjo part for just $75 right over the Internet at Nashville Trax’ Banjo Tracks Online!

Does it work? You be the judge:

Hi Bill,

Hope you are doing well today.

Thought you might like to hear how I put your special touch to work in my recent demo.

Here´s the link:

Thanks a bunch for the great work. Got another one coming in a couple weeks, if all goes according to plan.

Danny Shain

Now Tracking : 4 Songs just booked. Yours too?

Play It Again Demos performing band silhouette

We have been contracted by singer/songwriter Stephene Bouchard of Canada, to record four original songs of various styles, with pre-production charting and rhythm section tracking (drums, bass, piano, guitar) the first two steps in the process of working long distance.

Update: Sorting through the tracks now and the first song is in Stephene’s hands to add vocals. We sent a rough mix of drums. bass and guitar rhythm tracks on a .wav file (via Hightail) of his song “Real Love”. Once back and we can hear exactly where the vocals sit, we’ll add the piano, strings and other overdubs. The mix will be done here.

Update: Stephane has also been forwarded a rough mix of “To Find You” to add vocals to.

Yes singers, it’s that easy to get a pro quality demo or CD over the Internet! Cost? Some of the four tunes are more complex than others but we agreed on an average of only $750 per song! That includes a full day of studio time per song, pre-production work, rhythm tracking, sending files back & forth, overdubs and mixing. Good deal!

How To Get Better Drum Sounds and better Drum Mixes : Quick Tips

Our studio, Nashville Trax, is known for getting great drum sounds and great drum mixes. Even seasoned Nashville session drummers are impressed.

I hear many amateur mixes as part of our demo service and drum-tracks-online that are shot in the foot simply because the foundation, drums, just aren’t very good.

My analysis of why out drum tracks get such rave reviews and how you can get that quality too?

1. Start with a great drummer. You’re not going to get a drum track that sounds like David Northrup (Travis Tritt, Wynonna Judd, John Cougar Mellencamp) or Montgommery Gentry’s drummer, William Ellis, unless you have a player of their caliber and they’re very few and far between outside the session player world. Those guys are born with talents that are extremely rare. The biggest mistake is to use a “great live drummer” for a recording. Very few can translate their skills into playing tight enough in the studio.

2. Use a quality kit tuned to sound good in a mix and play it into the right microphones. Our Sennheiser, Shure and Audio Technica combination features microphones designed for each specific drum. Biggest mistake? Gathering up “the best microphones available” and forcing them to work.

3. Use quality preamps. For example we run our bass drum microphone through a $2,500 Avalon compressor/pre. Is it any wonder session guys often comment on how amazing and solid the kick sounds?

4. Gate and EQ the tracks individually. Gate to get rid of the bleed not needed. EQ to cut unneeded frequencies as well as to improve tone, but if you have the right microphone and EQ coming in for any variation needed specific to the song, you won’t need to worry about tone much, the drum will sound great as recorded. Mistake? Too much playing with EQ can induce weirdness into the whole mix.

I’ll do another post soon on the actual drum mixing but if all this is beyond your ability/budget then why not consider hiring a session drummer at the drum-tracks-online link above? For a mere fraction of what you’d pay for renting microphones or what you’d waste in studio time on a drummer who fails, we can provide a rock solid foundation for you to build on- b.e.