Nashville Trax have been in business producing demos, master recordings and instrument tracks for songwriters and producers since 1991.
This blog contains numerous posts about songwriting technique,. music theory, artists seeking songs, song publishers seeking songs and more!
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com to inquire about:
- Having a demo, master quality single or album produced
- Adding instrument tracks played by Nashville session musicians to your self-produced project.
- Live stage performance tracks made of a cover song or original
Samples of our work are posted below .
Here are some MP3 samples of our song demo work. We produce Country, Christian, Blues, Americana, Bluegrass, Pop, Rock.. you name it.
Here are indie and major label song pitch opportunities
Not computer savvy? No time? No connections? You’d rather focus on song writing than on song promo? Here’s how we can promote your song for you. What a great time to be a songwriter!
Play It Again Demos is a service for songwriters who need high quality demos and CDs made of their work using Nashville session quality musicians and singers.
Nashville Trax is a project recording studio for singers and songwriters who either live in the area or wish to come to the Nashville area from other locations to record. Nashville may be known for country and bluegrass but these guys can play anything.
If you haven’t had much success with your music in the past using other studios and producers, hop on board and hold on. Things are about to change!
This blog is about songwriting, producing, recording and life. If we think it will help you out in some way, we post it. It’s free of charge and access is unrestricted, stop by anytime. Subscribe if you like, that’s free too.
This uptempo Christian song, part of a multi-song project for this client, has Country, Southern Gospel and R & B influences.
Hot off the press, so to speak, here’s Michael O’ Rourke’s Threshold of Love:
Drums and Percussion: Jim Riley
Fiddle: Jenee Fleenor
Guitars: Shawn Conley, Bill Watson,
Bass Guitar: Bill Watson
Keyboards: Bill Watson
Hand claps: Angela Derrington, Shawn Conley
Singers: A. J. Thacker and Angela Derrington
Tracking engineering: Shawn Conley, Bill Watson
Arranged produced and mixed by Bill Watson
Threshold of Love is © 2016 Michael D. Rourke, posted by permission. If you’re interested in recording this song; using it in a commercial application such as in a movie or on a website; or singing it in a performing situation please let us know and we’ll forward your request to the songwriter and song publisher.
If you have a song you’d like to have a similar sound, please reference this URL in your inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Thompson’s just-released video of the song he wrote for his long haul trucker son who tragically died when he fell asleep and crashed his rig about two months after Dan wrote it. Dan and his band are “lip syncing” and “air guitaring” to the track the Nashville Trax A team played on.
This video was made after Dan’s first trip here to record his vocals on three Dan Thompson penned tunes that producer, Bill Watson, arranged and produced prior.
A simple-to-shoot-and-edit video like this can be posted on You Tube as Dan has done. It’s extremely useful for promotion of your live shows and adding fans to your database, or if you don’t perform, you can monetize the video itself and get paid for the short ads that run each time someone clicks on it. One of our clients has made several of these videos, hiring actors to perform in fairly elaborate videos to the tracks we produce of songs he writes. He has hundreds of thousands of You Tube clicks on several of them and has quite a successful business going.
2-23-16 Bill Watson (center) and Shawn Conley (center) producing/engineering Dan Thompson’s vocals on 5 additional tunes Dan (pictured left, in booth) wrote to complete the album. Dan has one more meeting to hopefully seal a distribution deal through Sony.
Above: Dan Thompson performing at The George Jones Entertainment Complex in downtown Nashville on 2-21-16.
Musicians who played on the music track used in the above video:
Drums and percussion: Jim Riley (Rascal Flatts)
Acoustic and Electric Guitars: Tom Wild, (B.J. Thomas, Mindy McCready, Brenda Lee)
Bass guitar: Bill Watson (producer, Nashville Trax)
Vocals: Dan Thompson
Piano: Ronald Fairchild, (Oak Ridge Boys)
Fiddle: Jenee Fleenor (Blake Shelton, The Voice. Reigning winner of the CMA Touring Musician of th Year Award, Dec. 2015)
Engineers: Bill Watson, Shawn Conley
Produced & Arranged by Bill Watson.
The song and video of “Miles and Miles” is © 2016 Dan Thompson. It’s posted here for demonstration of production values only. Any other use is a violation of U.S. and International copyright laws.
Songwriter Dan Thompson Visits Nashville To Record Vocal Tracks For His CD Album, 1st single getting radio adds daily, 23 stations yesterday!Posted: July 6, 2015
Hi all! A hit song in the making?
On 10-29-15 Nashville Trax received a request by a program director in the U.K. for a copy of Dan Thompson’s single release, “Miles and Miles” because she noticed it rising rapidly on the European Spin Scan (SOCAN) list. Nothing surprising, we get requests from music publishers, artists and record companies for client’s songs all the time.
But when we forwarded the PD’s request to Dan we discovered that due to Dan’s promotional efforts, the song is being played on BBC radio, the largest station in the U.K., which has fueled the song’s addition to rotation on multiple stations.
How do you spell r-o-y-a-l-t-i-e-s?
This just in from Dan today:
“Yesterday (Nov. 3rd) Twenty-three traditional SOCAN reporting over-the-air and SOCAN reporting Internet radio stations in the U.S., Canada and Europe downloaded Miles and Miles for airplay use. Good reviews are coming in daily. A screen shot of the report is attached.”
Update from Dan: 12-3-15 “Miles & Miles is #2 on the top 10 Downloads on the STS tracking system. So going great, just need to finish the album!”
New Music Weekly, the #1 magazine serving the radio industry and music business, also did this press release on their site:
“Recording Artist, Danny Thompson is tearing up the air-waves once again with the title track release off his new album entitled: “Miles & Miles”. The current single, Miles & Miles, is receiving airplay all across Canada, England, North Ireland, Sweden, Poland, Australia, Switzerland, Japan and parts of the USA.
The new single has already positioned at 38 on the top 40 up and coming Country Internet Charts by STS USA, and is expected to move to the top 10 in the next couple of weeks.” N.M.W.
Editor’s note: Over the past few weeks Miles has risen from position 38, as of December 24th, it’s in position #3 . It’s also entered the top 40 AC/Hot AC main Charts, at #38 with over 2000 spins.
Exciting times for Dan!
Bill Watson, of Nashville Trax Recording Studios has produced client projects many ways: sometimes turnkey using session singers, never meeting the client; sometimes having the client in for the entire project from initial rhythm tracking to mix. In this case, Dan came to town for only the vocal session.
Dan sent, via e-mail, the mp3 roughs of three songs he penned to Watson, who wrote the arrangement, hired session players and produced the music. He then sent Dan a music mix to practice with. Dan then drove to the Nashville area from Canada (8 hours and only $70 in gas!).
Shawn Conley engineered while Watson coached/produced Dan’s vocal. The teamwork paid off with results so stunning that Dan has decided to move forward with a full CD album!
Here’s a clip of the song Dan penned for his son, a long haul trucker, who was tragically killed in an accident involving his rig just a few months after “Miles and Miles” was written:
Vocals: Dan Thompson
Drums: Jim Riley (Rascal Flatts)
Guitars: Tom Wild (B. J. Thomas, Mindy McCready, Brenda Lee)
Bass Guitar: Bill Watson (Nashville Trax’ producer)
Fiddle: Jenee Fleenor (Blake Shelton)
Tracking, Mix and Mastering Engineering: Bill Watson, Shawn Conley
Produced/Arranged: Bill Watson
And please do give a listen to Dan’s song from the same session, “Only Rednecks Do It Like That”:
As well as his traditional country song, “Our Love”:
*These mp3 samples will be louder in volume than most on this blog site because they went through the additional step of mastering.
** Only Rednecks Do It Like That, Our Love and Miles and Miles © 2015 Dan Thompson and are provided as a demonstration of production values only. Any other use violates U.S. and International copyright law. Requests for copies by program directors for radio rotation and requests by other parties interested in recording or performing these songs or using them in TV, film or other commercial use, e-mailed to email@example.com will be forwarded to the songwriter and/or publisher.
Yet another satisfied client offers us an unsolicited testimonial regarding music recording work we’ve done for them!
This time it’s Amarish Dave, a client Bill Watson first worked with toward the end of 2008, when he produced the first of four Amarish’s recordings to date.
Amarish was moved to give us this unsolicited testimonial after receiving, in July of 2015, “Boom Buh Jinjee” a rap song written by his 10 year old son, intended for the children’s market:
“I have had Bill work with me on 4 songs, each of different genre, country, pop/rock, and recently rap style. All done well and professionally. I highly recommend his work.” Amarish Dave
Here’s a brief sample of the Boom Buh Jinjee raw track mix, ready for Amarish to add his son’s vocals:
And the guide track (for his son to follow when he records the keeper vocal) Amarish received featuring Samantha, our go-to voice for these type of projects:
Boom Buh Jinjee is © 2015 Amarish Dave and is posted here for demonstration of production values only. No other use is permitted. If you wish to record this song or use this production the songwriter holds all rights, including the right of first release.we will be glad to forward your interest to him.
Pre-Production Started On 10 song album for Blues Guitarist Tony Pizzino. Bill Watson/Jack White co-producing.Posted: May 5, 2015
Pre-production has started for a 10 song album featuring blues guitarist Tony Pizzino and singer Grant Anderson. Bill Watson will be playing bass on it, as well as co-producing with Jack White, who will also be playing drums. Tony is flat out amazing on blues guitar and Grant has a unique, totally awesome voice that naturally leans toward blues They’ve both written some excellent songs for the project. Bill, Tony and Jack recorded test rhythm tracks back in August.
Update: This album is in progress. Several songs have been tracked and a Christian spinoff project is underway with a song titled “Finally Free” tracked and rough mixed, and another titled “Into The Light” being co-written by Bill and Grant.
The Crows Run Band Story, The Early Days: John Roebuck, Bill Watson, Nudist Colonies and Rock & RollPosted: May 10, 2014
Crows’ Run Band, began performing with four pieces in the Pittsburgh, PA area during the 1970’s. The group typically played five to seven nights each week, but after only 15 months into Bill Watson’s first stint as lead guitarist with the group, and with plenty of work on the schedule, they disbanded for a period due to personal reasons.
A few years later guitarist/singer, John Roebuck, reformed CRB in a three piece drums, guitar and bass guitar configuration that eventually saw Bill Watson return playing bass rather than lead guitar. Watson, who now produces music and plays on sessions for his Nashville, Tennessee based music recording business, Nashville Trax, soon began alternating between guitar and bass with lead singer/guitarist John Roebuck. Watson, predominately on bass, would sing 3 or 4 songs per set, switching briefly from bass to play guitar while singing.
CRB achieved a degree of local notoriety during the 1980’s with Paul Dennis in the drum chair. They won a local band contest in spite of competing against bands as large as six pieces. They also released a cassette album mix of originals and cover songs, one of Watson’s first producing efforts. After five years with that configuration, Watson left the group, forming The Billy Elroy Band with Watson on lead vocals and guitar, Don Plum on bass guitar and vocals and “Stitz” (Forrest Stolz) on drums. The Billy Elroy Band went on to moderate success, working steadily for four years, developing a sound that featured intricate vocal harmony, but it was without Plum, who dropped out early, replaced by Butch Curry on bass and harmony vocals. Plum wouldn’t work with Watson again until the band Sidewinder was formed by Watson and drummer, Jimi Miller, in the early 90’s.
In 1991 Bill Watson returned to The Crows’ Run band for the third and final time with Watson on bass guitar and the talented Mike Thellman playing drums, creating a thunderous rhythm section to complement John Roebuck’s powerful vocals and unique guitar playing. But after only a little over a year into the third go-round of performing in small bars, clubs and the local nudist colony, Watson, desiring to focus on propelling CRB to a level beyond the small bar scene, but meeting resistance, became unhappy.
Eventually Watson and Roebuck parted ways, opening the space for Watson and drummer Jimi Miller to form the highly successful and exciting five piece concert band, Sidewinder, with Julie Peterson on bass/vocals, radio celebrity Jimi Miller on drums, Watson’s girlfriend (later his wife) Rhonda Watson, a recording artist in her own right, who would later tour overseas, on keyboards and lead vocals.
Sidewinder was high energy, modern country, served up concert style, just as country rock was replacing traditional country music on radio stations.
Don Plum initially joined Sidewinder on acoustic guitar, but later took Peterson’s spot on bass.
Watson and Plum both continued with Sidewinder, riding the wave of success through various configurations, one with Watson’s cousin David Watson. on drums, until Bill Watson moved permanently to Nashville in 2004 to pursue music producing.
Songwriter extraordinaire, K.C. Steele, a.k.a. Kami Stackhouse, has commissioned us to produce three more song demos. These will be country, no-holds-barred, full band style including drums, bass guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, fiddle, steel and mandolin. One song may even get a banjo part!
Awesome tunes! Producer Bill Watson is scheduled to begin creating the arrangements, choosing musicians and charting early next week.- T. M.
Want pro sounding, radio friendly productions? Tip #1: Use great players like David. Need more? Try these:
Music Production Tip:
How To Arrange Your Song and Choose the Right Musicians
Although I now produce music for Nashville Trax I started out years ago with a little 4 track cassette machine doing home recordings. I can relate to all the problems you’re experiencing in attempting to achieve a professional sound.
One area you’re almost certainly falling short in is musicianship.Back in the day I programmed a drum machine, played bass guitar, then added a couple guitar tracks, then played keyboards, sang, added background vocals and voila, a one man band!
It didn’t sound bad, in fact it was usually very good. I was a decent player, session quality on bass, and understood drumming to a degree. But there was no way I could play some of those instruments as well as a dedicated studio player who had focused on that one instrument for years, every day, eight to twelve hours a day.
No way could I, a hack keyboard player at best, get a sound out of a $500 keyboard that equaled the tone of a pro player’s $5,000 keyboard, let alone play it near as well. No way could me playing bass to a drum machine match up with a rhythm track created by a session quality live drummer and bassist. Drum machines or drum loops will never deliver the feel and expression of a live drummer playing a custom track on your song.
There are plenty of articles out there about how to mix, how to use EQ, etc. all saying “this is what you do to achieve a great sound”. but if you don’t have groove, pocket, pitch and the basic musical elements, you’ll tweak those knobs until ten days after the world explodes and never get that pro mix you’re looking for. Here’s my tip: Start with pro musicians. If you play, play your best instrument and hire the rest.
Not only will you have trouble making your $500 bass match up to the tone of a $5,000 professional grade instrument, unless you focus on bass guitar to the exclusion of almost everything else in your life, you’ll likely come up short on the performance: the tightness, the note selection, the groove! You most likely can’t and won’t deliver the definitive performance the song you labored over deserves.
If $350 microphones through a $500 preamp typical of the gear used in a home recording sounded as good as a $10,000 microphone through a $2.200 Avalon into $10,000 of software in a vocal chain, no one would buy a $10,000 mic or Avalon or expensive software. But they do. Think about it.
This shouldn’t discourage you, this should encourage you: Just like great quarterbacks don’t play defensive tackle, few people are a one man band and when you get to the “big leagues” of music, almost everyone is a specialist.
What I learned when I moved to Nashville is that live playing and session work are two very different animals; some people are born with a rare talent to play perfectly in pocket, all the time, every time. Many great live players who are good enough to play for major recording artists are not session quality players. So if you’re doing everything yourself, or using your live band’s local drummer to play on your tracks, it may be fun, it may sound “pretty good”, but it probably won’t give you a truly pro recording.
I do understand you want to produce your project at home or you wouldn’t be reading this post, you’d be reading the one that explains why the smartest thing may be to let me produce your track start to finish. You probably want to play on it, and I know you want your hands on the buttons. But strong caution: if you want a pro sound, if you want to truly compete with demos where specialists are involved in every step and hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment are used, choose your best instrument or two and hire session quality players for the remainder. These days you can do that right over the Internet. Need a session quality drummer? Simply click here.
In fact, the rhythm section is a huge factor in determining how pro a recording will sound. If you play guitar and/or keys then I think you’d be wise to order a session quality drum and bass guitar track, then use that firm foundation to build on. Even better, hire out a basic rhythm section of rhythm guitar, drums and bass guitar, then build your project on that, adding acoustic guitar, keys, lead guitar and other instruments.
And if your song needs other instruments, they’re easy to add also!
Perhaps the biggest decision you’ll make on any song as a producer is choosing the right singer. In my opinion, the singer IS the song! You need a great one to put your song across. You know as well as I do that while you might “sing great” you aren’t the right choice for everything!
Keep this link in your back pocket: Vocal Tracks Online It may bail you out the next time you are trying to record a tune and know you don’t have quite the right singer available.
So back to my roots: after the 4 track it was 8 track reel-to-reel, then 16 track then 8 track digital, then two 8 track digital units midi’d as master/slave, then 16, then two 16 track digitals midi’d to make 32 tracks, a real 32 track digital machine and finally, the king daddy: Pro Tools HD. As I progressed through every configuration known to man, lol, I kept thinking, “Okay, so if I just had more tracks, then I could make this sound like the recordings they play on the radio.”
Guess what? Even with unlimited tracks and a state-of-the-art recording platform I still came up short. It’s probably not more tracks you need. In fact, it’s not any one thing, it’s almost everything! It’s skill, experience, musicianship, outboard gear, microphones, the rooms you record in, your mixing skills, your tracking skills, your experience with arranging, your musical knowledge, microphone placement…man, I could go on for days…okay, minutes at least, lol.
So if I could go back and talk to myself at the 4 track stage I’d tell myself what I’m going to tell you now: “Instead of chasing gear, learn to use what you have better, continually improve your skills at what you have a natural talent for, figure out what you do best, and interface with others who can fill in your weak areas.”
For most home producers, their greatest weakness, their biggest downfall, is mixing. They don’t have the experience, the room, the gear, the expertise, training or more importantly, the ears, to mix at a pro level. So even if you choose to do the one man band thing or hire local live quality musicians, you might want to consider hitting this link for your mix.
As far as arranging a song, the first hurdle is to be sure the songwriting is sound. If your chorus sounds almost indistinguishable from your verses you need to do some rewriting. Arrangement can certainly enhance chorus/verse separation but it shouldn’t have to carry the ball by itself! I may introduce a new instrument at the chorus but I want the note values in the melody or the number of bars on each chord…something inherent in the song structure, to change! If you play the song on acoustic guitar do listeners know when you hit the chorus?
Another good arranging tip: Cover the entire musical spectrum somewhat evenly. How even can vary song-to-song but if you have a ton of guitar tracks and other mid-range stuff, consider helping the cymbals out with a high pitched keyboard pat or a mandolin EQ’d to favor the high end, etc. panned to a different space in the mix than where you’re placing the cymbals. Typically the overheads are panned hard right and hard left so maybe place your mando at 2 o’ clock….experiment to see where it sounds best!
You also have to be very careful there aren’t any “dogfights” going on. That’s where the guitarist and the bass and the sax player are all trying to fill the same spot or worse, playing on top of the vocal. For the most part melodic fills should be played only in between vocal phrases and by only one instrument, unless two instruments are doubling the same part or playing in harmony.
So hopefully some of this helps you achieve higher quality recordings. I’d love to give you more but this post got long in the tooth quite a while ago. Thanks for hanging in and I look forward to giving you additional home producing tips in upcoming posts.- bill watson
My songwriting collaborator, Amesh David and I, have agreed to move forward on a master session recording and video of our pop song Silence Is Full of Sound. I produced demos on 3 songs we wrote together and, this past weekend, we decided Silence is worthy of further copyright exploitation.
We will begin seeking incremental funding within the next 30 days. More details will be posted as they become available. The post will demonstrate the steps you can take to use a good quality demo costing hundreds, such as one made at Play It Again Demos to fund a master project costing thousands.
Looking to have a Contemporary Christian song demo produced that needs to rock? Please give a listen to this. Powerful rock drumming by David Northrup as well as bass guitar, rhythm guitar and lead guitar tracks played by Bill Watson supply energy to inspire the two female vocalists. Jessica Brooks delivers a heartfelt, emotional lead track as Nashville session singer Taryn M, lays down those awesome gospel influenced bgvs. 8 tracks of stacked bgv tracks, no less! Ron Fairchild adds greatly on piano also. We Pray is © 2013, posted by permission. If you’re interested in recording this song; using it in a commercial application such as in a movie or on a website; or singing it in a performing situation please let us know and we’ll forward your request to the songwriter and song publisher. Play It Again Demos version of We Pray:
Vocals: Jessica Brooks and Taryn M
Piano: Ron Fairchild (The Oak Ridge Boys)
Drums: David Northrup (Travis Tritt, The Oaks)
All Guitars and Bass Guitar: Bill Watson
Produced and Arranged by Bill Watson for Nashville Trax and songwriter Dan Mathews.
How about that singer? Clear and emotional, she can put a song like this across! Why not your song?. Pro demos make everyone- friends, family, artists, record company A & R and music publishers- take notice. Have 3 or 4 pro demos to peddle and they’ll brand you as a pro-level songwriter every time you pitch them. We would be thrilled to do that for you! If you would like a quote on making a professional version of your song simply drop an e-mail with your MP3 rough version attached to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the details of what you want. We’ll likely bat a couple e-mails back and forth before we figure out an exact price. It can be completed over the Internet or you can be present for the entire project. Write in another style? There are more samples of work to your left in Categories > Samples of Our Work. We do bluegrass, rock, country, pop, rap, hip-hop, blues you name it!
Basket Case at 3rd & Lindsley, Left to Rt: Steve King (keyboard); Holly Steele (background vocals); Rodney Ingle (background vocals); Tom Wild (guitar); Kristen McNamara (lead vocals); Bill Watson (bass guitar/bandleader); Tigar Bell (fiddle) ; John Heinrick, (sax). Background: David Northrup, (drums).
I received the first e-mail from songwriter Jon Smith back in my short hair days, 2005 I believe, saying he was disappointed with the work he’d received on his songs at several other Nashville studios and asking that 5 songs be produced for him at a budget far higher than any I’d experienced up to that point. The previous attempts to record his songs were interesting and the musicians competent, Jon said, but the music was flat, bland. There was no magic that he was sure was there.
We found it.
That initial e-mail led to multiple sessions totaling over 80 songs, a friendship, lots of rehearsals at S.I.R, and Soundcheck Nashville, a CD release, two videos and this live band that played Jon Smith tunes at venues in the greater Nashville area. What great fun it was!
Over the years of producing those sessions I used a lot of different top Nashville session players, excellent musicians all, but when Jon asked that a band be assembled so he could hear his songs performed live, I chose the ones I considered not just great musicians and singers, but also friends.
And my friends came through big time, the band sounded fantastic!
We initially resisted Jon’s suggestion that the male members wear white coats, but it turned out to be simply one more stroke of Jon genius. We only did a few gigs but quickly became known as “the white coat band” and it was memorable enough people still mention it occasionally, always referencing the white coats.
Here’s a swingin’ little tune that always made the setlist:
My Tears Are Puttin’ Out Your Fire is © 2007 Jon Smith. Co-writers: Jon Smith/Bill Watson, produced by Bill Watson. Used by permission.
That’s the studio version of MTAPOYF I produced in ’07 using mostly the same band pictured above.
Jon’s work was where I learned how to use horns effectively as opposed to creating a train wreck. Arranging, doubling, combining different horns together, stabs, swells, stacked horn tracks… if you have a tune you need sax, trumpet, clarinet or trombone on, or any combination of them, you’re at the right place! Send out an e-mail to email@example.com and ask for a quote!
I have the vids around of the band yet too and when I get around to it, will post some footage- b.e.