Mad Sun Marketing’s Laura B. Whitmore hosted a panel at Summer NAMM 2013 featuring top figures in the Nashville songwriting scene.The panel, consisting of John Ozier of ole’ Music Publishing, hit songwriters Marty Dodson and Liz Hengber, and Dean Burner of the band Edens Edge, covered tops from song form to collaboration. Panelists shared insights and anecdotes that kept the capacity audience enthralled.

The panel was sponsored by NewBay Media, publishers of Guitar World, Guitar Player, Bass Player, Electronic Musician, Keyboard Magazine and more. Whitmore also conducted a workshop on Marketing and PR for Musicians. Notes from that presentation can be downloaded here:

Notes from the panel are below.

JULY 13, 2013

Presented by:
Laura B Whitmore –

John Ozier – ole’ Music Publishing,
Liz Hengber – find out more about her book at
Marty Dodson – check out his new organization at
Dean Burner – Edens Edge,


Ideas and hooks:
Keep you ideas in a tickler file – on your phone, in a book, etc.
Writing from the hook helps you know where you are going before you start
Marty uses the Bento database – it helps sync ideas
Grab somebody in the first line
Watch movies and TV to find great hooks
Find a great author that says things in interesting ways
Quotes can be a resource for hooks

Try not to be stubborn and be supportive when collaborating
There needs to be an equality in the room
Check your ego at the door
Go out of your element so you are not in any one person’s domain

A good song:
It’s not a science – it’s a feeling
If it gets me from the first line then it works
Odds are better to get a song picked up that is up tempo
Does it need to be a pro demo – it depends on the song but it should sound good

Writing habits:
Write every day
Pretend you are a staff writer even if you aren’t already
Pre write
Be smart about who you are writing with
Try to co-write with an artist
Don’t demo everything you wrote
Figure out what you do well and try to be the best at it. Partner with someone who compliments your strengths

Be the face that people want to see coming
Tell the truth
Have thick skin
Be positive
Treat it like a business – educate yourself on what people do
Read Liz Hengber’s book
Entering contests can be beneficial, ie International songwriting contest
Go to ASCAP website to see contests they endorse
It’s hard to be a pro songwriter and not be in the right market
Hangout where other songwriters are like the Bluebird café,
Find the publisher who digs you and that can help you go far
Try to develop a relationship with a staff writer
Pay attention and see if there is another writer that you think will get picked up. Write with them