Nashville Dispatch, Ya Gotta Love It: Song writer nights dos and don’ts


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Welcome to The Nashville Dispatch, a feature on NRI NOW

The Nashville Dispatch is a monthly column submitted by Burrillville native Keith Bradford, host of Ya Gotta Love It, a country music show on NBRN based in Nashville, Tenn.

Bradford covers topics in the music business designed to inform, entertain, and enlighten people interested in the topic, particularly in the country genre. Also a singer and song writer, Bradford is the owner and operator of KMA Records in Nashville and brings more than 60 years of industry knowledge to the endeavor.

Do you have questions about the music business? Have a topic or artist you’d like Keith to discuss? Send your questions and requests to

Song writer nights dos and don’ts

We used to tell song writers that were performing at song writer nights to try and not bring their lyric sheets up on the stage with them. The idea was if you couldn’t remember the words to the songs you wrote, then how in the world could you expect others to? Nowadays, the lyric sheets have been replaced with an iPad or cell phone. The same logic still applies, however. If you have a person or two accompanying you, it is acceptable to see music stands, but it is still discouraged to have any kind of lyric reference displayed while performing. 

 One of the drawbacks of staring at the screen or lyric sheet while singing, is that you no longer have eye contact with your audience. I guess a good example of what I am talking about is the news-caster reading the text off a sheet of paper. His or her head is positioned downward in order to read the script and it results in a lack of eye contact with the viewers. This can cause and is not limited to a lack of self-assurance and may result in your audience not viewing you as an authoritative figure.  

Another tip is do not spend too much time giving the back story on the song before you perform it. Later on in your career when you have had a hit or two you will have plenty of time to tell how, when, and where you wrote the song and the audience will enjoy it more.

Never apologize for your poor guitar playing or keyboard skills. It is an admission of guilt that is not going to win over anyone but rather bring attention to a negative vibe that doesn’t need to be addressed. If you are not comfortable enough accompanying yourself, then hire someone who is more accomplished. Don’t compromise your performance because of your lack of skill on your musical instrument.

Sing your songs the way you sing. Do not try to imitate a famous singer while performing your originals. A good producer can hear a song and match the song to the right artist. The ultimate goal is to not only have an artist record your song but to have many artists record your song. A great song can be recorded hundreds of times by many different artists. 

How would you like to have been the person who wrote, “White Christmas?”

The Music Business – Ya Gotta Luv It

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