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Michael Blanton’s Songwriting University Partners Aspiring and Hit Songwriters in Joint Venture


July 8, 2020 Courtesy of Everything Nash by Gayle Thompson

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For aspiring songwriters, finding a way to turn an idea — even a good one — into a successful song is a challenging task. Thanks to seasoned music industry veteran Michael Blanton, the process can now be a bit easier. Michael co-launched Songwriting University with Gary Glover, founder of Nashville Arts and Entertainment magazine, along with songwriters Joe Beck and Billy Sprague, as a way to connect those who want to write songs with those who have already had hit songs as a writer.

“This is really about supporting the iconic signature of Nashville, which is about songwriters,” Michael told Everything Nash. “And so, when they asked me to come join and be one of the founders, I was like, ‘Absolutely. I love this idea.’ To me, it’s really honoring the fact that Nashville has always been Music City, and a lot of that has been because of the songwriter, the quality of songwriters that we have here.”

Songwriting University began not only to help aspiring writers, but to also help established songwriters, who have faced struggles over the last several years as the entire music industry changed.

“As a reference point, ten, maybe 12 years ago, there were probably 4500 writers in the Nashville area who all had publishing deals,” Michael noted. “The majority of those deals have gone away because publishers can’t support them, because nobody is buying CDs. They’re buying one file at a time, and now they’re streaming and it’s also free. So we’re probably down to 450 writers that are actually fully signed.

“We’ve got a lot of writers here in town that have had big success, but they don’t have a publishing deal,” he continued. “So this is really an attempt to go, ‘Let’s kind of circle the wagon. We’ll begin to really honor Nashville because it’s a songwriting town. Let’s figure out how to export that through a digital portal.’

Songwriting University has an impressive list of writers on its faculty. They recently added Suzie McNeil (of Steven Tyler’s Loving Mary Band) and Blessid Union of Souls’ Eliot Sloan. The two new additions join a lengthy list of songwriters, which includes Brian White, Bobby E. Boyd, Randy White, Joe Beck and more — helping them as they help others.

“It’s honoring songwriters,” Michael explained. “They immediately get paid when they write with somebody. They actually get to make some money instead of waiting to see if the song gets cut today, We don’t take any of the publishing of either one of the writers. We’re just creating the opportunity for them to write together.”

Michael has a long line of successes in the music industry, including launching the career of Amy Grant, through his label, Reunion Records, which he founded in 1982. The record label boasted an impressive roster of artists through the years, including Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, Third Day and more. While Michael isn’t working in that capacity in an official manner with Songwriting University, he is willing to help in whatever way he can.

“A lot of people saying, ‘Are you going to work my song?’ We’re not doing that yet,” Michael said. “But if it’s an artist that I like,  I’m going to talk to them about what we can do to help, do a little artist development. So it’s still in my game. It’s just not under one big umbrella, like Reunion or something like that.”

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