MTSU and ASCAP Team for Fledgling Writers

MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry and the Nashville office of ASCAP are helping to turn education into careers with a successful commercial songwriting partnership, “Partners in Craft.” The two-year old program, which pairs veteran songwriting and publishing mentors with students majoring in songwriting, will celebrate with a special gathering on Friday, Sept. 24. Representatives from the ASCAP and MTSU’s recording-industry program will toast the success of the partnership with a press conference at tomorrow’s (9/24) mentors’ meeting at the ASCAP building at 2 Music Square West.

Partners in Craft grew out of a long relationship between ASCAP and the Department of Recording Industry, said MTSU Assistant Professor Hal Newman. Talented students, in the past, would pass through the university’s internationally recognized program and set their own career paths. Partners in Craft, which led to the commercial songwriting concentration for recording industry majors, has provided networking and training opportunities as well as specialized courses tailored to students’ career goals. Newman’s songwriting classes also are part of MTSU’s program, which merges classroom knowledge with real-world work environments.

Hal Newman

“It’s really helped my classes learn, and it gives our students a distinct advantage,” said Newman, one of the creators of Partners in Craft and the coordinator of the department’s commercial songwriting concentration. “We’re only in our fourth full semester of this program and we already have 53 student majors. We’ve had eight successful internships, and our ninth and 10th students have their songwriting internships this semester. I’m excited about working with the new team at ASCAP and very happy with the interest in the partnership and the efforts to maintain and strengthen our relationship.”

Several MTSU graduates already have found songwriting success; one of the most recent is Eric Paslay, whose internship at Cal IV Entertainment helped refine his songwriting abilities and turned into a publishing contract. The 2005 MTSU graduate is close to signing a record deal with a major label and is now being booked by the William Morris Agency.

Tim DuBois, ASCAP Nashville’s new Vice President and Managing Executive, is “very excited about our program,” Newman said, adding that the company recently put its new Creative Manager, Ryan Beuschel, in charge of coordinating the ASCAP end of Partners in Craft.

ASCAP continues to provide mentors to guide Partners in Craft students through the songwriting process. This semester’s commercial songwriting mentors include producer-writer-artist-engineer Walt Aldridge, Greg Becker of Sony/Tree, Jon Nite of EMI, singer-songwriter Mando Saenz and MTSU alumnus Rich Karg, while the advanced-songwriting course mentors are Matthew Miller of Carnival Music, Freeman Wizer of Universal Music Publishing, MTSU alum B.J. Hill of Warner-Chappell Music, Sarah Johnson of Bug Music and Jesse Frassure of Major Bob Publishing.

ASCAP also hosts a showcase each semester, Hot on the Row, featuring MTSU student songwriters and attended by music-industry publishers. For more information visit


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