America got to hear newly crowned American Idol Scotty McCreery’s first single “I Love You This Big” on Wednesday (5/25), but he also recorded another song that has yet to be be released. Written by veteran hitmakers Tim Nichols and Jonathan Singleton, the song is “Out Of Summertime” and its journey to meet Scotty was an unusual one.
Not all great songs go straight from the writing room to the recording studio and into consumers’ hands. Many hang around in a publishing company’s catalog for longer, waiting to find a proper home.
Enter the BMI Catalog Cast, a Belmont University internship overseen by BMI’s Beth Mason Laird and Leslie Roberts. Ten Belmont juniors and seniors are chosen for the unique program that allows them firsthand experience with the publishing world, label A&R, and the song pitching process.
The students gather unrecorded songs from local publishers and discuss their merits during Wednesday night sessions. Laird and Roberts also invite a variety of guest speakers such as Rhett Akins, Mark Wright, Kent Marcus and Kella Stephenson to introduce students to the many sides of the business.
“Students also get to ask questions about how you find great songs, what makes great songs, and how you pitch them,” explains Laird. “They’re picking out songs they love and gaining knowledge.”
At the end of the semester, a compilation CD of the students’ favorite songs is created and they go out and make pitches to labels and producers. The Nichols/Singleton song “Out Of Summertime” landed on the most recent disc, and had been a student favorite from the beginning.
“There was immediate reaction,” says Laird. “All the students loved it. It’s actually the first song on the disc and the one they all unanimously voted on.”
So when 19 Entertainment’s Iain Pirie approached Laird about material for Idol hopefuls Scotty and Lauren, “Out of Summertime” was top of mind.
“I was trying to think of a great traditional country song for a 17-year-old, which is harder than you might think because you can’t talk about drinking and a lot of other things they talk about in traditional country songs,” laughs Laird. “I thought ‘Out of Summertime’ was perfect. I emailed it to Iain and he loved it.”
Only a few days before the Idol finale, Scotty was in the studio with producer Mark Bright cutting the single “I Love You This Big” and “Out Of Summertime,” and many believed that “Out Of…” was destined to be the one Scotty would perform on the show. It’s now unofficially rumored to be the followup single.
“Great songs that sit in catalogs do find their way,” says Laird. “We’re all so excited. This song has been on hold for a lot of people but for whatever reason hasn’t found the right artist yet. Hopefully that will be Scotty.”
Although the song has yet to climb the charts, the BMI/Belmont Catalog Cast is already a hit.