NSAI, Warner/Chappell Tunesmiths Host #FightToWrite Songwriters Round


Songwriters and representatives from NSAI and Warner/Chappell at The Listening Room. Photo: Libby Oellerich

Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and Warner/Chappell brought out a few of Music City’s best songwriters Tuesday evening (Aug. 19) for a #FightToWrite songwriters round, to help raise awareness and support for fair songwriter royalties and copyrights. Warner/Chappell writers Brett James, Lee Thomas Miller, Chris Stapleton and Nicolle Galyon performed an intimate, in-the-round set at Nashville music venue The Listening Room.

“What we want is a free market,” NSAI Executive Director Bart Herbison told the packed house, to enthusiastic applause. “We want to be able to set our own prices, because those songs are worth it.”

Warner/Chappell Nashville’s Executive VP Ben Vaughn recalled being invited to Washington, D.C. with Herbison, Miller, and Galyon. “I was fired up about it. You go to Washington with Bart Herbison, and you’re rolling with congressmen. NSAI is an amazing, unique organization that we need to support in Nashville. We spend our days working with great songwriters, so I encourage you to get involved with NSAI.”

Miller, a songwriter and president of NSAI, was among those to testify recently on behalf of songwriters at one of several congressional hearings in Washington, D.C. in June. A video clip of his testimony was shared Tuesday evening before the writers finished their set. Those hearings will aid in crafting changes to copyright law, which will affect business models, the amount digital services will pay for music licensees, and the royalty rates that will be given to songwriters and publishers.

Chris Stapleton and Nicolle Galyon.

Chris Stapleton and Nicolle Galyon. Photo: Libby Oellerich

During the songwriters round, James offered up hits co-written with Kenny Chesney and Dierks Bentley, including “Beer In Mexico” and “I Hold On.” The crowd loudly showed its appreciation for Stapleton’s burly voice and smart songwriting as he offered tunes such as “Whiskey and You,” which Tim McGraw recorded for his 2007 album Let It Go.

“It’s beyond humbling to sit with these guys,” Miller said, before offering the Jamey Johnson classic “In Color,” which Miller co-wrote with Johnson and James Otto. As the writers sailed through numerous chart-topping songs, photos of songwriters and industry members taking part in the Washington, D.C. campaign were featured on screens that flanked the stage.

Lee Thomas Miller

Lee Thomas Miller. Photo: Libby Ollerich

“We’re a small organization,” Miller said. “Even in the world of the trade organizations that are fighting, we can be overlooked in our own community. You can’t make enough noise to help people grasp the importance of what’s going on. I  feel like some people think it’s too enormous and you can’t make any difference in Washington. I think we are beginning to do better about making our own community understand that we can make a difference.”

Galyon recalled her experience traveling to Washington D.C. to perform for lawmakers, and to plead the case of songwriters and publishers. “It was great to see people’s eyes light up when they realized there is a heart and a real human and a real story behind these songs,” Galyon stated. She offered her renditions of “Automatic,” “God Made Girls,” and “We Were Us,” among others.

James gave credit to Warner/Chappell. “From the songwriter perspective, it’s the first time we’ve had a major publisher step up, so it’s a big deal for us that Ben Vaughn and Warner/Chappell have put their money where their mouth is and helped put this together. We’re all in this together.”

“We have to keep making people aware of the issues songwriters are facing. We just have to keep going, keep fighting and keep spreading the message,” Miller summed.

brett james fighttowrite

Brett James. Photo: Libby Ollerich


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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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