Interview With Songwriting University Co-Founder Michael Blanton
I had the privilege to interview Michael Blanton; one of the founders of recently launched Songwriting University. He is a producer and former A&R Executive (Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith) and has been in the business for 30+ years. Read the interview to find out more.
CAN YOU PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF, AND HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA OF SONGWRITING UNIVERSITY?
I’ve been in the music industry for many years, having owned and directed record labels, publishing companies, and management companies all in the effort to be involved in artist development. Amy Grant was indeed one of the very first artist I was involved with as her A&R director, but eventually becoming her executive producer and manager for over 30 years. This also led to my partner Dan Harrell and I launching REUNION Records and Publishing, and signing Michael W. Smith, and many other artists over the years. The idea of Songwriting University was actually launched by two very successful writers, one in fact I had signed to Reunion many years ago, Billy Sprague. Billy along with Joe Beck came up with this idea for a digital writers platform, where anyone could schedule a writing session with a successful Nashville songwriter. Gary Glover actually joined with them to help build this idea, and then they invited me to join as well. I was thrilled to be invited, and absolutely love this new digital idea of artist and content development.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU’VE FACED CREATING SONGWRITING UNIVERSITY? WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES NOW?
The biggest challenge as with any new idea is just selling your new story and brand. Marketing and development take time and even though this has been in development for the last three years, we officially launched in December, and here we are only five months into telling our story and exploiting our brand. So our biggest challenge today is probably being patient, ha.And just continuing to build our brand. Thank you for helping us spread this good news.
HOW DO YOU FEEL THE INTERNET HAS IMPACTED THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?
Obviously, the internet has radically changed the music industry from the selling of a CD. And streaming is the new order for sure, but even if you were paying attention to this phenomenon, no one could have predicted the Covid-19 event, which has driven the idea of connection and development even more on-line. The internet is our new highway for not only connecting, but for launching and building new content like songs and other projects. This is going to be our new normal, and Songwriting University is incredibly prepared and available to serve all those creators around the globe with songwriting.
WHICH FAMOUS MUSICIANS/SONGWRITERS DO YOU ADMIRE?
That’s not really a fair question for someone who has a very broad love for many genre’s and styles of music and artists. I probably would hold Sting as a writer/performer, as one of those who has had huge impact on me. But then I think about the many songwriters and musicians here from Don Schlitz writer of “The Gambler” to the incredible musicianship of Tom Hemby one of the most successful guitar players here in Nashville, they’ve all impacted my music career in many ways. I truly could spend a week on this question, and probably not exhaust my love for so many great artists/songwriters/musicians.
IF YOU COULD CHANGE ANYTHING ABOUT THE INDUSTRY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
While I totally believe everything starts with “a” song, I’m not the biggest fan of streaming just one song at a time. If I could change anything from the past, it would be that people would once again enjoy and consume entire LP or CD projects, not just one song at a time. I think there was such a wealth of content and art created when we would listen to entire projects. Obviously there were hits that sold those CD’s, but when you’ve got 10 or 12 songs to put together into one project, it just made the entire CD experience richer. I do hope that someday we’ll once again want to listen to full-length LP’s or CD’s for the full body of content and art that is created.
HOW IMPORTANT IS PERSONAL BRANDING, AND WHAT DO YOU DO TO GROW YOUR BRAND?
Well if you mean my personal branding, I’m not really too focused on that, but if you are referring to the Songwriting University, branding is MOST important. I do believe that if you’ve got a great idea and just continue to tell your story and work with good people to serve others well, your brand will grow and be an inspiration to so many more. Songwriting is not new, but today the opportunity to live in Topeka, KS and want to grow your own music can be served on-line with available songwriters here in Nashville and beyond.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR OUR READERS THAT ARE TRYING TO BREAK INTO THE INDUSTRY?
Today is so much about the independent artist/songwriter doing their own thing. They can write, record, distribute, and launch their own songs and music anytime they want. However, over the years what has always delivered the best music and songs has been collaboration with others. I would advise everyone to find their best collaborators in songwriting and music-making. There are unique stories of those gifted artists who do everything alone, but the majority of great music art has come from working with others. Iron sharpening iron.
To know more about Michael Blanton and Songwriting University please visit: www.songwritingu.com