Making a Demo in Nashville – Broke On Payday


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Broke On Payday

Written by Andrew McGee and Jack Frisby, © September 6, 2013, Produced by Phil Wolfe

Mailman brought me three bills today; my woman and the rent are late. I know I should probably shave, get another job, learn to pray. Well, come this time tomorrow my way all the money I spent yesterday.

Broke on payday; spent it on a lady. Forty hours a week until they’ll pay me. Tip my hat to the man in charge; pick up the slack just to keep my job. Working hard–hey hey–to be broke on payday

Landlord brought me a notice again; shade tree mechanic said it’s the transmission. People say I should learn how to save; the truth of it is there just ain’t no way. Come this time tomorrow fast, gonna feel good for a change to have a little cash.

Broke on payday; spent it on a lady.  Forty hours a week until they’ll pay me.  Tip my hat to the man in charge; pick up the slack just to keep my job. Working hard–hey hey–to be broke on payday

Punch the clock, play the game, pass the time, waiting for the payday. Tip my hat to the man in charge, pick up the slack just to keep my job. Working hard–hey hey–to be broke on payday.

Written by Andrew McGee and Jack Frisby, © September 6, 2013, produced by Phil Wolfe

Original work tape

Recording Costs in Nashville

What are the average recording costs per song in Nashville? About $750.

For full band recordings you can get a decent demo for $250-500, a nice recording for $750, and a master recording starting at $1,000.  But it can get even more expensive.  It depends on how you record. There are some great producers with home studios, who if you catch at the right time, might be willing to give you a sweet deal.  It’s a creative service, so the prices are always subject to change.  The factors that make up the costs are musicians, the recording space, and the biggest variable: time.

There are some services that crank out basic demos for under $200, such as Paramount Song.  However, Paramount Song’s motive is to facilitate song contests and pitches, and in their process, they can run your song through the mill and make a demo for really cheap.  You get what you pay for, but these demos are done by local professionals and will not sound bad.  If you want a better demo, pay more money or make a friend who owns a studio.

Some people don’t pay anything to have their songs recorded because they have a strong network of friends with resources.  I have some friends who took two years recording their own album without paying a single dollar, because they were bouncing it around to each others’ home studios and recording facilities.

Meeting With Hit Songwriter, Rivers Rutherford:

Advice On Becoming A Nashville Songwriter

I’ll never forget some of the best advice I ever got was from Rivers Rutherford.  I had literally just arrived in Nashville that day, and through a vague connection I was able to meet this hit songwriter at his home and later in his office, and boy did I blow it!   🙂

It’s okay, I have a feeling that most people like me blow those good chances at first.  At the time, I simply wasn’t ready to work with someone of the caliber of Rivers Rutherford, despite how ready I thought I was.

But oh how I’ve listened and learned since then, and if you are reading this Mr. Rutherford, I would love to take that second meeting and play Rescue or Broke on Payday.

The simple advice Rivers Rutherford gave me was so valuable that I want to share this knowledge with other new songwriters in Nashville who are wondering where to go.  It’s simple:

Go out and play, make friends, and come up together.

Everything else will fall into place if it’s meant to be.

Have you ever heard stories about how movie stars and comedians all knew each other years and years ago, because they were all hitting the circuit trying to reach their own success?  It’s very much the same way in the music business, and probably many other industries as well.

In my fourth year I can already use all the fingers on one hand when counting the friends I’ve made in Nashville who are slowly but surely moving on to the next level.  If some of us make it to that next level of success, it’s likely that we will remember some of our colleagues from the days when we were in the trenches.  It’s one big network of like-minded people playing to a multitude of audiences, and the cream always rises to the top.

Whatever role you play, the industry consists of all sorts of people working together with different talents: artists, musicians, songwriters, producers, engineers, business executives.  There are different ways to make it in Nashville; I have the artist’s passion but I have been learning how to have the songwriter’s mind.  After all, my end-goal is to make a living being a songwriter.  I’ll always be an artist…

How To Make It In Nashville:

Success In Music City’s Music Industry

There is no one entity in Nashville that accepts applications for a job in the music industry – no matter how good you are at what you do.  And you can’t just sell a song.  Therefore, one excels in the music industry based very much on the friends they make, the hours they sweat, and the chances they take.  Be patient, curb any excessive zeal, and try to listen for what you should be doing rather than talking about what you are doing – everyone is also doing something else just like you and maybe they’re doing it better.  Here’s a great list of things NOT to do when you move to Nashville.

Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity, luck is the inexplicable variable, and talent is practicing something you love until you become an expert.  You’ll probably have to work a regular job for a while but I’ve noticed that most of the successful people in Nashville devoted their life to becoming a master at one or more of the following skills:

  • Creating – writing and co-writing popular songs that sell.  I love what Mitch Ballard says about this.
  • Performing – being highly proficient on one or more instruments, on stage or in the studio.  I love Tim Aker’s advice on this.
  • Engineering – providing world-class sound production
  • Business – fostering exclusive connections, management, and community involvement

Additionally, you do need to be in Nashville on a regular basis.  Opens Mics are a great place to start networking as you’ll continuously develop your skills, make friends, and learn about the community.

Join whichever guild it is that serves your segment of the music industry, for me that’s NSAI and BMI, but there are groups strictly for musicians, engineers, producers, and other professionals.  Pay attention to your industry.

The music and art scenes are very active in Nashville and the city is steadily growing stronger each year.  While its foundation is inherently Country Music – as portrayed in ABC’s TV series Nashville – the city proudly welcomes all other genres and offers its unconditional support to all styles with countless annual events like Musicians Corner and Live on the Green.

If you are thinking of moving to Nashville to make it in music – good luck – the city will wish you the very same.

Nashville Top 3 Open Mic Nights

Nashville top 3 open mic nights flourish as new songwriters still flock to Music City

As a performing songwriter I’ve seen my fair share of writers nights and open mics.  This is my opinion of the Nashville top 3 open mic nights.  I’m writing this review from the upcoming songwriter’s perspective, and I’m basing this assessment on a few factors such as consistency, audience quality, and how well it’s run.  There are several other high quality writers nights and open mics in Nashville on any given night of the week, but these three have stood the test of time; they were each here when I moved to Nashville and are still go-to venues for local songwriters who are itching to play some originals to an audience.

Writers Nights vs. Open Mics

Some people use the terms interchangeably but they are two different things.  Writers Nights are scheduled blocks of songwriters playing their original songs, whereas Open Mics are first-come/first-serve signups.  Some venues do both in the same night, having scheduled rounds followed by an open mic.

1.)  Douglas Corner Cafejoe

If it’s Tuesday, getchur phones out!   This is a huge favorite for local songwriters.   The house is always packed and the networking opportunities are rich.  If you frequently attend Douglas Corner’s open mic night, you will undoubtedly increase your chances to make friends and learn about other cool open mics around town.  The stage sounds very, very good and is manned by 60-year Nashville native, Donnie Winters.  This open mic is absolutely phenomenal and without fail it happens unless there is a holiday.  This is why it is my first in the list of Nashville Top 3 open mic nights.

When & Where: Tuesdays 8:00pm on 8th Avenue South, right across from Zanie’s Comedy club.

Signing Up Call (615) 292-2530 on Tuesday at 1:00pm CST and leave your name on the answering machine.  This puts you on the signup list, then just show up at 8:00pm ready to play.   NOTE:  Seriously, call at 1:00pm, the lines will be busy and if you call at even 1:20pm, you’ll be near the end of the list, playing after midnight.  If you want to play early you may have to start calling at 12:59pm and call 100 times before you finally get through at something like 1:05pm.  You’ll be on stage with three other songwriters and you’ll each play two songs.  Being in an early round usually means you will play to a larger audience.

2.) The Commodore Grillcomm

This is a unique writers night and open mic venue, and the stage always sounds great.  The open mic portion of this night starts at 10:00pm, and from about 6:00pm-10:00pm there are scheduled acts which are booked by the host.  These acts are seasoned and you will thoroughly enjoy yourself as you take advantage of the full-service food menu and bar.  It’s located in a hotel right by Vanderbilt, so it’s a premium place to have your songs heard by people visiting from out of town.  The house is always packed with good energy and an attentive audience.

When & Where:  It’s on West End, here.  It happens every night of the week except Tuesdays.  Debi Champion hosts on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.   On Fridays and Saturdays, Rick and Tammy Stewart host the night.

Signing Up:  Be there by 7:00pm to sign up.  The signup period ends at 8:00pm and they only take about eight people.  Four play at 10:00pm and the other four play at 10:30pm.  Each person plays one to two songs depending on time.

If you want to play in the earlier slots that start at 6:00pm, just ask the host about it, but those songwriters are scheduled in advance.

3.) The Bluebird Cafebb

Ahh… the famed Bluebird Cafe.  It’s a real experience to play here.  No other venue in all of Nashville can consistently provide a guaranteed, shoulder-to-shoulder packed house of 100 people intently listening to your song.  The room is always dead quiet as each performer plays.  It’s a premium performance for any songwriter to give.

When & Where:  Mondays 6pm on 21st Ave South – aka Hillsboro Pike

Signing Up Monday is the Open Mic, from 6:00pm to 8:45 pm. Sign up is done by phone and begins at 11:00 am on the Monday you want to play. The first 25 callers to get through will be given a slot to play, and one or two reserved seats. The number to call is 615-943-8168. There is no voice mail so you have to keep calling until you get through. If you don’t get through in 30 minutes, the list is probably full and they have stopped taking calls. The Bluebird Cafe’s Monday Open Mic is hosted by longtime Nashville veteran, Barbara Cloyd.

The Squirrel

Where I live, in my hallway, Vanderbilt Hospital rents 6 of the 10 apartments to accommodate cancer patients who come from out of town for treatment.  Every few months they come and go, so the four renters are always meeting new families.  I was walking in from taking out the trash when Butch, a man with whom I’ve spoken a number of times over the last couple of months, asked me how I was doing.  I said that I was just settling back into the workweek.  He said, “Wish I had that problem; we’re going home.”  I didn’t understand at first and politely wished them safe travels, but this time they weren’t just visiting home for the weekend.  He said, “They can’t help me and are basically sending me home to die.”  I have no idea what to say to that.  Life can be so miserable sometimes then it’s all over.  Three days earlier he’d told me in the hallway that his “blast cells” were over 20%.  I didn’t fully understand the severity of that when he told me, but now as I recall that conversation I can see the somber resolution in his face; he knew he was going to die.  They offered me the rest of their groceries, which I humbly accepted and then strategically piled into my freezer alongside more groceries that were given to me by a previous patient, Jackie, who, only a couple of months ago went home with better news.  They both gave me Popsicles; apparently chemotherapy limits what one can comfortably eat.

Only a couple of weeks before heading home for the winter holiday season I had a conversation with Butch.  He was short and slightly stout, a southerner from Kingston Springs, Tennessee and not at all prone to balderdash, but he went on about how he loved to work on engines.  In his old pickup truck he had installed a 350.  Maybe it was a 360; I’m not sure.  Despite me telling him that I understood nothing about cars, he still lit up when telling me about his love for working on them.  I politely listened and tried to converse even though I felt awkward trying to talk about cars.

Our conversation drifted to the weather, as most do when they lose their volition, but then he told me how he had placed a feeder in the trees that lined the back parking lot.  For the previous few days he’d witnessed an old, female squirrel whose body was worn.  Her repeated attempts to jump from the ground into the dumpster to scrounge for food were all failing.  He knew she wouldn’t make it through the winter.  He said his favorite hunting was squirrel hunting, but he clearly had a love for animals and nature.  He gave that old squirrel hope; now I wish I could give him some.  I sincerely hope Butch makes it far beyond winter.

Living here has been a remarkably enriching experience.  The neighbors are friendly and the cancer patients have given me a whole new perspective on my life.  I remember one day I was standing outside in the common area.  Exiting the hallway was another neighbor whose name escapes me but she was coming directly to find me.  I had told her I worked in the online industry so that instantly pegged me as the nearest computer technician.  The provided Wi-Fi was not working and she asked if I could help them fix it.  After about thirty seconds and two clicks, the magical interwebs had been restored.  She thanked me, and I jokingly said, “That’ll be $185.”  We laughed, but I’ve never seen that couple again.  They must have gotten their leave one day when I wasn’t home.  I hope they went home with good news.

Butch didn’t go home with good news but his stoicism that lasted until the end has left a mark on me.  Whether you prefer carpe diem or yolo, the fact is our time is limited.  If we aren’t doing the things we enjoy with the ones we love, we are wasting precious time.  As he and his wife solemnly pack their belongings, I’m wondering if Butch will ask me to watch over the squirrel for the winter.

How To Record Songs In Nashville

Six Steps to Recording In Nashville

The only definite answer to this question, is that it will probably cost some money.

1.) Pick a studio

Home studios

They’re a dime a dozen and they produce great results.  Few people have the money to afford the luxury of a commercial studio.  Many home studio engineers have devoted a lot of time and money into making their home space as close to a commercial space as possible.  They probably don’t have a million dollars worth of high end gear but that doesn’t always matter.  They are the sole producer and engineer, and usually they play many of the instruments for clients who don’t have their own bands.  In Nashville home producers/engineers can play a wide variety of instruments very efficiently.  Whether you hire musicians or have your own band a home studio will certainly be acceptable.

Commercial studios

They’re scattered all around Nashville.  They don’t always have flashing neon signs that say “Open for Business”.  Some of these bigger studios have extravagant websites, numerous big flat screens, and leather couches, but these things are just aesthetics.  What you really gain by going to a commercial studio is the recording space, gear and talent.  These recording studios usually have huge rooms that are acoustically designed and filled with a million dollars of the most advanced recording gear that exists.  Great producers work at these studios and the musicians are regular session players who are called upon frequently.  These places operate like businesses and the producers, engineers, and musicians are all employees.

2.)  Know the Costs

The running joke is when people with home studios get random phone calls asking how much it costs to record an album, they’re tempted to just blurt out, “$10,000”.  It probably won’t cost that much but it’s such a subjective question.  Do you want a full orchestra or just two acoustic guitars?  How long are your songs?  How complex are they?

The range for recording a demo of one song could be anywhere from just $25 all the way up to $1,000.  It really comes down to how good the people are, how efficiently they can perform in the studio when they’re on the clock, how much work you’re asking for, and how well prepared you are for studio time.

If you are recording at a producer’s home studio then his fees usually include the use of his studio and you can find a great home-producer for around $25 per hour.

If you go to a commercial studio and hire an additional engineer that will probably be another $25 per hour plus the facility costs.

If you want truly professional musicians to play on your songs, expect to pay them about $25-75 per track, depending on how many tracks you are recording that day and how complex the music is.

A mastering engineer will probably charge $25-100 per song.

Any of these people could work by the song, or by the hour.  There are no hard and fast prices because these are creative services.

Often studios will give a fixed cost for the whole band, then maybe charge extra per hour of editing or vocal tracking.  Even if someone gives you a fixed price for all of it, you will still be surprised by something you didn’t expect before it’s all over with.  The costs are always subjective.

3.) Know the moving parts

People do one or more of these things:

  • Producer

    This person will work with you to understand your overall goal for your recordings.  They understand how to effectively communicate with everyone else involved.  They know the lingo, they know how to achieve the best results in various environments, and they will have the sole responsibility of ensuring that your project is a success.  They will listen to you and hear the big picture, and while the musicians are recording the rhythm beds today, the producer will be thinking about the guitar overdubs that will be recorded tomorrow.  They will be thinking of how to make your song the very best it can possibly be.  Long after the musicians leave, the producer will be investing more time into overdubbing, editing and mixing all the tracks.

  • Session Leader

    This is the person who is responsible for making sure all the musicians are scheduled to record your music.  This person usually writes out all the song charts which will be followed by all the musicians.  The session leader will be someone who is very familiar with how a recording session happens, and most likely he is the person who will select all the musicians to play on your music.

  • Engineers

    Just like there are different types of doctors called “specialists”, there are different types of engineers.

    • Tracking Engineer

    This person runs all the equipment; he mans the board and makes sure all the levels are set, that the mics are placed properly, and that the musicians and producer have exactly what they need to accomplish the goals.  The tracking engineer is a quick problem solver when the equipment isn’t operating properly, and having a good engineer can prevent a project from derailing if something goes wrong with the equipment.

    • Editing Engineer

    Sometimes people are just really good at doing a certain thing extremely well.  While a tracking engineer is really good at tracking a session, some engineers are really good at editing.  Even though producers typically take on the role of editing a project, it’s not unheard of to have a specialized engineer make the edits and mix very quickly as the producer directs him.

    • Mixing Engineer

    Mixing engineer adjusts the levels of each instrument, adds effects, adjusts the EQ, sets the panning, and basically puts all the final puzzle pieces together.

    • Mastering Engineer

    This person takes the final tracks and adjusts the frequencies and EQs so that your music sounds incredible to the ear.  This person is rarely involved during the full process.  Once the editing and mixing are finished, it’s the mastering engineer’s job to smooth everything out so that it can compete with everything else out there.

  • Musicians

    These are professional instrumentalists.  These people make their living from being highly efficient at playing their instruments.  They understand how to play in a studio environment, which is much different than playing in a live situation.  They will all understand how to read Nashville charts, and they can quickly play a part according to how the producer wants them to perform it.  If you are a band looking to record, then you are the musicians.

  • A Recording Space

    This can be a home studio, or a full-blown business with a million dollars of high end equipment.  Typically, studios have many different types of gear that make it possible to capture sounds onto a digital or analog medium.  These spaces are usually specifically designed with acoustics in mind, and often there are several different booths in which musicians are placed to prevent sounds from bleeding into other microphones.  A good recording space most definitely affects the quality of your recording.

  • Songwriter

    This person is the reason why everyone shows up.  “It all starts with a song.” as they say.  A songwriter has spent many painful hours writing a song which they wish to share with the world with hopes to move people emotionally.  Without a songwriter, there is really no reason for everyone else to get together to record.  In situations where a label or publishing company is backing the project, there is usually a separate vocalist singing the song, rather than the actual songwriter.  But again, there are no hard and fast rules because every situation is unique.


4.) Have a plan

I think it’s best to start by finding the producer you want to hire because a producer can help you plan your entire recording project.  Maybe you already have the musicians for your project chosen and just want to rent a facility.

  • Go to a home studio and let them handle it
  • Go to a home studio and bring your own musicians
  • Go to a commercial studio and let them handle it
  • Go to a commercial studio and bring your own musicians, producers or engineers.

5.) Know the process

Each producer has their own process; their own bag of tricks and secrets. Be sure you understand the full process before it starts, all the way to Mastering.  Ask about mastering for sure, Google it, it’s voodoo but it’s something for which you should plan.

6.) Act like a customer

Major artists have tens of thousands of dollars to record their albums and can afford ample time and production to make things sound perfect.  Besides using extremely high-end hear, time and expertise play contribute to your project’s quality.  Just like in college when you wrote a rough draft of your term paper, your final draft had more time and editing invested, which is what got you that “A” instead of a “B”.

We all wish we could record our songs with the budget of the major artists, but don’t discount the value of a home studio, because at the end of the day, if you can simply pop in your recordings and enjoy them without cringing at the quality, then you have accomplished your goal.  Any good producer/engineer has the ability to create a product that will move people, regardless of your budget.  At some point you have to understand that even with less expensive equipment, you are paying for their time and expertise, which is how they achieve good results regardless of the equipment.

Most importantly, it comes down to the song being good or bad.  I’ve heard beautifully recorded songs that just plain suck, and I’ve heard rough recordings of masterfully written songs.  Take Ani DiFranco for instance, she puts out very raw recordings, yet people love the songs.  Then you have Toby Keith who puts out super-produced songs that have all the marketing power behind them to make them soar into huge sales; even though Red Solo Cup makes me want to puke, I am in no position to critique the song because it’s made his camp a ton of money.

The music business is just that — a business.  Think of it like Starbucks and the coffee industry: I am completely satisfied with a cup of Folgers Black Silk in the morning, but Starbucks has commercialized the industry and made it cool to spend $5 on a cup of coffee.  Both music and coffee are subjective to one’s taste, no matter how much it costs to make.

And we all want a good cup of coffee.

You Can't Sell A Song In Nashville

Ever wonder how to sell a song in Nashville?

It’s easy.  Just mail your song to:

City of Nashville
c/o The Song Purchaser 
123 Music Row
Music City, USA

I’m kidding.  Don’t do that.

I want to clear something up for you: There is no such thing as just “selling a song”.

I understand, you’ve painstakingly written this incredible hit song and everyone is telling you how great it is.  You’ve got girls dancing on the bar when you play it.  Now you want to sell the song to a major artist or a publisher here in Nashville.  You’ve heard about this Internet thing and think you can send off a few emails or post it all over Facebook and make $50,000 because Blake Shelton is going to write you a check for this song when he hears it.

It simply doesn’t work like that.  It’s not like manufacturing where you build something tangible and sell it for a profit.

The reason it’s not that simple is complicated to explain but just understand that in Nashville there are thousands of great songwriters who are already here writing great songs for publishers and artists literally everyday.

I’m sorry to burst your bubble but it’s very likely that your song just isn’t that good.  I’m not saying mine are but I will say that everything I had written before moving to Nashville doesn’t hold a candle to the stuff I have written since living in Nashville.

To be a songwriter you have to live, eat, sleep and breathe the craft.  There are so many incredible songwriters here that will inevitably open your mind and make you a better writer.  It’s also partly about who you know.  Sure, you have to have good songs but knowing the right people is what opens those doors to having one of your songs cut by a major artist.  There are many approaches that will get you to where you want to be whether it’s a writing deal or a serendipitous encounter with someone that sets you on the right course.

With the Internet you can certainly build yourself a foundation which will give you more exposure and credibility, and you can pursue certain channels outside of Nashville that will get your songs heard by some of the right people, but actually living here in Nashville is a musical journey that any serious songwriter has to take if they want to improve their chances for success.  You might not have to move here but visit here, stay a week, make friends, go to writers nights.  You have to keep at it. Your bubble will only burst if you have the impression that your song is so good, that anyone who hears it will buy it on the spot.  That just doesn’t happen – it has, I mean, there are stories, but how many times have you played the lottery and hit the jackpot?

In the country market songs are rarely written by the artists.  Taylor Swift is a good example of the exception to that but typically all the creation happens in the big machine that is “country music”.

Around Nashville there are established networks that are in place to keep Joe the songwriter from bombarding executives and artists with crappy songs.  It’s a pretty tight filtration system.  You have to play the game if you want to join the circle.  When you move to Nashville and stick around long enough for people to realize you are a serious writer doors will slowly begin to open.  Think of advertising and how many millions of dollars go into exposing you to a product until you finally remember it and eventually buy it.  It’s the same with songs; the first time someone hears your song they might be distracted or they might not fall in love with it.  So you have to keep playing around town and expose people to your style of writing.  You have to show that you are actually a songwriter and write other good stuff besides that one good one.  Eventually people will begin to recognize you and remember they liked your songs the last time they heard you and they’ll stick around to hear you again.

You’ll meet a lot of smoke blowers and over time you’ll learn how to act around the people who can really open doors for you.  Remember, just because someone has had success in the industry does not mean they can help you.  Your personalities might not match or it might not be the right timing.  Also remember that just because someone has had success does not mean they are rolling in the money – their own professional connections might be dwindling.  Every hit songwriter is searching for their own next big hit so if you do have a great song, they are usually not willing to just introduce you to all their connections.  They’ll likely want to build a relationship with you and help you grow.  If you get signed up under one of the better publishing companies with the stronger connections you are more likely to have your name on the next hit song.  It’s so hard to do this unless you are living here in Nashville for a while.  That’s why songwriters move here.  It takes time.  And it takes a major hit song, or a lot of moderately hit songs to make a living.  Everyone is working hard to make that living.

There are advantages to being with a bigger publisher; they schedule you to write with other great songwriters and when you present them with a good song they will pay to have a demo recorded; with all their major connections they’ll pitch it to be on a major artist’s upcoming album.  There are definitely advantages but if you’re like me – a non-country songwriter – this system is pretty much useless to you.

I’m not in the country market but I see several people who are and I pay attention to their struggles and successes.  If I could write country music I would take my own advice.  I’m taking a different approach with my personal strategy: I record my own music and I am my own artist, I enjoy performing but certainly am trying to become a better writer who gets commercial work.

If you are not going to be just a songwriter and also like to perform then I suggest you take the steps to record your songs here in Nashville; stop making demos and start investing in yourself.  That is the ultimate reason I moved here.  I knew there would be extremely professional musicians, producers and engineers who could capture the sound I wanted for my music, and I knew there would be endless opportunity to grow as a songwriter.

Each of us has our own path but if you are taking the path to being a country music songwriter you are taking the path most traveled, and therefore have a lot of other travelers taking that path with you.  In advertising it’s called “noise”.  However, by taking the country music songwriter’s path you’ll find that you have a solid road map, and if you follow the course you’ll get to a good destination.  Step one: Be in Nashville and find your course. Step two: Stay the course.