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15 Years and Going Strong: BMI Songwriters Workshop with Jason Blume

Posted in News on October 20, 2011
Jason Blume workshop alumna Jennifer Adan and her co-writer Cory Batten field questions from the <em>Tennessean</em>’s Cindy Watts at the BMI-hosted party celebrating the pair’s no. 1 single “She Wouldn’t Be Gone,” recorded by Blake Shelton.
Jason Blume workshop alumna Jennifer Adan and her co-writer Cory Batten field questions from the Tennessean’s Cindy Watts at the BMI-hosted party celebrating the pair’s no. 1 single “She Wouldn’t Be Gone,” recorded by Blake Shelton. Photo: Steve Lowry

On a Tuesday in October, men and women form a line in BMI’s large lobby on Nashville’s Music Row. Some shoulder guitars and cradle weathered notebooks; others hold CDs carefully labeled with sharpie markers or iPods filled with homemade tracks. Teenagers and those old enough to be their parents and grandparents mingle, greeting one another quietly. Most spend most days in nine-to-five jobs or in school, crafting melodies and lyrics in the short stretches in between shifts, classes, and making dinner.

But today, they are all patiently waiting for their slots in the BMI Songwriters Workshop with Jason Blume.

Over the past 15 years, more than 7,500 aspiring hit-makers of all ages and from 38 states have attended the workshop, held Tuesdays every month. The program is robust proof of BMI’s long-held open-door policy—a unique rule among performing rights organizations.

The classes have always been free and open to anyone willing and able to get to the BMI building in Nashville. While the camaraderie built within the workshop’s walls would be reason enough for its longevity, alumni have also gone on to achieve considerable success over the years. Jennifer Adan co-wrote Blake Shelton’s no. 1 single “She Wouldn’t Be Gone,” and has since returned to the workshop to encourage up-and-comers. After traveling from Illinois for a session, Tommy Karlas wrote songs recorded by Randy Travis and Blake Shelton before co-penning Montgomery Gentry’s chart-topper “Roll with Me.” Chris Sernel, Charlie Brown, and Paul Scott are just a handful of the other former workshoppers who have gone on to write songs for a variety of outlets, from Jennifer Lopez to NASCAR.

In person, Jason Blume is animated and warm. One of only a handful of songwriters ever to pen songs on the pop, country, and r&b charts at the same time, he has composed tracks for a diverse roster that includes Britney Spears, the Gipsy Kings, the Backstreet Boys, and Jesse McCartney; the Nashville Chamber Orchestra; indie rockers Escape from Earth; country heavyweights Collin Raye, the Oak Ridge Boys, and John Berry; and international artists such as Japan’s Tomohisa Yamashita and Scandinavia’s Christian Ingebrigtsen, Chris Daysh, and Endre, winner of X-Factor Scandinavia. His compositions have made their way into countless television shows and films, from Scrubs and Friday Night Lights, to Dangerous Minds and The Miss America Pageant. Blume is also the author of three well-received books on the art and business of songwriting.

His résumé is bespangled and long, but it’s Blume’s enthusiasm that so uniquely defines his teaching approach. His belief in his students and their songs is contagious. Whether there is a special guest—a music publisher or other experienced hit-maker—or the agenda is dominated by Blume himself, participants walk away empowered, with concrete assessments of their work, new collaborators, better understandings of the industry they’re trying to enter, and maybe even an idea for a song.

photo Pictured at the reception honoring the creative hive behind no. 1 hit “Roll with Me” are co-writer Clint Daniels, Montgomery Gentry’s Troy Gentry, and co-writer Tommy Karlas. Karlas is a graduate of BMI’s Songwriters Workshop with Jason Blume. (Photo: Erika Goldring)

2011/2012 BMI Songwriters Workshop with Jason Blume Schedule
Remaining Dates

December 13
TOPIC: Song Rodeo (In-Depth Critiques)
Participants will have an opportunity to receive in-depth critiques of one song.

January 10
TOPIC: How to Publish or Self Publish Your Songs
Participants will have an opportunity to receive a song critique.

February 21
TOPIC: How to Publish or Self Publish Your Songs
Participants will have an opportunity to pitch one song to a publisher.

March 13
TOPIC: Hit Lyric Analysis
Participants will have an opportunity to receive a song critique.

April 10
TOPIC: How to Make Your Song Stand Out
Participants will have an opportunity to receive a song critique.

May 8
TOPIC: The Secrets of Successful Demos
Participants will have an opportunity to pitch one song to a publisher.

June 5
TOPIC: Writing Melodies Listeners Can’t Forget
Participants will have an opportunity to receive a song critique.