SongTown USA: Which Artist Gets The Song?

One of our Songtown citizens asked the question "How do you decide which artist to give your song to?"

So, I thought I would answer that one to the best of my ability.

Sadly, in my experience, it doesn't happen too often that multiple artists are fighting over the same song. I wish that happened more. But, most often, you have one artist wanting to cut your song.

Generally, I'm honored that an artists wants to cut my song and will give it to them, no matter who they are (new or established artist). There have been instances where we thought we had a really special song and we did not really believe that the artist wanting the song was going to succeed, so we turned them down.

If my memory serves me correctly, in every one of those instances, the song never got cut by another artist. Karma? Maybe.

However, in every one of those instances, the artist in question did NOT succeed. Would I have been better off to go ahead and let them cut the song? Probably, but we're talking small amounts of money gained. Nothing significant.

In the case of my song "Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven," George Strait asked to cut it first. Obvious "YES" to that one. Then, it got complicated.

Several months after he cut the song, George's label calls to tell us that he was not going to include the song on his record. So, we start pitching it again.

My publisher soon called to tell me that he had the song on hold for a group called "Halfway To Hazard." No offense to the boys in HTH, but that's a long way from a George Strait cut. A LONG way. However, I told myself that "A bird in the hand..."

Time passes by and we get a call from Kenny Chesney's people. He wants to cut the song. Now, we have the moral/ethical dilemma of having promised the song to our friends in "Halfway To Hazard." So, we pick up the phone and call them to ask if they still want the song.

As my publisher relayed the story, here's how his conversation with their producer went:

  • Publisher : "Hey, just calling to see if you guys are still planning to cut "Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven."
  • Producer: "No, we're going to pass"
  • Publisher: (To himself) "Thank God"

So, we tell Kenny he can have the song and the rest is history. If the Hazard boys had still wanted it, we would have had to explain the situation to them and sort it all out.

All of that to say, deciding who to give your song to can be tricky business, but usually it's just choosing between a cut or no cut. In my experience, the cut is almost always the way to go.

One time I gave a song to an unknown act with a weird band name. Got a top ten song and a double platinum record out of that one and Rascal Flatts went on to do OK. You just never know.

Write on!

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson is a songwriter, corporate trainer and entrepreneur. His songs have been recorded by artists such as Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell and The Plain White T’s. He once bumped Psy out of the #1 spot on the K-Pop charts but that’s another story for another day. Marty plays Taylor and Batson guitars. Follow him here:, at and at Twitter @SongTownUSA or visit

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