Music Row tunesmiths have recently been sharing a hot tip: any writer who publishes with BMI can book free time at the company's Nashville songwriting studios. "Songwriters are always looking for someplace to write," says BMI Nashville Vice President Roger Sovine. "A lot of these people have their own songwriting setups at home, but they like collaborating here because it's such an in-between, neutral spot. Our two songwriting rooms are booked solid."
Each room features a Yamaha PSR8000 portable keyboard. "The 8000 is so writer-friendly, it's unbelievable," says Sovine. "It's like having your own little studio in the shape of a keyboard. Writers love using them, because they get all sorts of ideas from the 8000's different rhythm feels. And afterwards it's easy to save everything to a floppy disc, which the writers can take to another studio to overdub guitars and all that stuff. It's an incredible piece of equipment."
The BMI office also loans out several smaller PSR740 keyboards. "Songwriters sign up to borrow them like library books," says Sovine. "We loan them out for two weeks at a time. We've got one guy, Chris Lindsay, who wrote this huge song, 'Amazed,' on his. It was the #1 Country and Adult Contemporary record for weeks. Chris has kept that damn keyboard for seven months now!"
Sovine has seen the same writers return day after day hoping to finish a single song and lucky stiffs who have knocked off three good tunes in a single afternoon. "Some days you have a great idea, and some days you just make the coffee," he laughs. "These guys and girls just go in there and see what they can come up with."
And what might you see if you peek behind a studio door? "Not much," says Sovine. "Just the keyboard, a couple of stools, a coffee table, blank yellow legal pads, and sharp pencils. That's how songs start after all: with a blank sheet of paper."