Workshop description


The Play for Publishers workshops have taken place three times a year for 17 years, but  sadly, this is not a good time to gather people in closed rooms for long hours. As soon at the camaraderie and lively interaction that are a hallmark of the event will not endanger anyone’s health, we’ll be back. To get notice of when the next one will be scheduled, sign up for the email list and check the box for workshops.

Schedule     How to apply    Auditing      Details       Frequently asked questions       Future workshop dates        Comments from past participants     Workshop videos      


This workshop is a 3-day crash course in what it takes to write for the commercial Nashville market. Sixteen applicants are chosen to play one song each day for two publishers who give feedback on the craft and commercial potential of the writing. You do not have to perform the songs live; you can play a recording. The publishers are not paid to attend. They come to discover and nurture new talent. Writers not selected to play songs can attend as auditors to network and learn.

Participants have ended up with publishing deals, single-song contracts, co-writes with staff writers and on-going publisher relationships. It’s also a great place to find co-writers. Past participants include Dustin Lynch, Jon Nite, Matt Ramsey, Jameson Rodgers, Emily Weisband, Joe Leathers, Drew Baldridge and Kelleigh Bannen.


8:30 to 11:30 am – study hit songs to see what they have in common
1 to 4 pm – feedback session with two publishers
5 – 7  pm – open mic for all attendees at Belcourt Taps

FRIDAY pro nashville songwriters at songwriting workshop
8:30 to noon – feedback session with two publishers
1:30 to 4 pm – performance and Q&A with pro writers
4:00 pm – Unscheduled time

9 am to 12:30 pm – feedback session with two publishers
2 to 4 pm – auditors get feedback from the group
7 pm to ? – wrap party

Sign Up for Email Updates


Once the application period opens you begin by filling the application form and sending a minimum of three songs with lyrics. You can send up to 10 songs for consideration. The fee to apply is $25 for the first three songs and $5 for each additional song.  Applicants who would like written feedback from Barbara on the songs they submit can request it for an additional $10 per song. Feedback will be sent at the end of the application process,

All applications that come in by the deadline will be carefully reviewed and approximately sixteen will be chosen based on how well crafted, original and relevant to the current market the writing is. Everyone will be notified whether or not they were selected to play for the publishers no later than one month before the start of the workshop.

Join the mailing list to receive emails whenever workshops are scheduled.


Writers who are not among the sixteen selected are welcome to attend as auditors for a reduced fee. Auditors participate fully in every way other than presenting songs. Listening to professionals analyze other people’s songs is a great way to learn about the craft of commercial songwriting without having to hear your own songs picked apart.  Auditors also enjoy the benefit of meeting other writers who are serious about their craft and it’s a great way to find co-writers. Writers who are only interested in auditing do not need to apply and can register online.


1. Q. Can I submit co-written songs?
A. Yes, but please identify your co-writers on the lyric sheet.

2. Q. What kind of demos should I submit?
A. You can send anything from a fully-produced studio demo to a rough phone recording. Submit your best songs, regardless of the quality of the demo. Songs will be judged on the the writing, NOT on the demo.

3. Q. What if I can’t perform my songs??
A. Then you can play recordings of your songs at the workshop. Writers who can perform may also play demos if they prefer.

4. Q. What if I don’t write Country songs?
A. The publishers who attend are looking for great writers who WANT to write for the commercial Country market, not necessarily ones who already do. If they see great potential they may want to give writers an open door and help them develop. You are welcome to submit songs in any genre when you apply. However, if you are not interested in writing Country songs, this is not the workshop for you.

5. Q. Can co-writers enter as a team?
A. Yes – they are then asked to pay one fee for attending ($395) plus one fee for auditing ($265).

6. Q. If I am selected, do the songs I present to the publishers have to be the same songs I sent in to apply?
A. If you want to present different songs, you have to get them approved before the workshop.

7. Q. If I can’t attend the workshop can I still submit my songs to be presented to the publishers?
A. No – the publishers aren’t really looking for songs to pitch – they are looking for songwriters they may want to develop relationships with. They want to meet you as well as hear your songs.


Cost – $395 (some partial scholarships available – click to read scholarship policy) Payment will be expected within 3 weeks of acceptance. Refunds will only be given if the spot can be filled by a qualified writer.

Cost to audit – $265

Location – The October 2020 workshop will be held at Hampton Inn Vanderbilt, 1919 West End Ave.

Lodging – Participants secure their own lodging (click for suggestions)


June 25 – 27   cancelled
Oct 22 – 24

Click here to read comments from past participants.


Sign Up for Email Updates