Life's A Pitch

By Tom Flood

What's it like for a transplanted Louisvillian to walk through the doors of a Nashville promoter's office for the first time? Intimidating, frightening and invigorating, to name a few.

As luck would have it, at the restaurant where I work I met a men who turned out to be a promoter/manager of several well-known acts. It was only after we had discussed my present situation, and a few songwriter points of view, did I learn his identity. Hesitant at first, I asked if I could see him and would he listen to my material. Asking for my pen, he wrote his name and number down and said to call him in the morning. Best tip all night!

Calling his secretary and being remembered was promising, but actually having an appointment was better. Following the do's and don'ts of song plugging I wrote the secretary's name down, thanked her, and vowed to be there one week to the day at 9:00 a.m. sharp.

Looking as professional as possible at 8:50 a.m., I found the Music Row address, looked over the building and grounds, and wondered if I really was a songwriter, as I walked up the front steps. If you've ever had a case of stage fright, run into an old lover, or received a refund check, you can appreciate how many emotions the human body is capable of at one time.

With a deep breath and a smile, I opened the door. After making the secretary's acquaintance and agreeing to a cup of coffee, I sat on the edge of a leather sofa, leafing through the latest edition of Billboard.

Trying to remain calm while you're counting gold records on the wall is risky. Suddenly I lost all confidence in my material. I was convinced that, after having listened to my tape, he would ask if I had ever considered underwater basket weaving. Fortunately, I didn't have time to think about it.

Greeting me with a handshake, we exchanged pleasantries while walking to his office. The decor from the lobby to the office was impressive, but I would have voted his office "Office of the Year." Oak desk, antique furniture, mega-stereo/sound system, life-size photos. Very nice. Hoping my tape had magically improved in the car, I handed it to him and picked a chair. Anticipation took over as I sat down, and I felt like I would melt into a pile of sweat. Even performing in front of a crowd wasn't this stressful.

As it turned out, my preconceived thoughts couldn't have been more wrong. He listened intently to how I felt about songwriting, Nashville, and a variety of topics. We talked for almost an hour without interruption. The longer we talked the more relaxed and optimistic I felt. He never even listened to my tape, saying it was"easier to listen without having to give an immediate response." I agreed.

After our meeting we shook hands and agreed we would meet in a week's time. I felt good as I passed by the gold records and the autographed prints. I felt this man had been up-front and honest with me. I was still amazed that he took the time to really listen.

After I made my appointment with the secretary and shut the door behind me, I walked outside feeling relieved, refreshed and ready to hurry-up-and-wait.

(Tom Flood is a songwriter from Louisville, Ky. now living in Nashville, Tenn.)