When Thomas Archer moved from Milledgeville to Nashville, Tenn. two weeks after Georgia College graduation in 2012, a friendly songwriter said getting signed was like getting to bat in the major leagues.
Considering there are thousands of country music writers in Nashville alone and only 300 or so have deals, Archer's batting average looks spiffy.
He walked past several publishing offers in 2013 waiting on the perfect fit.
Archer inked a publishing deal with BMG-CHRYSALIS, an international music company focusing on the management of music publishing and recording rights, in February.
BMG has a presence in eight core music markets and represents rights to more than a million songs and tens of thousands of master recordings, according to the company’s website.
“I can write with whoever I want signed or unsigned in town,” Archer said. “BMG kind of gives me free reign, and that's been the success. They give some guidance but a lot of power to me.”
Archer dipped into music playing guitar in high school.
He linked up with the Tyler Hammond Band while at Georgia College and played shows all over the southeast from 2009 to May 2013.
Touring different city venues provided Archer a feel for what the crowd liked to hear, which he infused into songwriting.
He wrote most of the group's original songs and got paid from live shows.
The young songwriter visited Nashville on the advice of bandmate Joey Hollis two days after the GC graduation and signed a lease without telling anyone.
Archer quickly discovered that trying to “make it” as a Nashville songwriter and playing with the band was too much. From May 2012 to May 2013, he and Hollis would drive 360 miles back to Milledgeville on Thursdays and ride hundreds more miles through the weekend to play shows.
He had to drop the band commitment.
“I wanted to write. I didn't want to be on the road,” Archer said. “That's when the writing picked up. ”
Living in the country music mecca wasn't quite as tough as expected considering the recent rise of Georgia artists and songwriters.
Archer said the joke up there is that everybody is from the Peach State.
“It's easy to meet people and find friends when we all share that,” he said. “My best friends are who I write my best stuff with, and we're from all over Georgia.”
Cole Swindell and Hannah Dasher showed Archer the Nashville ropes early in the experience.
Learning the lay of the town become a social experiment with house party barbecues and bar nights meeting industry movers and shakers. Archer said that was a daily routine during his first year.
A good savings account permitted complete songwriting spotlight.
Each year, Archer writes at least 100 songs.
Writing sessions always include at least two other writers. He works 10 hours a day Monday through Friday on the craft.
“We get tip sheets every week telling us who is looking for songs,” Archer said. “We try to get a fast rate of return.”
The best writers might get 20 percent of their yearly log of songs cut.
There is no formula for success. Also, most songs on the radio could be two to five years old.
Artists Ricky Young and Bubba Sparxxx cut Archer's song “Baby Wussup,” featured on Young's “Feels Damn Good” EP. This 2013 track turned around quick.
Archer has several “holds” with artists like Blake Shelton, Billy Currington, Chase Rice and Swindell.
A hold means no one can record the song until the artists decides what to do with it. Holds turn into cuts when the singer records the track though it may or may not make an album.
Archer said holds keep up and coming writers competitive.
Through early success, he remains a Milledgeville man.
“I find a reason to come back here at least once a month,” he said. “This is home.”
Relaxing hunts with family and friends will always be important to the John Milledge Academy grad. Even on weeks off the mind logs song ideas for a return to Nashville.
Finding a studio production basis in Pro Tools is a new meaningful pursuit for Archer.
A simple goal drives the local songwriting product.
“I want to be the best,” Archer said. “If anyone wants to settle, you don't need to be there.”
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