The work of 10 Belmont students bore its fruits this summer when a track from their album of uncut songs was chosen to be recorded by 2011 “American Idol” Scotty McCreery. The song, “Out of Summertime,” is expected to be released as the second radio single from McCreery’s debut album following “I Love You This Big,” which had the highest Billboard Hot Country chart debut for a new artist’s first single since 1990.
“It feels awesome and exciting to know that we worked on this all semester and to know that a group of students can have such a great accomplishment,” said Jordan Ureckis, who graduated from Belmont in May and is now working at Sony/ATV Music Publishing. “It is kind of like a dream come true, and it makes me excited for my future song placements because I am an aspiring song plugger.”
Ureckis was among the group of then- juniors and seniors in Belmont’s music business program who spent their spring semester on BMI’s Catalog Cast working with Nashville music publishers to give uncut tracks a second chance on Music Row.The spring 2011 BMI Catalog Cast included: Jimmy Chapin, Nathan Drake, Cameron Hail, Madison Hardy, Richard Patci, Dan Storm, Colleen Taylor, Jordan Ureckis, Megan Wagner and Hailey Whitters.
On their first day, students split into five teams of two and gathered compilation CDs of uncut songs and back-catalog tracks from Music Row publishing companies. The group met every Wednesday during the spring semester to present their favorite songs to each other and narrowed more than 1,000 tracks down into a 10-track compilation album of potential hits.
“The whole goal of the Cast was one big project to make a compilation CD. For weeks we presented these songs that we thought were hits and talked about why and which singers we could see using them,” said Megan Wagner, a rising senior and aspiring publisher.
The program gave them the opportunity to develop song-picking skills and network with songwriters, publishers and record labels, she said. “It took a lot of struggle and a lot of negotiating, but it was a good experience,” Wagner said. “It was the most hands on experience that you could get as a publisher. You get really excited for these songs, and this project is unlike any other because it gives you that experience and you network with publishers and people at BMI.”
The students then pitched their compilation CD to artist and repertoire divisions of record labels including Capitol Records and Big Machine Records and music executives representing Rascal Flats and Kellie Pickler, and the likes.
“‘Out of Summertime’ stood out to me immediately. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, way to go, guys. This song really does sound like a hit,’” said BMI director Beth Laird, who oversaw the student Cast with Leslie Roberts.
Iain Pirie at 19 Entertainment reached out to Laird looking for potential hits for Idol favorite Scotty McCreery, and “Out of Summertime” was her perfect pitch of the students’ work. “Watching this song go from the BMI Catalog Cast to the ‘American Idol’ champ has been an amazing feeling. It’s awesome to see the good writers—and the good songs—win,” Laird said.
Nashville hit-makers Tim Nichols and Jonathan Singleton, who have also authored songs for Tim McGraw and Lee Ann Womack, wrote “Out of Summertime.”