Originally posted 2/9/16 TO GHERM OR NOT TO GHERM, DAT BE DE QUESTION! By Marc-Alan Barnette
Well it is COUNTRY RADIO SEMINAR week again, Twangtown’s biggest, dog and pony, schmooze and move moments of the year. Every major independent large medium and small labels, every publisher, every writer, every artist, every song plugger and a WHOLE LOTTA WANNA BE’S will converge on the down town area, Convention Center and Renaissance bar all trying to gain the attention of the movers and shakers.
It is a ritual that I describe as the “LAZY RIVER RIDE”. You move around rooms, shake hands, kiss babies and do all the politics needed to keep a career moving. And all those wanna be’s will have CD’s and business cards in hand JUST WAITING TO POUNCE UPON THE HIT WRITER, PUBLISHER, LABEL HEAD or ANYBODY they can come into contact with. Fame and fortune awaits. Because this is how Lana Turner was discovered. In 1937! Before you shoot yourself in the foot: DON’T DO THAT!!!!!!! “
Gherming” (Pronounced GURMING) is the biggest UNSPOKEN, UNWRITTEN and UNALLOWED rule in Nashville! It is the way to end a career before it begins and get off on the wrong foot EVERYTIME IT IS TRIED! There are real reasons for it and some you may or may not know. But you BETTER LEARN THEM. What is it? It is the process where a young (or old) writer, artist, publisher wanna- be, come up to a hit maker, label, producer, higher level writer or artist, and trying to UNSOLCITED CD business card or SWAG to that higher level person. It is a NO NO for two reasons.
FIRST, it is RUDE. They have not achieved that status yet. They are saying in effect, “Look, I know that you have taken years to establish your craft and your standing, you have gone through the ups and downs, spent enormous money and hours, building your reputation, being shot down and destroyed and yet picking yourself back up. I know that. NOW ENOUGH ABOUT YOU! What about ME? Here ARE MY SONGS, MY WORDS, MY MUSIC!!!!! You simply MUST PUT MY STUFF AHEAD OF YOUR OWN, TURN OVER YOUR CONTACTS TO ME AND MAKE ME A STAR!!!!!! ME ME ME ME ME ME!!!!! DID I TELL YOU ABOUT ME?”
And as if that was not bad enough there is the LEGAL QUESTION, In this day of the LET’S SUE SOMEBODY!” Universal lottery, anyone who takes those CD’s, have ACCESS! If they take it, and somehow write or record a song that is similar, they can be sued because THEY STOLDED MY SONGSSSSSS!!!!!!” Face it. We ALL write the same stuff. And yes, sometimes the coincidences are out there that very similar things end up on the radio and become big hits. And while I will acknowledge that sometimes there might be borrowing, (we all start from somewhere) I personally believe it is more accidental than purposeful. I could be wrong, but just don’t think I am. But that argument is for a different day.
This also covers when someone who doesn’t know those people wants an appointment to write, or play songs in private. Again this is JUMPING LINE. Can be a kiss of death. Co-writing is an intimate experience. It is dating. And you are not going to just start jumping into bed with someone you have never met before. There are even legal reasons for that as well. When someone is being PAID to write songs for a publisher or other entities, those businesses SIGN their paychecks. Therefore there is going to be control over who that person writes with. Their time and access is valuable and they have taken time, OFTEN YEARS to make those contacts, build that craft. New outsiders have not done that yet. Gotta be patient.
When you achieve your reputation, you will start getting asked. But if you develop reputation as a GHERMER, you will never be asked. This one is for NOW. DON’T DO IT. You force people to be jerks. “I can’t accept it because…” or forward you to others. Accept it and understand it. No one can be PAID while there is outstanding legal action pending. So you are not going to get people to listen to you until you are known. But you CANNOT JUMP IN LINE!!!!!
What to do? First of all, get involved. Make sure your stuff is well written. Make sure it is well recorded. Always be ready in case someone ASKS YOU FOR IT. If you are on your game and get a good reputation, you will get heard eventually. Spend your time MAKING FRIENDS, not trying to just GET SOMEONE TO LISTEN TO YOU. Have you ever been driven CRAZY by someone who is a jerk, arrogant, persistent, overbearing, Dictorial, a know it all? Well if you are trying to Gherm , THAT IS YOU!!!