A Vintage Brand, An Enduring Vision
I first heard the words Good Child Music when I was a kid. I saw them inked on what I subconsciously understood to be precious papers around the house, printed by an old typewriter on onion-skin paper with my father's laboriously careful signature at the bottom. I didn't know what they were about, but they were important- that I knew. My dad wasn't a self-important man, but even to a 4-year-old, it was obvious that this stuff was special. It was important. It was valuable.
Good Music, Good People, Good Child
Regular occurrences at my house were other men my dad's age coming over to make music and hang out. They would get out guitars and sing, drink a lot of coffee, talk, laugh…and make more music. I thought it was so cool that my dad had his friends come over to play too. In those moments he was as happy as I'd ever seen him. And there was this feeling that something was going on, something was in the works. They were having the time of their lives, but making something valuable and lucrative. In addition to his being a professional drummer, this was another thing about him that made it so powerfully clear to me that I wanted this life: making good music with good people, and seeking out opportunities for that music with cunning and passion.
The songs that were a result of these sessions became like siblings to me. I knew and loved them, and was always excited when a new one came along. I gradually realized that these songs were inextricably connected to those sheets on onion-skin paper. I didn't realize until much later that those included contracts of many sorts, including publishing agreements, royalty statements, US copyright acknowledgments, documents describing either the acquisition or transfer of ownership of copyrights, and even poetically coffee-stained lyric sheets. Gradually, the music and the business became one in my mind. I developed an equal excitement about both, and I began a pursuit of the development of all aspects of them.
The Business of Good Music
What became clear to me through years of digging around in music—in school, in garages, on the radio and on records, in late-night conversational love-fests as well as arguments with my friends and colleagues, and for years on stage, and now daily in the studio—is a truth that I believe is just that: it's all about the writing. I am a producer, so describing to me the art and value of production is preaching to the choir. That said, what makes me have to be a musician are songs. It's the content, not the sound. It's the art of putting the elements of music together in a way that changes lives, creates memories, makes us think, laugh, and cry. With any major influence, there is usually a realistic downside that validates the case, isn't there?
For all the goodness I learned from my father, I also learned some hard realities about the music business. Interestingly, in this incredibly DIY universe in which we are all self-made men or nothing at all, and in which so much is expected because so much is possible, these hard lessons haven't waned but instead have become all the more potent. The lesson is this: no matter how great the song is, it will never be that great piece of music that becomes a priceless part of your life, and will never become a lucrative, productive asset for the writer unless it is supported with the proper wings, courageous, relentless, and effective. As my mom says, "Nobody's going to just come knock on your door and say, 'Do you have the next great song?'" There is always the rare, unexplainable, inimitable genius with the exceptional story. Sure. But for most, even including most of those exceptions, the music and the business have to work together in order for there to be a life for a composer's music.
Lessons From the Row
When the industry around him became a political, closed-off, songwriting factory with dollar signs in its eyes and cards held close to its chest, my incredibly-gifted song-writing father got discouraged and gave up. He was a musician and an author, not a businessman. I don't remember the year or the day, but when that became clear to me, I swore to myself that I would do something about it. "I'll do it," I said naively. I can assure you that behind the loving smile with which he received my words was a jaded smirk, and the thought that even though he appreciated my energy, the feeling that "Son…well…you'll see." Or maybe, something that ended with "…you just gotta know somebody." Ok fine…I'll get to know somebody. Gotta have money? Ok…I'll get some. I don't know, I'll figure it out, but I'm not going to just sit there and be scared to get out there and deal with it, to walk into every office on music row until somebody realizes that this music was good and worth their time and investment. Or until somebody heard in it what I heard in it.
Here We Go.
Forty-eight years after Good Child was started by my father as his own publishing entity, we've moved from Nashville to New York, and have expanded from 1 writer to 27 of the most talented composers and songwriters in the country, and we're still growing. No one believes in this music more than I do. I couldn't believe in anything any more than I do this music. I'm looking to our history for the wisdom to march forward, with a tear and a sparkle in my eye. The future is bright.
Welcome to Good Child Music.
— Lawson White, President