Inside ole majorly indie : with Emily Olson

We recently visited with Emily Olson, Creative Director at the ole Nashville office! In this blog post, she dives into the publishing strategies at ole and characteristics of a songwriter ready to pursue a publishing deal. Come this April, we will be accepting submissions for the NSAI ole Chapter Challenge! Olson also shares tips on what to consider when submitting songs for this competition. 

To watch Emily's extended interview about ole and tips to succeeding as a songwriter, join as a member here.

How would you describe the ole brand and what are you looking for in song cuts?

ole is “majorly indie”, meaning we have the funding and resources of a major publishing group but we are a smaller independent publisher. It’s awesome because we have the best “writer to creative” ratio in town. There are four of us full-time creatives in the Nashville office and 10-15 writers, so each of our writers gets attention and we’re able to listen to everything that comes our way. Songs and songwriters we’re looking for are the ones that really stick out from the rest…we hear so many songs and meet with songwriters every day that you just know when there’s one that catches your ear. It’s hard to explain exactly what it is, but we know it when we hear it! 
You have such a wide variety of songwriters and artists signed to ole. For the NSAI ole Chapter Challenge, should our members write songs catered to the Nashville market or ole as a whole?
The great thing about ole is we are very diverse in what we can do…we are not limited by genre. We have an LA office and a joint venture with Timbaland, so we have outlets in pop, a sync department, as well as a sync creative team here in Nashville. We are very active in the Canadian country music scene, and of course here in our Nashville country scene and the growing pop community here as well. All of us creatives are constantly collaborating and finding the best opportunities for all of our songs and songwriters, no matter what genre.

What separates ole majorly indie from the rest of music publishing? Explain what "majorly indie" means to the ole brand in terms of label and publishing sides. 
ole is “majorly indie” because we are an independent publishing company with the infrastructure and reach of a major. We deliver the personal touch, speed, creativity, and caring of an indie. We are a 14-year-old company based out of Toronto and have offices in Nashville, LA, NYC, and London; so, we have global reach.  We also offer label services that are great for our artists. This not only enables us to record music and distribute it, but also allows a major label to pick it up. We do not compete with the major labels. We have released our writer/artist’s Josh Dorr and Jacob Powell’s EP’s through our label services a few months ago to Spotify and both projects each have songs nearing a million streams.
What is a single song contract vs. a publishing agreement?
We typically do full publishing agreements with writers because usually if we like one song from them, we like what they do in general. But in some cases, single song contracts make more sense and it’s something we will look at. A single song agreement is self-explanatory where it’s just one song, and a full publishing agreement is an agreement with a term and song delivery commitment for each term.
What are ole’s expectations for writers entering this competition?
A great song we can pitch, and also potentially a writer we can eventually offer a full publishing deal.
At what point is a writer ready for a publishing deal? 
A writer is ready when we know we can put them in any room and know that we can depend on them to deliver in any situation. I feel like once a writer finds their “crew”, they start writing better songs and they’re in a good groove. A writer is ready for a publishing deal when they have a realistic grasp on what’s on radio right now and can write competitively for it. A writer is ready for a publishing deal when you hear their songs and know just by hearing it that each song has their stamp on it…they have their thing they do different than anyone else in town. They’re ready for a publishing deal when they have a batch of GREAT competitive songs ready to pitch. A writer is ready for a publishing deal when they have solid relationships in town and when co-writers are singing their praises at what they bring to the table in a writing session. 
How do you find your writers?
NSAI is a great place to find writers! I am also always asking BMI, ASCAP, and Belmont, which writers have been standouts to them or if they’ve come across a specific kind of writer I’m looking for. (ex. If we need a writer/producer, an artist, top liner, pop writer, pop country writer, an old school country writer, basically whatever we’re missing on our roster or when we have a hole in our catalog). I go to a lot of showcases and writer rounds around town. I pay attention to what names other writers and publishers are talking about and recommending.

How common are single song contracts?
Full publishing deals are more common, but single song contracts are a great way to figure out if you and a publisher will be a good fit, and it’s a great way to build that relationship towards a staff writer deal. We have a writer named Buddy Owens who we first had a single song contract with, and it turned into a full publishing deal. Single song contracts are a good start!


Emily Olson is a Creative Director in the ole Nashville office.  She moved to Nashville with a passion for songs and songwriters in the Summer of 2005 to attend Belmont University. Since then, she has seen the talents of hundreds of songwriters by attending rounds and showcases at Nashville’s popular venues, such as 3rd and Lindsley and The Bluebird Cafe. Her first taste of the business came when she was the first intern at Disney Music Publishing in 2007 and in 2008 at Tom-Leis Music, where she got hired on part-time and worked with writer/artist Sarah Buxton, as well as catalog management for the company, which included the catalogs of successful indie company, Song Planet. After two years there, she found herself working for GRAMMY Award winning producer, Nathan Chapman. While working for him, she was the production assistant on almost a dozen major label projects, including Taylor Swift’s Speak Now album and The Band Perry’s debut album. He also gave her the chance of a lifetime when he realized her ear for songs and let her take meetings with publishers on behalf of him and serve as A&R Assistant on projects for Laura Bell Bundy and The McClymonts. 
“All I really want is to be surrounded by great music and great people.  I want to get the incredible songs floating around Nashville to be heard, and to help songwriters I really believe in get to where they want to be.”