Ash Cooper - Manchester England

Ash is a thirty year old singer/writer from Manchester, England. He came to Nashville for a few days to rebuild on some relationships from a few years before. WE had a great day, got a killer new song, “SET THE WORLD TO RIGHT”, and had some good times as he performed and met people around the town. A couple others wrote with him as well and I feel he had a pretty productive trip. Here is his impressions of the whole thing:


"I approached MAB after attending one of his workshops in 2012 and keeping his number and details since that time for the next opportunity I would get to be in town. I found his initial workshop to be inspiring and thought provoking; he certainly knows his stuff and this comes across when you talk to him. When I knew I was coming back into town I emailed in advance and discussed some of my requirements with him online, I knew the mini-tour was going to be a good option for me as I was looking to expand my networks in Nashville and also improve on my writing. Communicating with MAB was incredibly easy and he was always quick to respond and give advice ahead of our meeting; he made sure he got some more details about my songwriting experience to date, my influences and my ambitions going forward.


At our meeting we discussed these things in more detail and MAB was happy to provide some insights into the business based on his experience as well as listen to my own thoughts on concerns. I was keen to get a feel for how the songwriting community works in Nashville and some hints and tips on co-writing as this is something I have had very minimal experience on so far. MAB was really helpful and encouraging in his advice and was honest about where he could see opportunities for me to develop further. MAB also encourage me to play some of my songs for him so that he could provide an honest critique and again, this was done in a very constructive and helpful way that gave me some things to consider to improve my songwriting for the future as well as my current material. I found him to be a great listener and his comments were aimed at trying to help and build me up as opposed to knock me down. We even had the chance to do some co-writing "in the room" as this was one of the things I wanted to work on and the process for me was as good as the result we got. which was a great song.


Following on from our session MAB has been able to identify some contacts for me to work with who fit my style and approach and I have been able to follow up on these and look forward to working with them in the future. I would highly recommend MAB as a mentor to anyone who is serious in building their own network and / or songwriting skills as it has certainly been a really great benefit to me."


Ash Cooper

Performing Artist / Songwriter




Bob Marshall

There are two, very different Nashvilles.  There is the one that folks see in the bars on Broadway and on the television show "Nashville", and there is the real, behind the scenes city.  

Four years ago I wondered into Nashville, without a plan and without any idea of the "real" Nashville.  I went to a NSAI Songwriting camp and was fortunate in meeting with Marc.  The past four years have seen a major change in my songwriting abilities and my connection to Nashville through personal contacts.  Marc is the impetus for those positive changes that have put my music career on a brand new, accelerated trajectory.

If you want someone to blow smoke and feed you lies, MARC IS NOT THAT GUY.   However, if you want a thoughtful and honest evaluation of your present talents and abilities, I can not recommend Marc highly enough.  And...on top of all of that, he is a genuinely nice guy.  

Bob Marshall
Performing Singer/Songwriter/Cowboy Poet

Dave Mininberg - NC

Marc-Alan Barnette probably saved me three years on my learning curve in Nashville.  I was lucky enough to be introduced to him on my first night there and I can honestly say I had NOT A CLUE! With his insight into everything from sharpening my writing skills to understanding how the business actually I figured out a direction.  He opened doors for me.  I now have places to play when I come to Nashville and have met so many kind, helpful songwriters and other people through Marc-Alan. 
While all the introductions to places and people have helped tremendously, it won't matter unless you have quality material.  Marc-Alan helps you find the song within the ideas.  One example is the song "My Second Mom". I had a chance to make a videa of the song before my "second mom" passed away:
Like many songwriters, I have a lot to say.  Some of my songs are longer stories.  That works for live performances in certain venues.  But the difficulty is learning to say a lot in a short window of time.  The goal is to figure out how to tell a real story with real emotion in a format that will work for publishers. Maybe once you have "made it" you can pitch whatever you want but for most of us, that is not an option.  On one of my "tours" with Marc-Alan I was running through some of my songs.  He stopped me when I got to "My Second Mom".  The idea was already there but it wasn't focused yet. My best friend's mother was very important to me while growing up.  She gave me stability and helped keep me grounded through difficult times.  I loved her very much and she was sick with cancer.  I wanted to give her something.  I decided I would, for the first time in my life, create a real video with a song recorded in Nashville.  The problem of course was in finishing the song. We ran through the lyrics I already had which were considerable but still scattered.  With his knowledge and experience, he helped to boil it down to the essential points and come up with the format. The song is my ideas but without his help, I don't think I would have been able to say so much in just such a way as to make it work.  Because of Marc-Alan's help, I was able to finish the song and get the video done before she passed away.  I will be forever grateful for this. He is a coach, a mentor, a tour guide and a friend.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at

Dave Schwalm - New York

Anyone trying to make inroads to Nashville as a songwriter or entertainer without help, should reconsider. We (my songwriter partner and I) have been traveling to Nashville for over 15 years. We have played many venues, at open mikes at midnight, meetings with publishers and producers and lawyers, songwriting camps 1 & 2, BMI meetings, etc, etc, etc. It didn’t do much but waste a lot of time and money, for over 10 years. We had hit a wall. Find some help or quit.

We made contact with Marc Alan Barnette, who we refer to as MAB, through the NSAI web site. We thought what the hell. We’ll spend some more money and give it a shot. Nothing to lose. We set up our first MAB tour. It went so well that we just finished our 5th!

MAB opens doors that an outsider can’t breech and has many, many connections. On this last tour we met 3 hit Nashville songwriters...and not just a hand shake. We got to sit down with each of them for at least an hour and pick their brain. One was a breakfast meeting. One played us our own little concert of one of his hit songs. We had a blast and they are all great people with a lot to give. Our first 10 years, we never meant a hit writer. Try that on your own and good luck.

MAB has set us up playing at several venues around Nashville for us over the past 5 years. As an outsider, forget it on your own. Over the past 5 years we have written several songs with MAB. Some of them are basic and a few are actual hit songs. Wait and see. He teaches the art of songwriting and I consider him a master writer and not a lot of those exist. He has written over 3,000 songs. You will leave your writing session with a real Nashville song.

MAB has introduced us to several local Nashville writers and now when we come to town we co-write with them. Again, try it on your own. It will take years for contacts, if ever.

MAB has taken us to ASCAP and BMI meetings, NSAI and any other place you would like to visit, just ask. He has studio connections and publisher connections and…well…..he’s just connected.

How’s that for a TOUR of NASHVILLE?!

Do yourself a favor. Sign up for a MAB tour. We have spent a lot of money in Nashville, Thousands of dollars. The MAB Tour is the best money we have ever spent
It will save you years of aggravation. There are a lot of scams and scammers in Nashville and this is not one! As a matter of fact, we are bringing MAB and his tours to Central New York, so everyone can learn from his MABness.

If you have any questions on a MAB Tour, you can reach me at

And no, I’m not being paid and no, he’s not my brother.

Steve "OD" Harris - Ohio

RE:  Matrimony....... I mean Testimony

By:   The Old Dog (Steve Harris)


Okay, I was just teasing with the matrimony part (it rhymed so I couldn't resist).  Actually, working with Marc Alan Barnette (MAB) is almost like a marriage in some ways.  It's a love affair of music creating a life long partnership through song.   Ha!!!   Okay, even I agree that was a little creepy, so overlook that part.  The real comparison to marriage and working with MAB; is how you can easily become part of his music family and circle of friends; just like in a marriage.   The relationships with Artists and songwriters through working with MAB, is a benefit seldom spoken about; but the best part of my journey and worthy of a mention.


I'm an older guy from Ohio that loves music, like all of you.  I have a background in music by being a bass player for several bar bands, for over 40 years.  I was a good enough singer to sing harmony parts; but never good enough to sing lead and be a front man in any of those bands.  I barely played rhythm guitar good enough to give me any aid to make the songs I wrote sound worthy of a listen; but I couldn't help but write those songs because of a desire to express my creative side.  I also worked a job, to pay the bills, that I recently retired from; so my newly found interest in wanting to write better songs was not an attempt for a career change by me.


So why on earth would some old guy like me; with limited talent, even think of spending time and money taking a MAB Tour???   My reply:  Why Not!!!


As I read the other "Testimonials" on MAB' webpage, I hear from very talented artist's and songwriter's; most of them professionals in the business.  They give MAB credit for being a positive influence during the early part of their career, and I know for a fact that is true.  That gives MAB a tremendous amount of credibility for his services to help those with a great talent take the necessary steps to further their career.  What about someone with limited talent???  Should they do a Tour???


The MAB has helped me become a much better writer and I have also increased my catalogue with some really good songs, co-written with MAB and a few others.  I also have a long list of friends in Nashville that are like family to me; yes, the MAB family.


So; if MAB can help someone like me, imagine how much he can help all of you with more talent than I will ever have.  So to all of you sitting on the fence about whether to take a MAB  Tour or not.  Regardless which side of the fence you fall; if you get up, brush yourselves off and sign up for a Tour, you will have landed safely.


Steve "OD" Harris - Columbus, OH

Jimmy Bielkiewicz - Nashville

Why Work with a pro writer?

Why would anyone want to spend their hard earned cash to have someone else tell them what to do?

You are living the dream, becoming a songwriter, your family and friends love your songs, however, when you play them for strangers they ignore you. How can this be? You read several books on songwriting, read countless online articles and even forums. Your songs have everything that all those sources say they are supposed to have, yet people just don’t connect with your songs. Now what?

First you are not alone! Every songwriter has been exactly where you are right now!

I thought I could pen a great song, pay $700 to have it demo’ed, and Nashville would come knocking at my door. $700 later I had a great CD of an average song, a song that could be heard all over Nashville and even all over the world, NOT my song, but millions of songs just like mine. Different titles, lines and rhymes but the same story told just a slight bit different.

Heart broke and lost I searched for what to do next. I found “Write with a pro” web sites where I could spend $200 and write one song with a pro, well this would not help me write better. I found a camp that cost $2500 and I got 20 minutes with a pro writer at the end, seemed kind of crazy.

Then I found Marc Alan Barnette, $225 for a whole day and he calls it a tour. Tour? Am I going to see the city of Nashville? NO just the opposite it is a tour of ME, my past, present, and future of songwriting, the mistakes I made in the beginning and why I made them, the songs I am writing now and what can make them better, and then where I wanted my songs to be in the future, which included writing a song with a pro (he has had songs on the radio, in movies and won lots of awards). Sounded very interesting, and three days of one on one with a pro teacher would still be less $$$$ than what I wasted on that first demo.

After my tours with Marc, (which did not happen on 3 consecutive days) I had 5 songs that were my ideas written professionally and “Radio” ready. These songs are still teaching me almost a year later. I often look at them when writing a new song to see how Marc said what I wanted to say. We have all heard the saying the “Gift that Keeps on Giving”, well this is what a few tours with Marc have done for me.

Additionally, Marc introduced me to many of his friends, set up co-writes with writers that could continue to teach me more and help me grow as a songwriter. (No additional cost, it is like your tours never stop)

I still have a lot to learn but now my songs are drawing attention instead of driving it away.

If you are feeling frustrated or stuck, It may be in your best interest to look up Marc, he is on several internet forums giving free advice to anyone just for the asking, however if you are serious about learning to write better songs than the millions of other songwriters out there I would seriously consider spending your money with Marc. In the long run it becomes an investment that saves you cash and grows. Through Marc I have met many “Hit” writers who all say “Nashville is a 10 year town (takes 10 years to make it here), one day with Marc knocks 3 years off of that.”

I hope this helps you in your Journey

Jimmy Bielkiewicz -

Norman Bradley - Nashville

Working with MAB, coming to Nashville for a Tour, but you ain't country?

I met a few  folks who have told know I heard about this Marc-Alan Barnette guy, and something about his Nashville songwriter tours, but like I am NOT country.

Now we could sit here and debate what constitutes as country and what not but thats not my reason for this  POST.

So I said:  tell me what  kind of music do you play and some say  Rock, Commerical POP, blues, folk,  Americana. One said I like older style Rhythm and Blues. One  said  I wanna write contempory Christian cross-over music. BUT most stated  I'm NOT into COUNTRY

OK. Well, I said, tell me what you wanna do with your songs. Some wanna be artists. Some wanna be writers. Some hope to perform on UTUBE, or Internet  Radio and on Social Music sites. Some hope to someday be signed as artists. Some hope to tour around and  play thier songs and gain audiences. Some just wanna write better and perfom at local cafe's. Some said I wanna reach the most people I can with my music, maybe  touch somebody's life, or help them make changes to thier life.

I said well MAB has got you covered and I will tell you why..

Because any one of those styles of music or reasons of writing boil down to a few simple facts. 

Well, tightly written songs, in a formula or format that can speak to the most massess of folks you want to reach. You need songs that will engage them and hold thier attention, and hopefully, touch them somehow and or make them remember you and either want to write with you, perform with you, or follow you and show up at your shows or tune into your Utube perfomances, and want to hear you or your songs again,.

 MAB can teach you how to do that.

Yeah but he is in Nashville, and thats mostly country or country style. Well it's true that the market in Nashville is "Country oriented."  But the Music in this town and the music scene encompasses everything  from southern Rock to blues to POP to Christian Music and so much more. 

Even though some of those same-mentioned styles or genres are maybe not MAB's direct style, writing very tight well written songs are still your biggest asset within those styles, and with that, he's GOT you covered. And if you wanna ASK MAB  what kinda songs he has played or written in his career, you'd be amazed. You'd be blown away at the mix of styles of Artists he has worked with, or opened up for or wrote with.

The bottom line is: a tightly, well written song in any almost field of music, still holds its own.

Norman Bradley -

Will T. Massey - Texas

I was making the transition from focusing on my artist career to focusing on my songwriting career when I met Marc-Alan. He gave me tons of valuable insight into the Nashville scene which will be with me a long time.  We collaborated on a song and it was an honor to witness his remarkable talent for focused writing.  It was just the
kind of number I wanted for my repertoire.  Marc-Alan facilitated a writers night slot for me and helped me make an inroad with the host which bodes well for future trips to Nashville.  If you're new to the songwriting world in Nashville,  Marc-Alan can give you a leg up.

Will T. Massey -

Justin Parker - Texas

The second you meet Marc-Alan Barnette "MAB" you have gained a friend for life. I first met MAB online via a couple different music related message boards. We struck up a conversation and began to talk about songwriting, and the music industry. Truly, his teaching began that day, but seven months later here I sit just a week back from Nashville and a two day tour with him. Those two days had the single greatest impact on my viewpoint of songwriting thus far. MAB has been in the Nashville trenches for much of his life. His desire to teach others not only what to focus on, but what to avoid as well is evident from the first time you meet. Simply put, he cares. Every tour is different, based on what you personally want to accomplish in your own journey. He doesn't try to "direct" you a certain way, but won't let you steer yourself off a cliff either. He will call out mistakes, but then helps you to fix them. He shows you where you may be straying, and most importantly for me would give me the "why" he is suggesting certain changes. His tour is kind of like "boot camp" for the music industry.  No matter where your particular tour takes you, you will come away with a wealth of priceless knowledge. I feel like it's taken me a few days to even begin to digest the information, and it's just now beginning to "soak in." I am a better songwriter for it. Being from Texas, I came away with a strong understanding of the difference between Texas music, and the Nashville bar for songwriting. He spent time, and focused with me personally on the differences between the two and how I could hone my craft to change between the two regional styles of writing, and left with an understanding on how to go about writing in the future with each individual market in mind. His knowledge of music and songwriting was seemingly limitless. That's what was so impressive. As I said at the beginning, I learned more in two days with MAB than the past seven months on my own. You simply can't put a price on that.
Thanks MAB for all you do.

Justin D. Parker -
Spring, TX

Caleb Key - Indiana

If I ever "found the time" to make it to Nashville, I think I finally found the right time, and I'm not so sure it wasn't "destiny". I decided to do one of MAB's songwriter tours, scheduled a date, made plans (although hurriedly) and started off on my journey. This would be my 2nd trip to music city for the purpose of furthering my songwriter career/dreams. I left southern Indiana around 6:45 AM in a beat up old Ford pick up truck, and less than an hour later and about 60 miles from home, my truck decided to give out on me. I limped down the road a couple of miles and there just happened to be a shop open, one guy working, who told me that I had better turn around and try to make it home, cause my truck was not going to make it to Nashville- my transmission was going out. I got back in the truck and before I could even get the door shut it started raining just about as hard as it could possibly rain. I pulled up to the highway. To the right was Nashville, a one on one meeting with MAB, and my hopes and dreams. To the left was a somewhat quick path home, back to reality, another broken hope of becoming something better. Against my better judgement I said to myself "By God I was on my way to Nashville and I'm not turning around here!" I continued south and my truck never missed a lick the rest of the way to MAB's house. It was almost as if it was a test, kind of a "are you really serious about doing this?". I was.

I pulled up to MAB's place only about 20 minutes late. I felt like I had showed up to football practice without any pads or helmet. I hadn't brought a guitar, any lyric sheets, folders with ideas, not even a notebook or pencil to take notes. MAB wasn't impressed and scolded me a little : ) and gave me my first lesson for Nashville (and the boyscout's) before we ever made it inside- "be prepared".

So after a rocky start, a lengthy Q&A session, where MAB answered my questions so in depth and thoroughly that I could scratch 2 or 3 more off my mental notebook afer asking one, and a quick lunch at a cool little indoor/outdoor type sandwich/bbq/cafe joint, we headed back to MAB's place to start on a song.

We had discussed different ideas for some songs I had in mind at lunch, and proceeded to do two things that MAB told me we shouldn't do. 1. Write a song about a topic that a friend of his had written about previously. and 2. Write a guitar song. But against his better judgement, we did it anyway. It was amazing to me, the process that MAB used to get the song off the ground. I just read this evening in one of his other posts, that he gets an idea from a newbie, and then writes the first verse and chorus before he ever picks up his guitar, and all in about 10 minutes. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HE DID! It was like he was in some sort of zone. He closed his eyes, laid his head back, and hummed and moaned and grunted occasionally, all so softly that I couldn't really tell if he was really doing it or if I was imagining it. And then he would type on his notebook for 15 seconds or so, and then go back into his "little world". I really felt as if I was watching a master at work, but finally had to ask after 7 or 8 minutes- "Are you brainstorming and writing or are you just emailing someone?" lol. He said "No, I'm writing", so I continued to watch. By this time I'm thinking "OK mister 'I'm the king of the near miss', Lets see what kind of stuff you are putting out there." And then he prints off a lyric sheet with a title, first verse, and chorus, and picks up his guitar. He starts playing this cool bluesy sounding progression with licks and fills like I wish I could, and then sings the first part of our song, sits the guitar down, and says "Something like that?" I dont know if my jaw was on the floor or if it was resting on my feet, you'll have to ask him, but I was amazed. I even asked him "So, you've written over 2000 songs. Is that something you wrote several years ago and just put it down on paper for me to see?" No. He wrote it in those 10 minutes. It was filled with imagery, simile, "visual furniture" ; ), and references that someone like myself could NOT just come up with in 10 MINUTES! But that is part of what I took away from the experience. Although some of what he wrote was from personal experience, someone like me CAN and SHOULD be writing like this.

I didnt plan for this to turn out so long, and I applaud anyone who made it all the way to here. Long story long, we ended up with a cool, little more blues than country song that I will always remember, not so much as for the song itself, but more for the "making of" and EVERYTHING it took to get there.

And as far as a tour with MAB, I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone, especially those who are making one of their first trips to town. He is a wealth of knowledge and a great place to start. Thanks to MAB for a very memorable experience and for gracing these forums that we all turn to so much, and thanks to NSAI for asking him to be here!

Caleb Key -
Bedford, IN

Cliff and Bev Nelson - California

Big Ed Moore - California

Becky Monnier - Kentucky

Karolyn Marie Roberts - North Carolina

Dave & Sherri Galka - Florida

Dean Stacey - Canada

Dave Wagner - Missouri

Matt Hoggard - Oklahoma

Kevin Emmerick - Virginia