Staff writer Matthew Lawson starts a new monthly column with Industry Insider. Each month this article will be a behind-the-scenes look at some of the Gospel music industry’s biggest support. We kick things off this month with Daywind Publishing’s Joe Dan Cornett.
Matthew Lawson: When did you first begin working as Creative Director for Daywind?
Joe Dan Cornett: I fully started working as Creative Director for Daywind fall of last year. I started at Daywind back in 2014 as Catalog Manager and in 2015 started “creative” responsibilities as the Asst. Creative Director.
ML: What does a typical day the office look like for you?
One of the things I love about my job is that every day looks different. During this particular season, I spend a lot of time having meetings with other Songwriters, A&R reps, Artist Managers and Publishers in town to maintain a good working relationship. Other days I spend time doing more office/administration duties, which range from basic catalog management, demo management, royalty calculations and working with our administration company to resolve any disputes over specific songs. Lastly, I try to do a bulk of my song pitches in the same day if possible, so some days consist of studying up on current artists and then pitching songs.
ML: When a Daywind artist (or other label artist) is preparing to cut a new project, what is your part in that process?
JDC: So typically when an artist is preparing to cut a new project, they will reach out to either myself or Rick Shelton and request songs. At that point we will go through our catalog and start listening to songs that could potentially match that artists style. During this process Rick and I will listen to hundreds of songs just to narrow down our pitch to maybe 20 or so songs. If it’s a Daywind artist, the process can be even more complicated, which I am truly proud of. That process sometimes consists of what I previously mentioned before, PLUS, multiple pitch meetings that includes the artists, producer, A&R Director, VP of Publishing, artist manager and even our president, Ed Leonard. They all have such a vested interest in our artists that they all get in a room and help create the best possible records that they can.
ML: Who are some of your favorite SG artists, personally?
JDC: My favorite SG artists are any and all artists that cut Daywind songs…. Hahaha! Funny enough, before I was hired at Daywind, I really didn’t have a working knowledge of any Southern artists. I came from the mainstream country and rock world. Our VP of Publishing, Rick Shelton, really took me under his mentorship and taught me everything I know today about Southern Gospel. Still today, he will call me into his office and start showing me videos of old Southern groups and then proceed to give me a history lesson on the lineage of the group. Those lessons have become invaluable to me. Initially, I gravitated to Quartet music because, to me, it was so different from anything that I had heard before. I remember getting my hands on a Blackwood Bros. and Tribute Quartet record and pretty much keeping them on a loop in my car for months. I’d also say, given my more country/folk background, that I also really enjoy The Nelons and their American roots music that they have been doing as well. Lastly I am a fan of The Erwins. I love their style and it’s just really cool to see a group of young kids going out night after night and spreading the Gospel.
ML: Daywind has an incredible staff of songwriters. Although impossible, if you could pick, is there a songwriter that constantly impresses you with their fresh approach and ability to convey the Gospel?
JDC: Whew, you are so right, that is impossible to pick. What I love about our staff writers here at Daywind, is that each writer fills a specific need. If we need a quartet song, then we know who to call. If we need some country gospel or some more progressive southern, we know who to call. I can honestly say a different writer will impress me every day. They all have the innate ability to convey the Gospel in ways that I haven’t heard before.
ML: When did you come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?
JDC: I became saved back in 2005 “officially”, but to be completely transparent, I didn’t TRULY understand the relationship aspect of Christ until some years later when I met my current pastor/mentor, Scott Cooper. I was completely transformed when I realized that Jesus calls us friend and wants to be a part of every aspect of our lives.
ML: What do you like to do in your free time?
JDC: Well, with Daywind and also being a worship leader at my church, there isn’t a ton of free time. I love going out to different restaurants and coffee shops in Nashville with my wife. Nashville just continues to grow, so it seems like there is a new place to try every week. My biggest hobby though, is sports. My whole family is from Kentucky originally, so we love to cheer on the Kentucky Wildcats. We also LOVE the Tennessee Titans and Nashville Predators and like to spend time together by going downtown and supporting them. Sports is how my family bonds the best, so a lot of my free time is spent doing that.