Toby Keith; Photo Courtesy of BMI/YouTube
Toby Keith; Photo Courtesy of BMI/YouTube

Toby Keith Shares Advice For Songwriters After Receiving Prestigious BMI Icon Award

Toby Keith was honored with the prestigious BMI Icon Award at the 70th Annual BMI Country Awards in Nashville, Tennessee, earlier this month. The legendary country artist was presented with the award for his prolific music career and songwriting contributions to country music for hits like “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” “I Love This Bar,” and “Don’t Let the Old Man In.”

After receiving the highest achievement for a BMI-affiliated songwriter, Keith, who has charted over 30 No. 1 singles since releasing his debut record in 1993 and has written a hit song every year over the past 20 years, sat down to offer some advice to newer songwriters who are just getting started in the music business.

“The best advice I could give an up-and-coming songwriter would be to try to write something every day and try to finish as many as you can,” Keith said in a YouTube video uploaded by BMI. “The only thing you can do, I mean, I feel like I wrote 200 songs. Then I wrote a good one. Then I wrote 150 songs, then I wrote another good one. Then, you know, I wrote 50 songs, and I wrote another good one. As you learn and network and you keep honing your trade, it will come easier for some people. People more talented than me probably shrunk that margin. But once you get down to where you understand how to write a song, then you’re just a great idea away from a great song.”

“When I got the idea to do ‘Don’t Let The Old Man In’ a few years ago, I knew when I heard the title that I was going to write a masterpiece for myself,” he continued. “That’s what happens. I know the second I know the idea if I’ve got a hit or not if I can nail it. And that’s just from doing it over and over and over again. Just get it in there. You can’t be lazy with it.”

During the special event, BMI’s newest Icon stood on stage to deliver his acceptance speech.

“Since 1990 or 1991, I have been affiliated with the greatest organization in the music business, and that’s BMI,” Keith, 61, said. “They’ve been so great to me as a songwriter because I knew that even if I didn’t make it as an artist, then, maybe somebody would cut my songs. I always felt like the songwriting was the most important part of this whole industry.”

Keith, who was previously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, also thanked his family, his team, and friends who helped support his musical journey throughout the years.

“The only regret I have is that I had just, I never left Oklahoma. I would’ve probably made it at 21 or 22 instead of 28 or 29 had I not been so damn hard-headed and moved out here because the best songwriters in the world are out here,” he added. “I learned a lot after I got here.”

Carrie Underwood and Eric Church, along with frequent co-writers Dean Dillon and Scotty Emerick took the stage to pay musical tributes to Keith whose latest achievement has him belonging to a club of songwriters that includes Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and more.

After accepting his accolade at the country genre’s oldest awards ceremony, Keith took to Twitter to share some photos from the event.

He tweeted, “I was proud to accept [BMI]’s Icon Award. Thank you, BMI for all you’ve done over the years – and to [Carrie Underwood], [Eric Church], Dean Dillon, and Scotty Emerick for the badass tributes.”

The 2022 BMI Awards, hosted by BMI President and CEO Mike O’Neill and Clay Bradley, BMI Vice President, also celebrated HARDY (Michael Hardy,” who received the award for Country Songwriter of the Year. Luke Combs’ “Forever After All” earned Song of the Year, and Sony Music Publishing received the accolade for Publisher of the Year.

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