“If you spend every single day doing what you love, you’re never going to ‘work’ a day in your life.” That was the advice Autumn Marie got from her mom - a successful doctor with what Autumn describes as a “hippie” perspective. While growing up in Michigan, Autumn got involved in musical theater and played in several bands. When it was time to apply for college, she had the GPA to get into Ivy League schools, where most of her fellow prep school friends were headed. She is grateful her parents never pressured her to become a doctor or lawyer, but instead taught her the value of hard work while allowing her the freedom to pursue what makes her happy.
While enrolled as a singer-songwriter major at the University of Colorado Denver and playing her original songs in coffee shops, Autumn realized that because she was a fan of so many genres, she did not necessarily have a niche sound or brand. “While I have a definite sense of who I am as a person, that doesn’t cater to my musical personality… some days I want to sound like Halsey and some days I want to sound like Nina Simone, and as an artist that’s not really viable.” That’s when Autumn had an epiphany -- she could write for other artists. And the best place to do that was Nashville.
For her sophomore year of college, Autumn transferred to Belmont University, where she is surrounded by many extremely talented musicians and songwriters. While some people might find that type of environment to be intimidating or discouraging, Autumn sees it as an opportunity to grow. “Every co-write I have, ideally, I want to be in a room with a better writer than I am.” Autumn says Belmont promotes collaboration between talent, and encourages students to work together and build up a network that “can rise to the top together.”
Autumn also writes with people who reach out to her on social media or at writers’ rounds; she is a regular at Aloft and Belcourt Taps. Her rule: she will write with anybody one time. She has observed that bad writers are sometimes better at telling the truth and revealing authentic human emotion. “I’ve written with really bad writers and written incredible songs; and I’ve written with great writers and I’ve come up with really bad songs.” Either way, she enjoys the camaraderie of the process of songwriting and the friendships that often result.
Autumn doesn’t think she’ll ever run out of ideas for new songs. “Every person in this world could inspire at least one incredible song, so that’s about seven billion songs.” She has 17 co-writes scheduled in the next two weeks, and a spiral notebook filled with poems and clever word plays and rhymes – including several lines written by her 10-year-old sister.
As a songwriting major, Autumn often helps up-and-coming artists find their voice and write songs that are authentic for them. Some of the songs she has co-written have been recorded and released by the artists or bands, such as the electric pop single "Déjà Vu" by The Rooftop Secret. Other songs are being played by artists at writers’ rounds or produced as demos.
Every morning Autumn checks the music charts to see what’s popular. Her current favorite country artists are Chris Stapleton and Maren Morris; her pop idols are Halsey and K.Flay.
Autumn’s dream job after graduation is to be signed to a publishing company so that she can write with bigger artists. Although she wrote more than 100 songs last year alone, she wants to have ten songs that she feels could be radio hits before she sets up any publisher meetings. In the meantime, she is taking an audio production class this semester (Belmont operates the historic RCA Studio B where Elvis, Roy Orbison, and Dolly Parton all recorded). Once she records the demos, she can post them on her website so artists and songwriters can hear her work and potentially want to collaborate.
Autumn says that writing a song with somebody and having it be their single would be more fulfilling
than hearing herself on the radio or iTunes. “If I’m an artist, I can release any song I want; it doesn’t matter if the song is that good, I just have to like it. But to write a song so good that somebody else wants to put their name on it and market their career behind that song, I can’t think of higher praise. That would be the dream.”
For more information, including music and links to social media, go to www.AutumnMarieMusic.com
To hear an excerpt from Autumn's original song, "One More Drink," watch the video below.
Written by Laurel Moore for Live Laugh Love Nashville