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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Howard


In 1989 shortly after Harlan and I married, we started a publishing company and appropriately named it, Harlan Howard Songs. During that time, we lived in a condo and had our offices in the basement. . I was new to music publishing, and working from home afforded me the opportunity to learn the business on a budget from the ground up. My first job was to transfer Harlan’s 4000 plus song catalog from reel-to-reel to DAT. With that task completed, next came learning to pitch songs. Pitching songs is finding the right song for the right artist and making that connection happen. Luckily, I had a great brand. Harlan was a prolific songwriter with many hits to his credit; his songs were not a hard sell.

Next up was finding and signing songwriters to our fledgling company. Our first signing was country songwriter, Jackson Leap. Jackson wrote mostly at home and mostly alone with an occasional co-write here and there. About every two weeks when he had a reel-to-reel full of songs, he’d drop by our house for a listening session. With exposure his songs began to get cut, singles were released and some were hits. It was a fun time in the business.

We rocked along for five years at home where the money followed the hits. Eventually it made sense to separate the business from our personal space. We started looking for an office on Music Row. We looked at Harlan’s old publishing office, Wilderness Music, on 17th. Not much had changed since he owned it in the 60’s and 70’s before selling it to Bobby Bare. We looked at producer, Bob Montgomery’s old House of Gold building on 16th, but it needed work on the foundation.

Then I found her. She was dilapidated but had potential. She was a solidly built 1920’s stone home on the fringe of Music Row. I was enamored; Harlan was skeptical. We brought our financial advisor, Mike Vaden, along for the tie breaker. She was rough but had good bones. I saw past the clutter and imagined her restored to her former glory. With a little arm twisting, I convinced Harlan and Mike that the future of Harlan Howard Songs was 1902 Wedgewood Avenue. We bought her in 1992, brought her back to life in 1993 and moved in in January 1994. Twenty-five years later, she is still Harlan Howard Songs, and I am still enamored.

Here are her before and after photographs:

Before shot 1992

After shot 1993

Respectfully written 6.13.19

Melanie Smith-Howard

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