When Nicolle Galyon saw singer-songwriter Madison Kozak perform for the first time, she introduced herself with an offhand joke that turned out to be prophetic.
“I said, ‘Hey, I just started a record label in my car on the way over here,’” Galyon recalls. “I was looking around the room that night and there were all these other labels and I thought, ‘This girl is going to get a deal.’”
Galyon actually ended up signing the talented Kozak — to Songs & Daughters, a label and publishing company focused on women that she launched shortly their encounter. Galyon is a successful Nashville songwriter herself, having penned hits for Miranda Lambert (“Automatic”) and Dan and Shay (“Tequila”). Songs & Daughters is a pointed departure from the usual Nashville narrative, where female voices have only been given marginal space on country radio and have frequently been denied other opportunities as a result.
Launched in 2019, Songs & Daughters operates with support from growing Nashville indie Big Loud, whose partner Seth England proposed the idea. “He was like, ‘Just continue doing what you’re already doing,’” Galyon says. “That was pretty eye-opening [for him] to go, ‘Oh yeah, you are investing in artists behind the scenes and you are helping softly manage or softly A&R some of these projects. Why don’t you create a more formal home to do what you’re already doing?’”
Galyon’s creative investment in other performers goes back several years, when the Kansas native was a contestant on The Voice. She didn’t get a record deal out of it — but the experience flung open the doors for her songwriting career. After befriending and working with fellow Voice hopeful RaeLynn (whose album Wildhorse she would later co-produce), Galyon got to know Lambert and co-wrote several songs for the superstar’s Platinum album.
“If there’s anything I’ve learned about the music business, it’s that everything is connected,” Galyon says. “And it’s not linear. It’s not A to B. You gotta go do these 20 different things that feel random at the time, and then you look back and you realize, ‘These all added up to right exactly where I needed to be.’”
As a songwriter, Galyon has always gotten to see the early stages of a project but wanted to witness the finishing stages for the young artists and songwriters she was mentoring.
“A lot of times as writers, we’re the first ones to get the call to work with someone, and we truly are nurturing a project in its baby form,” she says. “Then it gets wings and we hand it off to the powers that be, and we don’t ever really get to ride this thing we helped create. I don’t think as songwriters we give ourselves enough credit for how much power we have — we don’t have an industry if we don’t have songs.”
It’s a philosophy she’s carried forward to Songs & Daughters, where she’s deliberately kept the roster small and tightly focused. “I want to get one thing really, really right before I move on to the next thing and hopefully get it really right [too],” she says.
In addition to Kozak, Songs & Daughters partnered with Galyon’s friend and collaborator Hailey Whitters to release the rising performer’s debut album, The Dream, and signed the young songwriter Tiera to the company’s publishing side after hearing her demos and promptly striking up an online conversation.
In each of these cases, Galyon has been motivated more by wanting to make herself available — as a co-writer, sounding board, or guide — than making a quick buck. The fact that Songs & Daughters was devoted to women reflected the work she’d long been doing as a matter of course, in a space where other labels and management entities were often failing.
“This is something that’s already been built within my life and within my career,” she says. “It wasn’t the product of a think tank, like, ‘How do we make the music industry better?’ It was, ‘This is already happening, let’s give it a name.’”