Garth Brooks, Jason Isbell and Emmylou Harris stress the importance of songwriters in The Last Songwriter, a new film which premiered Thursday (April 27) at the Nashville Film Festival.

"Songwriting is fragile and yet through it all, it's the most important step in music," Brooks says in a clip. "If we don't have songwriters, there's not going to be a music business."

Later, Harris admits, "I owe my career to the songwriter."

The Last Songwriter shares concerns that in the digital age, fewer songwriters are able to make a living. In an interview with Billboard, director/co-producer Mark Barger Elliott brings this issue to light.

“There’s a kind of a movement in the film where Jason Isbell says writers need to get out on the road and perform,” Elliott explains. “And Matraca says that in the film, too, where she says, ‘I need to go get some gigs now.’ That’s a new reality for almost all the writers now.”

According to the Nashville Songwriters Association International, the digital age has cut the number of full-time songwriters in Nashville by 80 percent. This, of course, forces the songwriter to get other jobs, sometimes waiting tables to make ends meet. It's an issue that greatly hinders the songwriting process, and as a result, the quality of music.

Hit songwriters Tom Douglas (“The House That Built Me,” “I Run to You”), Allen Shamblin (“I Can’t Make You Love Me,” “Life’s a Dance”), Tony Arata (“The Dance,” “Dreaming With My Eyes Wide Open”) and co-producer Marcus Hummon (“Bless the Broken Road,” “Born to Fly”) also share their thoughts in The Last Songwriter.

"It sounds simplistic, but it’s true: We don’t have a music industry without songwriters," Elliott says. "Who’s going to write the soundtrack of our lives, the songs we fall in love to, the songs that we play at a loved one’s funeral, the song that gets us up in the morning? It’s a little dramatic, but that’s what’s at stake."

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