The CMA Awards week officially kicked off Sunday night (Nov. 3) with SESAC's annual Nashville Music Awards ceremony. The performing rights organization hosted more than 500 guests at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, as well as honored the writers behind some of the year's biggest hits.

Keifer Thompson, one-half of country duo Thompson Square along with wife Shawna Thompson, was the night's biggest winner, taking home the evening's highest honor, SESAC Songwriter of the Year. The singer-songwriter, who co-wrote several of the duo's biggest hits, including their recent No. 1, 'If I Didn't Have You,' says that for him, writing is just as important as performing.

“It’s fifty percent of it,” Thompson tells Nashville's Tennessean “I can’t do one without the other. I’ve been writing songs since I was about twelve, thirteen years old. That was the first thing I started whacking away at when I got to town, and I’ve been doing it about every day since.”

The success of 'If I Didn't Have You' also earned the duo's publisher, Magic Mustang, the trophy for Publisher of the Year.

Florida Georgia Line's No. 1 single 'Cruise' won the award for Song of the Year. “It was the right sound, the right guys, the right time,” one of the song's writers, Jesse Rice, explains. “It was a confluence of events, and those are rare, especially when it’s a new artist. To launch a career, to be a part of that, it’s a very special thing.”

Other songs honored with a Country Performance Activity Award include Miranda Lambert's 'All Kinds of Kinds,' Lady Antebellum's 'Goodbye Town,' and 'Dancin' Away With My Heart,' and Keith Urban's 'For You.'