Based on the emails and messages I get from young writers; it seems to be a lot of confusion out there over the question “How do I submit a song?”. The truth of the matter is that there is no one way to “submit” a song. When you simplify the “song submission” idea, there are basically three categories of song submissions that a songwriter should educate themselves about and work on them. I’ll cover each of those here.
Educational submissions. These are “safe” ways to submit a song that you aren’t sure about because the person you are submitting the song to knows that you are just trying to learn. You aren’t going to burn a bridge if the song isn’t there. Usually there are websites by professionals that you can submit your songs to them and take their feedback and in some cases if your song have good potential maybe they invite you for full time or project basis collaboration.
For some reason, people often ask me what keeps me going? How do I stay motivated to write when I get so few songs cut in relation to the number of songs I write? I have come to believe that motivation is an internal force, not an external one. I don’t believe in “motivation”, at its core. Or some kind I can say that I don’t believe the motivation comes from any outside factors. I’m not more motivated to write if I get more cuts. I’m motivated to write by some internal force that will not be denied. There is a part of me that IS going to succeed no matter what. The part of me that write at least one new song every day, regardless of how many cuts I get. I just keep writing for matter of writing and when I write, every time I just try to write the best song I’ve ever written, and I don’t think of what to do with it next. When I think this way, I have nothing to be worried about and I can write with no stress nor any pressure.
Communication vs. rules. I had a songwriting session with someone recently who was very frustrated with trying so hard in the business and getting no signs of success. He had read a book by a leading songwriting teacher and had tried to apply all of the songwriting “rules” that the book taught. The end result was that he felt he was writing worse and worse songs the more he tried to follow the rules. I told him a story about going for playing snooker as a teenager. Neither I nor my friends were good snooker players, but one friend was getting strike after strike. Being the competitive people, we were, my other friends and I kept trying to mess him up. Nothing was working. Finally, I said “I need to learn to play like you do! How do you concentrate your breathing while aiming before you hit the ball?” The next time he was up, he counted the time for his breathing and guess what happened? He messed up. When he started trying to break down what he was doing, it messed him up.
Songwriters, do you think like an artist? One of the tricks to getting cuts with major artists like Blake Shelton is learning to think like they do. It’s not really all that hard, but it does take some time and effort which if you ask me, it totally worth it to spend that time, energy and effort to learn to think like some of the greatest writers and build your career’s foundation. In essence, songwriters are mini speech writers. We are trying to put words in the mouths of celebrities, and they will sing them out loud for the world. If you were trying to write a speech for a major political candidate, you would try to get to know that candidate as well as you possibly could. You want your words to sound very natural coming out of their mouths because literally the whole world is listening to it – essentially, these words must sound so natural, pure and relevant that sound like they wrote it themselves. To pull that off, I try to read a lot of interviews with artists I want to aim to pitch songs to.