I once had a friend who told me he was going to write a book. Here is how our conversation went: Him: “I’m going to write a book” Me: “What will it be about?” Him: “I don’t know. Anything.” Me: “What do you feel like you have to say?” Him: “Nothing. I just want a boat.” Me: “You’re going to write a book about nothing so you can buy a boat?” Him: “Don’t you think that will work?” Me: “Not sure that’s the best plan to get a boat.”
Here are five ways to catch a publisher’s attention with your music. These techniques will really increase your chances of succeeding with a publisher IF you write a great song.
Write strong up-tempo songs. They always need more. It is much easier to get a great up-tempo song cut than it is to get a great ballad cut. So, writing a great up-tempo song makes the publisher’s job easier. Making their job easier makes you more attractive to a publisher.
You’ve got the song. So, you’ve been writing and put together a nice collection of songs; And you’re ready for that next step, finding a publisher. That person who believes in your writing and has the connections to make things happen. Here are 3 common mistakes that can kill your chances of working with a music publisher:
Pitching your songs. It means playing songs for publishers, artists or record label people in hopes of getting them to record or help you get a song recorded and it is one of the most important steps of being in the music industry as a writer – otherwise your songs without being pitched basically means nothing – yet, pitching is one of the areas where songwriters make the most mistakes. And, those mistakes can be costly. Sometimes the cost can be losing all your credibility as a writer while maybe your songs are actually pretty good, but you’ve already ruined your reputation by making these simple mistakes. You don’t get too many chances to make a good impression before you are put on the “burned bridge” list. Here are some of the important dos and don’ts to remember when you pitch songs.
Songwriters tend to have this “win or lose” mentality. When I play my songs for someone, I either “win” and they take a copy, or I “lose” and they reject my song (and by default, me). I would suggest that we look at those opportunities as “win or learn” opportunities. Again, if they love my song and take a copy, I have won! But, if they don’t, I have a chance to turn my “loss” into a “learn”. Here’s how I do it.
As the music economy continues to move toward a streaming based model, people are drifting rapidly toward the idea that music should be free. I think it’s vital to remind ourselves (And our friends) from time to time WHY it is important to pay for music:
For my song to get out to the public, I have to demo it. A conservative estimate of the cost of that demo is $800. I make approximately 9 cents per sale of the song. So, I need 8,888 people to buy the song before I even cover the cost of my demo.
Writing songs with artists is a completely different game. Writing songs with artists is a completely different game than writing songs FOR artists (which we already talked about) or simply writing with another writer to try and craft the best song possible. When you write with an artist in the room, the goal is to help that artist find their voice. In order to do that, you have to ask a lot of questions. When I’m writing with an artist, I am doing everything in my power to find out what they want to say. In an easy artist co-write, the artist KNOWS what they want to say, and you just help them write it. In an artist write I had with Sam Veil (Singaporean artist), he walked in and said “I need a big stadium song. I have this chorus started and here’s the title.” Most of them aren’t that easy. Many times, an artist just walks in and says “I need a hit”. That’s not much to go on.
Writing songs for artists is a guessing game. When I’m shooting for a particular artist as I write, I’m trying to guess what that artist wants to say. Not only that, I’m trying to guess what they haven’t already said so that I can help them say something new. I look at it this way. If I just started dating someone, and valentine’s day rolls around, it’s hard to know what they might like. But, if I’ve been married 10 years to the same person, I’ve got a pretty good idea what kinds of gifts they would appreciate. The key is history and knowledge of the other person. How do I get that kind of knowledge about artists? It’s not as hard as you think!
Most songwriters I know have a lot of people who have helped them get to whatever level of success they are enjoying – even if it is simply being able to write regularly. Here’s my list. I’m guessing many of you have similar lists.