ETIQUETTE FOR SONGWRITING
But, on several occasions, he gave people good honest feedback and they went off on him. “Everyone in my hometown love this song!” “You don’t know what you’re talking about!” “You just don’t want to admit that my song is better than yours!”. And on it went. Those people were unceremoniously tossed out of the office – some had to be threatened with calling the police to forcibly evict them. Most went cursing into the night, convinced that they had been wronged and their talent overlooked. The sad truth is that a hall of fame songwriter had just spent 30 minutes with them, even though he didn’t know them. He had given them great advice and told them how to make their songs more cuttable. And they were too arrogant to listen. What a wasted opportunity. Here are some important things to remember whether you are pitching songs or getting feedback in other ways:
People who take the time to listen to your songs are on your team, they are not the enemy. The moment you accept this fact, I can say half your problems with people in the industry will fade away. One huge problem I have is when many of young writers send me their songs and when I give them my honest feedback on how they can improve it, for some reason they start going off at me and accuse me for millions of nasty things! What they don’t see that is I had just spent 3 or 4 minutes of my precious time listening to their track and spent another 10 to 15 minutes writing my feedback for them, out of any charge, hoping they can make their songs better and I can work with them and do anything in my power to get their song to somewhere. Bottom line here is that your publisher is literally on the same team as you! If you win, he wins his commission and if you lose, his time and resources are wasted. So, if your publisher gives you some honest feedback, be a bit humble and take that feedback as a professional opinion which really can help you to get a cut.
Be gracious and grateful anytime someone is willing to listen or give you feedback. As I just explained earlier, if you want another chance after someone passes on your song, you need to be kind and professional in your response to the rejection. It is nothing personal and it is all about the music. If you get feedback on something that you can change, go for it. Listening to the professionals in your team really has no harm for you and the only result coming out of it is to increase your chances of winning. And when you face rejection, instead getting angry or thinking “these idiots don’t understand my talent”, you can simply for the reason. Sometimes the reasons of the rejection can surprise you. Knowing why you just got rejected can help you a lot for your next songs and next pitches.
One professional not liking your song could be just a personal preference issue or a reflection of a bad day. 4 industry pros not liking your song probably means that your song needs work. Simple as that! Usually when you submit a song for a pitch, it goes through 4 or 5 professional writers before it be played for the artist or the producer. If none of those professional writers picked your song, don’t take it personally. Don’t take it as a slap in the face. Learn from it and pay attention to what was chosen instead.
Someone not liking your song doesn’t mean you aren’t a good – or a great writer! I have my songs passed on every single day. I try to figure out why my songs didn’t get taken and then I try to write better songs. I realize that there are always going to be better songs than mine and that I still have room to improve. No matter how many cuts and single you have or how great you would think you are, there always is something out there you don’t know and learning it can help you to improve your work. In Persian language there is an ancient poem saying, “the more you know, the more you would know that you know nothing!”. As I can said countless times, just stay humble and try to learn and improve your writing. Be sure as long as you do that every day, new doors will be opening for you.
Don’t ever argue with someone giving you a critique. This is just disgusting. Even if you don’t agree with their opinion. If someone is criticizing your work means your position and their position is the way that they are supposed to comment on your work and even to judge your work. This is perfect learning opportunity for you. They are taking their time to try and help you. Instead of getting offended if they comment something else than you want to hear, instead of getting annoyed, you can simply take the criticism and think about it and learn from it. Be nice. Nice people get invited back. People who act ugly don’t.
The answer to “Why didn’t my song get chosen?” is ALWAYS “You need to write a better song”. When earlier I mentioned to ask for the reasons of your rejection, it means ask them what elements can be better. “What was off?” “How can I improve?” “What do you think was the biggest weak point of the song so I can fix it, and what do you think was the strength of the song so I can emphasise more on it”. These are the type of questions you should ask when a professional writer or producer rejects your work. Don’t blame anyone else. Just write a better song. Then, yours might get chosen.
At any pitch to publisher event, the whole point of the event is to pitch the publisher commercial songs. Publishers are businessmen and they only looking for commercial songs for the market. Great songs that are not commercial are going to be passed over every time. That doesn’t mean the song is not good. It simply is because they had been pitched to the wrong place. Publishers feed their family by finding commercial songs that they can get recorded. So, it doesn’t mean that your song about your grandmother’s bursitis is not an amazing song if it gets passed over. It just means that it’s not something that will help the publisher feed his or her family.
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