This is one of the questions I get all the time. People will say, “I called COMPASS and they never called me back. Why are they so rude?” Or, “I went to five publishers and none of them would listen to my music”. Or I even get Facebook messages from people I don’t know saying “Here are links to three of my songs – listen to them and let me know what you think.” All of those questions or statements reveal a lack of knowledge of the way the music business works. And that is precisely why the people involved aren’t giving their time to the people making requests.
That scenario happens daily in the music business. Daily. People show up out of the blue asking for time from someone they don’t know and don’t really NEED to see just yet. Their songs aren’t quite good enough, they only have two songs, etc. They are called “squirrels” by many in the business. And they are the reason most doors are literally locked along Music Row. No one wants a squirrel in their building. If you want to make things happen in the music business, you have to learn HOW the business works and WHEN you need to approach any given person in the business.
Here are some of my tips for increasing your chances of success in building your team:
Don’t try to meet with ANY publishers or PROs until you have at least 8-10 great songs. I mean songs that are radio ready and competitive. This is the biggest mistake most people make. You go in with 10 songs, only one is great and the rest are very amateur sounding. Bridge burned. Make SURE you have 8-10 great songs before you worry about meetings.
Realize that everyone is busy with people they DO know. If you are trying to set up a meeting with a stranger, it’s going to be hard and will take time for them to work you in if they are willing to do so. Be politely patient. Don’t bug them to death. You can call back if you haven’t heard anything in several weeks, but don’t call every other day.
Know the job of the person you are talking to. My job is “songwriter”. It’s not my job to pitch other people’s songs. Publishers pitch and do the admin for songs. Asking them to critique your work is not really their job. Some may be able to do so. But that’s not their job. Make sure you are asking the right things of the people you talk to.
Understand that it takes time. Most people succeeding in the business took 5-7 years before they had any real success. There’s no shortcut. Take your time. Get to know people organically. Be nice and personable. And be respectful of people and their time. Thank anyone that is willing to give you their time. Doing those four things can keep you out of the crazy category and keep you from being called a “squirrel”. Be business-like!
Hangi Tavakoli is our in-house established and professional music producer with more than 15 years of experience in music production, mix and mastering, recording engineering, live sound designing/engineering, lyrics writing and music arrangement. He has produced more than 800 and written more than 2000 published songs to-date, including some major hits in international scale.