Written by Gary Ewer, Senior Instructor, Dalhousie University, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website.
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You’ve got a bunch of songs that are ready to sell. But who do you market them to? And how do you know if they’re ready. Here’s some advice:
- Make a high-quality demo recording, and put the emphasis onhigh-quality. These days, with home recording equipment making it possible to achieve very high-end results, no demo recording should be marketed with anything less than superior sound and engineering. If you don’t know how to do that, find someone who can.
- Register the copyright of any song you plan to market. Songs are automatically copyright once you’ve written them, but that copyright is pretty much useless if someone claims that they actually wrote it. You need to protect your song by contacting your federal government’s copyright office, and register the copyright. This can be a little pricey ($50 or so in North America), but a less expensive way to do it is to create a “book” with several of your songs in it, and then register the copyright of that book.
- Write a cover letter for your demo CD. This cover letter should not overly sell the songs. Don’t try to convince the listener that your songs are the hottest new thing. Let the songs speak for themselves. The cover letter should simply introduce yourself, and ask the person if they might give a minute or two of their time to listen. Ideally 2-4 sentences is all it takes. Longer than that, no one will read it.
- Keep your demo recording’s songlist short – 4 or 5 songs at most. The more songs on your list, the less likely the chance that they’ll listen to the whole CD.
- Find out who to market to. There’s a great book out there calledSongwriter’s Market. Do an online search for that title and you’ll be able to buy it online. (The last I checked, it’s selling for about $20 at Amazon).
The main point is that you only get that one chance to impress someone in the business, and that chance is measured in seconds. So if your demo has low-quality sound, or the band’s not tight, or the singer is out-of-tune, these are all immediate deal breakers. Take the time to polish your product, and.. good luck!