So how do you turn this songwriting hobby of yours into a money-maker? For most, the process of getting songs to market offers this ample dose of reality: it’s not easy to sell songs and make money. But for the dedicated and experienced, selling songs can be rewarding and satisfying, as long as you do the right things in the right order.
1- You need to start with a demo recording, and to do that, it is always recommended that you register the copyright of your songs. It may seem pricey (usually $35 – $50 per song), but it offers legal protection, and demonstrates to others that you are serious about protecting your intellectual property.
2- Make a GOOD demo recording. These days, there is no excuse for a low-quality recording that sounds like it was thrown together. Treat your demo with the same love and commitment that you would treat a final mix on the most important recording of your life. Get good musicians, people that play at a professional level.
2- Choose three songs that represent the best of what you have written. Sending a CD with a dozen songs or so is the best way I know of to get ignored. Choose three, and make sure your best one is first.
3- Clearly mark the CD and the CD case, indicating the track names and order.
4- Find a publisher by going to a performance rights website (ASCAP, BMI, SOCAN, etc.), and research publishers. Even better: find the contact info for the publishers of hit songs that are getting air-play these days, in the genre you’ve chosen. Contact them and ask if they are accepting submissions.
5- Send your CD, and then be patient. Don’t nag, and definitely don’t contact them the next day. Often publishers will send a communication to say that they’ve received your CD. Don’t expect them to listen to it that day or the next. Give them a few weeks, and then if you haven’t heard from them, contact them to find out if they’ve had a chance to listen.
6- Don’t expect them to give a detailed review of your CD if they reject it. They’re in the publishing business, not the critiquing business. Often, they’ll simply say, “It’s not what we’re looking for at this time…”, which could mean anything from exactly that, to something less polite.
Some other bits of advice: Don’t overly sell yourself or your music. Let the music do the selling for you. You may want to include a short letter with your CD submission, but it should be SHORT, two or three sentences maximum. Don’t use that letter to boast about your songwriting prowess. Simply give your contact information, and thank them for listening.
Self-publishing is always a possibility, but the advantage to going with a well-established publishing house is that they have the connections to the industry that you probably lack. They can do a much better job shopping your songs around than you can, in most cases. But getting a deal is tricky, and it’s a delicate process: one mis-step, and your CD could wind up in the round file. It takes patience, but maybe you’re ready to take the plunge!
For more advise on the business aspect of songwriting, and to learn more about how to write great songs, Gary Ewer’s songwriting e-books explore songwriting from every angle. If you’re serious about improving your songwriting abilities, you’ll find these e-books offer exactly what you’re looking for. Click here to find out how to get them.