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For most songwriters, especially ones who consider their art to be a potential money-making business, increasing listenership is crucial. It’s fine if your aim is to simply write songs for yourself and a small group of friends, and then sing them at the next family get-together. But if you have any desire to make songwriting and performing a career, it is absolutely essential to look for ways to increase your audience base. Don’t simply sit around waiting to be discovered. There are things you can and should be doing.
Take a look at the following list. Many of the ideas are things you can be doing right now, and they’ll all help increase your listenership.
- Partner with another songwriter. Songwriting partnerships, you need to know, are common in the industry. The advantage of a partnership is that you still have the option to work on your own if you want to. And a partnership can help you deal with all those partially-completed songs you’ve got stashed away somewhere. (Note: Get any business deal or partnership in writing so that there are no misunderstandings.)
- Make friends of other singer-songwriters as a way to get others performing your songs. Any time you offer a song, or someone wants to record your music, be sure that you’ve got the copyright registered with your governmental copyright office. They can also advise you regarding performance and mechanical rights.
- Maintain a professional website, and use online resources. Yes, it is definitely worth it to hire a professional to design your website. And look to give it a makeover every year or two. Keep the information current. A site that lists last year’s concerts as “Upcoming Events” pegs you as out-of-touch, or even worse, not performing anymore.
- Always use excellent performers. Your band may be your childhood buddies, but if they’re not cutting it, you need to find the courage to let them go and get better players. A weak public performance will taint your career, and stunt your own growth as a musician.
- Perform your songs at university/college coffee house events. There’s no way to over-estimate the value of this tip. Many great acts out there got their start playing in these kinds of venues. Money’s not the issue if you’re early in the game – it’s exposure.
- Know your target audience. If you’re not listening to the music that your target audience listens to, you’re out of touch, and you’re likely missing the mark.
- Read the bios of other singer/songwriters in your genre. If you can’t afford to get books, even a Wikipedia search of hit singer-songwriters will do. And the most important piece of info you can glean from bios is: which musicians were the strongest influences on their musical lives? Use that information to increase your musical experience, and get listening!
- Write a film score. Contact a local university’s film school or theatre department, and tell them you’d like to make contact with anyone creating films or movies. Offer to write songs or background instrumentals. This can be a very creative way to increase your listenership.
- Contact a local art school and offer to perform your music at art shows and other displays. Like the previous tip, it offers a chance to present your music to people who don’t know your songs yet.
- Write a song from a genre you don’t normally write in. Rock music may be your thing, but you can present yourself as being versatile and imaginative if you try a country tune. Or listen to some jazz and try writing something from that world. There are two benefits: i) you increase your own personal musicianship; and ii) you can get the attention of people who might otherwise never hear your music.
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