Being on the inside of the Nashville songwriting community since 1991, I’ve learned a great deal about how the business works and what kind of songs are likely to excite a publisher enough to call a songwriter and offer them a contract. It’s not easy.
The basic steps are:
1. Your song can’t earn royalties sitting in a drawer. Many writers assume they’ll “cash in” one day but fear of having their songs stolen causes what I call “terminal procrastination” which has aborted many a career. Professional writers may steal your idea but they won’t steal your song and ideas can’t be protected anyway-pull the song out of the drawer already!
2. Polish it up. This is also known as rewriting and it’s the time you spend going over each lyric line to verify you used proper grammar, replace worn out phrases with fresh ideas and hone the melody 2022 music download. If you only have lyrics you’ll need to write a melody or have one written. Legitimate, professional song publishers do not review lyrics, only complete songs.
3. Copyright protection exists at creation, automatically, under current copyright law; however, registering it through the Copyright Office at The Library of Congress in Washington D.C. is recommended as step three. To do that you’ll need to request a Form PA or download one from their website. Once mailed it’s safe to have a demo made.
4. You can either make your own demonstration recording or hire a demo service to do it. I’d highly recommend going with a Nashville based service. The world class Nashville musicians and producers are experts at making your song sound like a hit.
5. Once you have a professional demo, song publishers will listen. Step five is the process of getting your song to professionals for evaluation, also known as “pitching” a song. There are numerous tip sheets you can subscribe to that list which major label artists are recording, who is screening the songs, the exact type of songs they are seeking and the address to submit to. RowFax, published here on Nashville’s famous music row, is one of the better sheets. You can also pitch (play) your song in person. Song publishers will sometimes accept appointments with unpublished writers and publishers aren’t usually quite so specific in their needs, they just need great songs. Most outside hit songs are first discovered by song publishers. BMI also regularly listens to and evaluates unpublished BMI member’s original material, creating appointments with publishers if they feel a songwriter has potential.
In general publishers want songs two to four minutes long with short introductions, They want you to get to the chorus quickly, usually one verse and in, not two verses. They want songs about some aspect of love and relationships and the more unique the idea is, the better. Another phrase for “the idea” is “the song’s concept”. A unique or clever concept, usually embodied in the title, gives you a huge edge in getting a contract.
Don’t assume that the only way to make a living or substantial income from your songs is the traditional method described above: submit your songs to publishers, a major label artist records them and royalties flow from BMI or ASCAP.
The independent business model has been evolving and it’s increasingly viable to successfully function as an independent record company yourself: Create great music, sell product (online sales & live performances) and collect revenue from downloads, CD sales, live performance fees and also from ancillary products such as T-shirts and other items.
Should you pursue this route I highly recommend that live performance of your material be part of the plan. You can perform yourself or find a local artist or group with higher aspirations to write for. Live performance can pay substantial sums of money and help build a fan base that will buy products, visit your website, help you build a mailing list, etc.