As a fellow songwriter, I’m sure you’ve shared some of your songs with your family and friends. Without a doubt, you’ve also heard them say that your song is better than any of the songs they’re hearing on the radio. And you know what? They’re probably right.
Just because you’re an unpublished songwriter doesn’t mean that you aren’t good – or even great – at your craft. But, even if your song is destined to be a hit, it still might not be cut or even published.
Why? I’m glad you asked. This question weighed heavily on me for years. I was writing songs which I knew were good, my friends and family told me they were good, and professional songwriters and evaluators even validated that they were good. So why wasn’t I getting a cut?
I wasn’t getting a cut because I didn’t know anything about the music industry. I didn’t know who to talk to or how to present my package. I didn’t know that the music industry is a business – I just thought they were in the business of recording hit songs!
The reason I didn’t know anything about the industry is because it is a closed door industry. The reason why nobody told me the things you’ll learn in my book is because nobody wanted me to know! That’s right. The movers and shakers and their people don’t want you to know what it takes to write a hit song and get it recorded, because if they tell you…..
You then become competition.
Did you get that? Let me explain. There are thousands and thousands of songs out there waiting to find a home on somebody’s album. But, there’s only room for a handful of them. Those spots are usually going to be given to:
1. The singer/songwriter who is the recording artist. Then they will receive the songwriter’s royalties as well as their own!
2. Proven songwriters who’ve had major hits. A big investment is made in each song by the label – they don’t want to mess around with a high risk unknown songwriter!
3. Their buddies and relatives or anyone else they owe a favor to.
It’s sad, but it’s true. Your song could be better than any of those other songs, and it already has three strikes against it.
What can you do to turn those tables around? How can you get your foot in the door and be recognized for your talents?
By writing more and more, networking with everyone you can meet, and learning about the music industry.
Behind the smoke and mirrors of the music industry is a world full of corporate executives, managers, producers, and A and R staff who want hit songs. Their job depends on finding hit songs, but the odds are against them. So what do they do?
They look for what’s wrong in a song – not what’s right.
Confused? Don’t be. It really makes a great deal of sense. A and R reps listen to hundreds of demos a week. Anyone of them might be a hit song. But, making sure they do indeed find that hit song is vital to their job. So, they eliminate songs that have something wrong with them. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a small area of the song, if they can find something wrong with it – it’s gone.
How do you increase your chances? Make sure your song is perfect before you pitch it. Get feedback and evaluations on your song and rewrite it until it is just right. Learn how to write what record labels are looking for.
Another strike against unknown songwriters is they’re high risk. Record labels spend hundreds of thousands – even as much as a million – dollars on a song. That’s a huge investment. They need to make sure that it can recoup those costs in royalties. So, they prefer to stick with proven and successful songwriters who’ve already had hits, because they have a good track record and are a lower risk.
Does that mean you don’t have a chance? Of course not. You just need to know how to write a better song – you know, a song that they can’t possibly ignore and turn down. That’s where I come in.
I’ve been there – done that. I’ve paid my dues. In the music industry, this translates to five years – five years of writing songs without a cut – five years of rejection and frustration – five years of doing things the wrong way, instead of the right way. Then, I landed my first publishing contract.
Why does it take five years? Well, there are reasons why you don’t know about the music industry. They’re weeding you out. They’re making it so difficult to get a cut that songwriters eventually give up. The very minute you give up is the very minute you need to keep on! Five years of perseverance and persistence does help you to perfect your craft. It makes you a stronger person. Above all, it weeds out the amateurs. Only serious songwriters survive.
The music industry makes you prove you are serious about songwriting by paying your dues. If they’re going to make a huge investment in your song, they want to make sure that investing in you will pay off for years to come. They want someone who can and will continue to produce hits, not a one time wonder. Therefore, only the serious need apply.
All of that stuff works, but only if you really have a hit song. While paying my dues, I learned a lot about songwriting, what works, and what doesn’t. I learned that I can write tender love ballads, but if I want a cut, I’m going to have to write what Music Row is looking for right now. Today its up-tempo music – tomorrow, who knows?
One of things you’ll learn in my book, How to Become a Hit Songwriter, is that any song can get recorded. There’s room for fillers, also known as album cuts, on every artist’s album. But there’s a difference between writing an album cut and a hit song. A hit song has to address many areas:
1. Genre – yes, some genres make more money than others.
2. Audience – who will the artist be singing this song to? It does matter.
3. Lyrics – the all powerful lyric is more important in some genres than others. I’ll tell you when it needs to be strong, and when it should be downplayed.
4. Subject matter – some songs should be written because they have a message, but they’re more difficult to get recorded than others.
5. Melody – the melody really is more than just chords for the words
to dance on.
6. Structure – there are different ways to write your song, and my book will tell you the most common structures used in hit songs.
Those are just some of the things you have to consider if you want to be a hit songwriter. Every one of them and more are covered in detail in my book, How to Become a Hit Songwriter. I wrote it for you and encourage you to read it and pay attention. I paid my five year dues so you don’t have to pay yours.
Did you know that there really is a list of the most important qualities in a songwriter? There is, and that list was developed by publishers. It even goes so far as to list them in order of importance. With the Internet, it’s not as important as it used to be that songwriters live in a music city. It helps if they are a singer and a songwriter, but that isn’t even the most important trait. How to Become a Hit Songwriter gives you the full list, and tells you the number one quality that publishers look for in a songwriter. If you want to write a hit, that’s the quality you should work on the most.
Once your song is perfected, do you know how to pitch it? If not, you better learn fast, because pitching your song the wrong way can get expensive and is certain to be rejected usually before it even gets heard.
Rejection is a part of the game. Rejection is what also makes songwriters turn to outfits that make grand promises of instant stardom. Beware: there are no guarantees in this industry and if anyone tries to tell you there is, run – run as fast as you can. Take your money with you, because any publisher who asks a songwriter for money is a song shark. How to Become a Hit Songwriter tells you how to avoid being bitten by them.
Seek reputable publishers – there are many out there. Once you find them, use the lessons I’ve learned to professionally present yourself and your song. Publishers know how to spot an amateur songwriter. How to Become a Hit Songwriter will tell you how to market your song so they won’t be able to tell that you’re one. If you can get past this obstacle, you can get your foot in the door!
That’s only half of the game. The music industry is a business. Songwriting is a business, too, and the sooner you understand that and the business side of your craft, the sooner you’ll be accepted. There are many things you need to consider: timing, self-publishing or finding a publisher, and packaging and presentation. You’ll need to know the terminology used in the industry, and how to protect your copyright ownership. You should also be aware of the legal aspects of contracts, as well as how a songwriter gets paid for their songs. Tip: Never, ever use the words “sell a song” or ask someone to “buy your song”. That’ll raise red flags with every reputable person in the industry. It’s like a billboard screaming, “I’m an amateur!” Songwriters don’t sell songs – they write and own songs. These tips and more are included in my book.
As a songwriter, you are one of millions. The competition is fierce, and the door is hard to open. You need to even the playing field if you want to get in the game. Many hit songwriters are actually no better than you are. They just learned how to beat out the competition and open the door. Like them, you can become the next songwriter to land a publishing or recording contract.
That’s why I wrote How to Become a Hit Songwriter. I’ve succumbed to the song sharks, faced rejection, and made mistakes. I wrote great songs which never stood a chance, and I learned, listened, and preserved until I finally made it. Many times I thought it was unfair; many times I felt like giving up. But I’m glad I didn’t. I don’t want you to give up either. Learn how to become a hit songwriter today so I can hear your song on the radio tomorrow! Music really is the universal language; How to Become a Hit Songwriter is your crash course in understanding it. The sooner you read it, the sooner you’ll know the secret to becoming a hit songwriter!
Best of Success,
Author, How To Become A Hit Songwriter