What does it mean to pitch a song or sell your song to artists? Basically you, the songwriter are attempting to license your song to the artist. You are giving them the right to record your song and release it for a payment otherwise known as a royalty.
The goal for most songwriters is to make a living from it. They say if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. If you’re a songwriter, making the move to full-time and relying solely on that income can be tough, especially if you are independent and do not have a publishing deal.
Songwriting like many other jobs in the entertainment industry can take a little longer to make a name in and when you first start, the songwriting world can feel closed off to the public. You must meet the right people, be part of the growing music scene and write compelling pieces that artists want to use.
Let’s say, you have the songs, but you’re unsure how to take your career to the next step and start generating income from your creations. In this blog, I will explain several ways in which a songwriter can sell their songs to artists.
1. Start With Smaller Artist
Every songwriter dreams of having their song cut by their favorite artist, or famous artist when they start, however this may not be the best place to start. You have to remember. These large A-list artists have teams of songwriters, producers, engineers, and everyone else under the sun already established working with them.
You need to find a way to become part of one of these teams. The best way to do this is to work with smaller artists you believe in and ride the train to the top with them. Think of it, as you’re looking to join the underdog team.
Large recording artists get thousands of songs pitched to them, and I would be lying if I said everyone who submits gets a fair chance. If you are a new songwriter, there’s a good chance you haven’t made a name for yourself, and that’s ok! But you can’t expect to get placed on an A-list artist’s upcoming project without a track record.
It can be easy to become discouraged, but it’s important to understand that everyone starts somewhere. Go to local writers’ rounds or concerts in your city. Find artists you believe in and become friends. Working with people you like, and you believe in is by far the most enjoyable way to become a songwriter.
Research smaller up-and-coming artists, by getting in early, you have a better chance of becoming an important part of their process. If a new artist breaks using one of your songs, you will be surprised by how it will affect your career. All it takes is one song.
2. Prepare For Pitching Your Song
Once you know who you want to work with artist-wise, it’s important to prepare to pitch your work. In more cases than not, the artist knows their demographic, it’s important that you also know this demographic.
If you are pitching a song or songs, you have previously written, make sure to keep this in mind. An artist who has a demographic of 15-year-old females will most likely choose a different song than someone whose fan base is 35.
It’s important to tailor your best work in your pitch. Show not only how but why this song would work for the artist. If you are writing a song for an artist, that is not already written, it’s a must to understand who their fan base is.
You don’t need to write from a formula, but you must understand who the artist is going to be performing for. When you’re setting up to pitch a song or collection of songs, you also need to make sure you have quality demos recorded. Years ago, demos were rough cuts of an idea of a song, today the standards are significantly higher due to the availability of home recording gear and software.
Finally, you will need to copyright your songs. You can register your works at the U.S. Copyright Office. It’s relatively simple and can be done online.
3. You’re A Business, Act Like One
If you are serious about becoming a professional songwriter, you need to treat yourself like a business, because that’s exactly what you are. There are three questions many entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry ask themselves. The questions are How can I be a better player? How can I stand out? And how do you get better gigs?
As a songwriter, you need to ask yourself these same questions, because they help you grow. The biggest thing when treating your songwriting career as a business is not throwing in the towel when things get hard. Nothing comes overnight.
And you must treat yourself and your art with respect. Hold yourself to a higher standard, offer an unmatched experience. Artists will notice and your name will start to get around.
Acknowledging this is not a hobby but your lively hood allows you to hold yourself to a higher standard off the bat. Act professional, create a website, understand the business side of songwriting, and how publishing works.
You need to put in the footwork to be ready to sell your music. If you are planning to go full-time writing music, your work must be good. Assuming it is, confidence also goes a long way. Potential artists want to work with people who are confident in what they do and their products.
Success in songwriting is not something that happens overnight. If you see what you think is an overnight success, most of these careers were built over years of hard work and tackling issues head-on.
Tie It All Together
Remember why you started writing songs, it’s something you love to do. Start with a smaller artist, understand how the business works and where your market is. There’s no point pitching a folk song to a rock artist, it just won’t translate to their audience. You need to know who your clients are and tailor your music and pitches to these individuals.
With all that being said, do what you love, get out there, and write. When the songs are ready, you’ll know. Become the songwriter you know you are.
If you are interested in a career in the Music Industry, Dark Horse Institute’s Composition and Songwriting, Audio Engineering, or Music Business Programs are a great way to take things to the next level!