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Strategies For Submissions To Music Publishers


Strategies for Submissions to Music Publishers

Now you’ve gotten the green light to submit some music to a music publisher either through networking, an organization event, a reference book, an online listing or whatever, the question is, “Which songs out of my catalog do I submit?” You need to put yourself in the music publisher’s place to fully understand what they’re looking for.

This is not an easy question to answer, but here are some rules of thumb to guide you:

1. Research the music publisher you are submitting to!

Be sure to submit appropriate material. If it’s a publishing company that focuses on country music, you’re going to naturally want to send in the most country style songs you have. Try to find out about the other songs and songwriters they represent. Be ready to discuss those you like. The quicker you can move from strangers to partners, the better.

2. Submit your most ‘commercial’ songs!

How do you determine which of your songs is the most commercial? Ask yourself these questions:

“Does it have a killer hook?”

“Can I easily picture hearing this song on today’s radio?”

“Does it have a universal theme?”

“Is this song unique, and different from other songs about the same subject?”

The answer to all or most of these questions should be a confident “Yes!”

3. Put your best songs first.

Publishers usually ask for around three songs for submissions. After determining which of your songs are the most commercial, put the strongest one first. If the first one isn’t strong, they often won’t listen to the second song.

4. Get to the hook asap!

Often the person listening to your song is swamped with material to plow through. If you don’t catch their attention in the first twenty to thirty seconds, the war is over and you lost. Always put the best verse first and get to the hook quickly. Some songs even start with the hook like “She Love You” by the Beatles.

5. Submit the most polished demo you can afford!

I used to hear music publishers say “Just submit the song as simply as you like. If the song’s great, I’ll be able to hear it.” What a bunch of bunk! Some of these guys have tin ears and wouldn’t know a hit if it bit them! So make it easy on them. Submit a demo that already sounds like a hit! Do the best demo you can afford. Make it so nobody can deny its commercial appeal. They’ll also like the fact that they won’t have to invest time and money into a demo.

Jim Bruno

Foothill College Songwriting Instructor



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