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Getting A Deal For Non-Performing Songwriters?


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Hi all, we are a songwriting/production duo who specialise in modern pop music of all genres. We write for female artists and apart from sending out songs to publishers (even going to london and handing them over personally - couldnt get past reception!) we have no idea how to increase the chances of our music being heard.

We think we are good enough and have had positive feedback (a couple of letters back from a couple of big independant publishing companies that complimented the songs induvidually, but ultimately "didnt have the resources available to take us to the next level..." whatever that means) and also a chance find on facebook of an established UK writer with number ones under her belt - we pm'd her for fun asking her to have a listen - she gave us a great reply complimenting our songs and telling us to stick at it. Unfortunately she didnt send us a second msg offering us a chance to collaborate...! :P

So it goes that periodically, whenever we have new songs ready we send them off to the list of publishers we have amassed and 3 months later occasionally get a reply (but more often than not we dont). We have names for most of them, we did all the phonecalls prior to see who is accepting and get contact details, but I guess they dont want to encourage demos because its sometimes like trying to get blood from a stone.

Here is our page: www.myspace.com/basslinecafemusic

So im wondering what else to do. The main things are: we dont live in London and we dont perform so we cant create any kind of fanbase or buzz, we just write and produce. There isnt much scene where we are really (Midlands in the UK) Would be happy to work with a singer who has potential, but they seem to be thin on the ground round here!

Thanks all, just wondered if anybody was/is stuck in the same situation.

Best,

Ben

Bassline Cafe Music

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Hi Ben

A few questions, although I already suspect the answers:

You are strictly writers, not artists? Because just from your description it does sound a little muddled. Perhaps that is part of the issue?

You on one hand say that you are writers, but the mention of production in this context is what is throwing me. It doesn't sound clear as to exactly what you are expecting the publisher to do for you.

There are lots and lots of options here for you as writers:

Develop links with artists. They would be the performers that go to London :)

Contact producers. production companies, artists, not just publishers. If your material has a proven method of exploiting the song (ie a product and marketing plan) the publishers will be interested. No product, no marketing plan equals very unlikely to get a deal.

And then there is similar processs for the online world.

Remember to register the copyright of your songs in the US copyright database, no matter what country you are in. It's a worldwide market after all.

If you are an artist, just not performing, yet again if you have a market, a plan etc the publishers will be interested. You may be thinking all the creative ideas type thoughts, but believe me they are thinking dollars. So speak to them in their own language.

If you get yourself together you can try doing the same online... no real need to go performing anywhere until you are established, as a method to get your music out there and earning.

From a production perspective (I am taking this as producing other artists, not your own material) then you need a different approach entirely.

Hopefully this is of help. Feel free to ask more detailed questions and i will reply.

Cheers

John

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Hi John, thanks for the reply. Let me see if I can clear up the question you asked:

You are strictly writers, not artists? Because just from your description it does sound a little muddled. Perhaps that is part of the issue?

- We are songwriter/producers in that we write songs and produce them... that is to say, we produce our own work to be as close to the finished article as we can get it, we try to present publishers with something they can immediateley hear as a hit in the context of todays pop market. But... having said that, our ultimate aim is to get a publishing deal where we will just write for others and we are not too fussed about being on the final credits in production terms. I suppose the quick answer is: We are songwriters, who try and produce as good quality demos as possible. (If the production thing happens later on, great)

So, from a purley songwriting point of view, how would you advise us? Im sorry if my description was muddled, as you say - that could be part of the problem :P

Our marketing plan at the moment consists of about 25 publishers we have managed to get contact details for. Every time we produce another song we send it to them. Sometimes we get encouraging replies, sometimes we get a straight 'no' and most of the time we hear nothing. Some ideas we have at the moment is a YouTube Channel, but this is hard without any kind of video to back it up as we dont perform... just our logo with the song title wont get many clicks. Our myspace is pretty active, but I think that ship of opportunity may have sailed a few years ago, since people got wise to it.

Many thanks

Ben

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Hey Ben

Ok, it's as i thought. :) As producers tend to be involved with the creation of the final product, no matter if it is a high quality demo or not, it is still a song demo (as you have no intention of taking it further as performers), not a band demo where the production is sometimes directly related to the final product. So when pitching yourselves to a publishing company as a songwriter, drop the producer tag. There are other scenarios where you can quite happily re-introduce "production", but in those you would be generating the finished product... for example there is absolutely nothing stopping you pitching your recordings as the finished article to production companies for TV and film, including advertising.

Similarly there is nothing to stop you pitching your work to labels, or specific acts. Pitchinhg work of an unknown, with no artist using the song and no plan to take it to market is unlikely to get you anywhere fast. Sure publishers pitch work to labels, artists, production companies on your behalf, but they tend to like to do that off the back of a proven market, ie a known writer with a proven track record, or at a minimum a writer who already has a band taking the songs to market. That way the publisher can see that they might get any advance returned and themselves in profit. So, go get the artists who will take it to market and then return to the publisher and you will have their interest. At that point you will know what it is the publishers do on your behalf in order to place your work and will be in a position to decide whether you want to go it alone or sign to a publisher.

Publishers do recruit in-house writers (as do labels), but those jobs are thin on the ground and tend to be far less well paid in the long run., though as ever with the music business there are exceptions. It is an option ([possibly the one you were aiming at) but just be aware it could take some time.

The thing is as writers you can catch a break from almost anything, so why not contact production companies etc with not only your songs but with the proposition of writing custom work for their productions? Ok yet again a small market with lots of writers, but if you don't try you don't get.

On the YouTube comment, why not contact a local art or media college and see if you could work with some of the students? It's a great way to get fresh videos that really work with your music. Just be sure to tie down any agreements before hand and to check the work of the students before they churn out something you do not want to be associated with.

Yet again Myspace is more associated with artists. It is still useful to you though.

There are many more options if you were the artists, even ones who do not perform. For example, growing your own online fanbase. That can then be used as a way to help get a publisher on board. It also means that you are making the most of your production efforts.

Fundamentally, if you can demonstrate an appetitie for your music either within the public directly or within bands wanting to play your songs and take them to market, or producers wanting to use them in film or TV then the publisher will want to check you out.

It's good you are doing your homework on the publishers. Have you taken it to the point of calling and talking to them and asking them what they are looking for? The publishers would probably be quite happy to tell you.

You say you don't hear back from the publisher... even though they are expecting the demo to be sent in? Why not improve your process? For example... who are you taking to in these companies? Is it someone who listens to the demos or the secretary? Do you have an individual's name or simply an address or a department? After all, why leave it with waiting for them to call you?

If you have had a rejection, why not phone the person who sent you the letter? By being smart you can get passed a secretary even it isn't direct dial. Then simply ask them for some feedback. There is no sense in blindly sending them recordings, or not knowing why your recordings didn't match up etc. Most will be happy to discuss it, and if nothing else it will help you in other ways. Note down names mentioned, job roles etc, get to know them better (begining to feel like stalking huh? lol) and getting to know them is a very useful thing indeed.

It's good you have had some dealings with the companies, hopefully now you do know some names, even if it is the company secretary.

  • What you need is names. Who is who, what they do. Build yourself a list for each company. You can never gather enough intelligence :) Use your charm.
  • Call and talk to them. Ask them about what they look for in a submission, what information they want submitted etc. At this stage if you have spoken to other people in the company at other times it can be a good idea to name drop. This helps put them at ease. "I was talking to Colin last week...".
  • Leave the call somehow by working it so it seems that they actually requested you to send in the demo. I am sure you can up with a way if you use your imagination.
  • Take the initiative. Even if you leave an out of hours voicemail on a Friday saying "I sent you those recordings you requested, I'll phone at the end of next week to check you received them ok and to find out what you think of the songs".
  • Mark your submission as For Attention Of (FAO) that individual. Send it recorded delivery in a distinctive covering.
  • Phone on the Friday, just after lunch. Most people are feeling satisfied and in a good mood because it is almost the weekend and they only have a short afternoon to go.

All this may not land you the contract, but it does help ensure that you get one to one time talking about your music and why it isn't what they are looking for. Good info to get, for the next time.

If they know you are serious, if they know you will hound their ass, then they will (or are more likely to) listen to your tracks. If yo uget the detailed feedback you are far more likely to write tracks they can use.

Sorry for the rambling nature of the post. What can I say it's late :)

Cheers

John

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  • Editors

WOW! Excellent post John,lots of insight as usual! Its going into my personal collection.

Cheers,

Mahesh

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you, John for the very valuable information.

I, myself, think it is a good idea to youtube or soundclick it.

Some of the things I have done have shown up on other sites. I posted them just to have them online so people in music/lyrics critiques could critique them. They were very rough demos to give an idea of how the lyrics should be sung. I didn't expect anyone to copy them and post them on other web sites, though I don't mind in those cases. If I am not mistaken, it is also a great way to copyright them.

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