5 Tips to Navigating Your Songwriting Journey

“It does begin with a song, but it doesn’t end with a song.”
(Ree Buchanan, Wrensong)

As a marketing and media professional, my job often consists of flushing out information, sharing news and designing visually appealing graphics that connect with those who love music. Last week, I was the sponge with an agenda to learn and reflect on how the music business is evolving at Music Biz 2016. This week I am happy to pass on advice from experts in publishing and various creative teams that may be a huge benefit to your songwriting and/or artist endeavors.

The following pieces of advice come from panels of which I found extremely helpful to songwriters finding their place in the music industry. Representatives from BMG, Secret Road Music Services, Outside the Box Music, ole and more shared their tips on how to develop a solid work ethic and etiquette of pitching songs to publishers. 

Getting the publisher’s attention. 

Kos Weaver (BMG Nashville) summed up the importance of relevancy in a songwriter’s craft perfectly- “If you are a writer and don't continually bring new songs to the table- your old great songs will fade away quickly. Don’t focus on the great songs from a few years ago. You need to continue growing in your craft and catalogue,” Weaver says. Developing a personal passion and focus will help you grow as a creator and become well rounded in your writing talents. Creativity is an on-going process with or without breaks.

Before you “follow up,” don’t.  

From both panels, was clear that having all your work organized is key to making an impression and catching the attention of publishers. These days, sending over a page of your life story or simply asking if a publishing company is taking songs will not get you very far. A couple of suggestions include the following:

Send 1 song that is linked as opposed to an attached audio file. Dropbox and Soundcloud are two accessible resources for uploading your work and sending it off to be reviewed. Do most of the legwork and include ALL your basic contact information and a media kit if you have one. 
“Know EVERYTHING about the song you send over. This means having all the lyrics included.” (Randall Foster, ole)
If a publisher is interested, they will get back in touch. The only time to reach back out is if you have new material and wait a few weeks or even a month before you connect with that same contact. Remember that your career timeline is a process and not a sprint.
When you’re pitching to film, TV or some other specific category, treatment of a song matters. Decide if you want the track to be acoustic or original, depending on what version you feel fits best with what type of medium you are pitching to. 

“It does begin with a song, but it doesn’t end with a song.” (Ree Buchanan, Wrensong)

Publishers are looking for writers who aren’t afraid to be the entrepreneur of their careers. Being active on social media and other methods of promotion might be extra work but it’s worth it in exposing your brand, learning from others in the business and staying up to date on current music trends. Working hard to do your part and more, will show publishers you are serious. If you can write a song on your own, you will be more successful finding strong co-writes and collaborations in your career.

So how do I give my brand a compelling story to create leverage?

As you can probably tell by now, the most common theme throughout the conference was how technology is affecting the communication between artists and/or songwriters, publishing and fans. While numbers are largely important, engagement is what gives your web platforms a high number of impressions. Think of it this way- it all starts with consistent interaction then the numbers will follow!  This means posting consistently and responding in a timely manner to shares and comments. Growing your audience organically will save you AND the publisher’s time, money and efforts in the long run!

Lastly, to be independent or not to be independent?

One of the ending questions from the crowd was “How do songwriters decide on creating their own publishing or finding a publisher?” From the panelists answers, they seemed to all agree that networking plays a huge role in your personal decision. “Creative network you get plugged into is a huge reason to not do everything independently -if you don't have enough clout to pitch your own stuff, you miss out on development from publisher with years of experience and connections," Weaver says. While the option of independent publishing isn’t completely ruled out, consider the security and opportunities to connect with other writers by signing a pub deal.

Did you attend Music Biz 2016 this year? If so, comment below and share with us what you learned! We hope these tokens of advice helped you gain a better understanding of publishing, building your fan base and becoming the best songwriter you can be! 

This article was contributed by NSAI Marketing Manager, Libby Oellerich. 




Thanks for taking the opportunity to recap for NSAI members. It's always helpful to get the perspective of the other side of the table.

You're so welcome Daniel. Thanks for reading. Glad you enjoyed it!!!