Frequently Asked Questions
Established in 1967, NSAI is a 501(c) 6 not-for-profit trade association that offers a variety of services to professional and aspiring songwriters. Our founding mission was to operate as a legislative advocacy group on behalf of songwriters, which we still do today. Our organization fights for songwriter’s rights – the right to be paid, to be taxed fairly, to be recognized and to protect the future of the profession of songwriting. We are also an educational organization. NSAI teaches writers about the craft of writing, providing education and guidance on the songwriting process. We listen to your songs! We also aim to nurture aspiring writers, navigating them through the music industry and how it works, all while providing opportunities to network with and learn from music industry professionals.
NSAI membership costs $200 per year* (12 months from the date you join). NSAI membership is inclusive of all NSAI services including 12 song evaluations, 2 one-on-one mentoring sessions, an expansive video library, pitch opportunities, and much more. The marketplace value for all the services included in your membership is well over $1,000. As a not-for-profit organization, NSAI does not refund membership fees.
* A monthly payment plan is also available with a 1-year commitment at $20/month.
Many NSAI services are available online including pitch opportunities, song evaluations, connecting with a mentor via skype, live webcast workshops, an online video library, etc. Additionally, NSAI has more than 150 regional chapters who meet at least monthly to provide support and networking in your hometown.
We have plenty of members who don’t play an instrument but they “play the ballpoint pen”. NSAI membership is a great resource to connect with other songwriters for collaborating and co-writing. Our Member Pages allow you to search for collaborators in your area based on search criteria you input. NSAI is not an organization that “puts melodies” to words or poems. We encourage you to find a co-writer to help you with the musical portion of your song. However, we do offer lyric-only critique through our Song Evaluation service.
NSAI does not set up co-writer appointments, however, many NSAI members find co-writers through our various local workshops, our forums, and our special events. In your own hometown, seek out co-writers from music stores/teachers, music venues, churches, recording studios and your local NSAI chapter. Another great way to find a co-writer is by using our Member Directory. You can search the directory for other members who may be interested in co-writing, as well as their genre and what instruments they play. You can find the membership directory under the "Membership" tab on our website. Helpful hint in finding a great co-writer is listing what kind of writer you are and what kind of music you write on your Member Page.
Though songs are often written from the inspiration of poems, the poem format usually does not make for a great song because of the differences in structure between poems and “commercial” songs. If songwriting is your goal, NSAI teaches you the structural difference between the vital art forms of poetry and songs. Usually, a poem that has been converted into a song is not considered “marketable” for commercial purposes within the music industry. Listen closely to your favorite songs, study song lyrics, familiarize yourself with that kind of song structure, and apply this to your writing in order to make it easier to put music to your lyrics.
NSAI does not operate as a broker for the selling of songs and you technically don’t sell songs. Instead songs earn royalties after they are recorded. You can learn this and much more through the “NSAI Certification Program” available online to our members. NSAI membership can be a tool for obtaining legitimate publishing opportunities through networking and various programs and events. Publishing companies are interested in songs that provide an income stream through royalties. Your song will not have a substantial income stream unless it has been recorded by a major artist and has received radio airplay. Once your song is earning an income, a publisher may be interested in your song or perhaps your entire catalog of songs, and then this would require a contractual agreement.
Getting your songs published through a successful publishing company is a process; a series of steps that requires knowledge and preparation. Focus on writing the best songs you can, getting better at your craft, learn all you can about the music business, and plug yourself into the songwriting and music industry community. Due to legal issues, publishers cannot take unsolicited material, material from someone they don’t know or that they didn’t request. Publishers do have their own staff writers and the only other sources that they will take songs from are known or legitimate sources like NSAI. The first steps simplified would be to: 1) Join NSAI 2) Join one of the performing rights organizations (ASCAP/BMI/SESAC) 3) Invest in music business books that deal with publishing to get acquainted with how it works. Publishers will require complete songs (words and music). Make certain that when you get an opportunity to play your song for a publisher, your song is complete and competitive in the marketplace.
NSAI is not a song pitching company and we cannot get songs to artists, however, many of our members’ songs are presented on a quarterly basis to major publishers and A&R label representatives through our NSAI Song Evaluation service and on our Top 40 Page. Evaluators recommend songs for the quarterly publisher luncheon we host, and out of all of the recommended songs, we present the undeniably best pitch ready songs at the lunch. The Top 40 Page is made up of songs we hear through our various services and industry representatives are encouraged to listen to those songs for possible placements or familiarity with the writer. Your NSAI membership legally allows us to listen to your song, play your song and promote your song if your song is ready to go to market.
NSAI has many artist-writers as members. Some get an artist deal because of the exposure we offer to them and their music. Keep in mind, however, that we are song-focused. Writer development and artist development are two different approaches to the music business. Becoming an artist involves a lot of networking with both industry professionals and other fellow artists. Many of our members are performing artist focused and join to take advantage of our services to help them strengthen their writing. After all, it all begins with a song!
Many professional songwriters don’t copyright songs until they begin earning income. The reason is both cost and time involved. Non-professionals often copyright their songs due to fear of infringement (their songs being stolen). Again, this can be expensive, but if it makes you feel comfortable, you can always exercise that option by visiting www.copyright.gov.
The primary role of a PRO is to collect and distribute performance royalties on your behalf. Each PRO also has “membership representatives” that assist with songwriters and composers who are trying to become professionals. Once you have competitive songs that may begin earning income, you will want to examine the PROs and each of their contracts. They are each a little different and which one is best for a particular writer depends on that writer.
There are a lot of great songs out there and songwriting is incredibly competitive. Publishers are looking for types of songs that they don’t already have in their catalog, or songs already earning income. Many top publishers are not looking for songs at all—they are looking for songwriters. The more that you utilize our services such as song evaluations and pitch to publisher workshops you will be able to get multiple opinions. If your songs stand out consistently, they will be regularly recommended for Publisher Luncheons or taken at Publisher workshops making publishers familiar with you and your music. Making relationships organically will typically be more beneficial to you than setting up one meeting where you have 5 minutes to impress. The more you utilize your NSAI services and stay on our radar and the radar of those music industry members who work with us, the more likely you are to EARN a fruitful publisher meeting. Success in the music industry should be viewed as a marathon, not a sprint.
Contact an entertainment attorney. You should never sign anything without having it examined by an attorney. There are some services that offer reduced rate legal advice when needed.
For anything NSAI related, unless otherwise specified, a clean guitar-vocal or piano-vocal is what we encourage because a writer is more apt to rewrite or tweak a song if he/she hasn’t invested hundreds of dollars into a demo. You should always seek multiple opinions on the song via evaluations, etc. before considering investing in a full-band demo to determine whether the song is competitive enough to warrant the expense. Professional songwriters don’t demo every song they write and the ones they do demo are the ones they know their publishers will want to pitch. Great songs are going to stand out regardless of the demo.
While it would be a great learning experience for you, getting co-writes with professionals is not easy. It takes time, networking, writing at the top of your game and exposure. Most hit writers found their co-writers before any of them had hits. Co-writing is like dating. There has to be some chemistry to really produce a good product. It is important to make relationships with potential co-writers before getting in a room to write. It is important to find people who you click with and write great songs with.
To update payment information for automatic monthly installments on flex accounts, please call NSAI at 615-256-3354. If there are outstanding payments on the account, the member will not have access to their profile or any NSAI service until that payment is fulfilled. For any further questions please call 615-256-3354 or email Leah Pitts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What time do workshops start?
We open the doors at 5:15 and allow members half an hour to network with each other before the event starts at 5:45.
Please bring your membership card and if you are a guest please let the person checking you in know. For pro teacher and guest speaker nights feel free to bring anything you would like to take notes on. For song feedback night and pitch to publisher night, bring a CD with ONE song and bring TWO lyric sheets. If you do not have a printer, this can be done in our members lounge.
Absolutely! This is a great way to listen to material from other members and find out who could be your next co-writer!
Yes, guests are allowed up to 2 visits free of charge.
We always want our guests to feel comfortable and definitely do not want them to feel pressured when they come to NSAI. For these reasons, we do not allow members to give our guests any material unless they are asked for it.