Hello and Happy Holidays.
Have been away. Sorry about that but I am back. Here goes.
The most prominate question that seems to be in the songwriting/entertainment community is always "I have written songs, now WHAT do I do with them?
That is a very good question and doesn't have an easy answer. But I will do my best as some explinations.
Before you start this entire discussion you have to understand some basic realities.
#1. EVERYBODY IS DOING THE SAME THING.
Everybody is a writer or singer now. If you have watched any of those obnoxious auditions for American Idol or "THE Voice" you see thousands upon thousands of people, all dressed up, all standing in lines to stand in lines, all thinking or their relatives, signifiant other, friends, whatever, claiming that THEY have WHAT it takes, and that EVERYONE HAS TO LOVE THEM! The majority are total wastes of space. When is the last time you saw an opportunity for a singer dressed up like the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, on mainstream radio? Okay, I'll grant you with Lady Ga Ga, and Katy Perry, but aside from that....
The reality is that most artists, writers, actors, etc. are not nessasarily good, not nessasarily bad, just very very average. Okay, yeah, there is some TERRIBLE ones out there.
In songwriting, you don't see those same people but they are out there none the less. There are approximately 30 million artists on the Internet, one billion songs A MONTH uploaded on the Net. By the time I finish writing this, thousands and thousands of songs, videos, slide shows will be added to YOU TUBE. Multiply that by Reverbnation, Spotify, Pandora, you name whatever the "next big thing" in Search engine groups and you get the idea.
#2. THERE IS NOT A LOT OF MONEY IN IT ANYMORE.
Once upon a time, there were people making tons of money in music. There weren't as many people involved, it took more money and effort to release a project, and people tended to rise to the top. Not as much anymore. Oh there is still a LOT of money involved, billions actually. But so much of that goes to advertisers, Internet Service providers, Google, Spotify, all those things. They are making a ton. But they are paying out almost nothing. Unless you have a HUGE collection apparatus behind you, the chances you will make anything is almost non-existant. Just accept it.
#3. FREE MUSIC.
If you have seen over and over the new ways that people are getting music, free downloads, file sharing through phones you put together and spread your music files, artists giving away music to build their fan base, everywhere you look is FREE MUSIC. You can't collect on FREE. And if you view or download continuous free music without paying, yeah, you are part of the problem. I have never downloaded a song, and only view music when I am asked to for review or certain elements. Or visit the promotional sites of artists to find out what is going on. Most of the time hit songs on the radio are things I have heard months or years before through my songwriter efforts in Nashville and around the world, on shows, showcases, etc.
So in all your thought processes in what you are doing, keep all of this in mind, because it these are some of the main reasons that in a lot of cases, there is no "NEXT."
Let's say you or someone you care about has a really great song. What do you do?
Well, in the old days, (anything past about two or three years ago), you would try to get those to, artists, record labels, etc. Anything to "get it out there." There would be intermediaries, or "gatekeepers" who intercepted any attempts to get an "end around" for songs. And you have to understand them. Those people paid tons of money to "be in the game. To build their businesses and reputations, to develop songs and artists. How many people would you promote past yourself in your own business and way you make a living? Especially if someone asking you to help them were not as good as you, didn't understand the business, and were not known or tested at all?
Can we all say, "ONE!?"
And that is the deal. Everyone out there are writing their OWN songs, with their OWN emotions. Their OWN experiences. They don't NEED or WANT yours. They have their own that they can't get anywhere.
So what do you do?
Well, the first thing is that you have to "get out of your living room."
The second is you are going to have to physically pair up with someone that can help you get the next step.
And in most cases, have to convince those people you are WORTH their time. That is never done by remote control. And while the Internet is a good tool, it is just that, a tool. Very few total careers are created on the Net. They quite often are furthered on the Net, but there is always a personal involvement in them.
Nowadays there are open mics, karaoke nights, talent shows in every large, medium and small city town and hamlet around. Just have to look through the paper, the local entertainment listings, or the Internet.
The second is that you have to show what you can do. Your existing catalogue can do that as everyone checks out each other through GOOGLE, Facebook, you know the drill.
But MAB, you say, this doesn't help me on my EXISTING SONGS. What do I DO next?
Actually, yes it does. But until someone is actually friends and interested in you as a friend and writer, it is doubtful they are seriously going to consider your existing material.
YOU WRITE YOUR WAY IN.
In my capacity as a singer/songwriter/teacher/coach, based in Nashville, part of my entire motus operiedi is constantly trying to pair up writers and artists. ALL ARTISTS are now writers, so you have to take that into consideration and adjust your thinking accordingly.
The days of some outside writer just lucking into a cut are LONG gone if they ever exhisted. I have been around the music business in one way or another for over thirty years and I have never seen it. Everyone had some personal connection, some friend, some motivating force that brought them into the party. Once they were known those opportunities increased expotentially. And it is more so now.
With all those millions and billions of songs out there bouncing around, unless someone knows you, the chances of getting heard are nearly impossible, even for the most amazing songs. You HAVE to have an artist.
Having said that, you know going in that artists, particularly those of the young variety, are some of the hardest to convince to be involved with you. Anyone that has ever been around a 16-17 year old teenage can tell you that.
But artists NEED experienced writers to help them get past the same old "been there. done that" way that they write songs.
I have been around thousands of artists, and almost none of them have that insight and instinct that fuels a Taylor Swift. That is so rare, and almost never happens without a more experiened writer helping them along.
So you want to pair up with artists.
Publishers have become artist development companies as well as developing songs, and so you are going to find most doors there closed as well. But with unsigned artists, you have more of a chance. Just got to link up with them.
STEPS TO HOOK UP WITH ARTISTS
#1. Go where they congregate.
Become part of THEIR world. Find out there likes and dislikes. If they are young meet their families. Make sure they know you are SAFE.
DON'T start a conversation with LET ME SHOW YOU WHAT I HAVE. Find out what THEY HAVE. Estabilsh the relationship. Worry about all that other stuff later.
#2. Find ways to help them.
If you show up at their shows, their causes,. help them in their career, they will help you.
#3. Co-write with them.
With every artist, you will potentially meet three other artists or writers. By multiplying your chances, writing with a variety of people, your chances improve.
#4. Show your wares.
Once you have established that you are not out to rip someone off, usually you can casually start playing your existing material. If you are a performer, be out there yourself. Shw them you are willing to do what they do.
#5. Be prepared.
Always have your music well presented. If you perform it yourself, or have it recorded, make sure it sounds good. Don't have to apologize for a poor recording. If you have a master recording with missing vocal tracks, giving an artist a chance to sing to your tracks increases the chances of that song. More than a few cuts have come from artists recording someone else's song and it being heard by someone listening to the artist but liking the song instead.
UP THE LEVEL OF YOUR ODDS.
When all of this comes together it can be something like this.
A writer from Green Bay Wisconsin, makes multiple trips to Nahville. All the time while in Green Bay, she is also out in clubs and meets many artists. She uses experiences with them to tighten her focus up so that when she gets to Nashvlle she is prepared. By using her time and money well, she writes very good songs. She meets many people and constantly co-writes. In the course of her travels she meets a new singer in town and becomes best friends with that singer. She hires the singer to do her demos, writes with her, constantly supports that singer.
The singer ends up combining with a boyfriend for a duo act and wind up participating and winning a contest television show. Out of that they win a National recording contract.
The cumlative songs they had written together becomce the basis of not only material based on the act, but also gets the writer from Green Bay her own publishing deal.
The singer was Meghan Linsey. The duo act was STEEL MAGNOLIA. Their first song, KEEP ON LOVING YOU, went to number four on the country charts. They went on tour with Brad Paisley.
The writer from Wisconsin was Julie Moriva, who got a publishing deal with TAYLOR SWIFT'S company. Many of the songs she has written with the duo are involved in their career, including on their first CD. That led to other cuts by other artists.
Meeting the right artist at the right time, writing the right types of songs. Having that artist represent their songs, led to meeting the right people.
You have to put yourself in PROXIMATY of the right people.
It starts with the song. But you have to have other people involved in that song. Writing songs with those people are one of the surest steps. No guarantees but better than wondering "What do I do now?"
Pitching, promoting, songs are all still happening. But the rates of getting anything without writing with others are diminishing. There is no one way to do this but there are some ways that don't work very well anymore.
Having the "random outside song" is one of those ways that are not really working that well anymore.