They are going to want to know what songs you already had recorded. If by chance some band had picked up and recorded one or more your songs and they released them on CD or have them up for digital distribution, then there’s a chance that that song(s) maybe earning money. They like money. So, if you own the publishing on that (particularly if you never set up your own publishing company), they’re going to want that to be on your schedule A.
Continued from Part 1.
They’ll ask if you write with other writers (published and unpublished) and which bands and artists you personally know. This question is about how hard they’ll have to work to get your songs placed. If your Diane Warren’s new songwriting partner, they know they’ll make money without ever having to pitch your (well, yours and Diane Warren’s) songs. Her publisher has people coming to them. If your Steven Tyler’s new writing partner, they know they’ll get cuts. And, all they’ll have to do is sit back and take in the cash. (BTW, if this is the situation you’re in, you should be considering publishing your own stuff!)
Eventually it will come around to listening to your material. If you are awesome (and not just to yourself, your parents, and your significant other) you can play your stuff live.
Awesome in this context means: you sing great, with a pleasing voice that is as good as anything you hear on the radio; you play guitar or piano competently, mistake free; you have public performance skills, your nerves are rattle-free, you make eye contact when you sing, and you know what to do when the phone on the desk rings.
If you don’t meet these criteria, or even if you do, you’ll want to have a recording of your material on CD. Your disc should have a great vocal performance by a pleasant-voiced singe and solid accompaniment. You don’t need a full production demo, but a high-quality guitar/voice or piano/voice recording.
Should you record your own vocal? I love Bob Dylan’s singing, and I love Neil Young’s singing, too. Millions of people do. Some people don’t. It’d be a shame if you didn’t get the publishing contract you sought because someone up the chain of decision making authority didn’t make it through your tape because they didn’t like your voice.
Show that you’re serious about your songwriting career by hiring a singer and/or accompaniment that is pro level: one you don’t have to make excuses for.
If your vocal is a big part of your sound and the songs, perhaps you would be better served by seeking a recording deal or releasing your material yourself. If you already have label interest you may be better served by holding on to your publishing for now. There would be no need to pay someone for song placement when you’re placing it yourself. Or, now that labels are looking for different revenue streams, your publishing may become part of the negotiation, so you may want to hold onto that bargaining chip.
If (for you) it’s about the cash while you’re waiting for the label to sign you, the publisher may have mild interest. But they’ve seen/heard this story many times before. Many young artists believe labels have interest and that they are on the verge of being signed, but these pending signings fall through more often than not.
So, it’s likely that your potential publisher won’t be banking on it. But they still may be interested in you as a talented songwriter…and since they’re not really interested in you as an artist…the most accessible interpretations of your songs may serve you better than your own artistic vision. Make your demo accessible by all.
Originally posted 2012-05-10 18:54:27.