You’ve realized that your written poetry can be structured into song mode and that you can create a melody with an instrument. Then it sounds like you are on your way to becoming a songwriter.
The four main methods for selling your first song are to approach a potential artist yourself, use an agency that sells and promotes music, go directly to recording studios, and train and devote yourself to becoming a professional. It is a long road, but not impossible.
This is not easy by any means and most songwriters also started at either of these places.
Approaching a potential artist
The key here is to have the song written and roughly recorded. Only then an artist can get an idea of how it might sound like. Target an upcoming artist that is busy collecting songs for an album. Most artists go for their album recording while they still look for a couple of tracks to fill up the album.
The best way is to have your portfolio of a few songs ready and send them a link with a personalized message about why you believe that they might benefit from using your music.
Using an agency
Musicians use agencies to promote them. Agencies also know exactly what is marketable and currently trending. They also have direct contact with various artists in different genres. Visiting an agency and making contact with these knowledgeable people will increase your chance of getting a foot in the door. A day will come when an artist will mention to them that they are in need of songs to fill up the album. Plant the seed today for success tomorrow.
Devote yourself to becoming professional
There are plenty of songwriters courses available and learning the key aspects of songwriting will put you on the right path to success. Maybe you already have a way with words and can set a song in correct arrangements, but having the training to understand how to write “the hook” and “concept songs” will place you in the next category of songwriters.
Approaching recording studios
This is where the magic happens and where potential musicians might need extra songs to add to their albums. You will need to go prepared, almost like a musician, and also with a press kit that says who you are and what you are doing. These guys don’t have time for random appointments so perhaps try an angle like introducing your idea while they have a smoke break. It might sound like a far-fetched or out-of-the-box idea, but showing respect for their time will let you sound more respectable than professionals.
Key tips for songwriters:
- Networking is key. You will start with no background or experience. The ones that stay motivated the longest, win the race. Keep it going and keep believing until your song hits the desk of the right person.
- Be patient during the journey. Each visit and message builds bridges and plants seeds. You will receive plenty of “no, thank you’s”, but that one “YES” is going to be your career-changer.
- Research and stay on trend. It doesn’t help you present music that’s currently out of fashion or out of the genre. Thinking ahead and following the big artists will give you direction.
- Update yourself with royalties and register your work. The first thing musos, studios, and agencies want to know is how much you charge per song. Have your work registered and start with a humble, but respectable fee.
- Present your work to non-musicians. As musicians, we sometimes think that complicated music is impressive, whereas the songs that sell the best are straightforward and easy on the ear. Presenting it to normal people will provide you with honest feedback. If the song stays in their heads, you know there is potential.
- Have a press kit ready. You are introducing yourself and you want to leave an impression that you are serious and professional. This is like an artist bio, combined with inspiration and examples of your work.
- Have visual info to leave behind. We are going into a paperless future, but having a flyer or a card with a QR code left behind at the right places might be seen and picked up by a potential client.
- Stay within office hours when visiting. Please don’t make the same mistake I made as a beginner and pitch at the right place at the wrong time. An excited songwriter at the door at 4 pm on a Friday afternoon is not exactly what makes them happy (except if you have beer). 😉
- Consult experienced songwriters as much and often as possible. Remember that experienced songwriters are also expensive. Artists regularly get in contact with them to hear if they have any new interesting songs written, or if they could lower their prices. This is where you come in. Some professional songwriters only write to a certain level of artist. Since you are looking to get your foot in the door, they could do referrals.
I have so much respect for songwriters who sell their poetry to another person to perform it. It is the hard work already done, and for a musician to pick the fruit and to have success. The performance is the fun part and it keeps repeating itself over and over again.
Respect and thanks to all songwriters out there. Stay motivated and keep writing!