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  •  The EvO:R-Pedia Musicians Tips Section


    Welcome to the EvO:R Tips Section. We call this section EvO:R-Pedia because it is like a complete reference library for Indie musicians...Just about every tip has been used so you won't find false promises and a series of books to buy after reading each tip. This section was put here by musicians so that people that followed can take this knowledge and use it's power.



    WHAT PUBLISHERS REALLY WANT
    by Ralph Murphy

    Wanted: Young, yet mature, male or female writer/performer; prolific in lyrics & melody; able to produce & pitch own demos; requires little financial support from publisher; has some track record; lives next door to office.

    The above listing might be the typical Want Ad you would expect a publisher to post (if publishers did, indeed, do such things) when searching to find and sign a new songwriter.

    Yet, according to a recent Murphy's Laws survey, the reality is somewhat different. Mark Ford (without whose scrupulous editing and input the Murphy's Laws column would be a tough read) helped me assemble an informal survey that polled 14 Nashville music publishers. Each publisher, within the past twelve months, had placed a hit song on the charts and had signed a new staff writer. The publishers ranked each of the following attributes from 1 to 10 (with 1 being least important and 10 being most important) based on the last writer they signed, not on any particular "wish list." [Note: averages for each question appear in brackets.]

    What least motivates a publisher to put out the Welcome Mat

    According to our survey, the following were of minimal importance to publishers:

    20. Marital status [1.0]
    19. Gender [1.5]
    18. Living in or near another major music center (such as New York or Los Angeles) [1.6]
    17. Being a producer [1.9]
    16. Being recommended by non-publishers (such as lawyers, managers, A&R) [2.7]
    15. Already writing with a recording artist [2.9]
    14. Age [3.0] (good news for older songwriters!)
    14.Being pursued by other publishers [3.0]
    14. Already writing with the publisher's staff writers [3.0]

    (I was quite surprised to find that being a producer, writing with an artist and being able to pitch one's own songs ranked so low.)

    What somewhat influences a publisher

    The mid-range results of our survey bore these responses:

    13. Being recommended by other songwriters [4.0]
    12. Appearance [4.5]
    11. Demo quality [4.6]
    10. Track record [4.9]
    9. Persistence pursuing the deal [5.1]
    8. Living in or near Nashville [5.3]
    7. Record deal/artist potential [6.0]
    6. Ability to co-write [6.2]
    6. Ability to perform songs live [6.2]
    5. Affordability (amount of draw) [6.3]

    (I was surprised that track record, affordability and record deal did not score higher.)

    The Big Four

    According to our survey, the following four were the top deal-maker qualities:

    4. Ability to write alone [7.5]
    3. Ability to write great melodies [8.7]
    2. Personality/compatibility with the company [9.0]
    1. Ability to write great lyrics [9.6]

    The Nutshell

    Having examined all of the information in depth, I would like to point out that most of the publishers who responded (all who were asked did so) were not actively looking for writers to sign, and -- with the one exception of lyrical ability being the across-the-board, most-desired quality -- there were qualities that were a must-have to some that were of no consideration to others.

    So, in summation: work particularly on your lyrics, hone the rest of your skills, and pray that there will always be room for the odd frog amongst royalty.

    Copyright 2003 Ralph Murphy



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