In my experience most songwriters burn their bridges with valuable contacts by approaching industry professionals
before they have a single clue on how to properly do it successfully.
Here are five:
1. Competition is intense. The last estimate I saw was that there are over one million songwriters actively pitching songs.
And most write far more than one song per year. You have to be better than average if you want to make any headway and that
initial impression you make on a music industry professional is a lasting one.
2. The available slots that constitute commercial success for a song are small. Of the millions of songs written
and pitched each year as outside songs, the number that earn substantial income is only in the thousands. And the number
that become top 40 Billboard charting hits in a particular genre is typically less than one hundred.
3. Quality is king. This can not be stressed enough. You must be pitching quality songs with flawless demos and
a totally professional approach to even be in the game. But if you can achieve that level of quality you'll run rings
around 98% of your competition.
4. Fewer and fewer song publishers have been accepting home quality demos then re-cutting them as pro demos in the
last 5 years, and even less in this economy. Most, if not all, would prefer to sign a great song with a pitchable demo,
even if they have to pay a larger advance. Some are even requesting master recordings for certain projects.
So excellent song recordings of pro quality- pro session musicians, a pro singer, commercial grade production equipment-
have the upper hand.
5. What constitutes pro quality? In my view, demos fall into three basic categories:
a) Horrible. Instruments poorly played. Off key or weak singing, poor sound quality, etc.
b) Semi-pro. These are the demos done in local studios and home studios, produced by someone who plays in a weekend
band with delusions that because they can pay for a session or because they own digital recording gear, they're a music producer.
Listening to this level of demo is like listening to a faux version of major label product taking place in an alternate version
of reality. There's almost always something so far out of whack it hurts the song rather than helps it: overproduced,
the groove isn't there, a singer that's way out of pocket, boomy bass, a drum machine that sounds hokey instead of
live drums, live drums but with over rings and/or poor microphone techniques, instrument tones and/or vocals that
are laughable, poor mixing and the list goes on...
c) Professional. Well that says it all.
But unfortunately of the over five thousand demos I've had submitted to me for various purposes over
the years, I can count the truly pro demos on my fingers and toes. And they are definitely memorable enough to do so.
If your demo doesn't sound equal in every respect to the songs you're hearing on the radio, you're not there.
And if you're dropping it off or mailing it in, you need to submit a pro package- everything typewritten or
computer generated- from the address label to the lyric sheet, and a brief cover letter that's on point with no hype or other rantings that suggest amateur status.
Well there you have it. Five tips that provide you with a blueprint that will improve your song marketing, lead to contracts and eventually land you that all-important first hit!