Every aspiring songwriter wants to know how they can make the right connections, get their music heard, and place their songs. This article is devoted to helping songwriters and writer/producers try to achieve these goals.
If you are a writer, and you’ve just completed demos that you feel very strongly about, then it’s time to start shopping them. An obvious place to start would be to submit your material to top publishers with strong connections to place your songs. However, many publishers will only take meetings based on referrals by industry pros, such as attorneys, managers, label execs, etc.
Nevertheless, there are two organizations which strive to assist new songwriters: ASCAP and BMI. Both entities have regional offices (New York, Los Angeles and Nashville, plus some other cities) which are accessible to new writers. If you contact one of their membership representatives, they will usually be open to accepting and reviewing your material. If they like your songs, they may refer you to publishers and labels, and perhaps to other writers for potential collaborations.
ASCAP and BMI also host workshops for their most promising, young writers. These workshops are not only educational, but are excellent for networking purposes. A&R execs, producers and publishers are often guest speakers at these workshops. Writers can play their latest demos for these industry pros at these sessions.
Besides utilizing ASCAP/BMI, or hooking up with publishers, you can try to independently build enough credits and successes to gain industry recognition. If you are a writer who has the ability to place your own songs on albums or in film/TV projects, you have established a great advantage. In fact, if you have already started placing your own cuts, you will probably start getting calls from publishers who are now interested in you. This is because publishing execs prefer finding and signing writers with built-in track records. This way, they can build upon your initial success, rather than starting with a completely unknown writer. They are also willing to pay higher advances to proven writers.
Of course, if you don’t have a track record with cuts, getting your first cut is a daunting, difficult task. The quickest route would be to try to start collaborating with a writer and/or producer who is already securing many cuts on records. Of course, you may have to play them some amazing demos for those proven talents to want to work with you. But sometimes, a writer/producer may have an unfinished song or track, and if you can come up with a brilliant lyric (or maybe a better melody or hook) to complete the song, you will make a great impression.
If you are a writer/producer who can create your own, fresh music tracks (particularly in the R&B/pop/dance vein), you should be able to attract talented collaborators to work with you. Perhaps you could even hook up with an exceptional, young singer or vocal group in your area. New vocal acts are always looking for writer/producers (particularly ones with adept, studio skills) to collaborate with. In this era of hot pop singers and groups, writer/producers who can deliver hit material for these acts are in great demand.
There have been many true stories of unknown writer/producers who suddenly burst onto the charts because they helped discover, or write a song for, the hot new star. Developing your music/writing skills, and networking to be in right place at the right time, are crucial elements toward breaking through as hit writers and/or producers.
Last but not least, it is crucial for any new writer or producer to be totally aware of today’s contemporary music styles, and how to create fresh-sounding demos that fit the current marketplace. If you are a writer/producer (as opposed to being a self-contained artist), you must deliver what the hot singers and vocal groups all want: catchy hit material, skillfully presented, that is consistent with the most appealing, exciting pop radio fare.