How Do You Get A Record Company To Listen To Your Song?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Griff, May 16, 2005.


  1. Griff

    Griff Member

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    Say you've finished a CD of original songs. Maybe they're great, maybe they suck. But how do you find out if they're great or they suck? Many, if not most, recording artists don't write all their own material. They depend on songwriters to give them that next big hit, or at least the filler for their next CD. How do you get your songs into the hands (ears?) of record companies and performers?

    Most record companies won't accept unsolicited or unrequested songs. If they show up in the mail, the companies just trash 'em. But every songwriter was an unknown at one time or another. So how does a newbie songwriter get his stuff listened to by people that matter? Do you have to hire an agent? If so, how do you find one? Do you enter one of those song writing contests, like the John Lennon Contest?

    Anybody know what the process is for getting your original material at least listened to, instead of dumped without a second glance?

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Mark
     
  2. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    If all you want is a critique there are songwriter's organizations that have critiquing services from pro writers and publishers. NSAI is one. There are also some writers who critique on the side for a fee, usually high.

    The sad fact is there are 1,000 songs coming in the mail not worth the A&R guy's time to listen to (or the producer, or whomever) for every one that is worth his time. So they'll ask publishers they know to send them good stuff and anything not specifically requested gets trashed. Even if you know someone who knows someone, you've got to have something really special before anyone will be willing to stick his neck out for you.
     
  3. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    You can hire a well-connected entertainment industry lawyer to shop your stuff, and yes, it's expensive.
     
  4. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    I can only speak for myself but when I used to do it I would listen to everything handed to me.

    Two points:

    1. I would never listen beyond three songs (usually only the first one).
    Simply a matter if time.

    2. I would take it more seriously if the band (or whatever) already had a "pro" manager or someone I had heard of representing them.

    What you have to remember is that these guys want to find "the next big thing" - I turned down "Oxygene" - Ha! We all have off days.....
    My first boss turned down The Beatles (the tape stunk) but he did sign The Rolling Stones, no one is perfect.....

    Best, Pete.
     
  5. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Hey, Les, Great minds think alike.........or something.......


    Best, Pete.
     
  6. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Those I know who sometimes shop songs do so very, very rarely. They have to be pretty impressed to even consider it. It's not like anyone off the street can simply hire them to plug songs.

    There are also fee-based "song pluggers," well-known and respected pros who shop songs from established writers to publishers for one-shot contracts.

    It boils down to this: no one wants his time wasted. Anyone who can get your songs in front of someone who can actually get them cut has his own reputation to consider and won't simply "shop your songs" (at least with any chance of success) only because you walked up to him with a check in your hand. The songs have got be of a certain commercial calibre to start with. Besides, they're probably flooded with CDs every day (from people just as willing to share their millions as you) that they don't ever get a chance to hear. So the question is...

    ...how do you get this person to hear your songs? :D
     
  7. tonefreak

    tonefreak Member

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    I would spend more time gaining a following than shopping the songs around. Getting the word out can be more effective than getting some exec to listen to your stuff.

    garageband.com has a service where people will critique your song. Entering song contests are good. Basically, do whatever you can to get your music out there.
     
  8. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    >>Those I know who sometimes shop songs do so very, very rarely. They have to be pretty impressed to even consider it.<<

    There are plenty who will present material simply because they're retained to do so, and some of them are bigger names than you might think. :eek:
     
  9. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    Judging from what I hear on the radio, I think that a record label person would be about the last person I'd ask to give me an opinion on whether my songs sucked or not. <g> "Well, you're no Ashlee Simpson, but if you work REAL hard..."

    Record 'em, then get your butt out there and play 'em for people, they'll let you know.

    When you've sold 10,000 copies at shows and from your website, the labels will find YOU.

    Loudboy
     
  10. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    OK. Song plugger, like I said. But I doubt that they represent many unpublished new writers going for their first cut, and I doubt that the sole redeeming quality of the material is that the author can afford the service. That makes no sense. The songs would have to be commercially viable, otherwise who would continue to meet with them?

    Would you listen to crappy material just because the person who brought it to you was paid to push it onto your desk? Even if you did it once, would you do it twice?
     
  11. Griff

    Griff Member

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    Good information. Thanks guys.
     
  12. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    >> I doubt that the sole redeeming quality of the material is that the author can afford the service. That makes no sense. The songs would have to be commercially viable, otherwise who would continue to meet with them?<<

    There are lawyers and others who will take on the task just to make a buck off the artist.

    I didn't say it was a good idea.

    It was a warning.
     
  13. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    :confused:
    OK...
     
  14. I wish...

    Although it does definately help! I would agree with the statement of "do whatever you can to get your music out there"
     
  15. Igneous

    Igneous Supporting Member

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    Those days are long past. Unfortunately.

    I would say build a good following, in whatever area you are. Promote yourself intelligently, and cross your fingers to hope that the local radio station really wants to push your stuff. Be weary of signing things because these days you could do most of the work yourself(ani-difranco).

    getting "signed" doesnt mean what it used to.

    Tour,tour,tour(of course if your not a human who has to survive and pay bills etc... then you can do this like you were 18 again!)

    If shows keep putting you in the red(beer,gas) think about if its worth it. pick carefully. And no damn benefit shows(well, limit them!)

    Networking is most of it. There is virtually no artist development anymore. Thats why your seeing these bands that are in there 30's now starting to make it as opposed to being 19(VH)

    As someone who lives in an arear that has spawned MANY successful acts in the industry lately, I have personally watched my friends go through the motions of what its like. A signing certainly doesnt mean lasting power.

    Its a gloomy subject but the truth be told its about 95 percent luck and the othe 5 percent talent(or not even)

    Good luck!!!!:dude
     
  16. Griff

    Griff Member

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    Thanks + 2 guys.
     
  17. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    This is a true story I've told recently in another thread, but it bears repeating.

    My partner in my indie record label is a well known entertainment lawyer, whose clients include such Detroit area industry successes as Eminem, Kid Rock, P-Funk, etc. It's a long list.

    Recently, he presented one of our artists and one of his law clients to the president of a well known industry giant major label. The president of the label said, "Cool stuff. I like it. So remind me," he said facetiously, "what TV show do these artists star in? "

    Why was he presenting our artist to a major? Simple. We want major label distribution. The other artist was simply someone very talented who paid him to shop a deal.

    So getting your stuff listened to by a major player can be done without much difficulty by someone who is well-connected, but that doesn't mean SQUAT. No one in the biz is going to say, "Oh my God, this is IT, the stuff we've been waiting for all these years! Sign this guy immediately, and get me his autographed picture for my office wall!"

    In the past two years, downloads have taken the industry from a 40 billion dollar business to a 26 billion dollar business. That 14 billion has forced the industry to trim back, go for "sure things", look for the short dollar instead of the long haul, and has caused a million other problems, and IT'S GOING TO GET WORSE. The industry will shrink another ten billion or so over the next couple of years.

    Acts that were being signed with a 500K advance are now being signed for 200K, and the ones that would have been signed for 100K a few years ago? Well, this is the truth, the labels are now offering artists stuff like "3 months rent." (!)

    Of course this wholesale reduction in available money is not only going to tie the industry's hands, it's already closed some pretty big and famous studios that used to deliver that "major label sound", it's meant that sessions have to be a lot shorter and as much as possible done in home studios or project studios, etc.

    Now, if no one is making any money, no one is going to do the blocking and tackling necessary to break an act; what's in it for them?

    The business is in bad shape, a major label isn't necessarily the thing - though not much viable has come along to replace it, Ani DiFranco notwithstanding, there aren't many artists with her drive and business acumen. Oh yes, it takes business acumen.

    Go ahead, try to get booked at decent paying gigs making your own phone calls; not many people can take the rejection until their career makes that takeoff turn.
     
  18. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    >>------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Originally posted by LSchefman
    It was a warning.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    OK...<<

    Yes, Michael, a WARNING. Artists are desperate to get their work heard by some industry person, which is not hard for a halfway decently connected lawyer to accomplish easily, and it is not hard to separate said desperate artist from his/her money.

    The lawyer has their coupla grand retainer. It took a letter or two, maybe a phone call to get the record and press kit into the hands of someone who throws it on the pile. If nothing happens, "Well, I got it to Joe Blow, the VP of Capitol, and I guess he didn't like it." Or the very deadly, "He thought it was promising. They want to hear more stuff. By the way, I already used up your retainer, here's your bill for the balance."

    That's a LOT different than meeting with someone you know really IS looking for new material and artists, because you actually have some real, meaningful contacts, sitting there with the person, and putting your reputation on the line because you believe in the work.
     
  19. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    Oh yeah...how do you know the difference?

    This is just my opinion.

    A good entertainment lawyer will want to see you perform; he/she might turn out for a few shows. He/she will listen to the recordings you've made, and if he or she lacks a lot of musical judgment, will do more than play the record for a secretary and his kids and say, "Whaddaya think of this?"

    Instead, that lawyer might play the record for producers in the area, or friends in the business, other artists, etc.

    This will take place BEFORE a retainer is quoted. The lawyer should also realistically assess how much work will be necessary to bring the artist up to speed, improve the shows, the press kit, the recordings, and other essentials.

    It matters less how many famous artists the lawyer has relationships with than whether that lawyer is experienced in the area of law, believes in the work, likes your live show, likes the band, whatever.

    If someone you're interested in having represent you has done the background work first, and has a genuine interest in you as an artist, you'll see it, and you will get better work from that person IMHO.
     
  20. Griff

    Griff Member

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    Thanks X 3 (or is it 4 by now? Regardless, Gracias.)
     

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