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Songwriter looking to do soft transition from day job to full time songwriting
Old 10th August 2019
  #1
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Songwriter looking to do soft transition from day job to full time songwriting

I'm finally at a place where i experience that i'm able to write pop music that i'm really satisfied with and that i believe could have commercial success. I'm also able to to mix and produce the songs so it's does the song a fair amount of justice.

But after years of learning the actual craft, i realise my knowledge of the business is quite sparse. So as i'm looking to transition from my day time job to full time songwriting, i'm looking for guidance.

From what i know, there's two ways to do it: get a contract with a music publisher, or pitch songs to artists/record labels directly.

Now, i really would like the idea of working with a music publisher, which would minimise administration as well as opening doors to working with artists that would be a god fit for me. But at the same time, i have know idea of what a music publisher would ask of me. Would there be a set amount of songs i should deliver each month/week? Would i have to quit my other job instantly? What happens if my music doesn't sell and i've gotten an advance payment, that runs out? What happens if write a song they don't sell – can i sell it to someone else? etc.

Also, i'd like to do a "soft transition". A period of 6-12 month were i basically keep my day job and at the same time write and sell my music. To see if se sells enough, and to create a buffer from the double incomes.

Which leads me to the other option of pitching to artists/labels. Now from what i know this is supposedly tough. However, i have a friend, who's friend is pretty high up on a major label, so i may have a fairly good way in.
What i would do then, is to map my songs to specific artists on that label – that after my research, i'd consider being a good fit for the song. Then have my friend send them to his friend. Then continue selling songs in this way, and when i'm ready, try to get a contract with a music publisher.

Does this seem like a reasonable plan? Or could a music publisher be fine with me doing a soft transition? Or are their advance payments sufficient?

Any insights on this from you who now the business would be very much appreciated.
Old 10th August 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
 

If you're capable of making a hit, then make at least a small-scale hit with the resources you currently have. Until then, all of this is just pipe dream thinking.

Publishers and labels aren't looking to discover unknown talent, with the DIY digital world that way of thinking is obsolete. The industry is looking quantifiable proof that you're a good songwriter by the current standards of the world. How? Numbers. You need good numbers that demonstrate that you have the ability to impact the world in some way. Until you have that, there's no publisher interest or major label interest in your future at all, much less a 6-12 month super nice, super comfortable, super safe transition-to-professional-songwriter plan.

If you are somehow lacking resources where you're at (near impossible in the digital age of instant world communication), then move to LA, get a day job there, hustle your way into songwriting circles, and do great work with whatever opportunities you can drum up.
Old 10th August 2019
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
If you're capable of making a hit, then make at least a small-scale hit with the resources you currently have. Until then, all of this is just pipe dream thinking.

Publishers and labels aren't looking to discover unknown talent, with the DIY digital world that way of thinking is obsolete. The industry is looking quantifiable proof that you're a good songwriter by the current standards of the world. How? Numbers. You need good numbers that demonstrate that you have the ability to impact the world in some way. Until you have that, there's no publisher interest or major label interest in your future at all, much less a 6-12 month super nice, super comfortable, super safe transition-to-professional-songwriter plan.
By "numbers", do you mean releasing the material myself under my own brand? Or by pitching it to artists?
Old 10th August 2019
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thinkingettin View Post
By "numbers", do you mean releasing the material myself under my own brand? Or by pitching it to artists?
You need actual releases impacting the world, an unknown songwriter pitching songs to artists just isn't going to get listened to.

So either release under your own brand, create an act yourself that you produce and write for, or start by collaborating with obtainable established artists (local, regional, smaller scene) and create music that has a strong impact on their numbers. The goal with any of these being quantifiable numbers that show you can actually deliver on big songs. Potential is meaningless.

I mean, you can try your buddy at the major. Contacts like that help. If you have an actual big record that's perfect for an artist on the label, he can help. That's your best bet of a shortcut currently (no need to even entertain publishing deal scenarios without interest from a publisher on the table.) Most professional writers have 100 of these contacts though, along with a publishing deal, and still fight for a handful of cuts a year.
Old 12th August 2019
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
You need actual releases impacting the world, an unknown songwriter pitching songs to artists just isn't going to get listened to.

So either release under your own brand, create an act yourself that you produce and write for, or start by collaborating with obtainable established artists (local, regional, smaller scene) and create music that has a strong impact on their numbers. The goal with any of these being quantifiable numbers that show you can actually deliver on big songs. Potential is meaningless.

I mean, you can try your buddy at the major. Contacts like that help. If you have an actual big record that's perfect for an artist on the label, he can help. That's your best bet of a shortcut currently (no need to even entertain publishing deal scenarios without interest from a publisher on the table.) Most professional writers have 100 of these contacts though, along with a publishing deal, and still fight for a handful of cuts a year.
Appreciate the insights!
Any do's and dont's you'd say when contacting artists/labels?
Did some research and realized i have a fair amount of common friends with artists that i'd could try to cultivate.
Old 13th August 2019
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thinkingettin View Post
Appreciate the insights!
Any do's and dont's you'd say when contacting artists/labels?
Did some research and realized i have a fair amount of common friends with artists that i'd could try to cultivate.
None off the top of my head, just make sure it makes sense for the artist and be brief in general.

Good stuff with the research, the DIY mindset like that is where its at. You don't go get a publishing deal, it comes to get you when you've built something of value.
Old 15th August 2019
  #7
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
None off the top of my head, just make sure it makes sense for the artist and be brief in general.

Good stuff with the research, the DIY mindset like that is where its at. You don't go get a publishing deal, it comes to get you when you've built something of value.
Thanks!
Would you say that a song could be ”to produced” when pitching it to an artist? Like the demo singer has sort of ”finished” the vocals for the artist so the artist could feel they can’t add anything?
Or should the demo track just be complete in everey sense, and tuned toward the particular artist?
Old 16th August 2019
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by thinkingettin View Post
I'm finally at a place where i experience that i'm able to write pop music that i'm really satisfied with and that i believe could have commercial success. I'm also able to to mix and produce the songs so it's does the song a fair amount of justice.

But after years of learning the actual craft, i realise my knowledge of the business is quite sparse. So as i'm looking to transition from my day time job to full time songwriting, i'm looking for guidance.

From what i know, there's two ways to do it: get a contract with a music publisher, or pitch songs to artists/record labels directly.

Now, i really would like the idea of working with a music publisher, which would minimise administration as well as opening doors to working with artists that would be a god fit for me. But at the same time, i have know idea of what a music publisher would ask of me. Would there be a set amount of songs i should deliver each month/week? Would i have to quit my other job instantly? What happens if my music doesn't sell and i've gotten an advance payment, that runs out? What happens if write a song they don't sell – can i sell it to someone else? etc.

Also, i'd like to do a "soft transition". A period of 6-12 month were i basically keep my day job and at the same time write and sell my music. To see if se sells enough, and to create a buffer from the double incomes.

Which leads me to the other option of pitching to artists/labels. Now from what i know this is supposedly tough. However, i have a friend, who's friend is pretty high up on a major label, so i may have a fairly good way in.
What i would do then, is to map my songs to specific artists on that label – that after my research, i'd consider being a good fit for the song. Then have my friend send them to his friend. Then continue selling songs in this way, and when i'm ready, try to get a contract with a music publisher.

Does this seem like a reasonable plan? Or could a music publisher be fine with me doing a soft transition? Or are their advance payments sufficient?

Any insights on this from you who now the business would be very much appreciated.
FWIW true "writers income" tends to come 12-18 months at least in arrears. Even if you were to have a million seller you'd be waiting for any income. Producer fees would be quicker...assuming you get an artist to cut your song.

And if you're published, that would all go to paying back an advance anyway.

The other thing to remember is much of the time, artists want to co-write. Sure, sometimes people cut songs that have been written part and parcel by someone else, but a lot of the time an artist will write to a backing track, or they'll create with the producer.

Advances are generally non-recoupable, how many songs you're expected to produce depends on the publishing deal - it's usually something like "400% over the term of the deal". Which means if you've got a 2 year deal, they expect you to have 4 songs RELEASED that you've 100% written, 8 songs released that you've got 50% of, and so on. Nothing to do with actual turnover. if you only write 10 songs in a year and they're all #1s , that's much better than the bloke writing 100 flops!

But all this is pie in the sky unless you're actually working with artists, and for pop that means artists on major labels really. So I think your best bet is to get your mate of a mate to see if he can get you some writing sessions with some of their up and coming artists - maybe send your 5 best songs (WITHOUT excuses for anything!) and see if you can get in that way. Call a few publishers for the same thing. Co-writing is the way to get in.

And ideally you'd be in LA, NY, London or possibly Nashville...or at least a major city.
Old 16th August 2019
  #9
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thinkingettin View Post
Thanks!
Would you say that a song could be ”to produced” when pitching it to an artist? Like the demo singer has sort of ”finished” the vocals for the artist so the artist could feel they can’t add anything?
Or should the demo track just be complete in everey sense, and tuned toward the particular artist?
You can't be too produced, finish the vocal. Your best bet is a record that sounds like its ready for the radio.

Barebones song ideas get shared too, piano/guitar and vocal, but its a longer shot because you're asking others to do more work.
Old 7th September 2019
  #10
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
FWIW true "writers income" tends to come 12-18 months at least in arrears. Even if you were to have a million seller you'd be waiting for any income. Producer fees would be quicker...assuming you get an artist to cut your song.

And if you're published, that would all go to paying back an advance anyway.

The other thing to remember is much of the time, artists want to co-write. Sure, sometimes people cut songs that have been written part and parcel by someone else, but a lot of the time an artist will write to a backing track, or they'll create with the producer.

Advances are generally non-recoupable, how many songs you're expected to produce depends on the publishing deal - it's usually something like "400% over the term of the deal". Which means if you've got a 2 year deal, they expect you to have 4 songs RELEASED that you've 100% written, 8 songs released that you've got 50% of, and so on. Nothing to do with actual turnover. if you only write 10 songs in a year and they're all #1s , that's much better than the bloke writing 100 flops!

But all this is pie in the sky unless you're actually working with artists, and for pop that means artists on major labels really. So I think your best bet is to get your mate of a mate to see if he can get you some writing sessions with some of their up and coming artists - maybe send your 5 best songs (WITHOUT excuses for anything!) and see if you can get in that way. Call a few publishers for the same thing. Co-writing is the way to get in.

And ideally you'd be in LA, NY, London or possibly Nashville...or at least a major city.
Thanks for the insights!
I think my strengths is melody + lyrics, which i feel a can do efficiently. While the music is tougher – it takes longer for me to achieve my desired result there. Should i focus on improving the latter to better complement potential artists in co-writing environments?
This might be a silly question, but when sending my material, should i attach the audio-files or should i use dropbox or similar?
Old 7th September 2019
  #11
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
You can't be too produced, finish the vocal. Your best bet is a record that sounds like its ready for the radio.

Barebones song ideas get shared too, piano/guitar and vocal, but its a longer shot because you're asking others to do more work.
Cool!
Old 7th September 2019
  #12
Lives for gear
 

If your a creative person, you have to be creative about how you get your work out there and get an income.

First thing is to get heard. YouTube channel? Interesting advertising? Find people who need your services and solicit them? Not easy these days. A lot of the music we hear on the radio isn’t the best music, it just comes from the hardest workers.
Old 14th September 2019
  #13
I use Radio Airplay to "test" songs. I presume that the listeners are people, beyond that I don't really care what happens. What I look for is how the numbers move -- is something getting more likes per play than another thing? It's the best way I've found, personally, to get stuff to people who then actually hear it and may respond to it somehow. I don't have any "hits", or anything remotely like that, but I definitely have songs that perform better than other songs. My thought is I'll use this data to determine where to focus my efforts as an artist. It does cost a bit of money, I have a "gold" level membership that comes out to about $300 or so a year (IIRC), but I personally think it's worth it because I can literally write and record a song and have it in front of real people in an afternoon. I even put up stuff that I feel isn't totally "perfect", just to see what sort of reaction I get. Again, these aren't "industry" people, just average listeners. Anyways, that's one way I've found to do DIY market research/testing and to see if a thing I think is cool is cool enough for other people too.
Old 15th September 2019
  #14
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by poserp View Post
I use Radio Airplay to "test" songs. I presume that the listeners are people, beyond that I don't really care what happens. What I look for is how the numbers move -- is something getting more likes per play than another thing? It's the best way I've found, personally, to get stuff to people who then actually hear it and may respond to it somehow. I don't have any "hits", or anything remotely like that, but I definitely have songs that perform better than other songs. My thought is I'll use this data to determine where to focus my efforts as an artist. It does cost a bit of money, I have a "gold" level membership that comes out to about $300 or so a year (IIRC), but I personally think it's worth it because I can literally write and record a song and have it in front of real people in an afternoon. I even put up stuff that I feel isn't totally "perfect", just to see what sort of reaction I get. Again, these aren't "industry" people, just average listeners. Anyways, that's one way I've found to do DIY market research/testing and to see if a thing I think is cool is cool enough for other people too.
Cool, actually never heard of Radio Airplay before. One question though, if the song has been published in that context, doesn't that undermine the possibility of selling it to someone else?
Old 16th September 2019
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by thinkingettin View Post
Cool, actually never heard of Radio Airplay before. One question though, if the song has been published in that context, doesn't that undermine the possibility of selling it to someone else?
No, you own it. I always retain 100% rights to everything I make, I checked before I signed up. I basically give them permission to play my songs, I can post/pull them at any time, and so on.
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