It is, without a doubt, both a blessing and a curse to be passionate about your songwriting. On the “blessing” side, you’ve found something you’re genuinely moved to do, and you can’t wait for the world to hear your songs. However, on the “curse” side, it’s far too easy to throw common sense out the window in your drive to get music industry decision makers to help you with your goal of getting your songs out there. Here are a few rules to follow if you want to not only get industry attention for your songs, but also make a good impression and have a sustainable career along the way.
Rule #1: Do your homework
From the industry’s perspective, having someone ask you for help when they clearly don’t know what your role in the music world actually is, can be, at the very least, confusing if not annoying. If you’re going to reach out to a busy industry professional to ask for help, the very least you can do is find out what they do and confirm that it relates to what you’re asking. For example, asking someone at a booking agency if they can help you place your song in a film shows that you don’t understand their job or the bigger picture of how the business works. By the way, I’m not saying you should know everything about how the industry works, but if you genuinely don’t know what someone does, perhaps you could simply ask them about their job and what it entails before you consider asking them for their help.
Rule #2: Don’t tell someone your song is a “hit”
It’s a great thing to be confident in your work. In fact, it’s essential. However, there’s the quiet confidence of songwriters who have studied their craft and know where their songs sit in the grand scheme of the music business and, alas, the loud, false confidence of the inexperienced. Nothing will mark you as an amateur more quickly than telling someone in the industry that you’ve “written a hit.” First of all, even actual hit songwriters don’t know which of their songs are going to be hits but, more importantly, the only way anyone knows if a song is a hit is when it becomes a hit. In other words, be confident about your songs but don’t brag about them. It’s unnecessary and often does the opposite of what you’re hoping it will do.
Rule #3: Remember to say thank you
On a personal note - and speaking of throwing common sense out the window- it is shocking to me how often I’ll respond to someone’s request for help via email only to never hear from them again. I understand that learning the music business can be stressful and it often feels like an endless stream of things you don’t know, but a simple thank you in reply to an answered question goes a long way. Consider this rule a gentle reminder that you should consider music industry professionals as more than just vehicles to help you achieve personal success.
Reaching out to connect with music industry professionals can be equal parts tempting and daunting. In the end, we’re all in the same game and can help each other move ahead. By keeping the above common-sense rules in mind when you call, email or otherwise meet up with someone in the music business, you’ll stand a much better chance of not only getting what you’re looking for but also making a good impression along the way.
Cliff Goldmacher is a GRAMMY-recognized songwriter, music producer and author with recording studios in Nashville, TN and Sonoma, CA. Through his studios, Cliff provides songwriters outside of Nashville with virtual, live access to Nashville’s best session musicians and demo singers for their songwriting demos. Find out more. You can also download Cliff’s FREE tip sheet “A Dozen Quick Fixes To Instantly Improve Your Songs.”