All too often, I’ll hear songwriters complain that they’ve sent their songs to countless record labels, song contests, and music publishers in hopes of landing a recording contract or publishing deal. These folks take the time to write good songs and then spend even more hours researching potential opportunities for success, only to be disappointed when nothing happens.
It’s not impossible to land a record deal or publishing deal by sending your songs out to labels, contests, or publishers. The problem is that the odds of getting a response are pretty low. You might have to send your songs out many times before you get a bite, and you should know a few key things to help maximize your efforts and increase your chances of success.
I’ll share five tips to help you avoid wasting time and increase your chances of landing a record deal or publishing deal.
1. Get an industry contact.
Most folks have no clue how to get a hold of record labels, music publishers, or song contests. So I always encourage my clients to make friends with people who can help them get started. If you know someone who works at a recording studio or indie label, consider asking them for some advice on how to get your songs in front of the right people. Likewise, if you know songwriters or fellow musicians who make a living from their music, ask them for help! You’d be surprised by how helpful people can be when you take the time to ask. Song contests are another great way to attract an industry contact.
2. Pay someone who knows what they’re doing.
So you’ve spent countless hours tinkering with your songs. You’ve shared them with friends and family, and maybe even strangers. Maybe you even entered a songwriting contest or two and were disappointed to find out that you didn’t win first place. It might be time for you to consider hiring a professional songwriter or producer to help bring your songs up to the next level.
I know that it’s tempting to take the DIY approach and try to land a record deal or publishing deal on your own, but paying someone to help you with your songs is an investment in your music career, not an expense. Sure, you’ll need to spend some money to improve your songs, but it’s an intelligent investment, and you’ll get your investment back one way or another.
3. Make friends with other songwriters.
If you spend too much time trying to find a record deal or publishing deal on your own, you might start questioning yourself after a while. I’ve seen this happen many times, and it’s common for songwriters to start doubting their talent or skill. If you’re feeling discouraged, you should reach out to other songwriters in your area or music network.
You might not always agree with each other, but having friends in the business can help you stay focused on your goals. If nothing else, these people can give you some much-needed encouragement. You’ll also learn from their experiences, and it’s easier to stay focused when you know that someone is cheering for you.
4. Contact music publishers first.
I generally recommend contacting music publishers before contacting record labels because publishing deals are more common than record deals these days. You’ll find some of the best publishing deals within the indie music world through referrals from other songwriters, so I encourage my clients to contact several other songwriters before they get started.
Note: I recommend contacting record labels second because independent artists usually get signed through live performances or internet popularity, not because of their songs, and it’s why you’ll need to build up a following before contacting labels, and this is probably one reason why the recording industry isn’t as strong as it used to be.
5. Hire a music promotion company.
There are many companies to help you promote your music online for a fee, but I’m not going to list them here. I’ve used several of them at different times in my career, but I would never recommend a specific one because you’ll get better results if you shop around for something that suits your specific needs. When choosing a music promotion company, it’s also a good idea to ask for references and examples of their work. Also, remember that the lowest price isn’t always the best deal, especially if it doesn’t include everything you need.
Now it’s time for me to sign off and get back to writing, but I’ll be back soon with more songwriting tips. In the meantime, you can download the Speed Songwriting Cheat Sheet to help you achieve your songwriting goals.
As always, thanks for reading!