Hey everybody! This post is in relation to a question that I received from our mailing list. If you want to submit your own questions, simply join our free mailing list at www.SongwritingTeam.com
The question was, how should I market my music as a songwriter? The patron asking the question also included that he would like some options other than Social Media. Social media may play into some of my answers, but I’ll try to take a different approach and go more big picture.
Let’s begin with the end in mind. Why do we want to market our music as songwriters? It’s safe to say that most of us as songwriters want to make money and make a living writing songs. There are multiple ways to do this. In order to answer “how”, we need to look at the different avenues of generating income as a songwriter. Each avenue has different approaches of how we should go about marketing and promoting our music. Some of the action items may overlap, but lets take a look at some of the different avenues.
*Note: Obviously, the first step is to make sure your work sounds awesome. Continue to practice songwriting, and make sure that your production and recordings are 100%. Also, make sure you are staying consistent and building a catalog.
Avenue #1:How to market your songs to artists and labels.
I’ll start with the toughest. Although it is the toughest, it can also be the most rewarding when it comes to income and credibility. I’d say this is a little easier if you are both a songwriter and performer. A lot of songwriters that I know who are marketing their music to labels and artists were discovered while performing. If you aren’t in one of the major networking towns, try to book trips their often and make good use of your time. It may be an investment, but worth it. For example, a dear friend of mine works in Seattle for 3-4 weeks and then comes to Nashville for 6-7 weeks and does only music related projects while she is here. If you aren’t a performer, not all hope is lost. What I would recommend doing is teaming up with a performer that you have a great relationship. You guys can travel and network together. It’s in the best interest for both parties. By getting out and performing at songwriter rounds and other popular spots in in networking cities, you’ll eventually make friends with someone who has an “in”. Co-writing with another writer who already has publishing is a great way to get your foot in the door. Remember, marketing to labels and artists is tough. It is probably the hardest way to make money as a songwriter. But, persistence and courage will help you go far. Make sure to look into other networking events such as ASCAP and BMI conventions, local songwriting groups, Grammy events, etc. Set a small budget aside each month for these trips.
Avenue #2: How to market your songs and music for film/television/video games opportunities.
Personally, this is my favorite. Although it is still competitive, it can lead to a nice income. The film, TV, video games, and advertising industries have money. They are willing to spend that money to have music involved in their projects. There are a few ways to market your music to decision makers in this field. First off, again your music and recordings need to be top notch. Also, I recommend having instrumental versions and alternate versions of your songs. You’d be surprised what they may want to use in their project. It may be a 10 second clip of one of your instrumentals. Have these files prepped and ready to go. There are a bunch of services online who help pitch songs for opportunities in the film/television market. I won’t go into those in this post. Check out the blog for posts about those services. I said I wouldn’t include social media, but since social media is how we got our first music library deal I’ll include it. First, you should do research on companies that place music in film/tv. Look for companies that specialize in instrumental libraries. Instrumentals typically place easier than songs with vocals. Start there. After researching companies, I recommend submitting the music yourselves. Find employees of these companies on social media and start a dialogue with them. Most of these companies are open to submissions. Not all of them will be. Don’t be discouraged. There are a ton of them. When you reach out to them, submit the style that you are the best at. A lot of these companies want batches of one sound to start with. For example, on our first deal, we had to create 12 Electro Pop songs. Now, we can create other styles, but they signed us based on our skill set and unique angle in that genre.
Avenue #3: How to market your songs to other songwriters/artists.
You may be asking, why would I want to do this? A few reasons. One. You have a skill, and you can get paid by others to help them develop their skill. Teaching, lyric writing, production, melody writing, etc are all ways for you to generate income off of your trade. Start your own business and brand even if it is on the side of your full time job. I am not going to go into how to start and market a business, but there are a ton of articles and resources online to help you. SongwritingTeam.com started as a small idea in my apartment in Los Angeles. I was simply offering my skills to others. Since then it has grown into a primary source of income.
Avenue #4: How to market your songs to producers and studios.
Since the beginning of time, artists and songwriters have been breaking because of certain producers. I recommend reaching out to multiple producers and studios in your area to start. It could not only generate some immediate income, but long term could lead to bigger things. As the producer gains popularity, he/se will start assembling a team of talented writers, engineers, and musicians. If you want to step it up, research new emerging artists and see who is producing them. It may cost some money, but book some time with them. Then they have to listen to you and your material. It’s an investment, but buying your friends works. It’s how I got my first job at a commercial recording studio. I booked time and showed the manager what I could do. He got paid. I got to show off. It worked out great. Producers are always looking for songs, and typically have artists who need songs. I know many songwriters that are “go-to” guys for certain producers. It’s a good avenue to put some effort into. This can also tie back into avenue #1 and #2. It often does.
I hope that breaks things down and helps you guys out. There are certainly more ways to market your music. If you have additional ideas, please leave them in the comments. In the meantime, take a piece of paper and and draw 4 squares on it. Put each avenue in a box. Brainstorm to see if there is anyone you know already who fits into one of these boxes. Jot down ideas and an action plan for each one of these boxes. This is a great strategic start.