you ever had a song published? I don't think I could begin
to count how many times I've been asked that question over
the years as soon as a "non-pro" finds out that I'm a songwriter.
There's no way they could know that being published means
nothing in terms of being a successful songwriter. They believe
that a published song is going to make you tons of money,
and that all you have to do is write one published song and
poofyou're a millionaire! If only that were true.
the era of modern recording, publishing was important because
then, songs were sold only on sheet music. What counts now
is "recorded and released." And even recorded isn't enough,
since a significant percentage of songs that are cut are never
released for various reasons. So, although many people will
have made money because your song was cut (i.e. producers,
studio musicians, copyists, etc.), the songwriter will make
nothing. We are paid only when the song is sold or played.
Neither of those things will happen with an unreleased cut,
even though the song may have been "frozen" for six months
a songwriter, I began much more starry-eyed about the music
business than this article would lead you to believebut
I've been through an ongoing education as to what you can
reasonably expect to happen. Unfortunately, as far as each
individual song is concerned, not much. It's a game of percentages.
I can't give you an average of what percentage of songs that
I write eventually get cut or get used in some way that generates
an income, but I can tell you that it's a small percentage.
I have had a few hundred cuts in my career, but I can't say
with any certainty that I'll ever get another song cutor,
if cut, released. The nature of the business is such that
I think of each cut as the last, even though I try as hard
as I can to get the next record.
of the biggest mistakes I see beginning songwriters make is
that they believe just because they write a song, something
must happen with that particular song. What they don't understand
is that in the early stages of writing, each song is really
a stepping-stone to the next; a learning process that gets
you one step closer to the song which might have a chance
of being successful. I remember my first songwriting class
at UCLA, which I taught 15 years later. Our instructor would
remind us that you always "throw away your first hundred songs."
How true. When I look back at my early songs, I cringe in
amazement that I ever, thought they were goodand yet, I
had to write them to get to the more evolved material, much
of which I am still proud of.
no matter how good a song may be, and everyone's opinion will
be different, it's like playing the slot machines in Vegas.
How many times do you have to crank the handle to make something
happen? Nobody knows.
track the hypothetical progress of a song: After its many
incarnations in the writing process, and then recording the
best demo you can, the real work first begins. Making copy
after copy, getting it out to those situations where they
may be looking for a song in that "bag," and then waiting.
After a suitable period of time, you start callinghas the
package arrived? Has anyone listened to it yet? Does anyone
like it? Most likely, they'll tell you it hasn't been listened
to yet and to call again in a few weeks. When you do call
back, if the project hasn't been cancelled by then they'll
probably tell you they can't find your package or they didn't
feel it was right for their artist or that the artist wrote
something with his Aunt Tilly, and on and on it goes.
only way to look at this picture and make sense of it is to
see "flowers." What I mean by that is to consider every song
sent out as a seed cast upon the wind. It must find a fertile
spot where the sun will shine and the rain will fall. For
a flower to grow, many songs must be cast upon the wind to
increase the chances of finding that fertile spot. Most songs
get blown into oblivion.
Yes, but it's a reality. If your heart and soul tell you that
you must be a songwriter, you will eventually grow "flowers"providing
you have the courage to face rejection and the perseverance
to accept the fact that nothing will happen to most of your
when something does happen, there is no greater feelingespecially
if the record turns out well. But that's another story for
Wanna publish this article on your website? Click here to find out how.