I just received my first critique and the screener didn't forward my song. Does this mean I should quit submitting this song to any more listings?
Bill Hruby, Portland, OR
Absolutely not. Each listing has different criteria, and a song that is wrong for one listing may be perfect for another. Also, TAXI uses over sixty screeners and they are told to give songs they have heard before, when possible, to a screener who hasn't heard the song. This ensures that you will get feedback and forwarding opportunities from a variety of screeners. But we frequently see a screener forward a song for one listing, and return it for another listing. Same song, same screener--different listing.
One of our successful songwriter friends (and we do mean successful) is fond of saying that it takes 100 songs written to get one worth pitching and 100 pitches of one song to get a chance of getting a cut.
Persistence and dedication are key ingredients to writing and pitching songs. Knowing which songs are worth pitching and how to continually improve your writing are questions the critiques can help you answer.
I've been forwarded several times (thanks!) but I've never heard from any of the companies I've been forwarded to. How long does it usually take to hear back from these companies? Should I be calling them to make sure they listened?
Brook Habar, Pasadena, CA
Welcome to the institutionalized rudeness of the record business. Unfortunately, most A&R people (and others in the buyers position) don't get back to you when the answer is "I'm not interested."
They receive so much material from so many sources, and spend so much time listening, that they just don't have time to respond to everyone. Plus, it's no fun being the bearer of bad news. The record industry's answer to this dilemma? Silence.
One gets used to it. Early in my song-plugging career, I would be crushed when a song written by an established, hit songwriter (that I was sure was perfect for the pitch) would meet with silence. "They must not have listened to it," I thought, "because they would have called to tell me what a perfect song it was, if they had." I got serious about making follow-up calls only to find that the songs were listened to and had been rejected.
When an A&R person hears a song or an artist that he thinks is a hit, he doesn't put it aside to see if someone will call. He calls you.. Never has someone said to me, "Oh yes, I completely forgot about that hit song, I'm so glad you called to remind me."
Sometimes it takes months to hear back if you hear at all, but if they hear a hit--they'll let you know.
I have a publisher who wants to buy rights to two of my songs. What are the risks in this? Is it always better not to sell?
Despite the oft-heard cry of "Never give up your publishing!" having a reputable, active publisher pitching your material can be an extremely valuable asset in advancing your career. Few songwriters have the contacts and the time needed to network and secure covers on their own--and this is what publishers are in the business of doing every day.
When others warn you about the evils of giving up publishing rights, they are talking about having to share the big publishing royalties that a hit song can generate.
But having to split wads of money with the publisher that got your song recorded and which then became a hit, is obviously a whole lot better than sitting in your room with a demo, no money, and 100% of the publishing.
The risk is that the publisher will buy the song, pitch it for a while, then lose interest in it and keep it on the shelf. Try to work out a deal that gives the song back to you if the publisher hasn't gotten it cut within a certain period of time--anywhere from six months to several years, depending on how much advance money you were paid.
What should I do with the suggestions made on my critique? I've already booked studio time to go make the changes the screener recommended. Should I send the tape back in for forwarding when I'm done?
Stephanie Martin, Tucson, AZ
Whoa! Hold on a minute before you go spending a bunch of money and time re-working a song just to follow the TAXI screener's advice. We can't automatically forward a song just because you made changes. First of all, that listing will be long gone by the time you get your changes made, and second, there's no guarantee the changes you made will make the song forwardable.
You need to evaluate the suggestions given. Do you, after consideration, agree with them? If so, are these tips better applied to the next song you write or is this song worth the extra attention?
The TAXI screeners are giving you their honest opinions, not issuing an order. Take what they offer and apply it as you see fit.
Please address questions to: TAXI Q&L, 5010 N. Parkway Calabasas #200 Calabasas, CA 91032 All letters submitted become the property of TAXI and can be edited for length, spelling, grammar and sentence syntax. Basically, we can do whatever we want!