Songwriting is certainly a creative endeavor but the majority of part-time songwriters would someday love to hear their creations on the radio. They’d also not mind collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalty checks every quarter. And hearing their favorite music artist singing their latest hit would be a dream come true. All those things can happen and have happened for others, why not you?
There are three basic things you must understand to succeed in songwriting:
- Songwriting is a business.
- Businesses require time to build.
- Building a successful business is largely a matter of numbers.
To grow your songwriting business will require an investment of both time and money. It’s also a highly competitive business, if you think you’ll “make it” by writing a handful of songs, doing one demo on home equipment and pitching it to a few industry sources you better not quit your day job. I won’t say that has never happened, it has, but the chances against it are astronomical.
The reality is that there are millions of songs written each year and only a tiny percentage of those ever earn significant royalties. If you remove your songwriter hat for a moment and don your business hat you’ll recognize that every good business person is aware of their competition. In this case you’ll be competing for a spot on the charts with music publishers and songwriters with a proven track record of hits. They have nearly unlimited funds to invest in demoing and marketing their songs and full time to focus on the writing portion as well.
While some may tell you a simple guitar/vocal demo is fine and it’s okay to demo at home, I believe that if you are treating songwriting as a business your product must sound as professional as your toughest competition. My advise would be to skip purchasing home recording gear entirely and instead use the money for recording professional demos.
While you just might get lucky and write your first hit within your first few attempts, it’s more likely it will be closer to song number two hundred. And you’ll probably be marketing it for a while before it connects with the right publisher. I realize most people have limited funds so let’s keep it simple and affordable: keep your best five unpublished songs in circulation at all times. If one song gets signed, start marketing another in its place. At first the contracts will be few and far between but slowly you’ll see the frequency of signings increase, you’ll start getting a cut here and there, perhaps a song will be placed in a movie and at some point you’ll have a thriving songwriting business. Keep putting quality product in one end of the pipeline- excellent quality songs demoed professionally- and increasing royalties will flow out the end, straight into your bank account.