The Do’s And Don’ts Of Pitching Your Songs In The Music Business

pitching songs- SongTown

 

Pitching songs (playing songs for publishers, artists or record label people in hopes of getting them to record or help you get a song recorded), is one of the areas where songwriters make the most mistakes.  And, those mistakes can be costly.  You don’t get too many chances to make a good impression before you are put on the “burned bridge” list.  Here are some of the important dos and don’ts to remember when you pitch songs.

 

Do’s of pitching songs.

 

Make sure that your song fits what the artist is looking for VERY closely.

“In the ballpark” is not close enough.  You want to pitch songs like someone shooting a rifle, not a shotgun.  The idea here is not just to throw something out and see if it sticks.  You want to give them precisely what they need (or think they need).

Make sure your song is competitive.

If your song sounds like an amateur wrote it, then it will be tossed out and they’ll remember your name with a scarlet “A” beside it.  When you pitch songs, you are competing against the big boys.  Your song should hold up against everything they are being pitched or you shouldn’t have pitched it.

Keep your pitches to a minimum.

Unless someone specifically asks you for more, pitch 1-2 songs at a time.  Again, think rifle, not shotgun.  Pick your best two shots for that artist and pitch away.  If they like what you send, they may ask for more.

Make your presentation business-like.

Don’t hand-write the labels on the CD in sharpie.  Make your presentation just as good as the publishers that are pitching.

Start small when pitching songs.

If you’ve never had a cut on a major artist, the chances of you getting one are REALLY slim.  Your chances are much better with newer, less established artists.  Major artists get pitched thousands of songs for each album.  Newer artists get pitched hundreds.  Which pile would you rather be in?

 

Don’ts of pitching songs.

 

Never send unsolicited CDs or pitches of any type.

Always get permission before sending.  I do that, even though almost everyone knows me.  It’s the polite, best way to do business.  Call or e-mail and ask permission to send 1-2 songs.  Most people will let you do that.  Doing things the right way goes a long way. also, SongTown Edge Groups are monthly online songwriter meetings run by top industry publishers. It’s a great way to meet publishers, get your songs heard, and get over the hurdle of unsolicited material.

Don’t put 20 songs on a CD.

That will get tossed in the trash.  So will 10.  Probably 5.  Dropping off a CD loaded with songs screams “I have no idea what I’m doing and no idea what you need, so I’m just sending everything I’ve got.”  Don’t be that guy.

Don’t Irritate the person you are pitching to.

Drop it off, be courteous, and leave.  Don’t hang around yakking.  And don’t e-mail them the following day asking what they thought of your songs.  If they like them, they will contact you.  I promise.  Generally, you don’t want to contact them after you drop off the pitch.  They don’t have time to everyone that sends them something they aren’t interested in.  Drop it off and move on.  If they contact you, great!  If not, that means “no”.

Don’t Brag or name drop.

The people you are pitching to don’t care who you know or what names you can drop.  Don’t talk about who you write with or who liked your songs.  Other people don’t have anything to do with the quality of your writing.  Let your songs speak for themselves, don’t try to brag your way to the top.  Doing so places you in the “amateur club” once again.  Also, NEVER say the words “My songs are better than the ones on the radio”.  EVER.  Professionals in the business have heard that said ten thousand times and it has never once been true.  People who write better songs than the ones on the radio don’t say that.  So, if you find those words coming out of your mouth, stop them in their tracks.

Never complain and whine to the people you are pitching to.

If you tell them how hard the business is, how no one will listen to your songs, and other “woe is me” type statements, you’ll get shown the door promptly.  People only want to work with hardworking, positive people.  Those people don’t complain and whine.  They’re too busy working.

Don’t pitch any song that isn’t amazing.

Just don’t.  Pitching it will hurt you FAR more than it will help you.

I suggest getting professional feedback on a song before you pitch it on the open market.  If you get professional feedback that the song is pitch ready, you can start pitching it without worrying about burning a bridge.  Make sure your song is ready.  Make sure it’s commercially competitive.  And make sure it fits what the artist is looking for precisely.  Then, and only then, should you pitch it.

Write on!  ~Marty

marty-doson-songtown

Marty Dodson
Multi-hit songwriter/Co-Founder of SongTown.com
Co-Author of the top-selling books The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Cowriting and  Song Building.

24 thoughts on “The Do’s And Don’ts Of Pitching Your Songs In The Music Business

  1. I have amazing lyrics that I’m hoping to pitch to a black female country singer. Im not sure if I should just send the lyrics or put a melody and beat with it. Is there a chance they’ll keep your song and not give you the credit?

  2. I have a good song to pitch but need a catchy tune. Any thoughts or advise? Are my lyrics enough?
    Thanks for your advise.
    Sandra G

  3. Where can we pitch these songs please?
    I feel like I am caught in the unknown here, and just haven’t seen this information clearly anywhere yet. Thank you
    Here’s my email if anyone has the answer ” tolex the creator @ gmail . com ”
    Thanks,

  4. Good morning!

    What is the best way to copyright the work? I have a song lyric that I would ultimately like to pitch to anyone who could set it to music and make money with it.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thank you!

    Julie Rosenberry

  5. Pitching songs can be tricky, and there is some great advice here. It isn’t enough to have a great song. It has to be picked up by someone who can give the song a wider reach.

  6. I have been writing for over thirty years but I have never pitched my songs. I have a music site and some songs on youtube that artist can listen to. My recent work I think by far is the best but dont know how to pitch it. In past experience I have been told the cd even though permission was given to submit was trashed and never listen to. However I have recieved some very encouraging letters from very popular artists on my writings. So I gave up.

    1. Carol, you should never stop believing in yourself if music is what you love best and in your heart know it’s what you want. Don’t listen to the naysayers they don’t do anything in their lives. Enter your songs in every song competition you can and most importantly have your songs produced PROFESSIONALLY. Have a session singer sing your song if you cannot deliver and sing better, and make sure you get a WORK FOR HIRE agreement FROM THE STUDIO or the session singer. The more you spend on your songs the better you will feel and more things will begin to work in your favour. If you want to be a professional then act like one. Good luck.

  7. Great article! I’ve been dreaming all my life of being a singer/song writer. I’m really hoping to get something going soon and so I want to learn all I can before I make a move and you confirmed that’s exactly what I need to do. Thank you!

  8. Emmanuel Blimie here. I write great songs like the ones on youtube: “You Can Do It” or “Never Doubt This.” Great writing lyrics for (Country, Dance-hall, Pop, Gospel, Afro etc) songs. Hence, I am a poet. Just google to listen to my song or to read my work.

  9. TONS OF AMAZING NUGGETS in here, thank you Marty !
    Love this : “People only want to work with hardworking, positive people. Those people don’t complain and whine. They’re too busy working.”

  10. Hi Marty,

    Thanks for this great advice and Sun Tzu-like way to remember it: Rifle not shotgun. It’s right on target. See what I did right there? 🙂

    Joyce

  11. Thanks for this Marty. Over the past 5 years I have established relationships with 19 pluggers and publishers, and I’ve met with 16 of them in person, some multiple times, and earned my way to having an open door with them. Yet, I stay disciplined not to abuse this privilege. I work equally hard just to maintain these relationships even if I don’t send them songs. I’ve learned respect begets respect. I let them know I want to be a money maker and not a time taker.
    And with all the progress I’ve made, and all the songs I demo, it still amazes me how seldom I actually send them songs.
    Like that song says, I must be doing something right, because I haven’t had any doors close on me yet.
    Thanks for these powerful reminders.

  12. How do you find out “precisely what the artist needs or think they want.”? Is it okay to briefly describe the song when you send the email to agent/manager/publicist asking if you can send the song? Is that what a pitch is? And is it best to send it to the agent, manager, publicist, or all of them? If the artist has more than one agent, more than one manager, and/or more than one publicist, is it okay to contact all of them? Or how do you pick? Thanks.

    1. Hey Robin, we teach our members different strategies for pitching. We have courses inside the membership area of SongTown, as well as hit writers who can give you advice. Several key factors…One is that we have industry pitch sheets. Two, is researching your artists, and three, building your network. Our members have gotten major artist cuts. So, learning the right way to approach works if you have a great song.

      Clay Mills

  13. You should always copyright your work before shopping it. And by all means send the same song to as many people as you can until someone wants to record it and take it off the market.

    CM

  14. Brian, there are many avenues that lead to the artist. I would suggest trying SongTown and start learning how the business works.

    Clay

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