How Do I Submit Songs As A Songwriter To The Music Business? (Updated- 2021)

submitting songs - music business

 

There seems to be a lot of confusion out there over the question “As a songwriter, how do I submit songs to the music business?”

The truth of the matter is that there is no one way to “submit” songs to the music business. When you simplify the “song submission” idea, there are basically three categories of song submissions that a songwriter should educate themselves about. I’ll cover each of those here.

1. Educational submissions.

Educational song submissions are “safe” ways to submit songs that you aren’t sure about because the person you are submitting the song to knows that you are just trying to learn. You aren’t going to burn a bridge if the song isn’t there. These would include song critiques or feedback like we have in the pro forum on SongTown. They would also include mentoring sessions with one of our pros. None of the pros are going to close the door on you if you submit something that isn’t great. You’re there to learn and they are there to help you. The quality of your demo doesn’t matter much at all here as long as it’s easy to understand the lyrics and hear the melody. Simple work tapes are fine.

2. When you submit songs to publishers or PROS (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, etc).

These include more risk. If I waste a publisher’s or PRO rep’s time, I risk getting on their “do not work with” list. Most of them don’t have time to give you a second chance. These opportunities are not places to experiment or test the waters. You need to be confident that you are giving a publisher or PRO rep quality songs that they think they could get recorded in the current market unless you are meeting with them in a mentoring typesetting. Otherwise, you are wasting their time. Pitching or submitting songs to publishers is much different than pitching to artists.

Publishers are looking at the quality of your song, not so much the quality of the recording.

The only way a publisher makes money is if they get a song recorded. So, if they can’t get your song(s) recorded, they aren’t going to be interested. If you get an opportunity to meet with and pitch to a publisher, you need to research what that publisher does, who their writers are, etc. That information will help you submit songs that the publisher is more apt to like. If you need help with learning to pitch your songs…

SongTown Edge Groups are monthly online writer meetings run by top industry publishers.

It’s a great program for learning to target write and pitch to artists. And you’ll get your songs heard in a legit fashion.

PRO reps can call publishers and get you meetings if they like what you do.

Even though they personally are not trying to get songs recorded, their job is to help writers with their organization succeed. They can be great advocates for you if they love your music. Again, your demo quality needs to convey the song well and be easy to understand, but it doesn’t have to be a full studio demo or track.

3. Submitting songs to recording artists.

This is the highest risk pitch. I have Keith Urban’s e-mail. I’ve only sent him 3 songs in over a year. He has passed on all of them. I feel like I’m at a tipping point. If I keep sending him songs he doesn’t LOVE, he’s going to quit opening my e-mails. Kieth doesn’t have time to keep fooling with someone that isn’t giving him what he needs. So, I’m going to be super careful with my next pitch. Even if he doesn’t cut it, I want him to think it’s an amazing song so that I can keep pitching to him. Whether you are submitting songs to the artist, a manager, a producer, or a record label, you want to be REALLY confident in the song you are pitching AND the quality of the demo.

The closer your song demo can sound to something that would be on the radio, the better your chances will be.

BUT if you have a simple ballad, you may be able to get by with a guitar or piano vocal demo. Otherwise, you probably need a really good quality demo. You don’t get many of these direct-to-artist chances, so you need to really blow them away.

If you can’t afford full demos, that’s fine. Stick to the first two kinds of pitches as you work on improving your writing.

These days you can set up a pretty killer home studio on an affordable budget.

Publishers can help pay for demos if they love your song. Don’t worry that you aren’t able to get to artists. Just make the most of your situation. And, I always recommend waiting until you get a “WOW” response from one of the safe opportunities before you climb up the ladder. If you get a “WOW” response in the Pro Feedback forum, book a mentoring session with our pro publisher. When you get a “WOW” response there, you know you’ve got something. If not, you avoid burning a bridge by pitching in one of the more risky situations.

Many writers pitch songs WAY too soon and leave burning bridges smoking behind them. Don’t do that. Be patient. Keep writing and improving. That’s the ticket to success when you submit songs to the music business.

Write on!  ~Marty

marty-doson-songtown-small

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

119 thoughts on “How Do I Submit Songs As A Songwriter To The Music Business? (Updated- 2021)

  1. Hi Marty

    Many thanks for this very helpful categorisation.

    I have a couple of questions about your category 2 (submitting songs to publishers). I get the point that “stripped down” is the way to go at the moment, and am wondering about the specifics of that. Obviously, there needs to be a vocal and at least one instrument (guitar, or sometimes piano seem to be the most obvious choices), but is some sort of drum track an essential element as well? Or does the need for drums depend on the genre?

    Also, I am guessing that, in most cases (rock being the obvious exception, perhaps), a bass guitar part is not needed? Is that right?

    Thanks again

    David

  2. I grew up playing in a family band my Dad was a published singer songwriter in P.E.I. Canada. Over the years I’ve written several songs Rockabilly, Country, Classic Rock, Pop and Gospel. I’ve played many of these songs live in Canada, USA, Europe, Cyprus, Vietnam, Africa, Afghanistan and the Philippines. Several years ago I was offered a song writing contract in Nashville but regrettably I was not able to take advantage of it due to unforeseen circumstances. I’m currently a full-time missionary operating the Family Christian Library a free community service on the Island of Negros, Philippines. With the exception of the occasional appearance at local Churches or outdoor evangelistic campaigns I’m no longer actively preforming. I am, however, interested in getting some of my work published and would appreciate anything that you could do to help. You can listen to some of my original gospel songs at the link provided and if you contact me I will give you a different link for the other recordings.

    Thanks in advance for your help,

    Geo.

  3. I can give you a magical song, and I’ve shed my ego, friend. If there was to a song, this would be it. Not bragging, I am an obsessed songwriter/musician.

  4. I wrote a song last year to support our heroes working hard on the front lines fighting the evils that have plagued the human race. I recorded it at a professional studio in Nashville, Tn. with my 14 year old daughter and we created a tribute music video on Youtube – NO GREATER LOVE – by Jeremy Spurlock & Leilah Jael. It is a tribute to our medical workers, fire fighters, police officers, nurses, EMTs, etc. who risk their lives for others. Please watch, share, and tell me what you think. 🙂

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoY6z8F-Qik

  5. I did write 11 songs on couple of months and i made sure that i have the talent and some of them were written in only two days. One of them can be very desirable for heavy metal or a rock band. I wish to publish them and get good benefit of.

  6. I wrote a children’s song I named it “stand-up” it is a song to get children motivated and exercising Especially during the COVID-19 epidemic this children Song relate to things that children Can relate to such as famously known candies I have been working on this song for three years I am 53 years old and everyone that I pitch it to says I should submit my song I have attached exercises to different types of famously named candy (children of all ages know and love)

    1. I would pitch this idea to TV production companies.
      Be careful with mentioning registered brand-names of songs. – you might have to pay for using the names. Have you not noticed that a lot of songs use the term “cola”, when we know they mean “Coke”?. Same reason.

  7. I wrote a children’s song I named it stand-up it is a song to get children motivated and exercising about things that they know and understand and things that they like such as candy I’ve been working on this song for three years I am 53 years old and everyone that I pitch it to says I should submit it the song is an exercising I have attached to different types of candy that children of all ages know in love

  8. It’s like a snow storm that winds a blowin comes and goes without you knowing. You cant predict it its invisible this rides unpredictable . I’ve seen this storm you bring to me from Wyoming to Tennessee. There’s something bout your wicked ways that drive me insane. so let’s ride out this storm together it’s not gonna last forever . I’ve seen the storm you bring to me from Wyoming to Tennessee there’s something about your wicked ways. That wind has me twisted I’m here to stay. And when the storm passes and snow melts away.Well uncover the mess and love we’ve always felt. I’ve seen the storm you bring to me from Wyoming to Tennessee there’s something about your wicked ways. My heart tell me to love you always. I called this one Lake effect just looking for critiques thank you
    – [ ]

  9. Hello, my name is Amanda Dunbar I am fourteen years old. I just wrote my first song. My song is called, “When I was a Little Girl”. I think it is a little short, but I could probably lengthen it. I just wanted to know if it was any good before I continued writing it. In the video, I sing while accompanying myself on the piano. I have been playing the piano for nine years, but have never taken voice lessons. So, if you could give me some advice on the lyrics and tune that would be great. Thanks, Amanda

    https://youtu.be/Ekdmi2VvlH0

  10. Hey Marty,
    Very insightful information and I plan on going to your webpage to check out all that information as well. I have been writing songs for years, and I decided to finally record this song I wrote called “Rain” in a professional studio.” I have been told by numerous people that this song should be in a soundtrack for a tv show or a movie. You probably hear that all the time. 🙂
    I am wondering what your thoughts would be. If you have a chance to listen and give me a general idea if this is ready for a shot in tv or movies, please let me know. If you have any constructive ideas or thoughts, I would love to hear from your music professionalism.

    Thanks so much for taking the time and listen.

    John

  11. Hello,
    I just had a small question. How do I go about with my lyric writing? I can not sing with a lick or play an instrument. But write that I can do. Is there any program’s or info fir that?

  12. Im 59- have kidney cancer and my wife of 17 years and two boys left me 3 months ago-Ive never written a song before but thought it might help with coping with this. i had a guy put some music to it and sing it- since then i have cleaned up the lyrics some- wish it would inspire someone to publish it
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCSMngs0hXo

    1. Dear Curtis i heard your song and it was truely heart touching,emotional & inspirational. Please keep writing and posting your songs on youtube it will help . Also my prayers are with you and your family i am God will ensure you are happy and safe. God Bless You 🙏

    1. I too have an original song on YouTube and I’m needing some honest feedback before I try to post any others. It’s not perfect but I’ve got to start somewhere.

  13. I don’t consider myself a songwriter but a couple weeks back while sitting around the dinner table one member of my family (while speaking about another) said the phrase “only when she drinks”. I thought that was a great title for a song. Later that night I wrote a chorus for it. I texted it to my 17 year old daughter upstairs (because you know that’s how parents communicate with their kids these days). A few minutes later she sends my the first verse. I accepted her challenge and few minutes after that I wrote a second and third verse. I walked upstairs, our eyes met and we burst into laughter saying, “I think we wrote a song.” I didn’t want this special father/daughter moment to pass so I found a great singer/songwriter in Nashville and he put music to our lyrics and wrote a great song called “Only When She Drinks”. I would love to do something with this song, After all, there’s a great story behind it but this really isn’t my area of expertise. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you- Ron

  14. I have a song with a melody. Oddly, It’s came to me out of the blue. I had a music major tell me its good. I am not expecting to make a killing but it would be a proud moment to see my name on a music label. I think its a fun song. It could be a song for Garth Brooks or more up beat for Taylor Swift. I did get a copyright. Is there a site that takes links via email to listen to potential songs?

  15. I’ve written a song with lyrics. I want to know the further steps I need to perform in order to be known as a songwriter.

    1. utkarsha i am also a lyricist a singer and a composer ..i would like you to join me and we can produce something very intriguing ..i am looking for a female vocalist ..thanks

  16. With my lyrics, my goal is to inspire hope, encouragement, and joy. Sometimes, a song is all it takes! I want to be that songwriter!! I’ll be watching your videos!! Appreciate your inspiration!!

    1. I’ve written a song I want to pitch. But I’m no musician or no of any can I just send lyrics as a demo and how would I do that

      1. Hi Bobby,
        You could try something like Songwriterlink. You can team up and collaborate with someone who writes melodies. You can also network with other people which is very useful. I think it’s still free to join.
        Regards,
        Stuart

  17. Thanks for your comment. Money is something that we all must learn to except but yet understand and if most people who does make money learns how to negociate with it, I believe they will live long and set free.

  18. I am so stuck as to where I go at this point. I’m working with a guy and have completed several demos on Some of my songs. I started out taking piano and my teacher asked we one day do I write music .and he was shocked when I pulled a book of songs out of my bag. He was even more shocked when he heard some of my songs. I told him I hear the music in my head then the words come. I seem to be at work or driving and I hear music so I always keep a recorder near so I can hum the sound or the words. Some of these songs can be used forR&B, country and I write a lot of gospel music. It seems to flow so easily. Sometimes when I have my sessions with my teacher, I tell him to listen to this new song and he looks at me and say let’s finish these songs first but he can’t resist, he always listen and say I continue to surprise him. He believes I write songs that people would love. I believe that too, I didn’t when I kept my songs and what’s inside me hid for so long but I do now. So now I’m stuck yet again and don’t what steps I should take. It gets so frustrating because new music is still flowing every week in my head and I sing into a recorder and don’t know how to get it into the right hands. Any advice would be so helpful. Lynn Mallard

    1. Lynn, we work with and train a lot of writers. So we can definitely help. Some of our members have had success signing staffwriting deals and getting major artist cuts. Check out membership.

      Cheers, Clay

    2. good morning. my name is Sharon I want to write a song. about my mum she pass way last year October. 3rd . I want to sing loves Rock music and get out in the world. and sing and make a record how do I write a soing in Reggae can u get back to me many thanks or call me on 07472080344

  19. This is great information! I forget and am so encouraged that you and many pro-writers have all heard that infamous word as well: “pass”…ugh….like nails on a chalkboard. Thanks for helping to put it all in perspective with the various pitches and the principles behind them.

  20. I have a few songs but i don’t have enough money to buy this i’m only 17 but I’ve been writing my own music for about 2 years now and I don’t know how this would sound to someone that has never met me so if there’s anyway anyone can help me please let me know.

  21. Hi,

    My name is Marius. I know you get probably letters like this every day, but please continue reading. In April this year had a life changing experience, I didn’t know what to do so I brought my thoughts on paper, first as a poem and then as lyrics for a song. I thought if the girl I love wouldn’t read my poems she would at least have to listen to them when it’s being played on the radio. Please find below a take out of a sample of the lyrics. I wrote 6 lyrics, 5 in English and one in French.

    Every night I cry a thousand tears
    Dreaming those dreams of hopes and fears
    Nothing can take this pain away
    I’ll love you every step of my way
    You’re the pilot of my destiny
    To love you will be my legacy

    I would be really interested in song writing and would appreciate your feedback and whether or not I could send you those lyrics and you could have a look at them.

    I’m looking forward hearing from xyou.

    My very best regards

    Marius

    mariusrytz@mail.com

    1. I think it’s good. Record the song if you can or if you know someone with a good voice (and you can trust) ask them to record it for you.

  22. I hsve two songs l have written and would like to see if you think they have potential. I am going to send thwm to you on my email address so please take a look and give me some feedback. I have backtracks for them but dont know how to send them to you.

    1. Hi Peggy, all our members get feedback from pro songwriters each month as part of memberships. we’d love to see ya inside the members area and work with you to improve your writing.

  23. I have some lyrics that have been hiding in my diary for a long time, and I would appreciate it if you can take a look at it. I’m a noob by the way in songwriting.

    Please let me know where I could send it privately.

    Thanks

  24. Looking for someone who would be interested in recording this song I wrote. It can be found on YouTube “Crying in the Hands of Heaven #2”.

  25. Hi my name is Felicity Lee Barcus I am 15 years old i live in Boise idaho i am a songwriter am a singer even though i am not a very good one. i want to pursue the career as a Famous songwriter does anybody have any tips on how to get there?

  26. Hi Marty. I got a “This is a SMASH” from one of the ST song reviewers. I have not read all the reviews, but I’ve never seen SMASH – usually they say something like this is demo-worthy. I don’t have any pitching connections. Should I book a ST mentor session with say Clay Meyers? BTW, this song was created in the ST Retreat. Thanks!

  27. I have written the lyrics to my song, “King Gorilla Disco,” which is a campy song. I own the song, including music, that was written by a
    professional musician. I am a neophyte and need help. Does ASCAP need the title of this song. I am a member of ASCAP. Presently, it has been submitted to a disco radio station, which there was open communication, but since the song was delivered, have not heard anything. I need to know what I should do when I submit it to other radio stations. It is copyrighted. PLEASE HELP.

    1. well if you want to publish a song you need to see if it is a compleat song, meaning does it have verses, does it have a pre- chours does it have a chours, and does it have a bridge, and ending verses? those are the compleate parts of a song.

  28. Hello! I usually write songs in many genres such as pop, rock and rap but I don’t know to get connected to publishers. I record some *great* demos but I don’t know the requirements of a good demo to submit professionally! may you help?

  29. How can I be a popular songwriter btw my songs are pretty good nut its sad I don’t have a way to post or make them viral. Any suggestions!

  30. I have written lyrics for songs that a few people have read and encourage me to pursure obtaining info on finding out if I’m on to something. I don’t know how to go about finding out if this is something I should pursue and I need advice for the next steps. Thank you.

      1. Ok i have the same problem most people have. No Connections. My originals minus the music are great. I Can write lyrics but not music.

    1. Absolutely. SongTown has members and pros in all genres. Most of the basic rules of writing and pitching apply across the board.

      Clay

  31. I have been a songwriter for over 40 years. I think my songs are as good as any I have heard. So do the people around me, but I haven’t a clue how to get them heard by the people who can get the recorded. I am by now an old man and I am not financially in a position to do it myself but my material is timeless and sage-filled. A lot of it tends to protest one thing or another, which lends itself to reflect my 60’s upbringing. I truly feel that if the right people could hear some of my songs they would catch on. My problem lies in the fact that both my wife and I are retired and disabled, and living on a fixed income. There are not enough nickels to go around.

  32. Hi I already wrote 4 songs. And I’ve been trying to find someone to look at them. And tell me if they are good or not.
    And if they have any tips for me. Because this is my first year of righting songs.

  33. I composed some sheet music for four instruments in the classical/easy listening genre. I have no way of ever making a recording of it myself. I’m sure it still needs plenty of improving, considering it is one of my first compositions. How do I turn these scraps of paper into something other people can hear? Do I send it to an artist, submit sheet music to a publisher…?

    1. Hi Rahab,
      Have you tried downloading Musescore ? It’s free. You can type your score into it and hear it played back. You can also export it as an MP3 file so that you can email it to other people. Make sure you have proof of copyright before you do, though.
      Regards,
      Stuart

  34. I have written lyrics for a contemporary Christian tune. I do not play an instrument, but I know the song should have a fast beat to it. Where do I go from here?

    Thanks,
    Bert

    1. Bert, when you join SongTown you have access to hundreds of members that collaborate on songs. By finding a co-writer for your song, you can see it through to completion and then start the process of getting your song heard.

      Clay

      1. Hi,

        I met several great co-writers on Songtown. I wish I were still in ST…only being at the stage my songs sold would be better. One if the young co-writers I met has an album out. Three others have co-written songs that are impressive and the experience was fun, educational, and who knows- one or more songs could sell. For now, I write but am nit able to join ST just now for financial reasons. Go for it! Meet co-wruters and get gret pro advice.

  35. Hi,

    I am a 22 year singer-songwriter (and aspiring Producer) for many years, as a hobby, I used to write songs out of my head as a kid into notepads, then moved on to writing lyrics from instrumentals by other producers on youtube since I was 15. I been writing songs leaving them half done because I had moved on to the next one, I could say in the span of 2 years I worked on over 100 tracks and i can say less then 20% and less then 2% actually gets recorded, I done a track last year for a uni project and rushed the lyrics a bit but I do want a career in the music business as a artist, composer and writer however my confidence in my ability has massively plummeted though I haven’t had a bad review. I want to submit my work with a industry so i can work as a writer for them however I don’t know where or even how to speak to them when I do get the opportunity to send the my work

    1. Congrats on your dedication to writing Panashe. We set up SongTown so writers can make connections and advance their careers. It’s not easy but Songtown can help you learn to do the right things to get ahead.

      Clay

  36. Clay,
    My wife and I sing and write southern and country gospel. We have wrote over 200 songs of which we have not pitched any of them. I am currently 76 and my wife 73 and would love to be able to get a selection to artists of those genres.
    I have one recitation song that has been a fan favorite for over 30 years and sold more cd’s than any song we have. How do I find the artist that is looking for that type song. It is based on a true story and will bring joy and tears to listeners. We feel it is time to seek artists to listen to some of our best songs.
    Thank you,
    Gene

  37. “Hello, Clay , my name is lesah, 15 years ago I woke out of bed directed by a feeling so strong it compelled me to grab a sheet of paper and pencil.. I couldn’t stop writing , wrote then, what I thought was some words I would just toss away the next morning… when I was finished , I couldn’t believe what transpired on to the paper, set in a format such as music, the verses the bridge etc… beautiful a few hours later I was humming the words then singing the words , I never wrote anything or did anything like that before the next day I was at work and was humming and singing the lyrics I had thought I’d never think about again weirdly but serendipitously a man at the counter bar eating a burger said. Wow I love that song and don’t think I’ve ever heard it , is it new? It’s so catchy It already stuck in my head. I was blindsided by what came next I told him and by now a few other people were listening to that I wrote it last night and a few other ones and couldn’t go back to sleep until I had sung , he said I play guitar and would love to put that on a cd , so you get the how it happened .. in a basement with what he had he made with me a demo. Beautiful catchy couple of songs that were not made for then , but for now .. no matter who hears them they get stuck in their heads and I mean really really 2 hits without a doubt!! I’m not a singer but came out awesome to “get ” please tell me what to do Just a divorced mumma of four without any knowledge of what to do to get someone to seriously listen . Much appreciated . L.

  38. I am in the middle of writing lyrics at the moment, but I was wondering if I could get someone’s email so that I can send my lyrics in so they can get looked over if they are any good… Please message me back!!! Thank you so much and have a wonderful day!

    1. Faith, all SongTown members get feedback from pro songwriters on their songs each month. Once you join you can submit to the pro feedback forum on the website.

      Cheers, Clay

  39. Himy name is James Chasen I’m a songwriter keyboardist who write different styles of songs lately I’ve written several country song pop country soulful country an Traditional country songs I would like to send you some of my songs please contact me
    Thanks
    James Chasen

    1. Hey James, SongTown members get feedback from pro songwriters on their songs each month. Once you join you can submit to the pro feedback forum on the website.

      Cheers, Clay

  40. Hi,
    I only just started writing I believe some of my works are okay. However, I do not know how to fully accomplish the whole music thing because im still a noob. I want my lyrics to be looked at or even published but I don’t know how to still.

    1. Kai, SongTown members get feedback from pro songwriters on their songs each month. Once you join you can submit to the pro feedback forum on the website. You will also find writers to write with as well.

      Cheers, Clay

  41. Would you accept sheet music w/lyrics and an instrumental version? I don’t sing well and can’t afford a vocalist each time. Also, the sheet music is very simple – Like you find in music books. Chords (fretboards) over the melody instead of on a staff.

    1. Louis, many of our members collaborate. co-writing with someone that is good at singing could really help you in that area. ~Clay

  42. I write lyrics and the music. Do you deal with country gospel?
    Can I sent shorts on mp3?
    Thanks in advance.
    Regards
    Nellie

    1. Nellie, I have personally written a Southern Gospel song of the year. We definitely can help with your writing in that arena.

      Cheers, Clay
      SongTown Co-founder

  43. Keith Urban should consider cutting a 4th Radney Foster tune “another way to go”. From that same album the song “again” is perfect for 90’s era Aerosmith.

  44. I have written some songs. But I am not a singer but would like somone to tell me if they are good enough.

      1. So you say you have no pro feedback. How will someone know if they really good?
        Do you roughly listen to everyone who sent tracks?

        1. Connie, we teach our members the business side of pitching songs. When you join we have a course that you can watch to get you going. CM

  45. hi
    i’m Jean i’m writing for while and i believe i’ve been written some great work but i don’t know how to connect with a publisher is that any advice you can give me on that?

    1. Yes, our SongTown members have access to Pro Publishers and can book mentoring sessions any time to play them songs.

      Cheers, Clay

      1. I write Christian/Gospel music and wondered if a pro could listen to them and let me know if they are recordable to sell?

  46. Hey Marty thank you for sharing priceless insight. I look forward to networking and writing some grest songs..I have a link to a song we recorded live in 04..My first drum tracks and working on a new album.Love to hear some feed back..Thank you for your time and what you guys do for musicians like myself. Peace
    BK

  47. Do you have a suggestion on how I can get a meeting with a writers’ rep at my PRO? Because I’ve tried, without success, to do that for three years. I contact them every 3 months or so just trying to set up a meeting. I’m not looking for them to personally connect me with co-writers or publishers, I politely ask if I could meet with them, get some general advice. But not only have I never gotten a meeting, my emails don’t even get replied to. It’s frustrating.

    1. Yes, we’ve written several blogs on this. Use the search function here in the blog section to find. ~CM

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