Here are the best ways I know to increase your chances of getting a songwriting staff writing deal with a publisher:
Get to know music publishers organically.
If there’s a publisher you are interested in and you are able, go to writer’s nights where they are featuring their writers. Buy them a drink. Meet their writers. Mix and mingle. Go to events where publishers are speaking. Attend industry events. Publishers are much more likely to sign someone they know over a stranger. The more publishers you get to know, the better your chances are.
Co-write with signed writers.
We’ve had at least 12 people from SongTown get staff writing deals. Co-writing with them or with other signed writers is always a good move. Again, it’s best not to ask them out of the blue as strangers, but to get to know them before you ask them to write. If you’re new to co-writing Mastering Co-writing is a helpful book that will show you the ropes.
Do your homework.
Know what a publisher does BEFORE you approach them. If they are a country publisher, playing them your Americana/Polka isn’t going to get you a deal. If they are a pop producer, they aren’t going to be interested in your country songs. The key to getting a deal is to give a publisher something VERY commercial that they don’t already have. Another homework example. You might find out in your research that a certain publisher has 3 female writers and one male. That gives you, as a male, a little edge. They may need more male songs.
Use everything you do well to your advantage.
If you build tracks and do your own demos, mention that. That saves a publisher money. Publishers like to save money. Think of every marketable angle for what you do and make all of that known. Warning – DO NOT make up any of this. There’s no quicker way NOT to get a deal. Don’t blow smoke. And don’t name drop. A publisher wants to know what YOU can do, not hear a list of all the people you work with.
Write great songs.
There’s no easier way to get a staff writing deal. If you write hit songs, you’re not going to have to beg for a deal. If you aren’t getting the response you want to your music, this is ALWAYS the answer. Writing better songs will get you better opportunities and it will open better doors. I promise.
The SongTown Edge Groups are a great way to build relationships with publishers. SongTown has seen 12 members get staff writing deals. Other members have gotten major artist cuts on artists like Tim McGraw. That’s a big deal. And it goes to show that our philosophy works. Keep learning, keep working hard, and keep writing better songs. That is the ticket to long-term success in this business.
Write on! ~MD