My Song Is On “Hold”… Help!!!!

 

Now that a number of SongTownians are getting songs pitched and some of them are being put on ‘hold’, I wanted to talk about what a hold means and how to act when you get one.

First of all – what is a hold?

A hold is when an artist or an artist’s representative asks you to hold off pitching the song to anyone else while they decide if they are going to record it for their next project.  In a perfect world, artists would put 12 songs on hold and record all 12.  In reality, some of them put 50 or more on hold and record 12.  So, in the real world music business, we generally consider a hold to be granting the artist first right of refusal.  We continue pitching the song while being upfront about it being on hold for someone else.  If artist A has the song on hold and artist B likes the song as well, the proper etiquette is to go to artist A and say “I have someone else interested in the song, are you planning to cut it?”  Artist A gets the first shot at the song.  If they say they are planning to cut the song, then you should let them.  If they say they are not going to cut it or they aren’t sure, you can request that they release the song for artist B to record.

Generally, getting a song on hold is a great thing.  It means someone really likes your song a lot.  So, let yourself celebrate just a bit.

But, remember these points of etiquette.

  1. Unless you pitched the song, you don’t need to contact the artist or the artist’s representative that put the song on hold.  Let whoever pitched the song for you handle all of that.
  2. Don’t check in continuously to see if the song is still on hold.  Sometimes, an artist may put a song on hold and not be planning to record for 6-8 months.  You have to be patient.  If something good happens, they will let you know.  I promise! Don’t irritate anyone involved, even though you are excited.
  3. Don’t brag about songs you have on hold.  I’ve had to eat crow many times when I bragged about a hold that never turned into a cut.  Tell those closest to you and celebrate a small victory, but don’t post it all over social media.
  4. Play it cool.  Don’t freak out.  Just be glad someone likes your song
  5. DO, get all of your ducks in a row for that song.  Make sure it’s registered with your PRO correctly.  You might start looking into someone who could admin the song for you if you get the cut.  Get all of your business in order so that you’ll be ready to get paid if you get the cut.
  6. Keep writing and move on.  Don’t put all of your hopes on that one song.  Just get back to business and keep writing more.

Those 6 steps will help you ride out the storm when a song gets put on hold.  And, don’t forget to let SongTown know about your good fortune should that cut come through!

Write on! Marty

Marty Dodson
Co-Founder SongTown/ 6 time #1 songwriter

15 thoughts on “My Song Is On “Hold”… Help!!!!

  1. as always the answer? Write a better song or two. Thanks for the tips Marty, might save me a meal or two of crow.
    write on!

    1. A song being put “on hold” with an artist kinda’ takes the song off the pitch table for a while and therefore stymie the possibilities of a composer or open the possibilities door. Either way the composer is left in limbo. My thoughts are…if Mr. or Miss “Big” wants to have you hold off on other possibilities, they ought to pay you for it…they and their record company obviously have the funds and it would make them get off their decisional rear ends. That would be fair to all.

      1. That would be a more fair system. And one publisher in Nashville tried for a while. In response, the labels and artists just said “Ok, we won’t cut your songs” . It doesn’t really take the song off the table if you think of a hold as a “right of first refusal”. I continue pitching songs that are on hold. If I get someone else interested, I go back to the first person and say “Hey I need a firm answer. Are you going to cut this? If not, I’ll give it to this other artist”. That gets them off their decisional rear ends if they love the song.

  2. It feels a bit awkward continuing to pitch a song that has a Hold on it, although I understand that’s the business and how things work. When you pitch a song that has a Hold on it, should you reveal the artist who has the Hold on it?

    1. It’s fine to tell them. You SHOULD tell them that it’s on hold. I just say, this song is on hold, but if you are sure you want it, I’ll go to bat for you and see if the first artist will release it. You’ll be fine as long as you don’t hide the fact that it is on hold.

    1. Admin companies file all of the paperwork on your song and they make sure you get paid on everything that ASCAP, BMI and SESAC don’t collect. They usually take 15% of the money they collect.

  3. That would be a more fair system. And one publisher in Nashville tried for a while. In response, the labels and artists just said “Ok, we won’t cut your songs” . It doesn’t really take the song off the table if you think of a hold as a “right of first refusal”. I continue pitching songs that are on hold. If I get someone else interested, I go back to the first person and say “Hey I need a firm answer. Are you going to cut this? If not, I’ll give it to this other artist”. That gets them off their decisional rear ends if they love the song.

  4. I think it to be wise to keep pitching and to be up front about it being on hold. It does two things there, 1: it shows your honesty and clear communication. 2: it let’s that artist/ publisher know that the song is good enough for another to like. Which means he/she will be more opt to give it a look.

  5. What is the going rate for putting a song on hold in today’s market?
    Say for (6) months, (1) year or (3) years

  6. In real estate and other financial transactions, a hold would be called an “option” or an “option to buy”. You sell those. They have “start date” and an “end date” and do NOT go into force until payment is made. Very much like your car insurance.

    This isn’t happening right now, but I see it as something that could (and should) be the “way of the future”. When someone wants a song put on hold, they purchase an option. It becomes a contract that is sold.

    So Mr. Artist, you want this song on hold? I will hold it for 6 months, for $600. Let’s put that in writing.

    At the present time, this doesn’t happen, but it should. If someone tried to start it, nobody would do it UNTIL everyone started doing it and options became “the norm”. I see where it could go from $100/month to even $1,000/month or more, once everyone started doing it.

  7. Hey, Marty!

    Under point 5 you said, “You might start looking into someone who could admin the song for you if you get the cut.” Would that be our PRO, or are you thinking of someone else? A recently released song of mine is registered with my PRO, and was submitted for copyright a couple months ago. Is there more admin I should be thinking about?

    Thanks!

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