by Marty Dodson
Nov 14, 2016
I posted on Facebook one day that I had “worked really hard” to get on a particular album and had failed to make it. Someone asked me to explain what I had done to “work really hard”. So, I thought I’d lay it out for you here so everyone could read it.
I had heard that Luke Bryan was recording a “farming” EP. I thought I had a couple of songs that would fit, so I did the following:
- I checked every pitch sheet at my disposal to confirm what I had heard. It checked out.
- I tried to get in touch with his producer, but my contact info on him was old. I had written with him years ago, so he knows me, but we aren’t close friends. So, I became a private eye for a bit. I googled him and his assistant. I found an article about her that included her e-mail. Her e-mail was something like “email@example.com”. I thought to myself – perhaps his e-mail is “firstname.lastname@example.org”. It was indeed. I e-mailed him and politely asked if I could send him a couple of songs. He responded immediately and said “Of course!”. I was in!
- I sent him the one song I had about farming. No reply.
- I decided to write a song loosely about farming to see if I could sneak that in. We wrote it and demoed it within 5 days (one co-writer is a really good track guy).
- I sent that one to the producer. No reply. I know he listened because he DID like one other song for Luke’s next regular album.
The recording days came and went so I didn’t make the EP. But, I did make some progress in making a good connection for future Luke pitches. Here are some things I learned – that you can do to increase your chances of getting a song recorded:
- Do lots of homework. Find out everything you can about what they are looking for. It’s all about matching a song to a need. The more you know, the better your chances.
- Study the liner notes on the artist’s previous record. Look at who is writing the songs and where they write. I got a Carrie Underwood cut one time because I discovered that every song on her record came through a company called “19 Management”. I did some research and discovered that a guy I knew just got signed at that company. I hit him up for a co-write and it worked. Carrie cut it. Knowing the politics involved with the artist you are targeting is key. You can learn how to get inside or how to get as close to inside as possible.
- Don’t write EXACTLY what they are looking for. For instance, one time, an artist told a SongTownian on Twitter that she wanted a “Summer jam”. She probably got bombarded with songs called “Summer Jam”. That’s not what she wanted. She wanted a summer, feel good song. It didn’t need to be called “Summer Jam”. When you watch a truck commercial, the song playing is usually not saying the word “truck” in it. It’s about strength, America, hard work, etc. Things that you think of when you think of a truck.
- Get your song as close to the artist as possible. (Only if you believe your song is so good that you would stake your reputation on it – if it’s not good, you may burn a bridge for good). People typically close to an artist would be management, producers, A&R people at the label, or the artist themself. But, there are also friends and family of the artist to consider. Through a weird set of circumstances, I have become friends with a MAJOR pop star’s father. He’s always happy to pass anything I have along to her. I’m very careful with that relationship, but he’s glad to help me out. You’d be amazed at what you can get accomplished with a friend of a friend. Figure out how close you can get to the artist and pitch them a hit. Your friend of a friend might just pass it along!
- Don’t forget that it has to be a GREAT song. Not good. GREAT!
If you do those 5 things, you increase your chances of getting a song recorded immensely!
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