Music Business

My Song Is On “Hold”… Help!!!!

by Marty Dodson
Jul 14, 2018

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!

Happy writing! Marty

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson is a multi-hit songwriter, co-founder of SongTown, and co-author of  The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Cowriting and Song Building: Mastering Lyric Writing

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