by Marty Dodson
Mar 10, 2020
One of the things I discovered when I started mentoring songwriters is that very few of us have a plan.
That may be the curse of the creative mind – we get so lost in making stuff up that we lose sight of the business side of things that must be tended to as well. A songwriter’s business plan is often the last thing on our mind.
In mentoring sessions, we often work on a customized plan for the specific person. But, in general, there are some steps I recommend for every songwriter who is trying to turn their songwriting passion into a business.
1) Write a LOT of songs.
Even though this number is daunting to some people, I recommend waiting until you have 10 songs that you believe are competitive and commercial BEFORE you start playing your songs for people. For most of us, that’s going to mean writing 100 or more songs. For aspiring writers, a ratio of 1 great song out of every 10 written is a pretty high bar.
WHILE you are working on your 10 great songs, you can start to lay some groundwork for the business side of things by networking. Getting to know as many people as you can in the business is always a good idea. As you are able, co-write, go to shows, hang out with other writers or writing groups in your area. Every person you get to know could be the one that helps you launch your career.
3) AFTER you have your 10 great songs, you can start moving forward and playing your songs for people.
Start with your PRO (ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC) if you have signed up with one. If you haven’t, then meet with all three. Finding a supporter at a PRO can be one of the best things you ever do. Be businesslike, kind and respectful when you meet with them. Play them your best 3-4 songs. If they ask for more, you can play some more from your list of 10.
4) THEN, start meeting with publishers and song pluggers.
Both are going to want you to have around 10 great songs before they are interested anyway. Again, be businesslike, kind and respectful. Thank everyone for giving you their time, even if they pass on you and your songs. Realize that it’s probably going to take a while to build relationships before you are offered some sort of “deal” with a publisher or plugger.
5) MEANWHILE, keep writing.
Your goal should be to beat out all ten of your “top ten” songs. Dig hard for great ideas. Challenge yourself. Don’t settle for something that works. Find something that is AMAZING.
If you keep on doing these 5 things from the songwriter’s business plan and refuse to quit, you’ve got a real shot.
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