Music Business

Warning Songwriters! Are Your Doing These 5 Things That Irritate Publishers

by Marty Dodson
Apr 28, 2017

I see a number of common mistakes songwriters make that leave the smell of a burning bridge in the air as they leave a publisher’s office. If you REALLY want to tick a publisher off, try these 5 stunts.

Show up unannounced.

That’s disrespectful and not business-like. You wouldn’t do that with a lawyer or doctor. But, if you really want to irritate a publisher, show up unannounced, tell everyone loudly that you are the next BIG thing in songwriting and demand a meeting. You’ll be off on the right wrong foot.

Tell them that your songs are better than the ones on the radio.

They’ve only heard that one 10,000 times and they are just DYING to hear it again. In publisher talk, this statement means “I have no idea how the music business works, I’m arrogant, and probably delusional”. I personally have heard this statement 20 or more times in my life. Guess how many times their songs were even decent? Zero. This is a sure fire way to irritate a publisher if all else fails.

Name drop.

Tell the publisher every name you can think of that might impress them. Ran into Paul McCartney in an elevator one time? Don’t forget to throw that out. Your grandmother used to babysit Johnny Cash’s niece? That’s a great one. Publishers are really trying to determine what YOU do and what YOU contribute to a song. Throwing up a smoke screen of famous names and connections is sure to make that hard to determine. Great strategy if you don’t want the publisher to be interested in you.

Become their new best friend if they like one of your songs.

Every publisher is looking for a new friend that will call or email every day just to see if “anything is going on with the song”. They would love to have about 50 of those friends so that they could do nothing else all day but answer that one question. Publishers will let you know if something good happens with your song. I promise. Become their new best friend and they will stop answering your calls.

Be a jerk.

Sometimes we forget that this time-tested strategy still works. This one just never gets old. If you are rude and disrespectful, you can bet you’ll irritate a publisher. It’s as sure as death and taxes. Jerks are like publisher repellant. Show up late AND be a jerk if you really want to put a nail in the coffin.

Obviously, this was written tongue-in-cheek. But the points are valid. Publishers are busy people and they have TONS of people just like you fighting for their attention. Avoid these 5 mistakes and you will catapult to the top of the heap.

Write on! ~MD

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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