Goodnight Kiss Music (BMI) & Scene Stealer Music (ASCAP)
Today's Topic: NOBODY CARES !
I can't tell you how many
letters I get full of complaints as to how "nobody cares"
about writers, art, creativity, on and on. Most writers (artists,
acts, musicians, singers, et.al.) feel they have great songs and
just can't get a break. I get hundreds of CDs from people who
just don't understand why they are not getting cuts.
Let's just take a small aspect for consideration today, but one I think is often ignored by those pitching. As usual, I expect you to see this from a business angle, as well as an artistic one, because we are trying to make writing (etc.) our career choice, i.e., a lifetime income.
Let's imagine that you are
trying to sell your house that you built yourself. It's the
coolest house in the world! It has solar powered electricity, a 5
car garage, a unit downstairs to rent to others, and just all
sorts of features that you think are important.
You start approaching Real Estate agents to list your house. Do you call someone who lists only huge office buildings? Do you call someone who sells land only? Do you hand your house over to someone whose business success you know nothing about? Just how are you going to go about selling your great house?
If you are a total idiot, you grab the phone book and don't discern between commercial and residential agencies, and try to list your house with a commercial building agent. They acknowledge your foolishness by pointing out that right there in the phone book where you got their number, it says what they do, you just didn't bother to read it.
Do you argue with them, that
even though their specialty and success is in commercial real
estate, your single family home is so terrific, they MUST list it??
Do you think, even if they did, that is a good move on your part?
To have a representative who has no expertise in what you are
trying to do?
Moving along, I think you get the point.
Now, let's assume you have done a bit of homework and found an agent who handles your type of house, and they sign a contract to represent you. They tell you that even though you think solar energy is great, the bank won't give a good loan on non-traditional energy supplies, and most people DON'T want a rental unit as part of their home, and for a two room house, a five car garage is excessive. However, all this considered, they will still try to represent you.
Now, do you think that when buyers come to this agent, and ask to be shown a four bedroom home with no rental unit and traditional energy sources, that this agent should take them right to your house, and try to convince them they really want yours? If this agent does, they won't get much return business, that's for sure. A buyer who knows what they want only gets frustrated when they are mislead, and soon stop trusting the person they are trying to buy from.
Ok, time to apply.
1. When you approach a publisher (manager, label, agent, etc.), first consider THEIR needs. What is it exactly they do? Can you drop a bit of history into your intro letter, to show them you are acquainted with their needs, and can offer something that might help them? I mean REALLY help, specifically with what they deal with.
If you write to someone to ask
them to invest their reputation/time/money/energy on your work,
don't you think it's at least POLITE, (if not wise), to know what
they have done and are doing? Why send someone compositions for
Film Scores if they ONLY handle Single Song Contracts? Find out
all you can about whom you are pitching. (Yes, it's a pain in the
neck, but you are asking this company for something. Why should
they care about your workif you don't care about theirs?)
2. Assess your house against the market... i.e., if you have a song, make sure you know where the demand for that exact work is. Don't try to shop a song that isn't a viable, competitive, and appropriate pitch for whatever genre it represents. That also means researching WHO is cutting your type song THAT DOESN'T WRITE THEIR OWN.
I just received a letter a
couple of days ago that said, "This would be a GREAT Tom
Waits song." Yes, right, but Tom writes his own (I wrote
back). Ah! (came the second email) It would also be great for Bob
Dylan." Do you see? It does no good to write for an artist
who writes their own material, and especially when they are one-of-a-kind
artists. If you are pitching a great act who cuts outside
material, listen to the last two albums that artist has done. You'd
be surprised how often your "perfect song" for "X"
doesn't fit. But it's VITAL that you know EXACTLY what the artist
is currently doing.
3. With the Internet at your fingertips, there's not much excuse for not researching now. Failing that, there are TONS of resource books in the Library and at your Songwriter Associations. Do your homework, and save yourself and the few willing ears out there a lot of time and wasted effort.
One more little hint. I do keep an eye on those who appreciate my own efforts to help. They return the kindness by feeding the stream with their participation. They sign up for and respond to our Newsletter. They say "thanks" when they are given an opportunity, whether they make the cuts or not. They are sensitive to how little time I have, and never waste it.
Yet, by this participation, they realize that their name is visible, their response is another exposure for them as individual people. Some are quite likeable, as well! Although I make my business judgements based on BUSINESS decisions, I can't help but answer one of these "special" person's emails first, or put their tape in the "next" box, instead of the anonymus boxes that await attention when there is time. It is because they are giving the extra, and the return, even in small ways, happens.
I do not mention this to have
you all start courting me (none of us have that kind of time),
but to show you that your participation can also create a wider
possibility of opportunity. (I once kept my employment in a lay-off
because I was the only one who filled up the copy paper in the
copy machine, even though it wasn't my job. I hate doing that as
much as anybody, but I hate finding the machine empty even worse.
That extra "give" kept my job when it came down to me
and one other person. The Music Industry is no different.)
Just my opinion.
Goodnight Kiss Music (BMI)
Scene Stealer Music (ASCAP)
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© 1999 - 2011 Janet Fisher Goodnight Kiss Music (BMI) Scene Stealer Music (ASCAP) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Article may be reprinted with all credits listed and upon obtaining written permission.