Alright aspiring songwriters! So, you’ve worked on your skills, and recorded a demo, but now what? How do you get your songs heard by people in a position to actually do something about it? Thanks to advancements in social technology, the internet has made it easier than ever for artists like you to get their music out to the masses. It is now possible to bypass traditional gatekeepers like record labels and radio producers to get your music heard. On the other hand, this backdoor is wide open for anyone and everyone. It can feel like being the proverbial needle lost in the haystack, while some jerk keeps adding hay to the pile. So what is a songwriter to do? Well, luckily, we’ve got some advice to help you break through the noise.
The only way to get your music heard is to promote yourself. At this early point, who else is going to? A better question may be, “who is better qualified to promote you than you?” You know your strengths and what sets you apart from the crowd. There are a ton of ways to self-promote, but we’re going to focus on a few more modern routes.
Build a Website
Websites are a fantastic modern tool for self promotion. It is a venue for potential fans (or record labels/the media at large) to hear your stuff, and gives you ample opportunity to tell your story and give details on yourself and your music. An artist bio and news about your music are great places to start. Making a website has become ridiculously easy, and having one will help your fans, as well as anyone from the media connect with your music, and ultimately, you. An artist website is a catchall for interested people to keep up with you, your music, and where it will be performed.
If you’re not utilizing social media to promote yourself and your songs, you’re missing out big. Using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are some of the easiest ways to promote your songwriting. Nearly all social media networks are free to sign up for, and most offer extremely low cost advertising that most people can find room for in their budget. You should be signing up for as many networks are you can to get in front of as many sets of eyes as you can, and to make it exceedingly easy for people to find you.
Of course, simply signing up isn’t good enough. This is where that “self-promotion” comes in. You have to build your follower base through interaction and interesting content. In your case, this “interesting content” is your songwriting. Post lyrics you’re working on, completed songs, new developments, and announcements. Utilize platform specific tools, like the hashtag (#) in Twitter, to search and connect with like-minded users, and begin the conversation. Social media is an ideal self-promotion tool, but you have to try to stay on top of the interactions and conversations. Stagnant profiles that don’t post or interact with followers quickly loses popularity.
Open Mic Nights
Okay, I know I said we would focus on “more modern routes,” but bear with me here. While attending open mic nights is a bit “old school,” there are few better ways to get your music heard. It is an opportunity to have your songs performed in front of a live audience, and meet people face-to-face. Social media and the internet in general are great tools for networking, but nothing compares to meeting someone in person and having a real conversation. But here’s where that “modern” bit comes in. Have a friend record the performance (or encourage the crowd to make their own recordings), and post it to YouTube, as well as every social media platform you have an account with. This plays hand in hand with the rest of your self-promotion as it shows real people responding to your songs. Plus, who doesn’t like live music?
Send Your Songs to the Right People
Self-promotion is great, and can perhaps get you want you want, but counting on that to happen is like waiting for a train that might never come. So while your self-promotion tools are doing their work, you should be sending your songs out to as many artists, producers, publishers, and record labels as you can. Leave no stone unturned.
Yeah, it’s kind of an old school approach, but the old methods still work. Get your demo out to as many record labels as you can find addresses for. And don’t forget independent labels; smaller labels tend to be more accessible than their large counterparts, but are often just as effective. New independent labels are opening everyday, a trend not likely to end soon.
Trickier than getting your songs to record labels, getting your stuff to producers is difficult, but one of the most effective ways to get your song cut. Lots of prolific artist’s producers’ identities are available, but how to get your song to them is harder. If you are able to find an address, keep your submission to one or two songs, certainly no more than 4. Their time is limited and their may overlook anything too time consuming.
Get people playing your music. Contact musicians through personal networking or mutual friendships. If you can’t do that, try contacting managers.
While you are trying to get your songs recorded, a great place to make money off them is a music library. Royalties from usage and subsequent performances can add up, and get you much needed visibility. You can give these libraries exclusive rights as far as production is concerned, but remember to not give up your copyrights.
Music Departments at Movie & TV Studios
Another route not often considered, music departments of movie and television studios are always on the lookout for new music. If you can get a song into their music library, you’ve got a chance of it appearing in a scene. Often these music departments will go to their music library to augment the soundtrack where necessary. Sometimes songs from the music library are just used as a placeholder, only for the producers to fall in love with it and leave it. This has happened many times, and is amazing publicity for an aspiring songwriter
Remember to get your music out to as many outlets as you can, and keep the self-promotion train rolling!