You are here

Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Advice on everything from getting your music heard to setting up a label and royalties.

Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby Calenture » Sun Dec 18, 2011 3:46 am

I am a musician (my background is in a couple of indie bands and then as a singer/songwriter) looking to become a published pop songwriter. My general question is: what is the best way of going about this?

I have songs written and demo'ed, but I'm still looking for a female singer.

My current idea of how to proceed is:

1. Advertise for a female singer. Get her to sing on the tracks. Either she writes her own lyrics and melody or use my pre-existing lyrics/melody.

2. Contact music publishers and record labels directly. The one's who I actually speak to and agree, I send music (CD or email) to. I follow this up later with a phone call: if they like it I take it from there; if they are not interested in the material I sent I ask if I may send them more in 3 months

3. Advertise my songs to be used by producers and artists direct (either through adverts saying I'm a songwriter in this genre, contact me if interested; or contact artists or agents directly through their websites or contact details) . If they're interested, I send them mp3's of the demo'ed song.

The questions on each of these are:

1. If she writes the lyrics/melody, does she then own half of the song? What is the percentage of ownership if I write the lyrics, but she just adds the melody? If I give her a copy of the completed song (as only seems fair) how do I protect myself from copyright infringement (obviously I'll copyright it by sending it to myself first)? Is it acceptable or advisable just to send the instrumental track without vocals to publishers?

2. Is this the best method or are there any other, better ways of going about this, and of becoming a published/recorded songwriter in general?

3. How do I do this while protecting copyright? That is, if I send them the song (e.g. demo, lead sheet) do I ensure they won't take it (or elements of it) without crediting me?

Answers to any of these questions would be very gratefully received, thanks!
Calenture
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:00 am

Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby Phil O » Sun Dec 18, 2011 11:45 am

1. Technically, the lyrics and melody are the song and, as such, the originator owns the composition copyright. In the absence of an agreement to the contrary, lyrics usually account for 50% and melody the remaining 50%.

I strongly recommend that you have a written agreement with your collaborators that details ownership and signed by all interested parties.

In the UK, there is no statutory body responsible for registering song copyright. As you suggest, some kind of dated proof of ownership is prudent but by no means foolproof.

2. There is no 'best way' to go about securing placements. The strategy you have outlined is perfectly reasonable though is likely to result in a lot of leg work and much rejection.

Other options include :

- Tipsheets e.g Songlink, Bandit etc.
- Strategic co-writing with up and coming artists
- Performing at open mic nights, showcases etc
- Sponsoring / creating/ managing an artist to perform your material.

As has been said many times on these forums, it's really about building relationships in the industry. This, more than anything, invariably gets you the results.

Good luck - we all need it !!

Phil
User avatar
Phil O
Frequent Poster
Posts: 781
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Scotland

 


Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby _ Six _ » Sun Dec 18, 2011 2:06 pm

I personally wouldn't bother with labels. I'd write, record and perform the material and once copyrighted use the web to promote the song/ artist. Let the labels come to you.
User avatar
_ Six _
Frequent Poster
Posts: 823
Joined: Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:00 pm

Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby VOLOVIA » Sun Dec 18, 2011 3:19 pm

hmmm.. +1 Phil though..

My little story. Songwriter for too many years ago to recall, now 'retired' to a new business. The songs I have 'made' some money from were only through personal contacts. I co-written with three (major) signed acts after meeting them in the studio as a session guitarist.
We strummed and hummed together, new songs ideas were born.. records were made (and bothered in a couple of occasions UK and abroad top 40 charts)... and this is my multi decade-experience. Stop.
On the other hand, sending cassettes out, then CDs, then a website (see link below) have proved to be worth (for me) zero.

One of the fundamental reasons, apart from the quality of my songs one may argue, is my total dislike of 'social networking', which means in the UK going out boozin' and winin'.. I don't drink and I find the company of inebriated people depressing, so, I basically shot myself on my (business) foot. Morale? NETWORK, meet people and be liked/good company... and drink!

Websites work to promote commercial pop songs? Really? To whom? Advise sought!
User avatar
VOLOVIA
Regular
Posts: 357
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 11:00 pm
Location: London

VOLOVIA - FACEBOOK - TWITTER

Songwriter/guitarist


Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby * User requested deletion * » Sun Dec 18, 2011 3:47 pm

bugiolacchi wrote:

One of the fundamental reasons, apart from the quality of my songs one may argue, is my total dislike of 'social networking', which means in the UK going out boozin' and winin'.. I don't drink and I find the company of inebriated people depressing, so, I basically shot myself on my (business) foot. Morale? NETWORK, meet people and be liked/good company... and drink!

Intriguing.

Your lack of success is down to your dislike of drink and social-networking? Am I reading this right?
* User requested deletion *
Regular
Posts: 409
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby VOLOVIA » Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:10 pm

a bit tongue-in-cheek... My point was really, networking is the key aspect of this business (targeting written pop-songs), apart from the intrinsic quality of music product itself, really.
And the bar/pub culture in the UK is fundamental to establish a working social network. In my opinion. Or it is just a lame excuse for my fundamental weakness in writing catchy tunes... Who knows? Ciao!
User avatar
VOLOVIA
Regular
Posts: 357
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 11:00 pm
Location: London

VOLOVIA - FACEBOOK - TWITTER

Songwriter/guitarist


Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:30 pm

Fenton wrote:Your lack of success is down to your dislike of drink and social-networking? Am I reading this right?

Not all that tongue-in-cheek I'm afraid. If your idea of fun is NOT joining the party in some over-priced over-loud bar, you tend not to get the next phone-call.
Exalted Wombat
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5644
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:00 am
Location: London UK

You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.


Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby * User requested deletion * » Sun Dec 18, 2011 6:19 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:
Fenton wrote:Your lack of success is down to your dislike of drink and social-networking? Am I reading this right?

Not all that tongue-in-cheek I'm afraid. If your idea of fun is NOT joining the party in some over-priced over-loud bar, you tend not to get the next phone-call.

Do you think this applies just to pop songwriting then? Or composing for a living in general?
* User requested deletion *
Regular
Posts: 409
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby _ Six _ » Sun Dec 18, 2011 7:28 pm

I'd say it applies to BUSINESS in general! If their Masons become a Mason, if they're religious start going to church, if they're junkie alcoholics etc etc
User avatar
_ Six _
Frequent Poster
Posts: 823
Joined: Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:00 pm

Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Dec 18, 2011 7:30 pm

Fenton wrote:
Exalted Wombat wrote:
Fenton wrote:Your lack of success is down to your dislike of drink and social-networking? Am I reading this right?

Not all that tongue-in-cheek I'm afraid. If your idea of fun is NOT joining the party in some over-priced over-loud bar, you tend not to get the next phone-call.

Do you think this applies just to pop songwriting then? Or composing for a living in general?

To just about any job in any field really. The expected/required out-of-hours activity may vary, but there'll be one.
Exalted Wombat
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5644
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:00 am
Location: London UK

You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.


Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby * User requested deletion * » Sun Dec 18, 2011 7:47 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:
Fenton wrote:
Exalted Wombat wrote:
Fenton wrote:Your lack of success is down to your dislike of drink and social-networking? Am I reading this right?


Not all that tongue-in-cheek I'm afraid. If your idea of fun is NOT joining the party in some over-priced over-loud bar, you tend not to get the next phone-call.


Do you think this applies just to pop songwriting then? Or composing for a living in general?


To just about any job in any field really. The expected/required out-of-hours activity may vary, but there'll be one.


Interesting. Not my experience at all so am a tad surprised. I work in the music biz and don't do any social networking really but the phone seems to be ringing. Don't you think quality of work is all that matters?

Perhaps I'm being naive.
* User requested deletion *
Regular
Posts: 409
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby Phil O » Sun Dec 18, 2011 7:56 pm

Fenton wrote:
Interesting. Not my experience at all so am a tad surprised. I don't do any networking really but the phone seems to be ringing. Don't you think quality of work is all that matters?

Perhaps I'm being naive.

Well I think that quality of work is pretty much taken as read.

You may have a track record that brings in / back customers. The OP appears to be starting out and presumably has no such history. Once you're established with a proven record, then there's a certain amount of 'word of mouth' referrals.

Why not tell us your story (in general terms)?
User avatar
Phil O
Frequent Poster
Posts: 781
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Scotland

 


Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby * User requested deletion * » Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:11 pm

Phil O wrote:

Why not tell us your story (in general terms)?


No thanks.

I think I would just tell the op not to worry about shallow things like that. They are meaningless - whether you're established or starting out.


IMO of course.
* User requested deletion *
Regular
Posts: 409
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby VOLOVIA » Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:09 pm

Sorry, me being 'thick' here... "shallow things" like..?
User avatar
VOLOVIA
Regular
Posts: 357
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 11:00 pm
Location: London

VOLOVIA - FACEBOOK - TWITTER

Songwriter/guitarist


Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby RonnieG » Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:47 pm


With the amount of money being earnt for the song writer v that of the performer I think someone starting out has very little chance of soliciting songs to be picked up and used by an established act/performer.
Why would they want to share part of the £££.

I, IMHO, believe the way forward for non performing writers is to write for someone starting out. Someone who also has little options other than to write themselves or continually do covers.
Work with the Artist/s and grow with them.
That will involve net-working and building relationships out of the writing environment.

You mention POP Songwriter. Well, you have to find POP acts at an early stage wanting bespoke material. To do that you have to work with the band or Artist. Know their ambitions and drive to expose themselves and your songs.

There are many ,many people writing songs. Very good songs, well recorded and well produced songs with no one, but the songwriter or demo artist to sing them.
Find a new act that wants your material. That's where you'll get your material used and... just like anything else the type of exposure you'll get will probably be at the bottom end of your initial expectations.

Any initial exposure will, maybe get you co writes with people further up the ladder, then further up again. It is all about relationships and getting closer to the people who are getting the cuts.
RonnieG
Regular
Posts: 76
Joined: Sun Jan 15, 2006 12:00 am

Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby Calenture » Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:23 am

Thank you everyone for your replies - they're very informative and useful.

Having considered them, I think I'll still roughly pursue the original strategy but spend little time approaching labels or publishers direct. Instead I'll do as suggested and do the following:

1. Look to co-write with new artists (as well as offering them my pre-existing songs).

2. I'll also try and find a singer to turn some material into a project in its own right: this will get exposure and may do something itself (I think the songs are strong).

3. I'll also pursue the (small) number of contacts I already have, sending them tracks and letting them know what I'm trying to do and if they can help. I'll have to work on my social 'networking': the two people I know who work full-time in the industry are very good at what they do but definitely knew the right people, as well as spending all their downtime in those circles. Hopefully good music will prevail...

Thanks again for the advice!
Calenture
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:00 am

Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby narcoman » Tue Dec 20, 2011 1:50 pm

Fenton wrote:
Exalted Wombat wrote:
Fenton wrote:Your lack of success is down to your dislike of drink and social-networking? Am I reading this right?


Not all that tongue-in-cheek I'm afraid. If your idea of fun is NOT joining the party in some over-priced over-loud bar, you tend not to get the next phone-call.


Do you think this applies just to pop songwriting then? Or composing for a living in general?


It applies to life in general.

You want a top lawyers job? Go hang with the top legal eagles.
You want a fit bird/bloke? - get out and meet some.

You want a pop songwriting role? Go find the right artists...

Rule for life.


Catch22 : you wanna right commercially viable pop songs? Have a hit.
narcoman
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3439
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2001 11:00 pm
Battenburg to the power of 20 - said by Richie Royale in a moment of genius. 4pm. Wed 16th Nov 2011. Remember where you were....

Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby VOLOVIA » Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:33 pm

yep, Narco as often right: write a top 10 and you will be asked to 'collaborate' at a professional level, otherwise is oblivion. Catch 22 indeed.

Other point, made earlier, is that nowadays most 'performers' have understood that the real and only way to make (some) money in the pop world is to pen the songs yourself. I looked for singers to collaborate for years and mostly told me that they would not sing finished songs unless they 'co-write'. In short, in order to get anywhere in this business, from a beginner's stand, I would not spend too much time/hope in building a portfolio of lovely songs, recorded semi-professionally at home, with 'OK' arrangements, and hope that someone, somewhere out there are going to pick one of your tunes up and give it to the latest 'pop idol'. The chances of this happening are zero or thereabout (Narco, true?).

The only (in my opinion very small) hope to 'make it as a profession' is to collaborate with a talent you have serendipitously discovered, establish a music symbiosis of value and push the songs as a 'product'. But then you have to be able to produce a professional product which is both arranged, recorded, and performed at the highest standard. And this will link to endless other threats on this forum alone... and good luck with that.

Something different and unusual from me, i.e. a constructive advice or comment? Don't be a generalist, write 'protest songs', hip-hop beats and chats, prog-rock operas, whatever, then get yourself or an act out there and perform the stuff in front of punters. If it works, the word will spread that the songs/act is good, have a hit, then you will finally enjoy the luxury of sitting in your lovely home studio (full of toys from SOS!) and 'work' a few hours a day recording your musing on the guitar or loops in Reason. We have all tried this, and few, very very few have succeeded (not me!) !
User avatar
VOLOVIA
Regular
Posts: 357
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 11:00 pm
Location: London

VOLOVIA - FACEBOOK - TWITTER

Songwriter/guitarist


Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby narcoman » Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:24 pm

zero or less.
narcoman
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3439
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2001 11:00 pm
Battenburg to the power of 20 - said by Richie Royale in a moment of genius. 4pm. Wed 16th Nov 2011. Remember where you were....

Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby * User requested deletion * » Wed Dec 21, 2011 8:23 am

narcoman wrote:
You want a top lawyers job? Go hang with the top legal eagles.
You want a fit bird/bloke? - get out and meet some.

You want a pop songwriting role? Go find the right artists...

Rule for life.

My ambition is to write Karaoke backing tracks for a living. At the moment it is a mere pipe dream. Who do you suggest I should hunt out and hang around with?

As always, advice appreciated.
* User requested deletion *
Regular
Posts: 409
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby OneWorld » Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:20 am

Fenton wrote:
narcoman wrote:
You want a top lawyers job? Go hang with the top legal eagles.
You want a fit bird/bloke? - get out and meet some.

You want a pop songwriting role? Go find the right artists...

Rule for life.


My ambition is to write Karaoke backing tracks for a living. At the moment it is a mere pipe dream. Who do you suggest I should hunt out and hang around with?



Losers
OneWorld
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1975
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:00 pm

Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby narcoman » Wed Dec 21, 2011 5:08 pm

Fenton wrote:

My ambition is to write Karaoke backing tracks for a living. At the moment it is a mere pipe dream. Who do you suggest I should hunt out and hang around with?

As always, advice appreciated.

hahah
narcoman
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3439
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2001 11:00 pm
Battenburg to the power of 20 - said by Richie Royale in a moment of genius. 4pm. Wed 16th Nov 2011. Remember where you were....

Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby Frisonic » Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:55 pm

narcoman wrote: You want a fit bird/bloke? - get out and meet some.

A favorite ruse around the bit of London where I live used to be feigning a coke habit to join the local Narcotics Anonymous. The Chelsea mission was always heaving with models and you didn't even have to buy them a drink.
Frisonic
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3287
Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:00 am
Location: Refugee currently in transition.

Still strictly project but lately on the run.


Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby GLENN » Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:37 pm

In Manchester they have/had a creative industries service to help creatives.
http://www.thewhiteroomcec.com/team/ get in touch with Phil Birchenall and tell him Glenn a drum n bass producer from years ago suggested having a chat so you can network and get your thing working.
Ask him if there is anything in Bristol perhaps.
I use to go on courses through Cids where I learnt about music law from proper big wigs managers music lawyers ect some fantastic opportunities to be had through these guys.
Top guy is Phil.
Good luck.
GLENN
Regular
Posts: 87
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2004 11:00 pm

Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby Gone To Lunch » Mon Dec 26, 2011 10:54 am

bugiolacchi wrote: ...hope that someone, somewhere out there are going to pick one of your tunes up and give it to the latest 'pop idol'. The chances of this happening are zero or thereabout (Narco, true?).


So what then, if any, is the deal with publications like 'Bandit' and 'Songlink' ?
Gone To Lunch
Frequent Poster
Posts: 626
Joined: Thu Jun 10, 2004 11:00 pm
Location: London

Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby Exalted Wombat » Mon Dec 26, 2011 12:00 pm

Fenton wrote:
My ambition is to write Karaoke backing tracks for a living. At the moment it is a mere pipe dream. Who do you suggest I should hunt out and hang around with?

Seriously? Being able to craft a "just like the record" backing track is a very marketable skill. If you have the resources and talent to do this sort of work quickly and at a good price I'm sure the companies who distribute such stuff will be delighted to hear from you.
Exalted Wombat
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5644
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:00 am
Location: London UK

You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.


Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby * User requested deletion * » Mon Dec 26, 2011 1:05 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:
Fenton wrote:
My ambition is to write Karaoke backing tracks for a living. At the moment it is a mere pipe dream. Who do you suggest I should hunt out and hang around with?

Seriously? Being able to craft a "just like the record" backing track is a very marketable skill. If you have the resources and talent to do this sort of work quickly and at a good price I'm sure the companies who distribute such stuff will be delighted to hear from you.

Absolutely. Not wanting to blow my own trumpet, I would say I am currently perhaps one of the best in Peterborough at this type of thing.

My prices are extremely competitive too. I specialize in slide guitar and sax and as a result have the knack of getting that authentic 'Kenny G' sound which has proved popular with those of middle age possessing a mullet.

I don't go near dance music and this is perhaps something I will look to correct in 2012 now that I have added a decent drum machine to my setup to complement my Triton.
* User requested deletion *
Regular
Posts: 409
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby Exalted Wombat » Mon Dec 26, 2011 1:09 pm

Fenton wrote:Not wanting to blow my own trumpet, I would say I am currently perhaps one of the best in Peterborough at this type of thing.

I think that could be construed as reasonable modesty :-) Especially with the "perhaps" included.
Exalted Wombat
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5644
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:00 am
Location: London UK

You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.


Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby dubbmann » Mon Dec 26, 2011 6:37 pm

Frisonic wrote:
narcoman wrote: You want a fit bird/bloke? - get out and meet some.

A favorite ruse around the bit of London where I live used to be feigning a coke habit to join the local Narcotics Anonymous. The Chelsea mission was always heaving with models and you didn't even have to buy them a drink.

love it ;-) the only problem, as in so much of life, is beware what you wish for: a guitarist mate of mine many year back dated a model type w/a coke problem. before it was over, he'd bought her a car, she'd max'd out his credit cards, and slept with his best friend, who also happened to be their coke dealer.

ps: to everyone responding to the karaoke guy, he's taking the piss out of you - karaoke by definition are instrumental versions of famous songs, after all. get the joke? ha ha ha...

cheers

d
User avatar
dubbmann
Frequent Poster
Posts: 819
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2004 12:00 am
Location: 3rd stone from the sun.

Re: Questions on how to become a pop songwriter

Postby Scramble » Wed Dec 28, 2011 12:49 am

Oh Fenton, you Colin S. wannabee.
Scramble
Frequent Poster
Posts: 2220
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2002 11:00 pm

 


Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest