You will find that how to start a music career today is different. It can still be done, but it does require a lot of work and thinking outside the box.
Ben, a better than an average musician, singer-songwriter, had always dreamed of having a music career, performing on stage for thousands of people. Maybe we should say, he always dreamed of being a star, a big-time entertainer. He was doing everything and getting no place with his music career.
Like many other musicians, Ben didn’t handle rejection well. Every time he’d get close enough to see that he might have a chance at a music career, his fear and sense of rejection would surface causing him to back down.
After many years of putting his songs on the shelf, Ben decided to take a risk and pitch his songs to some music execs. Living in Southern California provided the opportunity to personally go to Pitch Sessions in Los Angeles. Every week for months, he’d spend an hour or two on the busy freeway to get to the weekly pitch. Every week it went the same.
Ben was positive he would have a record deal soon. He just knew he was on his way to stardom.
In days past, there were many like Ben. Songwriters and musicians who thought if they could just get their music before the right person they could launch their successful music careers.
The music moguls would post a time and place where singer/songwriters and musicians could pitch their music.
The musician would walk and hand their precious CD to the music mogul’s assistant who would play the CD for the whole room. The music exec would write out a simple critique, present it to everyone in the room, then hand it and the CD back.
Occasionally, a song would be taken back with the music exec to be reviewed later. Rarely, would you be told ahead of time what the music exec was looking for.
This process would go on week after week and month after month.
Ben and most others never really got a chance. Their music was not picked up or if it was, it was never used.
That Was Then – This Is Now
As you well know, music is around us all the time. Every commercial on television or radio is accompanied by music.
I noticed the other day when I pulled up to Walmart that music was playing outside in the parking lot for customers coming and going. Why?
Music sets a person’s mood. Think about it. Music can make a person excited. It can trigger someone to be more aggressive or agitated. Music can also be calming, helping a person relax and de-stress after a hard day. Music allows us to feel and experience all emotions.
In the case of music outside Walmart, they were playing lively, fun retro music that got the customers prepared to have a fun shopping experience.
Music is mentally stimulating. For older adults, it can stimulate favorite memories of when they were teenagers or young adults. When my husband, Larry Warfield, hears certain songs from the past he begins singing them. Believe it or not, I think he knows all the words to all the songs from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. It’s amazing. I recognize the melodies and some of the words. He can actually sing them.
The melodies, harmonies, color of the sounds, the activity of the song help us to get lost in the music.
The Pitch Today
With all the music around us, you would think that it would be easier to get your songs published or used in some way.
Unfortunately, that is not the case. You still have to pitch your music to the powers that be. In days passed, you would take one song in to have it reviewed. Danny Berrios, Creative Manager, A&R at Downtown Music Publishing Group stated, “I think a good number of songs for a writer to play in a meeting would be three to five. As far as when I pitch—I try to stick to around five, give or take a couple.”
It also seems like you don’t pitch directly to a music mogul exec, but to an A&R rep, who then pitches your music to the music companies. Taxi (Taxi.com) is an example of an A&R music placement service company that pitches your music for you.
A&R Services Help You Start A Music Career
Taxi, founded in 1992 by Michael Laskow, specializes in soliciting music for recording artists and companies needing music for commercials, movies, television, or anyone else needing music. They then become the middleman. Yes, there is a $300 fee (unless it’s on sale like it is now) to even pitch your music to Taxi.
The staff at Taxi, then review the submission to see if it is suitable for the requests made by the companies. You, as the artist, always receive a constructive review back from Taxi.
If Taxi submits your song to a person or company and they chose to use your song, the company or artist will get in touch with you directly.
Taxi publishes a list of several hundred song placement opportunities every year. If you look at Taxi’s listings you will notice that they do not reveal who the artist or company. Some people try to bypass Taxi and go directly to artists or companies needing music, but it is much harder today because of all the people writing music.
You can bypass an A&R middleman by sending your CD to other companies, but you will need to follow their guidelines if you want your music heard. Companies have been known to put submissions into the circular file (the trash) if guidelines are not followed.
Pitching To Publishers
There are several websites that give you information about submitting songs to music moguls. For example, https://www.texascountrymusicchart.com/music-submission has a form to be filled out to be submitted with your song submission. Here’s a brief list:
- Make sure your song fits closely with what the artist or company is looking for.
- It must sound professional; otherwise, it probably will get the circular file.
- Keep your submissions to 1 or 2 songs. Do not send in 20 songs. They won’t listen.
- Create a professional-looking CD label – NO handwritten labels.
- If you’ve never had a song picked up your chances are slim, so go for a less known artist.
- Never pitch unsolicited music to artists or publishers.
- Don’t continuously harass the publisher or artist. Mail or drop-off the CD. If you have followed the guidelines they will let you know. Often they ask for an addressed return envelope. Don’t email or call them. If they are interested they will get in touch with you.
- No name dropping.
- No complaining or whining to those you are pitching to.
- A MUST – make sure your song is the best it can be.
Starting A Music Career Has Changed
I just picked up a book from Amazon entitled, “Stop Selling Music: Career Changing Lessons For Musicians,” by Damian Keyes, DK Publishing.
Damian Keyes, a Musician, Educator, and award-winning Entrepreneur has always been on the cutting edge in the music industry. People who have worked with Damian state that he is a solid, straight-talking, down-to-earth guy with a wealth of information about the music industry. He is willing to pass his wealth of information along to the struggling musician to help them succeed.
Damian states that back in the day it was possible to actually make a living selling physical copies of your music. You would gig and tour and sell CDs. It was possible then. In those days if people liked what they heard they would buy your CD. They may not ever play it, putting it away in a safe place as a memento of an awesome experience or evening out.
Everything Is Different Now
Wow!!! How things ever changed, especially with Covid raking havoc world-wide.
Remember when all this started back in March 2020. Restaurants and bars were shut down. Concerts were canceled. Tours were canceled. Music shut down.
I remember, one of the first scenes on the nightly news was musicians playing from their balconies or in their driveways.
Damian states the change began back before Covid in 1999 when Napster allowed people to illegally download music. Then Spotify and Apple took music listening to the digital realm. Buying physical CDs soon became passé.
It seems that people who buy CDs or vinyl records are collectors.
Today, people think that spending money on music is paying $10 per month for streaming on Spotify or another streaming service. If they don’t mind the ads, they get their music for free.
So where does that leave the current day musician?
Remember!!! Music is all around us, television, movies, radio (yes, we still have the radio), streaming stations. Musicians just have to think about things differently. They still have to develop a fan-base. The restaurants and bars are starting to open back up, but things are still different. Be creative. Some musicians like to play on the streets or in malls. Gigging, playing in restaurants, is still trying to “sell your music.” Start a music career by doing something different. Think outside the box.
Where People Hang Out
You have to go where the people hang out – Social Media. Is it easy? No, nothing is easy. But it’s worth doing. It’s worth learning how to do it well.
Here are some options:
- If you are computer savvy, figure how to get your music out in front of people on social media. Create an online fan-base.
- Get Damian Keyes’ book or check out his online classes – people are raving about it.
- If you have the money, hire someone to set up and maintain your social media.
- Go where the fans are, online.
This is what I am doing. I write about music. I created a website for my husband’s music. I’m trying to find creative ways to put his music out in front of potential fans. Is it easy? Heck, no. But at the same time, it’s fun. It’s challenging. I learn something new every day.
Here’s a statement from Damian Keyes’ Music Business website:
“ARE YOU NOT GETTING YOUR MUSIC HEARD?
Is this a familiar scenario?
You’ve slaved over getting your music JUST right and you’re excited to get it out into the world. You set a release date, put a few posts up on socials. Then release day comes and your music gets some traction and friends and family are loving it…
…But after a couple of days, it’s fallen to the music graveyard. No Spotify playlists, no one replaying… Nothing. And now you’re panicking that you’ve just spent a lot of money on something that hasn’t worked.
There’s got to be a way to actually get your music to the next level right?
It’s not an easy ride in 2020 being a musician. As well as having to be amazing at the actual music, you also need to become an entrepreneur to really succeed.” Damian Keyes https://www.dk-mba.com/
As I went through Damian Keyes’ websites and other information it looked like it would be really expensive. But after much digging, I discovered it’s not expensive to take the courses on how to maneuver your way through the social media maze to get your music heard, create a fan-base, and make a living from your music.
The classes and mentoring programs are very reasonable.
Just so you know, I am not an affiliate for Damian Keyes. As I began reading the book and browsing through the jungle of material online I became more impressed with what he had to offer and, seemingly, for a reasonable price. Don’t hold me to the price comment, but it appears to be reasonable.
If any of you check it out let me know what you find.
If you are like Ben still trying to get your music heard the old fashioned way, think again.
Learn how to get your music heard ONLINE.
Don’t give up!!!
Find out how to do MUSIC in 2020!!