Song pitching, or writing songs you pitch to others to sing, is tough.
Unlike singer-songwriters who can make sure their songs are heard by getting gigs or creating music, your prospect pool is much smaller. And, you have to write something that connects with the person you’re pitching to, but only after it has made its way through a gauntlet of strangers!
Song pitching comes down to an age old discipline once your song is done – sales.
Sorry, I don’t mean to make the whole thing sound like there’s not passion behind it, but even small business owners who love art and own a gallery have to turn a profit. As a songwriter, you should want nothing less.
And, since part of profit is top line revenue, let’s talk sales!
Things to keep in mind:
- It is sales, so don’t expect a “YES!” every time or even the first several.
- You’ll get your share of “NOs” and that’s OK. You should be learning and getting better at the sales process with each one.
- Think positive: every no gets you one step closer to a yes!
- Pitching songs is basically selling your inventory. Learning a basic sales process will make you more successful.
So what’s the secret to better sales pitching?
As I say in my marketing seminars:
Identify the problems you solve for your potential customers!
Showing up with something that simply meets the general look and feel of what they’re looking for is far less compelling than something that solves a problem for them.
At the end of the day, what problem are you really solving for the producer, plugger or artist? Drill down on the question. The more completely you can answer it the better.
- Providing a song that fits into his inventory of “throwback songs for [Artist Name]” because the artist’s best customers are looking for something that’s similar to what they’ve bought before
- The record company/artist want less risk for a release and re-engage the fan base.
- And at the end of the day, for the plugger/producer, you’re providing inventory so he can make money and pay his bills – just a fact.
YOUR PITCH DECISION:
You send a song because:
- You think it’s your best and you’ve got a great sounding demo, and
- Rhythmically it’s very similar to the artist’s latest hit song on the radio
The issue with the above process? It doesn’t solve Carl’s problem!TIP: When choosing a song to pitch, write down the problem being solved for, and objectively evaluate your song against that criteria.
A common term used in digital marketing is “targeting.”
Running down every sales opportunity isn’t a good use of your time. Why?
Because you have to create the product (manufacturing), package it (marketing), find opportunities to present it (lead/demand generation), pitch it and close the deal (sales), and then manage all the contracts and financials (accounting). That’s five people at a company. You’re just you!
You want a sales strategy that maximizes your time in the most effective and efficient way.
Learning how to find the right prospects, or business target audience, is a basic marketing and sales tactic that allows you to:
- Increase your odds of success by finding the “best opportunities” for you song(s)
- Maximize your time by allowing you to focus your writing on creating “sellable” inventory
- Identify opportunities you can consider a “warm” lead rather than an ill-defined, unclear, general request for solicitation (cattle call)
Why did I mention a feedback loop (like comments back or some sort of reason for the person’s decision)?
From a pure WIIFM perspective (What’s In It For Me), if the process is simply “pass – next” – what are you gaining from the opportunity?
Once you’re up and running, maybe that’s OK but initially, when you’re starting out, it’s not very helpful. You have no way to create a better product, change your marketing plan, make adjustments or even take a step toward creating a relationship.
Think of “pitching” as market research.
You should gain something by spending the time and money.
Regardless of what you decide to do, research who you’re working with and make sure they’re a legitimately connected business and have associations that are also legitimate.
Keep in mind that each genre works a little differently, so know your genre. I write for Texas artists on the regional radio chart and Nashville. If you write pop you should be working on making connections with producers.
An example of how Pop, EDM and Hip-Hop/Rap songs are being written as of late:
I belong to a few organizations and use a song plugging service. The organizations I belong to charge money. In exchange, I get access to people. The plugging service charges money. In exchange, I get access to people.
Truth is, when someone says “don’t spend money to pitch your songs,” they’re probably not doing any pitching, or are an established songwriter with a solid network.
I live in Texas. I expect an ROI (Return On Investment) for my prospecting spend. Granted, with songwriting, it is sometimes not a monetary ROI – it’s a “move the chains down the field” kind of ROI.
I use math to decide how to prospect, especially since I’ve done the “trips to Nashville” route.
This year I’ve mixed it up and gotten better results.
A trip to Nashville to network and meet people costs me $1,000. I make two trips a year. I gave up one networking/co-write trip and shifted those dollars to more sales activity and away from manufacturing and networking (co-writes).
For that $1,000 I can submit 33 songs directly to pluggers/producers and get feedback and possible single song agreements.
- 33 opportunities to move my songs forward for $1,000
- Cost per lead = $30
Overall, my total cost-of-goods hasn’t changed!
I’m not spending any more than I did last year. I just changed my spend mix to focus more on sales. Manufacturing doesn’t really require I be in Nashville wither. Networking – probably, but the world has changed significantly and not everything requires a face-to-face anymore.
I still incur an expense for packaging (demo recordings) and for manufacturing (songwriting/co-writes), but my sales activity has increased, and I’ve upped my “in front of” opportunities – for no additional expense.
I know this sounds pretty basic, but making sure you have inventory, aka songs, is critical in targeting your songs to the right plugger and/or artist.
Looking across your song inventory and finding the song(s) that fit an artist. You might know a specific artist is looking for songs, so you’ll look through songs you’ve already created and determine which are a good fit to pitch.
Figuring out what will fit into an artist’s portfolio, their sound, lyrically what they prefer, etc. and then write a song specific to that artist. This is no different than creating a product that serves a consumer need.
More on Customized Targeting
If you’re submitting songs, hopefully, feedback is part of the process. Even if you get a “no” you should be looking for some sort of feedback on why.
Use this information to hone your targeting for the next pitch, or understand more about how the person you pitched to thinks or works.
For example, I’ve gotten the following feedback on the same song from two different people:
Plugger: “This is song is confusing. I can’t follow the story. You should work on your songs so they’re better written before you spend money on a demo.”
Producer: “This song is really well written and I love the vibe. The metaphor is interesting and definitely works throughout. I like the song as is, but unfortunately, it doesn’t fit the needs of the artist I’m pitching right now. I’m looking something a little more anthemic.”
So . . .
I made notes for the people I sent it to so I can be better with the products I’m delivering!
Plugger: only gets songs that are extremely literal and story lines. Do not send complex songs that leverage devices like metaphors. Simple songs only with simple to follow language.
Producer: not using a seining net and willing to take “good songs.” Is very project focused and unlikely to stray off what is specifically being asked for in the pitch outline. Be sure to align exactly with needs.
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