Trying to sell your songs to a music publisher or licensing house is a great idea. Remember that these are two very different people!
If you’re going to do approach directly, do some research as to who the person to send the music to is going to be.
Try to find out a bit about them, and make your approach based on that. Make sure that the person you are targeting is the right person - i.e., that they actually are interested in the type of songs you want to sell them.
If you want to approach indirectly, you need to get a manager or someone who already has relationships with the publishers and licensing agencies.
Songwriters and artists who want to sell songs that aren’t perfectly mixed and mastered should not worry too much, but this really is dependent on who you are playing the song to.
With technology at the accessible level that it is, it’s much easier to produce a demo version that can sound very good. You should aim to represent your songs as best you can. Some songs benefit from having “character” or a few glitches, so don’t worry too much about getting your songs to sound so polished - just make sure that you are happy with the result and comfortable that you have done your song justice.
These days you will be facing two types of song buyer:
- First will be the buyer who is buying your song to license it out in adverts, movies, Internet video adverts etc.
- Second will be the more artistic buyer who is looking for songs for other artists or for use in other types of music…
This second type will be much more likely to accept a less than polished demo because they are looking for “songs”.
The first type will probably be more used to receiving well-produced demos that are probably ready to go, as they are more in a “factory line” type scenario.
Someone will ask them if they have any music like X for use in a movie by tomorrow. They will look through their catalog to see what they have and then send it off. They don’t have time to find someone to record your song etc..
With out doubt, getting your songs signed to a publisher or used by a licensing agent can be great if you want to have a career as an artist, just make sure that you stand by your ethics - believe me, these decisions can be really tough!
One of my clients got offered way over $100,000 by a company who wanted to use their track in an advert. They really didn’t agree with this company for whatever reason, and turned it down. Would it have been great promotion for them - maybe. Would they have regretted it - definitely!
If you want to be a serious artist, one of the reasons to sell songs to a traditional publisher is that they may help you with strategic planning in terms of career.
They will often try and map out the next six months to a year, and may identify some people, a writer or band that could collaborate as far as producers or artists or other songwriters are concerned.
They may decide that your music is perfect for a particular TV show for example, and then try to tie that in with a release of some kind.