copyright - the legislation, the options, how and when to register
rhyme schemes - list of the names and types of rhyme
song check list - A list of questions to ask yourself to help you decide whether you have written a classic song.
Chord Map in the key of C - Copied, with permission from Steve Mugglin's wonderful site "Music Theory for Songwriters."
10 song writing blunders - a comparison between classic songs & indie/demo recordings - kindly supplied by Roedy Black.
36 rules for bands - a light-hearted look at things to avoid.
Publishing basics - kindly supplied by Irene Jackson
How good your demo should be - including tips on marketing
How to make a $million from your music - the secret information they don't want you to know.
How to make a $million from your music Part II - A list of some of the more dubious ways to part a musician and songwriter from their hard-earned cash.
How to make a $million from your music Part III (UK-version) - a light-hearted look at some of the advice available (for a price) on the net.
including for wordsmiths, music makers, general song writing groups, songwriter web rings and fellow song writers with helpful tips/links
including for singing, piano, guitar, drums, harp, ear training and on line music stores.
including software, home recording advice, singer/song writer services, preparing for the studio, recording studios.
including loops, sf2, royalty free
Including critique boards, promotion and critique boards
including band registration sites, lyric sites, further link sites, genre specific sites, humour, and miscellaneous links
internet radio, magazines.
Copyright and royalty collection agencies, song writer and musician organisations, legal advice sites, including a separate UK listing for the same
Where a copyright is claimed be sure to ask the copyright holder, other than that, you are welcome to use any other page for your own site, please let me know so I can add a link to you.
Richhoncho's Songwriters Links
How good your demo should be
There are two kinds of demos, artists' demos and songwriter demos. An artists' demo should show the ability, style and content of the act, a songwriter demo should show the song (obvious really). Unless otherwise stated I am primarily talking about songwriter demos.
There are no simple answers, songs have been successfully pitched with home recorded guitar and vocal line to a full production which has been used by the artist - just adding their vocals to the demo. Likewise with artists, some have actually had their demo released as is, while others have been worked on and rehearsed for several months before a record release. So I do recommend that anything I have written here be questioned according to your own aims and ambitions. However the following points should be taken into consideration.
The demo should be good enough for you to be able to play it without saying "but," "if," "perhaps" or any other conditional word. Let me repeat this, if you have to use conditional words like "if," "but" etc when you play your demo it is not good enough. Wrong key for the singer - just means you don't know how to use a singer properly. No good pitching to a female singer saying, "if you change that line..." Wrong words sung - whose fault? If the songwriter is pitching it's the songwriter's entire fault.
It must be sung in tune, a listenable recording i.e. no hums muddy vocals etc - which is not to say you are expected to reach the quality attained on a commercial release, unless that is your aim, the guts of the song must be clear, which generally means words and melody.
In many instances an overproduced songwriter demo will not be what's required
The intro shouldn't be longer than 15 seconds. A&R people are busy and the audience is impatient, they want to get to the hook.
Do not include solo breaks for a basic demo. These serve no purpose on a demo.
An additional instrumental hook besides the melodic hook can be a good idea.
A basic demo shouldn't be longer than 3 minutes - if it is picked up for a commercial recording then the solo breaks will be added, if required, and that will take the length to 3:30 minutes, although longer lengths are permissible in some genres.
Don't send a song recorded into a country style to an RnB singer, or vice versa, if you are convinced your song will work in more than one genre prove it by doing different recordings.
A solo guitar version for a drum n bass tune shouldn't be going anywhere, but a guitar and vocal for a country song might be just what is required.
A quality demo may get turned down, but a poor song will always be turned down.
A pitch is a songwriter's calling card - it has to impress. You are trying to interest the business in not only your songs, but your professionalism.
What are A&R people looking for? If they knew the answer to that they wouldn't be looking, would they? One day they may be looking for one song for a specific project. Remember, they also have a job besides looking for new talent, so sometimes they are not looking for anything whatsoever. This is why record companies and publishers on the net asking for submissions are generally worth checking out carefully before you submit.
A&R stands for "artist and repertoire" so the biggest part of their job is looking after their existing artists.
I see one or two publishers are asking for evidence that the songs are copyrighted before you send them in, this is wrong, it is the publishers' job to copyright songs as and when necessary.
A&R people will be looking for professionalism. You do this by learning about how the business works, making sure you are contacting the right A&R person for your material.
Always ask for permission to pitch - otherwise your songs are more likely to finish up in the waste paper bin than the CD player.
A&R rarely give an opinion on a song, for one they don't get paid for giving opinions, and, secondly, it has lead to arguments with ungrateful songwriters. Cherish any opinion given, even if you don't like it! If an A&R man is prepared to enter into a dialogue with you at least you can try and pitch to him what he is looking for.
How many songs to submit? The general theory is 3 songs, but this comes down from when songs were on tape-to-tape or cassette. These days more can be acceptable on a CD because it is so easy to skip to the next song, but make sure they are all in a similar style, and there is no room for fillers - anybody can write a filler tune! Always follow submission instructions to the letter, if they ask for no more than 1 song - only send one. They are not going to be interested in somebody who doesn't follow simple instructions, but if they like what they hear they will contact you to hear more.
On the other hand there can be very few song writers that can send 5 potential hit songs all in the same genre.
Don't, as I recently saw, send 11 songs each edited down to 1-minute sections. If anybody were interested they would have wanted to hear the whole song there and then. If they weren't interested they would have skipped before 1 minute was up.
A&R do not listen to all of all the songs they receive. Make sure your strongest song is first. Many A&R people listen to the submissions in their own time, rather than work time, another good reason to make your packaging stand out from other submissions.
What to submit? A songwriter would send a letter, a CD in a case and the lyrics (either included in the jewel case or a separate piece of paper if necessary) of the songs sent. Ensure contact details on every item, some still like to see the (c) notice on the songs, too, so best not to miss it. An artist should also enclose photographs, artist history and details of larger recent and future gigs. A strong gigging band is going to interest a record company more than a non-gigging band. All this should be of a "professional standard" - not some hand-written illegible scrawl.
A&R are rarely, if ever, looking for lyricists. They want songs, which mean words and melody, there is no short cut for lyricists; you have to find a collaborator.
Songs are not sold they are assigned to a publisher. Sold signifies a one-off payment, this is not the way the music business works.
When to pitch? A&R are looking for songs 10/12 months in advance so they won't be looking for a Christmas song in October. This applies across the board, trust me, they are not looking for 80s style songs - no matter how good the song is - they already have enough in their back catalogue.
If you are looking to be a songwriter, remember you are looking to enter the music business. The emphasis is on the word business. It's not only, and never was; really about "great music," it's about making money, too.
You should be listening to and understanding the artists who are not writing their own songs, those that write their own songs rarely, if ever, cover new songs from other songwriters. So no point in writing songs for, or in the style of, Bob Dylan - he already has that part sorted out.
It is also worth checking out gigging artists who are doing covers; but would like a recording contract, maybe you can get together for your mutual interest.
Are you ready to pitch your songs? If you and your songs are not ready for pitching wait until you are, you won't be doing yourself any favours starting pitching too soon.
With the internet it is always possible to get one of your peers to comment on one of your songs. I have noted a few critique boards on my site at Critique Boards. I do strongly recommend you get an opinion or two to see if you are hitting the mark before you proceed to spend money on pitching (I am not suggesting you post your best shots, just something of your flavour) . Well worth checking your songs against my check list at song check list. Not every song a songwriter writes is a future commercial success.