HALL OF SHAME
RULES YOU DONT BREAK (that may help you get a break!)
-by Lynne Robin Green (© 1998 by Lynne Robin Green.
Reprinted by permission of author
A lot of Songwriter's
publications always invariably include some basic information on how you
should present your material to Music Publisher's. Of course the standard
advice is enclosing not more than 3 songs and neatly typed lyric sheets
and a cover letter (containing just a snippet of information on your background
of note as a Writer, or a bio and picture of the band).And also a reminder
to be sure to put your copyright (c) notice and year (and name and address
on all of the materials including the cassette). These are the basic things
you need to remember.
I thought for this month's column I would take this time to elaborate
ON MY OWN personal HALL OF SHAME of some of the Songwriter and Band's
MAJOR SUBMISSION MISTAKES that I encounter firsthand. Please bear in mind
that - This list should be taken with a grain of salt, always, as I do
with each submission - at this end.
Rule #1 - Don't write me a five page letter that talks about everything
that ever happened to you in your life before you wrote this song, and
why you must get it published or you'll be suicidal. That's a little excessive
and I'm no miracle worker, I'm a music publisher.
Rule #2 - Don't tell me that you're in prison on Death Row for
murder - but through songwriting you have finally rehabilitated yourself,
(and don't also enclose a tape of extremely violent songs with no possible
humane value but total violation of all sexual mores and respect for society.
This tape will not be heard past the first cuss word, and yes, I do blush)..
Rule #3 - Dont send me a song about your dog dying and how much
you miss Fluffy, (obviously this is NOT a song for a major recording artist
to consider recording). And don't enclose a note that says, well you know
that (major artist) - SHE just lost her dog and so "this song is
a shoo in for her next record".Woof!
Rule #4 - Don't write me an insulting cover letter, such as -"I
am submitting these songs to your company BUT I want you to know that
I do have 3 other offers with an advance -from X Y & Z Publishers
already on these songs " so either you want them or you don't BUT
I want your answer NOW, and if you are interested - please call my attorney
directly at ___________."! Believe it or not a polite, friendly and
business like approach should always be used in an introduction letter.
(And also---why didn't your attorney send me these songs, anyway?
Rule #5 - Don't mix your tape into a distorted mess and then dub
it from a cassette onto another cheap cassette. I'm sure you can just
see me struggling to make out vocals against the wall of fuzz and feedback.
First generation copies are best. Also please don't submit a garage tape
recorded live and mixed badly--without any lyric sheets.!!! I find myself
brailling through the first 3 words of the first song-and then ripping
that cassette outta the deck faster than a speeding projectile. Of course,
you've lost me at that point. I'm sure you want a publisher to 'hear the
words, too'... wouldn't you?
Rule #6 - Don't tell me how much your aunt and all her friends
insist this is a hit song for Barbara Streisand and how your uncle sang
it at your wedding (and it received a standing ovation, by the only sober
guest there) - and therefore it's an all time standard for the masses
and I would be stupid to not realize that we could make millions with
Rule #7 - Don't bother to soundcheck or rewind your cassette, before
you mail it, (I live to rewind through all of the songs listed on the
A side-to finally find out that the cassette is actually blank).Yes we
Rule #8 - Don't put a spoken word message and full oration at the
beginning of each song, I'm not an AUDIO BOOK Publisher! And please limit
your submission to 3 songs max, as these should be your 3 best (even THE
ONE BEST that you've ever written). We're looking for that rare HIT SONG,
not just a good song, unfortunately so.
Rule #9 - Don't pre-negotiate in your cover letter-as in--"Im
offering you 25% publishing on this song-ONLY-so get back to me fast if
your interested. (This is not a song swap meet for goodness sake, we should
always hear and offer our interest first, isn't that why you approached
Rule #10 - Don't send songs that are lyrically sexist,racist, or
that promote violence or have no redeeming merit or commercial appeal
in their message . (Sometimes some of the messages would blow your mind
and I kinda get insulted that someone would write that, and wanna go forth
and preach it). Of course the exception is if youre a band and that particular
message makes up your 'sound, style and thrust'. Still some Publishers
don't work with that type of material, by choice.
Rule #11 - Don't call me up and act pushy and rude and then request
to submit your tape.You just might find a nice person lives on the other
end of the phone, here. Courtesy is rewarded with courtesy always. Also
- don't call my voicemail at midnight from across the other side of the
U.S. - and ask me to return your call - (when you never said WHAT the
call was regarding, and you do know that I do not accept unsolicited calls).
Rule #12- Don't sing the songs yourself if you have no singing
voice (and you know it), (you wont be helping to demonstrate them in the
best light at all).And don't hire a singer who can't sing (1) within the
melody you wrote (2) On key (3) Within the key the song is in -(4) to
the rhythym that the song is, or ON the beat!.
Also important, don't stop in the middle of the song and add a 16 bar
badly played guitar solo where it doesnt even fit and (5) Dont start out
the song with a 16 bar massive musical introduction,that has me fast-forwarding
just to get to the first verse, 'already'. (Remember-Write it right,get
it tight -and show it right!).
*This list is given and intended only as this authors personal experiences
with some songwriters submission packages -over the past years.