Song Plugging With Tip Sheets
By: Jerry A. Greene
Question: I have heard that there are special newsletters that you can sign up for that let you know which artists are getting ready to record, or already in the studio and are looking for songs. Where can I find these newsletters and what's the best way to use them?
Answer: Tip sheets, like "Row Fax" give important information as to who is recording and looking for songs. Professional song pluggers use them all the time and so should you!
What Tip Sheets Do For You
Tip sheets are just that, tips. They let you know who is in the recording studio, or about to be in the studio and what other types of songs the singer is looking to record. They are nothing without personal contact. If you subscribe to a music tip sheet, you will need to know who to contact at each place that is advertising it. Tip sheets like "Row Fax", Music Row Magazine's tip sheet for Nashville, expect that you already know who to contact at each place, meaning they don't give you all of the contact information. This information can be found in special editions of Music Row Magazine, and appointments can be set up for you with introductions through ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC, or organizations like The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI).
The job and art of song plugging is a job of relationships (networking) and knowing what is right for the artists they are pitching to. To be a professional song plugger, you must be living in town (Nashville in this example), or look like you are (travel to Nashville many times a year with appointments booked). You'll also want to attend songwriter's nights and hear what the competition is like. The more you network, the more you'll be able to tell what is going on. If you are doing the song plugging yourself (as in being your own publisher), you will have a hard time breaking in to this part of the industry unless you have a hit and suddenly your name is known.
Working With An independent Song Plugger
If you have some songs that you feel have the chance to get cut, you may want to sign up with an independent song plugger (not a full-blown music publisher). This allows you to retain 100% of the rights to your songs, but have someone that has the network of people to get your songs heard. Professional song pluggers typically receive a salary, or are commission based. They may elect to receive a percentage of the song that is recorded (similar to a publishing contract), or expect a bonus should the song perform extremely well (like get into the top 10 of Billboard Magazine's Hot 100).
Make sure that you have a contract with the song plugger, as just like in any other part of the business, you can lose everything you have if you don't do this right. Always consult an entertainment attorney (an attorney that works in and understands the music business) before entering into any contract.