Do I need to copyright my song?
Technically your song is copyrighted the minute your pen leaves the paper. You do not need to copyright your song right away. It is advisable to copyright a song that gets a lot of exposure. Copyrighting songs is an expensive practice if you are a prolific writer. You can copyright a collection of songs and only pay one fee for the whole collection. The collection of songs must have the same writers on each composition. Then if one of those songs gets a lot of action you may decide to follow up the copyright with and individual registration for that song.
How do I copyright my song?
You contact the Library of Congress Copyright Office in Washington DC and ask for the PA form. Fill out the form and send it in with a copy of your song or collection of songs and a check that covers the registration fee. For a small fee we can assist you in this process.
Do I have to live in Nashville, LA, or NY to succeed as a songwriter?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question but you need to consider that if you want to be a successful songwriter you need to realize that songwriting is more than an art. It is a business, and like all businesses it is based on contacts. If you live on a farm in Iowa you might be able to write some fantastic songs. But if you don't know who is cutting, when or how to get your song to them and if you don't have a circle of contacts to help you get that song to that artist you are going to have a much harder time succeeding.
How can I learn more about the business of songwriting?
If you have a songwriting association in your town by all means join. There you will find access to materials, books, videos, classes, showcases, and collaboration opportunities. If you don't we have two organizations in Nashville that are dedicated to the education of songwriters. NSAI and SGA.
Do you listen to outside material?
No. The reason for that is we have our own writers on staff. They provide us with plenty of material and we have limited staff to be able to go through all the song submissions that we would get. We will be open to listening to songwriters who have studied with NSAI and met with a performing rights organization writer rep and have developed enough contacts to be referred to us.
What is a performing rights organization?
A performing rights organization (PRO) is the company that collects your royalties from radio airplay (performance royalties). The three choices are ASCAP, BMI and SEASAC. They employ people to meet with writers and artists. They are called artist/writer reps. They are there to help you. If you come to town you should try to meet with them all. Eventually when you become a professional writer you will be faced with the decision of which one you are going to affiliate with. It will be a much easier decision if you have developed a good overview of what each company has to offer. It is also an excellent place to develop some good solid contacts in town.
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Who is cutting right now?
That changes weekly. There are pitch sheets available. Music Row Magazine has an excellent one that comes out weekly and can be ordered on an annual subscription basis.
Does my song need to be fully demoed before I pitch it to publishers?
Sometimes the song itself dictates whether or not you need to fully demo it. Some songs are just fine as a guitar/vocal or piano/vocal. Many people prefer them that way. Some people just don't get it unless it sounds like a full-blown record. The important thing about the demo, whether it's a full-blown band demo or a guitar/vocal is to make sure:
1. The vocalist sings in tune
2. The instruments are in tune
3. You can hear the lyrics over the music
4. The recording quality is clean
You don't want to get your one shot at a hard earned meeting with a publisher and have them get distracted from listening to the song because the singer isn't able to quite hit that high note. It makes them shut the CD off that much quicker. This is where our sister company The Parlor Studio comes in. We produce demos and records for songwriters and artists.