• Step Two of Five for making it as a Pro Songwriter: Distribution.
Welcome to Step II of the Five Steps to making as a a pro songwriter.
Please note: to create just a teensy bit of suspense I'M SAVING THE MOST CRITICAL THING OF ALL FOR LAST.
Step I was Write Hit Singles.
But once you've got your expertly written, expertly produced and wittily titled tunes, what do you do with them? How the hell do you get them to those who matter?
Truth be told, I'm not sure, but here's what I'm gonna do.
1) Create nice packaging both online and off.
Online, you should have a site that doesn't just look like some off-the-rack blog program and that lets people listen to your stuff for FREE. Do NOT make it hard for people to hear your music, you're trying to sell the song, not necessarily your version of it.
For my web site/blog, the one you're on right now, I've opted to use a service called squarespace, which is kinda like Typepad in the way an F-16 is kinda like the Kitty Hawk. The amount of control squarespace gives you over the look and structure of your site is just mind-blowing, and it's all backed by killer reliability and service like a Three Star Michelin Guide restaurant, sans le 'tude.
For hosting my music, MySpace just doesn't cut it. I think every MySpace site looks like a garage sale, even the most pimped out ones (sometimes they're the worst.) Facebook is awesome for connecting with friends, but it's not a music site first and foremost. So who gets my non? Bandcamp. Clean, fast, free (for now, I'd pay them in a heartbeat, should they decide to start charging), Bandcamp makes all others Spinal Tappian.
Offline, to create physical CDs for those Luddites who still demand such arcana, I searched far and wide for a printing service who would do as few as ONE CD, no set-up fee, and I found it. The service is called CDPRINTEXPRESS and it rocks. These dudes even let you create environmentally friendly cardboard sleeves, so you don't need a jewel box. Bad. Ass.
2 )Now, once you've got your "warehouse" ready (site, hosting), who's gonna be your UPS? Who's going to send your songs far and wide to the world's best known music shops, iTunes included? Tunecore. I considered CDBABY, but they trace their roots to physical distribution, whereas Tunecore started out digital. Both now do everything, but I like the fact that Tunecore is more rooted in our zeitgeist. Quick note: do not send your songs to multiple distributers; it gets too complicated, at least for me.
3) Join Sonicbids. If you've read about this service, you might think of it as strictly a way for gigging musicians to connect with promoters, and vice versa. Not so. Live gigs are certainly a huge part of Sonicbids business, but the site also features loads of song contests, placements on compilation CDs and licensing opportunities, the last of which will be my focus. Here's how Sonicbids works: you create an EPK (Electronic Press Kit), which describes you and your music, plus holds media files , sich as, yup, your tunes. Several times a month, Sonicbids notifies its members of opportunities, and you submit your EPK to the ones that interest you. The cost of each submission is from $5 to $30, and the monthly membership fee for Sonicbids is only about $6 a month, but here's their complete pricing matrix.
4) Get your ass out there. The last aspect of your distribution strategy should be to get physically in front of people who can make a difference for you. The Internet is great, amazing, in fact, but it cannot be your only means of getting heard. Even in the Age of Google, personal connections still count for a hell of a lot. My plan is to tap my very, very few music biz connections, when I feel I am truly ready (do NOT waist people's time, because you never get a second chance to... blah, blah, blah). I also plan to march into a radio station or two and just ask about submissions; a friend of mine, Toby Germano, has had some good exposure this way.
5) Carry a "business" card. You never know who you're going to run into, so design a card you can carry around with you everywhere you go and give to people who might be interested in your music.