How Do I Sell My Songs?
by Molly-Ann Leikin, Music Industry Mastery Coach
Songwriters always ask me, “how do I sell my songs? Can you show me how to sell my songs? Please help me sell my songs.”
As songwriters, we don’t sell our songs. Anybody who tries to buy your music is a thief.
Nobody buys lyrics, either. That, too, is a scam.
As songwriters, we earn royalties when our songs/tracks are recorded and released on CD’s, performed for profit on the air – radio, TV, online, and licensed for use in TV shows, movies, commercials, and downloaded all over the web.
When CD’s of our work are released for sale, the songwriter usually gets half of the royalty income, called a mechanical royalty, which at the moment, is 9.2 cents per track per copy sold. When this money is collected, our publishers send us royalty checks each quarter.
A large chunk of the money earned by songwriters comes from performances for profit on the radio, TV and online. Here’s how that works: there are three performing rights societies in the US - ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. (Most countries outside the USA have their own societies). To collect performance royalties, you have to join one of the societies. They keep track of when and where our songs are broadcast, from a 5000 watt station in Beserk, MI, to a 100,000 watt station in Manhattan, and send royalty checks directly to us based on the number of paid performances logged in their random samplings. As songwriters, we also receive checks for foreign performances in most countries around the world. A few still refuse to pay, but we’re working on that. Domestic royalties are distributed quarterly. Foreign are distributed semi-annually.
Since we rarely know where are songs are performed on the air, and when, it’s always a delicious surprise going to the mailbox and finding a royalty statement, plus a nice, fat check, showing our songs have been sung and performed on the radio, in movies, TV, and downloaded in countries whose names we can’t even spell.
But we don’t sell our songs. Ever. Ever. Ever.
For more information about how to market your songs so they start creating income streams for you, I’ll be glad to set up a personal consultation, either by phone or email. Thank you for understanding that for legal reasons, any material sent to me without my consulting fee, must, regrettably, be deleted immediately.
© 2013 Molly-Ann Leikin
Molly-Ann Leikin is an Emmy nominee. The author of “How To Write A Hit Song” and “How To Be A Hit Songwriter”, she has written themes and songs for over five dozen TV shows and movies, including “Violet” that won an Oscar.
After marketing consultations with Molly, five of her clients have won Grammys, seven more have Grammy nominations, and so far, over 6200 of Molly’s lyricist and composer protégées have placed their work in TV shows, movies, on CD’s in commercials, and their songs/tracks have been downloaded all over the web. It all starts with a consultation. www.songmd.com
For more information on the 18th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net
Singer Songwriter Barry Manilow Fears Songwriting Is History
Veteran singer Barry Manilow fears the art of songwriting has been lost amid the mass of modern technology used by young musicians.
The Mandy hitmaker loves listening to new music created using computers and drum machines, but he is adamant the devices are replacing the craft of penning simple tracks that can be performed on any instrument.
He tells Fox411's Pop Tarts column, "I'm very involved in the machinery and the technical ways of making music these days, and it is exciting for young people, writing music on their computers with loops and drum machines and making gorgeous, exciting sounding records.
"But what I miss is well-written songs with great ideas, wonderful lyrics, beautiful rhymes and wonderful melodies. I don't hear that anymore, I feel very angry about that. People are making great records because of all the technical abilities, but what I try to do is turn all that stuff off. Do you have a song when you're done?
"I tell these young people to turn off the drums and all that stuff, and ask themselves is there a melody and lyrics there? Can you just sing it there with a guitar or are you locked into all these machines? I don't think they do. If there is one thing I miss in music these days it is great songwriting. I think we've lost it."
(Source: FOX411’s Pop Tarts)
For information on USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net
Hit Songwriter Ken Hirsch Talks About Songwriting, interviewed by Kiran Michaels
Ken Hirsch won First Prize in the Pop category of the 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition as well as the Overall Second Prize with the song he wrote "Is That So Bad", co-written with Rosie Casey, Peter Roberts and Hillary Podell. He has also written the numerous hit songs such as “I've Never Been To Me” by Charlene and top 40 hit song “Two Less Lonely People In The World” by Air Supply. His songs have been recorded by legends in the music business. He talks to Kiran Michaels about how he writes songs and how he gets inspiration for it.
1. You have written with the top names in the business today such as Hal David ("Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head", "This Guy's in Love with You"), Gerry Goffin ("Will You Love Me Tomorrow"), Paul Williams ("Evergreen"), Howard Greenfield ("Breaking Up Is Hard to Do"), Ron Miller ("I've Never Been To Me" & "Touch Me in the Morning') and have written songs that have been recorded by the the biggest names: Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Air Supply, etc. Can you describe how you write a song?
In my case, with most of the above co-writers, I created a complete melody first (which is always subject to change and molding)and then played it for them either live or on tape. Most of these co-writers like to be inspired by a melody and rarely just write a freestanding lyric. With Howie Greenfield, "Two Less Lonely People In The World" started as a title he had come up with from his personal book of titles and lyric fragments. However, there have been just as many co-writes that happen simultaneously in the room which brings a whole other type of energy to the process. On rare occasions I am given a partial/completed lyric or a lyric idea. All three procedures are viable as long as the results work. Every other blue moon I write both music and lyrics and thus avoid any creative conflicts and sharing of royalties!
2. Hal David, Gerry Goffin and Howard Greenfield sounded like the people from the Brill Building. Did you ever write songs at the famed Brill building?
No, when I was hitting the streets in 1970, it was kind of the end of the Brill building era but a publisher I played my songs for in the building connected me with Doc Pomus ("Save The Last Dance For Me", "This Magic Moment"), one of the most famous of the Brill Building writers, who became my partner and mentor.
3. How do you get ideas for creating a melody?
Other than seeing what bills need to be paid, usually an interesting set of intervals or chord progression can get the juices flowing.
4. Who is your favorite songwriter, music wise? What did you learn from him/her?
In Pop it would have to be Burt Bacharach and Carol King. Burt's sophistication combined with his innate soulfulness and Carol's ability to write hooks with a soulful energy are masterful. They write melodies that are both accessible and unpredictable. Then there's everyone else from Irving Berlin to Richard Rogers to Jule Styne to McCartney/Lennon to James Taylor to Ashford & Simpson, etc.
5. Who is your favorite songwriter, lyric wise?
I've been fortunate to write with some of the best so they all fall into that category. I personally like lyrics that aren't too obscure, can be easily grasped or tell a great story. Everyone from Sammy Cahn to Marty Panzer to so many of the country writers who really are wordsmiths of the first order.
6. How did you write your winning song? Did the melody come first or the lyrics or background music?
Our song "Is That So Bad" (co-written with Rosie Casey, Peter Roberts and Hillary Podell) actually started with a track that Peter was working on. I added most of the melody and Rosie and Hillary, an artist we were working with, created the lyric. It was loosely based on Hillary's own experience and then fleshed out by Rosie. A fortunate confluence of events! The final demo was produced by Smidi Smith and sung by Windy Wagner, so it's had quite a journey - so far!
7. The top 3 winners this past year were all collaborations. Is collaboration in Songwriting important these days?
It is and it isn't. It depends on your strengths and ability to work with others. But collaborations generally bring a lot of energy and ideas to the table that you necessarily wouldn't have come up with yourself.
8. Can you describe the collaboration with other writers and producers?
If everyone is pulling in the same direction it can be inspiring. It helps if everyone can put their egos aside and concentrate on the work. It's always a gamble, certain collaborators pull things out of you that you did not foresee. It sometimes puts you into a different zone than what you're comfortable with but that can have positive results. I've been writing a musical "An Officer and a Gentleman" with Robin Lerner ("This Kiss") and although we've never collaborated before we're both bringing different sensibilities to the project and it seems to be melding really well. So the crapshoot this time is paying off!
9. What advice would you give to up-and-coming songwriters out there?
It's all been said a million times but try to go with your gut and try not to compromise too much. Having said that, try to be as objective as you can. Don't fall in love with everything you write, many of the times it can be improved. Don't be reluctant to give up on an idea if it's not working. I try to separate myself from the writing and put myself in the place of the audience and imagine if I would enjoy listening to this song or if it moves me. And it helps to have a very thick skin, never take the rejections personally - as hard as they may be to accept, there might be a fairy tale ending just around the corner. And always keep the tape recorder running!
Ken will be performing his winning song along with a medley of his hit songs “I've Never Been To Me”, “Two Less Only People In The World”, etc at USA Songwriting Competition's showcase at Bluebird Cafe on May 5th.
USA Songwriting Competition winner Christopher Tin wins 2 Grammy Awards at last night's 53rd Annual Grammy Awards. This marks a historic win, making Christopher the only USA Songwriting Competition winner to win 2 Grammy Awards in the same year. Christopher Tin won an honorable mention award at the 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition with the same song that won two Grammy awards.
Christopher Tin is an American, Grammy-winning composer whose work is primarily classical, with a world music influence. He won two Grammy Awards for his classical crossover album, Calling All Dawns. He is also a composer for films, video games and commercials. Tin is best known for his composition Baba Yetu, featured in the 2005 computer game, Civilization IV. Christopher Tin made video game history today, becoming the first composer to win a Grammy Award for a song composed for a game. Tin took out the Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) at the 53rd Grammy Awards in Los Angeles yesterday for his composition "Baba Yetu", the opening track from Sid Meier's Civilization IV. Tin also won the Grammy for Best Classical Crossover Album for his debut album, Calling All Dawns, which also features the song "Baba Yetu".
He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, becoming the first to be awarded one for film scoring, to study composition and conducting at the Royal College of Music in London, and he graduated with a MMus with Distinction. He was also the winner of the Horovitz composition prize, and graduated with the highest grades in his class. He was also commissioned by the US Embassy in London to compose music for a string quartet. In 2003, he became a Sundance Institute Film Music Lab Fellow.
Darrell Scott (2005 USA Songwriting Competition First Prize Winner, Country) was nominated for a Grammy Award of Best Country Instrumental Performance of his song "Willow Creek" at the latest 53rd Grammy awards.
Past USA Songwriting Competition winners that have gone on to win Grammy awards include: Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxler who won first prize in the Children's catgeory of the USA Songwriting 2004 and won a Grammy in 2005. Current top winner of the USA Songwriting Competition, Alannah Myles won a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Performance in 1991. Dave Merenda (Honorable Mention Winner, 15th USA Songwriting Competition) won a grammy award as a co-writer with Sarah McLaughlin with their song "I will Remember You". Dave will be performing live at USA Songwriting Competition's songwriters showcase during the SXSW (South By South West) on Friday 18, 2011 at Borders Books & Music (4477 S. Lamar, Austin, TX).
USA Songwriting Competition has a long history of having winners getting success, recording and publishing contracts, have their songs placed on the charts as well as having their songs placed on film and television. 2009 First Prize winner (country) was signed to Universal Records. 2005 First Prize winner (Pop) Kate Voegele was signed to Interscope Records the year after she won and had her winning song hit top 40 on the Billboard Charts, her latest album hit Top 10 on the Billboard 200 Album charts this summer. 2007 Overall Grand Prize Winner Ari Gold had his winning song “Where The Music Takes You” hit #10 on the Billboard Dance Charts. Judges include A&R managers from record labels such as Warner, Capitol Records, Universal, BMG/SONY Music.
For more information on the 16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, visit:
Results of the 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition have been announced. Canadian singer-songwriter Alannah Myles and prolific Los Angeles songwriter Ken Hirsch won the top two positions of the 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition respectively. This also marks the first time that music industry veterans dominate the top two positions of the USA Songwriting Competition fifteen year history.
Toronto Canada based Alannah Myles and co-writer Nancy Simmonds won Overall Grand Prize as well as the first prize of the Rock/Alternative category with their song “Give Me Love”. Alannah Myles is known for her Classic Rock hit “Black Velvet”. “Black Velvet” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1990, won a Grammy award in 1991 for the same song. That song has become a classic and is a mainstay on Classic Rock and Pop radio stations worldwide. With her latest win, Alannah Myles is launching a comeback. This also marks only the second time that the top prize went to a non-US based songwriter. The last time the top prize when to a non-US based songwriter was 2006 when Vikki Simpson of the group “The Waifs” won.
Ken Hirsch and co-writers Rosie Casey, Peter Roberts & Hillary Podell of Los Angeles, CA won first prize in the Pop category as well as Overall second Prize with their song “Is that So Bad”. Ken Hirsch is a prolific songwriter with several hits on the charts and is well known for his number one hit “I've Never Been To Me”. Like Alannah Myles's “Black Velvet”, “I've Never Been To Me” has also become a classic hit and is a mainstay on Classic Pop, Soft Rock and easy listening radio stations worldwide. Ken has also written hits such as “Two Less Lonely People In The World”, a top 40 hit for Air Supply which he wrote with late legendary songwriter Howard Greenfield. Ken Hirsch has his songs recorded by music legends such as: Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton. Ray Charles and Mary J. Blige. Rounding of the top three is Ason, a Hip-Hop up-and-coming act from Upper Marlboro, MD, who won Overall Third Prize as well as First Prize in the Hip-Hop category.
Other winners of the USA Songwriting Competition were amazed by the top 3 placements. Sherri Gough, who won the first prize in the Lyrics Only category said "Wow, I'm humbled that I was even in the same category with these songwriters, Congratulations to the top three winners".
Music industry insiders have been impressed with the quality of songs submitted at the USA Songwriting Competition. "Very high caliber of submissions. USA Songwriting Competition is always ahead of the curve", said Rob Reinhart, DJ of the "Acoustic Cafe", a syndicated radio program that appears in 65 different radio stations in US and Canada. "USA Songwriting Competition is a great place for talent to be found", said Monte Lipman, President & CEO of Universal Records.
Christopher Tin, an Honorable Mention winner of the 15th USA Songwriting Competition has been nominated for two Grammys at the latest 53rd annual Grammy Awards: 'Best Classical Crossover Album', and 'Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists' for his USA Songwriting Competition song entry 'Baba Yetu'. 'Baba Yetu' won an honorable mention award in the 2010 USA Songwriting Competition. For the list of full winners, see: http://www.songwriting.net/winners
USA Songwriting Competition has a long history of having winners getting recording and publishing contracts, have their songs placed on the charts as well as having their songs placed on film and television. 2009 First Prize winner (country) was signed to Universal Records. 2005 First Prize winner (Pop) Kate Voegele was signed to Interscope Records the year after she won and had her winning song hit top 40 on the Billboard Charts, her latest album hit Top 10 on the Billboard 200 Album charts this summer. 2007 Overall Grand Prize Winner Ari Gold had his winning song “Where The Music Takes You” hit #10 on the Billboard Dance Charts. Darrell Scott, winner of the country category of the 2005 USA Song writing Competition had his winning song cut by award winning country singer Faith Hill. Judges include A&R managers from record labels such as Warner, Capitol Records, Universal, BMG/SONY Music.
Entries are currently being accepted for the 16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition. Winning songs of the 16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition will receive airplay on a nationally syndicated radio program “Acoustic Café” as well as Sirius XM Satellite Radio. This is the first Songwriting Competition that gives airplay to the winning songs, giving deserving bands, songwriters the recognition and exposure they deserve. Entrants stand to win a grand prize of over US$50,000 in cash and music gear from sponsors such as Sony, D’Addario Strings, Ableton, Audio-Technica, Presonus, IK Multimedia, and more, making this the largest prize package for any annual songwriting competition. Other sponsors include: New Music Weekly, Loggins Promotion, AirplayAccess.com, Onboard Research, Acoustica, Livewire Musician, Sonoma Wireworks, Rockstar Texting, Image line Recording magazine and Premier Guitar magazine.
Songs may be entered in 15 different categories including Pop, Rock/Alternative, R&B and Country. Entries are accepted from now through May 31, 2011. For more information, visit: http://www.songwriting.net