It’s sort of like looking up a very steep hill – there’s a venue you’re hoping to play at, but they have no idea who you are. How do you get their attention?

Having been a venue operator “back in the day,” I’ve received numerous “cold” contacts. Some of them got me to respond positively, and some didn’t. If you condense everything into the most concentrated form, the folks that had a chance of a positive response were the ones who took the time to establish a real, individual relationship. The ones who didn’t make the effort were either politely declined, or ignored completely, depending upon the severity of their conduct.

So…what does all that mean, exactly? Well, speaking for myself:

1) From a marketing standpoint, a cold-contact is you selling me (the booker) a relatively expensive product that I’m not sure I want. The key thing there is “I.” What might sell someone else on your gig is not guaranteed to convince me that it’s a good idea. You need to have some idea of what the individual venue wants. This means that you have to do your homework in some way. If there’s a web resource with booking information, make sure to read through that info, being careful to pay attention to anything that deals with the business side of the show.

2) The initial contact should come from someone who cares intimately about the specific show you’re trying to do. For a lot of independent musicians, this means you, the musician. Lots of emails, social-media messages, and phone calls get ignored. They get ignored even harder when they come from some nameless, faceless person at a booking agency or label. The prime reason for that rejection is because the nameless-faceless doesn’t care enough about your show to do the homework on the venue. They just “shotgun” a whole pile of messages to a whole pile of places after minimal research – and it’s obvious that they’re doing so.

As a booker, I got lots of emails from the nameless-faceless crowd that were clearly all from the same “Los Angeles Pop-Punk-Metal-Crossover Band Generator” template, and that blatantly ignored booking information that was publicly available. For a while, I answered those emails, only to get into crushingly tiresome conversations where the nameless-faceless tried to negotiate on various aspects of the (again) publicly available information. I eventually realized what a waste of time it was, and just deleted the emails.

3) Related to the above, be sure that however you make the initial contact, make clear that the venue’s business needs, as they’ve outlined, are understood by you. Failing to make this clear can cause you to be de-prioritized, especially if the venue does have booking information available You want to avoid creating a request that requires the information to be spoon-fed to you. The entire point of putting those whys and wherefores in a public place was so that it wouldn’t have to be endlessly discussed in a million emails and phone calls.

(Now, of course, if the venue doesn’t have that information available, you’ll probably have to ask them about it during the initial contact. There’s nothing wrong with that – just make sure that you ask BEFORE pitching anything.)

4) When making your pitch, focus intently upon what is truly actionable in terms of creating a profitable event for the venue. This is something of a ruthless process, because a lot of standard sales-pitch elements simply don’t apply. For example:

Who you’ve shared the stage with doesn’t matter. Plenty of bands who had no business being on stage with anyone else have talked their way onto shows with decent acts. I’ve been witness to it. Besides, the general public doesn’t care that you’ve been on deck with [someone they may or may not care about]. They (and the venue) do care about whether they like you, and are willing to come out and see YOU.

Where you’ve played doesn’t matter. It matters even less than who you’ve played with. It’s not a measure of meaningful exposure at all. You might have played a 1000 seat auditorium, but only 50 people were in attendance. And again, the show-going public doesn’t give a hoot. The biggest, hottest promoter in town could run giant ads through all the local media outlets, proclaiming that [Your Band] has played [Somewhere Else], and the reaction from the public will be “Who?” and “So?”

The number of Insta-Face-Twitter-Verbnation followers you have is almost completely irrelevant. How many of those people are local? How many will buy a ticket to your show, on the night in question, at that venue? How many are actually engaged?

An example of what IS actionable is evidence of people clamoring for you to do a show in their town. If you can show a venue some sort of real proof that you have an engaged, dedicated audience in their area that can at least half-fill the room, that’s a powerful tool.

Another example of what’s actionable is you being friends with some local bands that have a track-record of doing well at that venue, or at places similar to it. That leads into the “Zen” approach…

…which is “cold contacting” a venue without cold contacting them at all. Rather, you make friends with a band that has a good relationship with the room. They are the ones who are known as being a money-maker for the place, and as cool people. They get booked, they get you on the bill by leveraging their reputation, and then (very crucially), you come in, treat everybody beautifully, and help increase the size of the crowd. Everybody wins, and the venue gets to know you.

The point is that you have to create a relationship with someone, somehow. It involves time and effort, but the potential payoff can certainly be worth it.

Ask The Captain: Episode II – Monetizing Your Email List

Posted by Carlos Castillo on Thursday, March 10, 2016

A while back, one of our Schwilly Family members, Adam Price, wrote me an e-mail to tell me how he is making a living playing music in nursing homes. I thought it would be a great idea to share with you all, so I interviewed Adam to find out how he got started and where it has led him. I know you’ll get some great information out of his answers!

Captain:

Thank you very much, Adam, for sharing this idea with us and taking the time out to answer my questions.  Let’s start at the beginning. Why did you start playing in nursing homes?

Adam:

Actually, life threw me a curve ball. I was a marketing consultant working 18 to 20 hours a day and it nearly killed me. I had no time for music or for anything else except the business. After a time, I fell ill and was sent to the hospital. While I was there in the hospital, I realized that at least I would be able to get out, but many of the people there had only one way out and that was in a box. These are people who have built our local cities, business people, doctors, white and blue color workers, and many of them were lonely and didn’t have anyone.

While I was in the hospital, I LOVED seeing a new face. Being in isolation is extremely hard and lonely . . . and that is my WHY. The joy I give to the people in the nursing home is the joy I get out of playing my music to them.

Captain:

What did you do to get started?

Adam:

When I first started, I got in touch with the homes and quickly found out I needed to ask for their “Activities Director.” Many homes have more than one, but I speak to one and go from there. I needed to be ready to answer questions such as:

  1. Where are you from?
  2. Do you have insurance and tax forms for payment?
  3. How much do you charge?
  4. Do you have a criminal background check?
  5. What type of music do you play?

Very early on when I first started, there was no payment for such gigs, only a $10 or $20 gift certificate or perhaps some money for gas. This is where some artists might think, “Oh, there is no money in nursing home gigs,” but over time I built a reputable name for myself as a professional entertainer who specializes in aged care and senior concerts.

After about 2 years of building up my name, I told them I couldn’t keep going without payment. When I set up a price range of $80 to $100 for an hour show, they were happy to oblige since their residents were already relying on my shows.

I also approached local businesses and got sponsorship from those who wanted nursing homes as their clients. Music was the perfect gift for the business to give to the residents and their business cards were left with the homes: A win-win situation for both (and for me).

Captain:

Sure sounds like it. So, let’s get down to specifics. How often do you play? How long is a normal set? What is your audience like? How much do you get paid now?

Adam:

I play 10 shows a week at nursing homes, mostly on weekdays. This is now a full-time income for me and makes up the bread and butter for my music career in between gigging on the weekends.

Typically a show goes for 1 hour and fits in with the nursing home schedule which is usually from 10:30 to 11:30 in the morning or 1:30 to 2:30 in the afternoon.

In a nursing home, typically you’ll have anywhere from 20 to 50 residents attend, but if you’re new, don’t expect too many to come. But over time, as they grow to like you and your music, they don’t want to miss your shows.

But it really varies. I’ve sung for a room with three elderly citizens in it (two of them dozing off to sleep but waking up to clap at the end of each song—hilarious!), and I’ve also sung for a room of 200+ seniors in local clubs where morning tea shows are held and attended by all the nursing homes in the areas.

At the moment, my rates are as follows:

Weekday shows – 10 am to 4 pm – $80 / hour

Saturday shows – 10 am to 4 pm – $100 / hour

Sunday shows – 10 am to 4 pm – $150 / hours

The important thing is to have a rate card ready, but DON’T talk turkey until after they’ve at least heard you play or you will shoot yourself in the foot and possibly close the doors before they even open.

I did shows for free to a very little ($30) for the first year or so to get booked solid, then I told them I needed to up the ante to $50 / show for the following six months. After that I increased prices slow to get to where I am now.

Captain:

Great! Now, tell us what kinds of adjustments you need to make in your show when you play in a nursing home.

Adam:

You really need to think about repertoire and how you can get the residents (especially the high-dementia patients) out of themselves and reacting to the music you’re playing.

It is important to remember that it’s not about you or you music in the homes. It’s all about how skilled you are at holding their attention, interacting with them and making them come alive. If you do this, you’ll gain a place in the hearts of the nursing home activities directors and the managers as someone who is therapeutic to their residents, and you’ll NEVER be without paid work.

As far as volume goes, always ask the activities director if the volume is OK. I crank the volume up at some places but others need it at a whisper. But you will find that residents with hearing aids will cover their ears, not necessarily because you are a bad singer but because the loudness hurts their ears.

As for pace, do a mix of slow older songs (Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, Englebert Humperdinck) and then mix it up with some faster rock ‘n roll and country rock—anything with a good beat they’ll like once you connect with them.

For interaction, do singalong songs such as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”. Look up singalong songs on Google and you’ll find tons of them. The key is to ask the residents what their favorite songs are. You’ll get golden nuggets of songs you’ve never heard of before, but when you learn the song and sing it for them the next time, their families and staff will be amazed at how they “wake up” to their favorite songs.

Captain:

That must be an amazing feeling to see that. Another question: have you been able to book other shows as a result of playing in a nursing home?

Adam:

YES . . . Weddings, 60th to 100th birthdays (mind you, 100th birthdays play BIG TIME, like $1,000s for a couple of hours), engagement parties, special event days, etc . . . All of these facilities have staff and the residents have family members who have seen you play.

You can also take CDs/DVDs to sell at these places and they will buy them by the bucket load at some of them. At others not so many, but it all adds up.

Captain:

Great ideas! I know that the Senior Center here in town has music for their lunch hour and many different holiday celebrations. I imagine that is similar to the morning tea shows you mentioned before.

Adam:

Yes, any place or activity where seniors are specifically invited can be a potential gig. I would like to add, though, that it takes a special personality to get along best in this type of venue. You must be someone who GENUINELY cares about senior citizens and their well-being and who likes the crooning songs, old time favorites, and singalongs that they enjoy.

I once got some feedback about a band that said to the audience, “Don’t sing. We are the singers and you should be listening to us.” If you’re one of this type of entertainer and don’t want to hear the residents singing or yelling out of tune back at you, then DON’T DO nursing home shows!

One of the funniest times of a show is when the nursing home staff get involved and dance and try to sing along with me. The residents absolutely LOVE it when the staff they know get involved in a show, and so do I!

Captain:

Thank you so much, Adam, for the great information. Do you have a website or e-mail address where other musicians might get in touch with you if they have any questions?

Adam:

You’re welcome. Yes, they can get in touch with me at: AdamPriceCountryMusic.Com

With almost 200 shows and multiple music conferences in the past two years, Maddy and I have learned a ton about the current music industry. For those wanting a career as singer-songwriters, here are a two things we think are worth keeping in mind…

PART 1: Making an album is no longer profitable, but we still need to record and release music.

We all know that while royalties and music sales have virtually disappeared, the costs of making a studio album has not. However, the industry still expects us to have a competitive album or demo before taking us seriously. Everyone is presumed capable of recording a high-quality production in their tablets nowadays, and many do. So albums and EPs have become a business card of sorts – a very expensive business card. What’s more, in today’s oversaturated market, fans expect to hear something new from you every 6 months or less. Otherwise, they may forget you exist.

I told someone earlier this week, if I was starting over right now, I would not do a full-length album like we did initially. I would put all my money in a high-quality EP (3 songs) and release them throughout the year as video singles. And then I would use the rest of my money to market those singles. An album no one hears may not actually exist. Concentrate on quality over quantity, and space it out properly.

If you don’t have the patience to release only 3 songs per year (which Maddy and I don’t), then you have to get more creative. Maddy and I write enough material for a new album yearly, and we want our fans to have it. One of the ways we’re tackling this issue is by doing live albums with lots of new material.

Last year we did a live EP at SugarHill Studios with an in-studio audience of friends and family. The response we received was well worth the experiment – especially to the live video footage.

This year, we recorded our first full-length live album at Lucky Run Studios on Feb. 27th, which we are currently mixing. We sold tickets for two separate performances which funded a large chunk of the project, and gave fans a very unique behind-the-scenes look at our work. And after it’s all said and done, we’ll end up with a lot of new material to release as singles every month or so. So far, the project seems like a winner for everyone involved.

PART 2: Most of the money in the industry is being made through licenses and merchandise.

If you want or need to make money making music, you should focus a big part of your efforts (if not all) on getting your music licensed and/or selling merchandise at live shows. For Maddy and I the goal is to become full-time performing artists, so we spend the time we have performing, and learning how to create a live music experience that results in the sale of a CD, t-shirt, etc.

If it sounds like we care more about making money than making music, consider we can’t make as much music if we don’t make money in the process. We work hard at creating a true musical experience for our audiences – which everyone reading this article understands has a huge personal value. If audiences find value in what they experienced, they’ll want to leave our show with something to remember it by. In our case, we keep our profit margins low in the hope that more people take our music home with them.

For those who are not interested in performing as much as we do, our advice would be to focus their efforts on writing, recording, and releasing music for placement in TV shows, movies, video games, apps, etc. With the plethora of media available in today’s market, one can make a reasonable income from this avenue, and the resulting exposure is often better than radio because people are actually watching these shows, playing the games, etc.

I spoke with Jonny Rodgers of the indie band Cincertalk. He has successfully licensed music for films as well as commercials, non-profits, live theater, and dance. He says artists can expect anything from $150 to $50K for a song placement depending on the use.

For example Broadcast or film tends to pay higher fees, but there’s a greater demand for web use or other lesser-paying media. There are a number of large stock music licensing companies like The Music Bed, Marmoset, and Brash Tracks, as well as boutiques music houses like the one Jonny works with thanks to a personal connection. He says if he was starting out in this industry he would join a performance rights organization like ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC, learn how to run a digital audio workstation, and get a couple of great mics ASAP.

“Take ownership of the recording process and get into situations where you are constantly creating great work, for yourself, or others, or both.”

He also cautioned that some of the larger stock licensing companies signs artists and not songs, “so you should make sure your ‘footprint’ as an artist is strong online; good website, Facebook artist page with fans, possibly videos, and just generally compelling work”.

Of course, there are other ways you can make money with your music, but if you want to make a career out of it, it is important to know that these are sustainable options the industry currently affords us.

Both take a lot of work, but for those who take this career choice seriously that won’t be a problem. The days of someone paying for you to make records are almost gone because the sales of records are almost gone. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that if we can figure out how to be artists and entrepreneurs at the same time, we will be the decision-makers of the industry, and we may be entering an unprecedented era of unbridled artistic integrity. People will always need new music. Our hope is that today’s musicians will re-claim the industry and make it their own.

Here’s the deal:

For the past 30-40 years musicians have been releasing albums. Many times the time between those albums was a year or more.

Many bands and musicians these days still model their own release schedules after this same one.

This is a mistake.

These days you should learning how to release a single and doing it often.

Here’s why.

Why Singles?

A few years back I started to notice that fans were starting to shun albums.

This led me to try an experiment. For a full year, I released one single of my own music once per month.

Here is what I discovered.

1) You Stay Relevant

Assuming you are not god, and can whip out a full album every month, making your fans wait 6 months to a year (or more) between releases is an eternity these days.

Especially when there is so much else going on in the lives of the music fans that we are trying to win over.

By releasing singles, you stay relevant in a music market where releasing music only 1 or 2 times a year is almost the same as releasing nothing at all.

2) You Build A Loyal Fan Base Faster

When you release music, you are essentially opening the up the lines of communication with your fans. The more often that you release music, the faster you and your fans are going to get to know each other.

By releasing singles, you create a loyal fan base faster. A fan base that gets in the habit of getting music from you on a regular basis. They begin to anticipate each release. You win.

3) You Crush Procrastination

By releasing singles you replace procrastination with the sense of purpose that is created from frequent delivery of music.

You can’t sit around and wonder why your career is going nowhere because you have work to do.

4) You Get Paid More Often

Get paid 8 – 12 times per year instead of just once or twice.

If you are willing to put in the time and effort, releasing singles is a great strategy. But how?

How to Release a Singles

Like I mentioned earlier,  I released singles as often as possible over the course of a year (once per month on average).

The following is a rough system I’ve developed which has worked pretty well in some areas but, I’m sure, could use some improvement.

I’ve divided the process into 3 parts; Preparations, Distribution and Amplification.

Here goes:

Preparation

I usually create videos, credits, lyrics, album art, and a blog post up front and have them located in a single folder so when I get to start uploading and filling out album data. Nothing slows you down faster then having to stop everything to dig around for stuff.

Distribution

Time to upload songs, videos and whatever else for distribution. This should be fairly painless if did your job in the preparation phase.

For my song files, I use Bandcamp as my main store where I try to send the bulk of my traffic on release day. I also used CDBaby for my music distribution to services like iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc.

For videos, I just used YouTube. In the past I’ve added videos to other sites like Vimeo and have used use a video distribution service like OneLoad too. Just takes more time and I am only a one man operation. For now, I get enough bang for my buck on YouTube. Really depends on how much time you have and what sort of presence you will have on the other platforms.

Once everything is live on your distribution channels, complete and publish your blog post.

Amplification

Now that everything is set up it is time to start telling your world via what I’m calling Amplification  (could be a better term but it just sounds more musciany don’t you think?

Anyway…).

I started by contacting everyone in my email list (if you don’t have one you are screwing yourself).

Then I make my rounds in the social media world as well as reach out to any blogs, radio and podcast contacts that have featured my music in the past.

There’s More Though

That is the gist.

Everything I’ve listed above should give you a pretty good idea of why and how to release a single.

But, if you’re the kind of musician who wants to dig deeper and improve your chances of creating the maximum amount of buzz, adding new fans and selling all the singles you can, check out my free ebook “Sell More Singles.”

“Sell More Singles” contains an in-depth outline of the entire single release process.

Stuff like;

  • How to prepare your files for distribution,
  • Which services to use to distribute your single on iTunes, Spotify, etc.
  • Where to promote your single
  • and more

Sound cool or what?

It is but I am biased. Go check it out for yourself.

Click here to get a FREE copy of my ebook “Sell More Singles” – You will see exactly how I built my fan base faster, generated more buzz and sold more music by releasing singles.

Get to it!

The holidays are a great opportunity to reach out to your community of supporters and give them opportunities for giving great gifts that involve your music. Here are a few quick ideas:

Idea #1 – The Coupon Clipper: Create a holiday coupon code for your web store and invite them to go nuts shopping. Some example ideas:

30% Off Everything You Buy In My Web Store Until Christmas!

Free Shipping On All Orders Placed By December 15th!

Stocking Stuffer Special: Buy One Album, Get One Free!

Idea #2 – FREE Holiday Song For All: Record a cover of a favorite holiday song, even just a quick acoustic recording, and offer a download of the song for free in your web store. They’ll come visit your web store to grab the free download, and while they’re there, they just might be tantalized by other items you have for sale. Especially if they’re armed with an awesome coupon code, too. (See Idea #1.)

Idea #3 – The Best Gift Of All Time: Offer to write and record a personal song for those who want to give a truly unique and special holiday gift to someone they love. Send them questions to get them writing about the person the song is for, and then use what they’ve written as the source material for their song. Best. Gift. Ever. (Wanna hear a few of the personal songs I’ve written for folks? Check them out here: http://shannoncurtis.net/personalsongs.)

Idea #4 – Play Santa: Pick a few random days on the calendar the first few weeks of December and declare them “Free Album Friday!” or “Free T-shirt Tuesday!” or “Free Poster Sunday!” Tell them you’ll send them a CD/tee/poster for free, all they pay is the shipping, limit one per person. Again, you’ve gotten them to visit the store for the free thing, and once they’re there, they just might shop. In fact, it’s a weird psychological phenomenon that when someone is given something for free, they’re much more likely to buy another thing. Seriously. True story.

Happy Holidays to you! And to your community of supporters, too.

Our business loves to talk about the highest grossing tours. Gossip about who had the biggest ticket revenue is everywhere, and treated as being very important.

And it makes sense.

The gross is a really decent way to measure things like audience interest and performer clout, especially when you bring other measurements into the equation. If a band had an enormous gross, and also had high ticket prices, that tells you that their drawing power is gigantically healthy. The Grateful Dead recently brought their career to a coda, playing at Soldier Field to a total, multi-night crowd of over 200,000 people. (According to Billboard.) They brought in a lot of money, naturally.

The thing is, there’s a question that seems to go unasked and unanswered with all of our hoopla over the gross:

What did the show net?

The Entrepreneurial Aspect

This site is all about being a “musicpreneur.” As a musicpreneur, you are heavily and intimately involved with the business of your music – and a business can’t just look at the gross. You have to be concerned with the net. That is, you have to think, “what’s left over after the costs are subtracted?”

See, it is entirely possible to gross millions of dollars at every show, and end up completely bankrupt in a year. If $1 million comes in, and you spent $1.1 million to make the show happen, you just LOST $100,000 dollars. You might be able to afford to do that for a long time, but unless your cashflow is +$100,000 somewhere else, you won’t be able to do it forever.

A high gross is not a panacea. It’s easy to think that it is, that it will solve all your money problems, but it’s not a guarantee in any way. All it means is that you were able to generate a lot of revenue. That’s great, but the net is what actually determines whether your venture is viable. If the point of doing shows is to make money, and you spend all your earnings on doing the shows, you’re not actually getting anywhere. (You might be having tons of fun and gaining fans, which are two things which do have real value, but that’s beyond the scope of this piece.)

If you want to make things bigger and better, you have to have profits. Even if your “development” expenses can be deducted in an accounting sense, you still have to make enough money to have something to spend and deduct. Even if you’re able to pay yourself as an employee and deduct that from the venture’s earnings, you still have to have an effective net after everything else has been handled.

Billboard estimates that the Soldier Field shows by the Grateful Dead had a revenue of over $24 million. That’s pretty darn nifty, but the entrepreneur in me wants to know more: After all the lighting, sound, video, promo, venue rental, and so on, how much did the band actually get to take home? What’s the net? It may not be a huge issue, seeing as these were the shows to close things up and celebrate, but it’s still relevant.

And for you, who probably are NOT doing your very last show in the near future, the net is even more relevant.

I seem to do a lot of mentoring and coaching of other artists. This isn’t because I feel like I have this all figured out in building a music career, not even close. It’s mostly because I know how hard it is, first hand. I’ve been on this road for 17 years now. And, I also know how frustrating it can be to not have any help as an indie artist when you are trying to figure out the next step.

When I get asked questions from young artists, or artists new to Nashville, I can guarantee I will be asked at least one of these questions. So, I wanted to share the answers for those who might be wondering the same things. In fact, I might just send a link to this blog instead of sitting down for coffee with people from now on. 😉

1. I’ve written some lyrics, could you put them to music?

Usually about twice a month someone asks me to write music for lyrics they’ve written (or lyrics for music). The short answer is “no.” Why the answer is no is that I already have a great group of professional songwriters that I co-write with. We write some really good songs, and we also have some connections to further promote the songs we write- so it’s a win-win for us all. Yes, it is a harsh reality, but it’s also true for me too. For example, I haven’t had 20 #1 hits so I would never walk up to someone who has and ask them to write with me. It’s just one of the unwritten rules in Nashville.

Having said this, some professional songwriters will do paid co-writes with people who have never written a song. It’s one way they monetize their skill. I know a songwriter who does about five of these paid writes a month, and it’s a main source of income for them. And, you can also look for collaborators who are local to where you live too through local songwriting clubs like NSAI.

2. I’ve written a song that would be great for (insert famous person’s name here), how can I get it to them?

First of all, good for you! And, honestly, you have a very slim chance of even getting to the artist with that song and some MAJOR competition. The reason is that most artists write for themselves because they don’t want to lose money in songwriting and publishing royalties. Here’s the real deal…

On every given major artist’s country album, there are usually only about 2 songs that will come from outside the artist’s camp. The artist’s camp is comprised of their producer, publisher and songwriters they know. A good example of this is Luke Bryan. Luke has close-knit group of hit songwriting friends: Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins and Ben Hayslip (known as the Peach Pickers) who write songs with and for him. Dallas and Luke were roommates when they moved to Nashville and have been friends forever. So, unless you are a Peach Picker or writing with one of them somehow, you have a very slim chance of getting Luke to record your song.

So what about the other two songs on the record that weren’t written by the artist or someone in the artist’s camp?

The first place the label is going to go is to their catalog. For example, if Brad Paisley is looking for songs he didn’t write, Sony will go to their publishing company Sony/ATV and they will look through literally thousands of songs they have. The reason is that they have invested money in those songs because they paid staff songwriters (songwriters with publishing deals at Sony) to write them. They want to make their money back, and it makes total business sense they would want to keep that money in the Sony family.

The last place the artist/label is going to look for songs is from a song plugger (someone paid to pitch your songs for you, like an agent) or another publisher. Let me just say that there are a lot of sharks in the water in this world. If you want to try this route and are just starting, use a service like TheSongTuner.com because they actually work with reputable song pluggers and you only pay if you really have a song that fits what are looking for instead of a monthly fee. They also give you constructive feedback on the song.

3. How do you get your songs into film and TV?

Read this blog to answer that one.

4.How do you make money in music?

Ah, the big one. There are lots of ways to make money, but making a living is a whole other story. Let me give you a couple of real examples from my career.

About six years ago, I had my first song cut and released to country radio as a single. The artist spent around $1,200 recording it and $8,000 to promote it, and we were all really excited. The song climbed the charts into the top 60 or so, and got airplay on hundreds of stations. People were sending me emails about how I had ‘arrived.’ It was awesome, and it still is! But, financially from that song, we all made about $30 each on the songwriter/publisher side. Yes, that is all.

Here’s another real-life one. In my experience, indie films pay about $200 to license a song. Recently, I placed a song in an indie film for $75. This was because one of my cowriters really wanted their first film credit, and the story/actors looked reputable. We spent $350 on the demo of that song; we lost $275.

I wish I could say I make a full living doing music. But, I don’t yet. I have a full time day job to fund my music career. And the reality is that most people in Nashville do as well, or they have a bread-winning spouse, parents or an investor. And these economic realities are not only at my career level. I had a friend who was nominated for a Grammy this year, and they couldn’t afford to go to LA to the awards. They are obviously at the top of their game as a Grammy nominee, and they are also someone who has to pay the bills. Just like the rest of us.

5. Have you written any songs I would know?

If you watched Hart of Dixie then the answer is ‘maybe’ because I had some songs on the show. But more than likely, no.

So are you depressed yet?!?! Please keep reading…

Look, I don’t want to give you or anyone else the reality smack down. At the same time, I really don’t want you to have wildly unrealistic expectations of the experience and the economics of pursuing a career in music.

If you truly love writing and performing, and are willing to face the realities above, then move here and do it! It’s like I always say, dreams are free but hustle (and hard work) is sold separately.