10 Reasons Songwriters Should Pitch Their Own Songs

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When I signed my first publishing deal with Major Bob Music, I thought, “This is great!  I can just sit in my writer’s room, write every day, and let our three songpluggers pitch my songs and get ‘em cut.”  This was a mistake.  Not that Scot, Mike, and Jesse weren’t smart, hardworking guys who wanted me to succeed.  No, those guys worked hard for all of their writers.  It was a mistake because I spent the first couple years of that deal missing out on the benefits of pitching my own songs.  Here are ten benefits.

1. My odds improve.

It’s HARD to get cuts, so I want all hands on deck.  Simply put, the more songs of mine that are getting pitched, the better the chance of the right song hitting the right ears at the right time.

2. My back catalog stays active.

When you leave a publishing deal, it’s natural for your pluggers to back-burner your old songs and focus on their current writers and their newest songs.  Pitching my own songs helps keep my best old songs in circulation.

3. I hear my songs more honestly.

Sitting across the desk from a producer or A&R rep makes me hear my songs differently.  Little flaws which I might’ve ignored before become more obvious, especially if they pass on the song.  Over time, this kind of listening makes my “flaw-detector” more sensitive when I’m writing.

4. I demo songs more wisely.

On a related note, the experience and feedback I get from pitching helps me demo only my best-chance songs.  My flaw-detector is more sensitive, and I ask myself important questions like, “Do I ever pitch this type of song?  Does this type of song ever get kept or cut?  Is this song going to replace one of the songs I’m currently pitching?  Am I excited about playing this song for so-and-so?”

5. Nobody knows my catalog better than I do.

Sometimes, a song may sit around for years before the right pitch comes along.  A plugger probably won’t remember it if it’s not in the regular pitching rotation.  But I might.  For example, when I heard that comedy legend, Ray Stevens, was doing a political album, I dusted off an old, never-before-pitched song called “Fly Over Country,” which had reverted back to me from my Major Bob deal.  Ray cut it.

6. It builds my personal brand.

An A&R rep may hear five of my songs in a day from five different sources.  That’s great, but they might never know those are my songs.  They might associate the songs with my cowriters or the publishers who brought them.  If it’s ME in the room, though, the rep hears several of my songs in a row and get to put my face to the name on the CD.  And I get to do the same, which is handy if I see them out at an industry function.  Oh,and I hopefully get them to like me as a person, which never hurts.

7. It can lead to cowrites.

When an A&R or producer associates your amazing songs with you- an amazing person – and you happen to be in the room with them… they might just decide to hook you up for a cowrite with another writer they dig or (even better) one of their artists.  It’s a beautiful thing.

8. I get the inside scoop.

The A&R/producer  can tell me what they need, and I can ask followup questions.  That may bring to mind another song from my catalog (from any publisher I’ve had) which I can play right then or send later.  And this info won’t have the chance of getting mis-relayed or not relayed at all to me by my plugger.

9. My songs are the focus of the pitch meeting.

My plugger goes into meetings representing several writers, all of whom are really good.  So while I might land a couple of songs in the meeting, there are others that won’t be mine.  But in my meetings, I’m on all the songs.  More pitches, more chances to win.

10. I develop my own contacts.

What happens if your songplugger gets hit by a bus?  Or if you lose your publishing deal?  If you’re only relying on your plugger’s contacts and don’t have any of your own, your songs aren’t gonna get heard as often.  I’ve been between deals, and it felt good knowing (and not just hoping) that my songs were still getting pitched.

So, there you go.  My top ten reasons songwriters should pitch their own songs.  Now, please forget everything you just read- I don’t need the extra competition.

God Bless,

Brent

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10 thoughts on “10 Reasons Songwriters Should Pitch Their Own Songs”

  1. You covered some excellent points. The only point missing for me (due to my ignorance) is how to pitch songs. I can’t walk up to Ray Stevens and say I’ve got a song I want you to listen to. In fact, from my understanding there is not a single publisher in Nashville that will let you just walk in with a song. So how is it done? How do you pitch your own songs? The only way I have discovered is when I pitch it out the window or into the round file. I’m guessing it is all about who you know, but unfortunately I’m not connected and I’m not ready to quit my day job and move to Nashville.

  2. good morning Brett,
    I hadn’t given the subject such an in depth “think”, as your 10 points here. I live in Northern Michigan (yes, it it currently snowing out side) and am a “staff” songwriter for a mid-size Nashville Publishing Company. This year Rick and his songpluggers have gotten me one indie cut and a hold (hold has expired). My co-writers and I have one Major hold, and a “first refusal” on the next 3 demos (2 for a Major Artist next gospel release, and one for a blues artist who loves the title and words for our next blues demo in Nashville).
    I have had 65 indie song cuts over the last 14 years without the “help” of a publisher…as I’ve said your 10 points here, on this subject, have been very eye-opening for me…now all I have to do is figure out the next steps I need to take
    Hope you don’t get tired of people telling you THANK YOU

    Best regards Terry Becks

  3. A sincere thank you for this blog, Brent. Excellent stuff! Hope our paths cross at some point so I can thank you in person. Keep the salty blogs a-comin’! I’m a sponge! 🙂

  4. Your blogs are really helpful and I look forward to them every time. As a young, beginner songwriter, I need all the help I can get. I’ve learned so much from you, a real eye-opener. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to help others like myself.

    God bless,
    Soulei

  5. Hi Brent!
    I am looking forward to going over all of your blogs after I get out of Univercity and regurgitation…songwriting is my joy!
    Have a great day!
    Rachel

  6. You are exactly right on this Brent, and to expound very simply on point #9, the publisher has multiple songwriters to be concerned with. You have have one. Point #5 is a very good one as well. I still pitch a number of my songs that are 15-20 years or more old. As your past publishers change staffs or the catalogs get sold, most songs become lost in the files, rarely pitched. Also, the ever changing plugging staffs are always more focused on the new signings, the people they brought in, the songwriters they’ve committed to and their jobs may be on the line for. Another point….pitching your own songs keeps you in the game, keeps you aware of what’s going on, keeps you from isolating yourself too much. So, there’s my two cents worth.

    1. Thanks, Byron! (And for the record, ya’ll- Byron’s two cents are worth a whole lot. He’s had more cuts and hits than I can count. Great writer and a real pro.)

  7. The funnel effect. I love it! Nobody knows you, quite like you. -10 hand claps here Brent! I’m standing as well!

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