6 Ways You Might Be Wasting Your Songwriting Money

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

Songwriting is a business, and businesses have to watch the bottom line.

It’s as simple as that. The more money you waste, the less money you’ll have for the important things, the longer it will take you to save up the money to go part-time or quit your day job to pursue songwriting, or the less time you’ll have to get a cut before having to go back to a day job.

Here are six ways songwriters waste money. Avoid them if you can.

1. Demoing unworthy songs.

It’s fun to demo songs, even the ones that’ll never get cut. But from a business perspective, it isn’t always wise. Check out my post on “8 Questions You Should Ask Before You Demo That Song.”

2. Taking trips to Nashville without a plan.

Nashville is a great place to vacation. You can come on up and wing it. That’s cool (I’ve done it). But if it’s a business trip, you need to do some planning. Plan a place or two to play. Try to get a meeting with a PRO rep (ASCAP, BMI or SESAC), NSAI rep, or other legitimate coach/mentor.  Set up some cowrites if you can.

3. Lyric-to-music services.

They’ll take your money and put a melody on your lyric. But you’re simply NOT going to get a cut out of it. I would be shocked if that kind of service has ever… EVER… led to a major label cut.

4. Copyrighting the wrong songs.

Most songs are simply never going to earn the writer a dime. That goes for amateur and pro alike. So, in most cases, copyrighting your song is a waste of both time and money. For more on this topic, read my post, “Should You Copyright Your Song?”

5. Songpluggers.

You know that old joke, “I refuse to join any club that would have ME as a member?” Well, that’s how most songwriters should think about songpluggers. If the only person in Nashville flipping out about your songs is someone who wants you to pay them to pitch your songs, be very cautious. There are probably only a handful of real-deal indie songpluggers in Nashville, and they pretty much just work with established pros (because pros consistently provide the most pitchable songs). Songplugging is so much about relationships. So even if your prospective plugger is honest, he or she may just not be connected enough to get results worth your money.  Be cautious.

6. Non-expert experts.

Anybody can get a website and call themselves a “songwriting coach” or “music biz expert.” That doesn’t mean this person really knows what they’re talking about. Before you buy somebody’s book or time, do your homework. Make sure they really have some track record or street cred. Some mean well. Some are sharks. Either way, wasted money is wasted money.


Take care of your money, and your money will take care of you.

God Bless,

Brent

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8 thoughts on “6 Ways You Might Be Wasting Your Songwriting Money”

  1. Interesting post! #5 & #6 are something I think I figured out a long time ago… I realized in one of my earlier trips to Nashville that the music business extends far beyond Music Row… I have found people that make a living promising to help you make a living, but if you ever do get success you don’t need them. Seems like a vicious circle. 🙂

  2. I like to read what Brent has to say but what bothers me about this piece is it tells what not do do rather than what to do. Most country song awards are going to indie song writers and many of them are not living in Nashville so how do they get discovered or heard?

    1. Hi, Mark. Yep, this post is definitely all about what not to do. The short-form nature of MvR means that these posts will happen from time to time. Other posts are “to do” posts. So if you stick around, you’ll see plenty of those, too, I hope.

      As for how to get discovered or heard, do a search for “publisher” or by the category “Biz” on the site and it should bring up some relevant posts.

      And I’m glad you usually like the posts. I hope they’re helpful!
      God bless,

      Brent

  3. Brent,

    Thank you for this post.

    I’d be interested in hearing your opinion on the value (or lack thereof) of spending your songwriting money to join associations such as the NSAI.

    Thanks,
    Eric

    1. Eric,
      I used to be one of NSAI’s pro mentors. I actually taught one of their Thursday night workshops last month. I think it’s a good organization and worth your money only on one condition- YOU MUST BE ACTIVE! If you pay your money and only occasionally check out a webcast or drop by the office, it probably isn’t worth it. But if you go to the workshops (in person or via webcast), use the song evaluation service, meet with people there, use it to network with other writers, etc, then it’s a great deal. Like most things, what you get out of it depends largely on what you put into it. And that goes for Global Songwriters Connection, Music Industry Blueprint, or anything else.

  4. So, reps at SongCat and ParamountSong have BOTH, personally e-mailed me offering to place their music and vocals to my lyrics….for about $300. per lyric/song…depending on 5 or 7 piece band demos. I have given NOBODY my HARD EARNED monies yet, because I just dont know jack about this business; except the entry fees to SongOfTheYear and USA Songwriting Contest have entered. And how do I know whats going on with my original works as I speak?? But I DO keep reading and educating myself on this music and songwriting business for free from the world wide web. Thank you.

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