You may not have discovered this yet but not every artist writes their own songs. For varying reasons many major artists “cut” songs or in some cases they buy them outright from songwriters. Although the most common scenario is that they will cut the song and what this means is that the songwriter who wrote the song and artist who wants to cut it will enter into a contract that will allow the recording artist to license, record, and release the song alone as a single or put it on their upcoming record. The term “pitching” and sometimes called “plugging” is the process in which the songwriter submits a song they wrote to an artist or the artist’s management team through different methods including publishers and professional song pluggers.
If you’re curious whether your song is ready to pitch to a record label artist here are some guides and questions to ask yourself.
First off your song must be commercially appealing or following a similar trend to you can find on radio. Use the radio and the billboard chart (i.e. top 40) to gain and understanding of the different types of songs that are hot on radio and climbing billboard charts. Writing an outdated song, even one that is similar to what was on the radio months ago, will severely decrease your chances of successfully pitching your song. Keep current with the times or even attempt to stay ahead of the trend.
Your lyrics need symmetry and need to be uniform to the core concept of the song idea. What this means is sticking to ONE point or purpose for the lyric and having the whole of the song support that one theme. All of the words in the verse and chorus should purposefully support the hook or title of the song. In every line that you write ask yourself “Does this agree with the main concept of the song and does each new line that I’m writing bring added value to the main subject?” The words and lingo you use need to be trendy as well or similar to the lyrical content of what’s currently climbing the billboards.
Vocal melodies and cadence: This is quite tricky. While there are some very basic guidelines to follow it’s somewhat subjective as to what a commercial vocal melody sounds like because many songwriters will hear and interpret something very different. The goal is to create “catchy” melodies and you may need help from a professional who knows how to write catchy melodies in order to see for yourself how it’s done.
Last but certainly not least- this may be the most important point I could make so listen up. The song demo MUST be strong and well representative of the identity you envision for your song. A low quality or poorly recorded demo will completely ruin your odds of getting a song cut with a major artist. You don’t necessarily have to have a fully produced recording but I strongly recommend you record a full production demo with a skilled and experienced producer and will greatly increase your chance of getting your song on an artist’s next record. If you don’t have the budget to go that route then a quality recording of a piano or guitar vocal demo may work out if it’s a really incredible song. Nonetheless if you’re ever in doubt, make sure to reach out to a professional that has had success in their field and knows how to help improve your song.
As always you should constantly continue writing songs to improve your skills. You know what they say- practice makes perfect and there is certainly no exception in songwriting.