Self-Publishing Your Top Songs

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The marketing machines of the major record labels apply a formula to select popular artists, which includes factors like age, image, and a promising trend in preliminary record sales. Many stars write their own material, only on occasion releasing a song by someone else that suits their style. A truly memorable and we-written song should be able to cross genres and genders. The majority of CD customers and concert ticket-buyers are male, a fact that’s definitely part of the winning formula. Moreover, a mainstream rock hit by Supertramp for example, can be arranged for a commercial female country singer and dropped into her latest album and concert tour very profitably, no matter how badly butchered by the “twang” of the lady in the cowboy hat.

There is the expectation that a good song will somehow get around, a thought that’s a least cause for a thread of optimism among unknown tunesmiths. The right connections may be right around the corner, so they add more compositions to the lineup of top songs ready to be delivered to the music marketing machine in exchange for gold and glory. It’s almost mandatory to delude oneself when faced with a creative effort without deadline or outlet and nothing to show for it but a box full of mailed-back demos and rejection letters. Even if an A & R person did open it, they only listen to ten seconds of a song before rendering judgment whether they’re looking for this type of song.

It’s particularly impossible to approach a major label as a songwriter who also wants to be a performer but has no track record as a sure-fire hit because corporations can’t use guesswork to estimate future sales. They have promotion budgets assigned well ahead of time like any good business. Goodwill and sponsorship of a budding talent can’t be the day’s priority nor can the spirit of sudden discovery be expressed in the project-driven hallways where people in a hurry carry graphs and spreadsheets into the morning meetings to justify their existence in terms of what is required of them by their higher-ups.

There are web sites with free membership where you can showcase your music and have an accepted way to show demos online. As a medium for music commerce the internet is still experiencing growing pains – slowly finding ways to derive micro-profits from music sales after the initial “dirty bomb” effect of splattering free music around the world to the point that many young people expect music to be free as a matter of course. Dollar downloads are set up by musicians through sites like CD Baby that not only sells CDs but also distributes the artists’ MP3 files to numerous download sites. One musician reports his total after six years in this vast network, his gross earnings had not yet reached eight dollars, which speaks volumes for the necessity of visitor traffic to those pages. The cost of advertising would far outweigh the sales; the conversion rate is exceptionally low due to the customer facing long and tedious process of filling out forms to make a mere $.99 purchase. There is no way to change the design of the pages to include calls to action saying “get the credit card out of your wallet before I starve!”

A recent addition to free online resources for songwriters is This site allows the composer to issue contracts for licensing rights to their music at prices set by the writer. It also gives a capability to sell MP3 downloads and has a range of widgets that can be placed onto other websites. Once the widget is installed, the music list plays automatically when the site loads and a visitor clicking on the artist picture will link back to the page. By advertising and optimizing the site for traffic with the primary domain name, you can have people like film producers link into the sub-folder of your page. The site is a chore to navigate for people with slow connections due to the fact that songs to be played come up in junior windows and clicking through a single artist’s functions opens new browsers. A very good feature is the placement of an artist’s picture and songs in the upper right-hand corner of every other artist page to help in discovery by interested parties. This system shows promise in the ability to self-publish musical pieces.

About the Author

Canadian songwriter Pat Boardman traveled as a professional musician and has written songs in several genres. Like most musicians, he uses social networking sites like MySpace to develop a modest fan base. He lists his top songs online for licensing purposes.

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