Welcome to SelecTone Records
SelecTone for Songwriters
HOW CAN I GET A LIST OF PUBLISHERS WHO ARE ACCEPTING OUTSIDE MATERIAL?
There is no such “list”. There are pitch sheets available that may tell you which artists are looking for material now and who their producers are; however, these lists do not necessarily tell you how to contact these producers. (The idea is that the people the producers want to hear from will know how to get in touch with them.) Such a system helps them weed out what they usually find to be weak material. A very reputable pitch sheet is Row Fax, put out by Music Row Magazine in Nashville. There is an annual fee for this service, which you can receive by fax or email.
NSAI’S SONG EVALUATION SERVICE
To get feedback on you material from a professional writer, you could take advantage of our Song Evaluation Service. It’s included with your NSAI membership (no additional charge), and it works like this: We have a group of professional writers who work with our organization. You send in one of your songs (prepared to our specifications), and the Pro writer records his or her evaluation directly on your tape. Turnaround time is usually 3-5 weeks, so you’ll most likely get 8-12 evaluations per year for your membership. This is one of NSAI’s most popular services.
“HOW CAN I GET A LIST OF PUBLISHERS?”
There’s an 800 number from which you can order the Nashville Yellow Pages: 1-800-682-4000. There is a charge to have this sent to you. When you receive it, look under “Music Publishers.” You will find a comprehensive list there; however, keep in mind that a company’s listing does not necessarily guarantee legitimacy. Anyone can place an ad in the Yellow Pages. Another great source to find a list of publishers is the Music Row (magazine) Publisher Special, available through the NSAI Bookstore. It’s a great reference…and it’s a lot easier to tote around than the Yellow Pages!
“HOW DO I GET MY SONGS HEARD?”
Publishers can get appointments with the artist’s decision makers and have them listen to your songs. Therefore, many writers seek to get their songs to a publisher. This is often a lengthy process. Why? Because a lot of the publishers do not accept “unsolicited material.” Many publishers have their own full-time staff writers whose material they will pitch. You need to seek permission to submit your material to publishers. If you blindly start mailing “unsolicited” material to them, it will usually get returned to you or thrown away.
“AM I DEALING WITH A REPUTABLE COMPANY?”
To find out a little more about a company you’ve been dealing with, you might try checking with the Better Business Bureau of Nashville/Middle Tennessee (615-242-4222) or the State of Tennessee Consumer Affairs Division (800-342-8385 or 615-741-4737) to see if any complaints have been filed.
Should you opt to sign a contract, be sure to have an attorney (preferably an entertainment attorney) review the document. Should you need an attorney in Nashville, the Nashville Bar Association has a Lawyer Referral Service available at 615-242-6546.
Music publishers in the commercial marketplace look for complete songs – words AND music. Therefore, if you write ONLY words or ONLY music, you need to find a co-writer (preferably someone nearby so that you can have more direct creative input into your song). If you mail material to someone who hasn’t asked for it, you’ll get your package back unopened and marked “UNSOLICITED: RETURN TO SENDER” or else thrown away altogether. Therefore, before you start sending material out haphazardly, do yourself a favor: call first to get permission. If someone says yes, get instructions and send your package. If someone says no, they you’ve saved envelopes, postage, cassettes and valuable time.
To locate music publishers, try these sources:
- The Nashville Yellow Pages – The most comprehensive source. Available through your local library or telephone company or at 1-800-682-4000.
- The Songwriter’s Market – Available at your local library or bookstore or through NSAI.
- The Billboard Sourcebook – Available from Billboard Publications, (615-321-4240).
- The Gospel Music Association (GMA) – (615-242-0303).
WHO CAN I TRUST?
Don’t pay anyone any money to listen to or publish your songs. A reputable professional who truly believes in your work will be willing to invest in it at no cost to you.
To best protect your songs AFTER you’ve affixed the copyright notice and/or registered them:
- Keep extensive records (a file for each song is ideal) of what, when, where, who and how your song was created, plus any related correspondence.
- Don’t respond to any ads, solicitations by mail or contests looking for material unless you know and trust the source. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Always have a qualified attorney look over any contract before you sign it.
HOW DO I PROTECT MY SONG?
Once you finish writing your words on your paper and/or singing and playing your song into your tape recorder, you own the copyright, thanks to the revised Copyright Law of 1976. Always place the copyright symbol, the year and your name on any of your cassette labels and on any of your lyric sheets. For example: ©2002 John Doe. Your best proof of ownership is to register your copyright (song) with the U.S. Copyright Office of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Because the registration fee is $30 per tape, many songwriters register compilations of their songs; for example, “The Love Songs of John Doe, ©2002”.
To register your copyright, you’ll need to use Copyright Form PA. You can get that form, and registration instructions/assistance, by calling the Federal Information Center at 1-800-688-9889, by calling the Copyright Office directly at (202) 707-3000 or (202) 707-5959, or by visiting the US Copyright Office website at www.lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/.
- You can’t copyright an idea or a title. Everybody can write a song about love, they just can’t write the SAME (or very similar) lyric and melody.
- Registration isn’t necessary to pitch songs, but it’s always wise to have your songs appropriately marked with the copyright notice.
WHERE DO I START?
First, research and keep current on the music industry through publications such as these:
- The CCM Update (Contemporary Christian Music)
Next, understand that the traditional “song chain” works like this: songwriters to music publishers; music publishers to producers, arts and record companies, and SOMETIMES the song gets recorded.
Therefore, focus on the first level: music publishers. Once you sign a song to a publisher, he or she co-owns the copyright and is entitled to a share of the royalties – usually 50 percent. In exchange, the publisher takes care of all paperwork, demos the song and uses his or her reputation and contacts to try to get the song recorded.
Because most publishers have professional songwriters on staff who write songs for them full time, getting in to see someone may be difficult. To see a music publisher, we suggest that you:
- Follow up on any industry contacts you have.
- Visit Nashville and “hang out” in local clubs to network and make additional contacts.
- Try to contact a music publisher in Nashville be calling or writing each company individually to see if they are willing to listen to your song. If you are professional and courteous in your approach, they may listen.