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#703890 - 03/21/09 07:00 PM Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches?  
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billrocker Offline
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I had a client retain a Nashville song plugger named Chris Dodson to do plugging for him. The deal was, as I was told, was it would cost $2500 for him to plug my clients songs for 6 months. Originally he said there was a limit of 2-4 songs I believe, but later my client said Mr. Dodson said he could send as many songs as he wanted. He 'loved' just about all of them. I'd told my client that some of the songs would be tough pitches on Music Row but he wanted a second opinion. Fair enough.

My client hadn't heard much from him after 2 and a half months, so he called him. My client said that Chris told him his stuff was being well recieved but no bites.

My client drove from the midwest to meet with Mr. Dodson this week. When they ment my client's first question was, "Can you give me a list or some kind of documentation as to who and when you've pitched my songs?"

Th answer he recieved from Mr Dodson was, "Documentation wasn't part of the package that you purchased." He told him it would be more money if he wanted info on where and to whom he was pitching.

I don't know a ton about song plugging but a well respected plugger who's very active on Music Row's first comment was "OMG!"

Anyone else have any insight into this?

br
www.writethismusic.com

#704096 - 03/22/09 02:59 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: billrocker]  
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Tom Shea Offline
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Sounds like something for nothing. Very disappointing.

Tom


Thomas Shea

Thomas Shea - Songwriting
http://www.soundclick.com/thomasshea

Justice - Songs
http://www.soundclick.com/justice-nebraska

#704168 - 03/22/09 09:19 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Tom Shea]  
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Bill Osofsky Offline
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I got documentation from a wellknown songplugger who was a liar and a cheat. For a list of pitches to matter, you have to be willing to check up on your plugger by calling the people he said he pitched to. And, Bill, I think you should be careful about mentioning people by name on hearsay.

Bill


#704293 - 03/23/09 02:59 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Bill Osofsky]  
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Larry Williams Offline
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I used a reputable plugger for three months a few years ago. I got a monthly report of who he saw, when he saw them (date and time), what they said, and any suggestions he had.

I got a hold on one of my songs - and was told why. Didn't get the cut, but it's further than I had gotten in Nashville on my own.

However, buyer beware. I investigated my plugger by asking around before giving him any money or signing any contract. My co-writer met with him personally as well.


#704309 - 03/23/09 03:39 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Larry Williams]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Bill,


I do know Chris and have known people to have success with him. AS I have always said anybody can have a bad experience. Although to me that is a strange comment from Chris. I would think that any body trying to stay in today's game would want to provide all the documentation he could. I certainly get a fairly complete record of anyone my plugger pitches to, who the contact person, date it was pitched and what result came from it. Hold, pass, etc.

I would always find out who someone represents and contact them. They also should provide some references. I don't think that is too much to ask. But again, I am not in that side of it so I am not the best one to answer. But I am aware of Chris.

I do go back to my initial points on these and all threads
that we area all having to contend with, which is the "inside cut" where artists or their inner circle are writing a majority of the songs. I would just be aware of that before pulling the trigger on anyone, Taxi, song pluggers or anybody. A lot of it is getting in the game and the best way to do this is by writing with the artists, or producers, or anyone that has direct access. Keeping an eye open for up and coming acts are always a great source.

MAB

Last edited by Marc Barnette; 03/23/09 03:40 PM.
#704310 - 03/23/09 03:43 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Larry Williams]  
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Mike Dunbar Offline
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billrocker,

I've met Chris Dodson a time or two, but don't really know him. He's a well-known song-plugger, publisher and producer here who has worked as a songplugger for Mac MacAnally, Gary Nicholson, Walt Aldridge, Bill Anderson, Rodney Crowell, and Sonny Throckmorton, among others. He has a very good track record at placing songs.

I have no personal knowledge about your client's allegations. As Bill Osofsky suggests, naming people based on hearsay is never a good idea.


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#704374 - 03/23/09 07:33 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Mike Dunbar]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Guys,

On thing to keep in mind in all of this when it comes to songpluggers is the song and the presentation have to be SO HIGH!

MAB

#704398 - 03/23/09 09:16 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Stevens119 Offline
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"Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches?"

.....no.

Not to mention, if they are a good plugger, they probably won't remember everybody they have pitched it to. They shouldn't have to or want to write all that stuff down. Their job is to pitch, not to be your song accountant.

#704437 - 03/24/09 01:02 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Stevens119]  
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Tony Marchese Offline
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I am the client BillRocker is referring to and his comments are not based on heresay. I personally met with the songplugger and he told me exactly what billrocker posted. I hope he proves me wrong, but based on the answers my plugger was giving me when I asked for documentation on the pitches, I'm pretty sure I'm screwed! Why would a plugger NOT provide that kind of info to a writer? Are we just supposed to believe him and keep writing checks? I'll re-up with him again, but only is he agrees to no money up-front and a bigger piece of the pie, which he won't do I'm sure.

#704439 - 03/24/09 01:27 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Tony Marchese]  
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Stevens119 Offline
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Songpluggers and creatives just usually don't discuss their business. They don't ask writers for documentation of who wrote each word in a song. If you don't trust him then don't use him. There are many people in Nashville claiming to be songpluggers. Probably making a fortune too. Most of these guys probably don't care about the pie. There are a select few very talented and experienced independent song guys in Nashville. The rest work at publishers. Don't use people you don't trust. Ever

Last edited by stevens119; 03/24/09 01:28 AM.
#704444 - 03/24/09 02:02 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Stevens119]  
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Tony Marchese Offline
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I haven't been around in this business long but if I'm finding out if anyone (especially in Nashville) asks you for up-front money, then tells you they're not accountable to you for it, you'd be a fool to take that deal! I'm including myself in that circle, but it won't happen again. I think it's only common sense to show someone you've taken money from, what you've done to deserve the money. It has little to do with trust, in my opinion, because when you're dealing with strangers (especially in the music business), I you're being naive or foolish to hand over your trust. What if a plugger gets a cut? Doesn't he have to show or document that he, in fact, did pitch the song to that artist, to get paid? What if more than one plugger is pitching? Again, I'm far from being the expert on this. I'm still a greenie..........

#704447 - 03/24/09 02:30 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Tony Marchese]  
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Stevens119 Offline
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I can't say that much about independent song plugging, but people who pitch songs for publishers get paid...a salary. I would assume that these independent pluggers get some form of commission. But I'm not sure exactly how that is proven. I assume that is talked about when you hand over your money. But I think they would generally just be paid up front to be pitching the songs. Unless they were a huge plugger who gets additional compensation. If more than one plugger was pitching then I'm sure whoever gets it cut would be the one getting paid. I think the whole business of hiring a song plugger is kinda weird though. If the songs are good enough to be pitched...then they should be good enough to get a deal with! But yeah, giving anybody money for anything other than making demos sounds like kinda shady business/territory. Especially up front.

Last edited by stevens119; 03/24/09 02:30 AM.
#704448 - 03/24/09 02:32 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Tony Marchese]  
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niteshift Online content
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Hey Tony,

An expensive lesson learned. Just remember, that one cut needs to sell 25, 000 copies to get your money back. Simple maths says it's unlikely to happen on a random basis. I'd focus my efforts more on small and upcoming indies. You've got a much better chance, and won't find yourself out of pocket.

cheers, niteshift

#704451 - 03/24/09 02:41 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Tony Marchese]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Tony,

The up front retainer is the same as a lawyer charges when he takes on a case. Every publisher pays the same thing if they use a song plugger, and in most cases, everyone I have ever known in the publishing business have used song pluggers. Sony have around 12 of them. Even Jeffery Steele uses one. It is the cost of doing business.
There are those that take a "back end" deal, which is nothing changes hands unless something is earning money. But that depends on your track record and the deal you subscribe to.
Personally, every cut I have ever gotten have come through song pluggers, but those generally were attached to publishing companies.
The bottom line is that no one has to do anything You could approach who you are dealing with, with your own deal, no money up front, bigger end percentage, and they can take it or don't. You can work when you come to town to find alternative song pluggers or try to get with publishers. Again, my advice is to focus efforts on finding co-writers, that will always pay better dividends.
In my opinion, it is not too much to ask for an accounting of who they pitched to. I am fortunate that I get that from my plugger. But also you have to keep in mind that some of these songs are taking years to work their way into the pipeline. Two hit songs from the last couple of years, "I've Had Moments" was 8 years from being written to being cut, and a recent Mac Macanally cut on Kenny Chesney, Down the Road" took 20 years. So someone may pitch a song and it take quite some time to get out.
People who have not been around too much are under a misguided assumption that there is a "cause and effect" result in song plugging. Pay X amount of dollars and you will get X result. That is nonsense. It is all a crap shoot, not as good as playing slot machines. There has to be a measured approach on all this.
Most hit writers are using their publishers, their song pluggers, their publishers song pluggers, their co-writers song pluggers, their own efforts playing on shows, finding their own artists, their inside connections, their co-writers contacts and connections, etc. There are about five or six different approaches all the time. That is what happens if their are more than one person pitching it. And the one who gets the cut sometimes might not make the money because other people might have pitched the song as well. It gets very murky.

What you should do is study more about the make up of the industry, read industry trades about things that are happening.
And when you are in town,discuss this with other people. Try to get some feedback from ASCAP, BMI, NSAI, and other writers. If you are around hit writers ask them the "pathway of songs" on a hit, and find out if they got the cut themselves, if they used a plugger, etc. Should make for facinating discussions.

Good luck,

MAB

#704452 - 03/24/09 02:44 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Stevens119 Offline
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Also it would be totally out there to offer a song-plugger %50 of you publishing for their services with no money up front. Cause basically they would be acting as your publisher anyway.

Last edited by stevens119; 03/24/09 02:45 AM.
#704458 - 03/24/09 03:02 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Stevens119]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Stevens,

You and I know that. Getting publishers and pluggers this day to even take material is a lot harder than it looks. As I said,
You can always ASK. They are not going to go for it, but you can always ask.
The bottom line of everything is track record and credibility and it goes both ways. A plugger needs credible songs and writers as well as writers and songs need a credible plugger. Publishers build as much reputation from writers as the other way around. It comes from years of developing relationships from the ground up and track record in order to bring people to them to pay them.
There are always going to be people who don't get cuts, don't get appointments, and some great songs just don't get cut. That is a fact. And some fairly mediocre songs get cut and sometimes even become hits. But there is usually more behind it than just the song itself. Makes for insteresting discussions.

MAB

#704459 - 03/24/09 03:08 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Song pluggers are paid in three ways.

An up front retainer.

A percentage of sales of the song.

A combination of the two.

There are "back end" deals where no money changes hands unless a song is performing well, then a percentage of that is paid.

There are no free rides, even for the majors. And the majors pay multiple pluggers multiple money. Part of why it has gotten so expensive to do business.

Finding up and coming artists and attempting to get in on the "ground floor" is one of the few ways to negotiate the industry.

As far as staff "deals" go, there are almost none of those anymore. They are divided into two types of deals. The established writer who has generated income in his past track record, and the newer artists who are involved with the deals.

In 2003, there were 1480 paid writing deals. now there are around 310. Downloading took the rest.

MAB

#704467 - 03/24/09 05:06 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Stevens119]  
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niteshift Online content
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Originally Posted by stevens119
Also it would be totally out there to offer a song-plugger %50 of you publishing for their services with no money up front. Cause basically they would be acting as your publisher anyway.


Yes, forgot about the publishing side, so that's physical sales of 50,000 to break even. Assuming even light airplay, the deal is looking less and less attractive to an outside writer.

I'd concentrate, as I said, on other avenues. Join Taxi, thay'll plug your songs for $5 a piece, after the $300 joining fee. ( And you get that back in full if you attend the road rally )

Write and compose with others, collaborate on music projects. These will be of greater benefit, than paying to play.

cheers, niteshift

#704469 - 03/24/09 06:34 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: niteshift]  
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Stevens119 Offline
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Agreed. and if you feel compelled to spend money on something,(As a lot of people seem to) spend it at radio. If your demo is marvelous, then hire somebody to work it. You could have a regional hit with $2500.

BTW... I just caught that part. $2500? Jesus. That's a lot of money. He probably should be providing some kind of documentation or something for that. Holy crap.

Last edited by stevens119; 03/24/09 06:40 AM.
#704491 - 03/24/09 09:54 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Stevens119]  
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Colin Ward Offline
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Originally Posted by stevens119
Songpluggers and creatives just usually don't discuss their business. If you don't trust him then don't use him.


You'll just have to trust me,

Signed,

Bernie Madoff


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#704496 - 03/24/09 10:06 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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John Lawrence Schick  Offline
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Originally Posted by Marc Barnette
Stevens,

You and I know that. Getting publishers and pluggers this day to even take material is a lot harder than it looks. As I said,
You can always ASK. They are not going to go for it, but you can always ask.
The bottom line of everything is track record and credibility and it goes both ways. A plugger needs credible songs and writers as well as writers and songs need a credible plugger. Publishers build as much reputation from writers as the other way around. It comes from years of developing relationships from the ground up and track record in order to bring people to them to pay them.
There are always going to be people who don't get cuts, don't get appointments, and some great songs just don't get cut. That is a fact. And some fairly mediocre songs get cut and sometimes even become hits. But there is usually more behind it than just the song itself. Makes for insteresting discussions.

MAB


You just answered my question Marc. So the legitimate songplugger will only plug top quality songs that actually have a good chance at being cut in order to retain their credibility.

Makes sense if they want to stay in business (at least honestly). Maybe a good way to weed the honest ones from the crooks would be to submit garbage to them the first time. If they accept the garbage, they're crooks. If they turn you down, they're probably honest.

I considered using songpluggers. I don't remember their last names, but they were "Jim & Joe" (a very reasonable price). They were very upfront with me. Though they thought what I gave them was good, they also said because of the type of songs I sent them, it would set narrow limitations on the artists they could plug to. They said they'd give it a go, but in a discouraging way. I really appreciated their honesty.

I decided not to use them at the time. I'd have no problem using their service in the future, if I had more appropriate songs for their contacts.

I wish I could find the Nashville type songpluggers in LA where my music would be more appropriate.

Best, John

#704504 - 03/24/09 10:40 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Tony Marchese Offline
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Thanks, fella's, for everyone's insight. Very interesting.

#704506 - 03/24/09 10:47 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Marvin Adcock Offline
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For what it's worth I am throwing my two cents into this discussion. I know Chris and have worked with him in the past. He is one of the most successful pluggers in town and does not need to resort to underhanded practices to stay in business. You are fortunate to have him take you on as a client. Like Marc said, a reputable song plugger is very selective about the material they will pitch because it is their reputation even more so than the songwriter's that is at stake. I have worked with other song pluggers as well, and some will give monthly accountings of the pitches made, but some do not. Just because you receive an email or a written report of pitches does not make it gospel. There was one plugger I worked with a few years ago who provided me with a great monthly pitch report, but after repeatedly hearing from A&R reps that they had never heard the songs in question I did some investigating and found out that the report was all I was actually getting for my money. The plugger I am with now provides me with a monthly report, although it is usually late, but that is because he is very busy. Like Marc, all my good cuts have come through pluggers, both independent and by way of publishers, so I think they are a good thing, and if you are not happy with the one you have - move on. There are a lot of good ones out there, but getting them to take you on as a client is the challenge.

Marvin

#704511 - 03/24/09 11:24 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Marvin Adcock]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Hey guys,

You are beginning to see the problem. John, the reason you can't find the Nashville type pluggers in LA is that the music business there is not open very much to outside songs. It is an inside cut business. The Beatles changed all of that in 1964 when they came in writing their own songs. In rock, pop, alternative, roots music, hip hop, adult contemporary, etc. it is almost 99% inside cut, the artist, their producer, record label, major writers with track record have it ALL sewn up. Taxi is about the only reputatable service out there that pitches in that way, because there are just simply no cuts availible.

Nashville has gotten about 92% inside. and people say "There is just no chance." Yes there is. There is always the chance. But not a very good one, and people think just because they have a song plugger pitching it they should get a cut. Remember that in every thing you are HAVING to give better stuff than they already have. That is where I think people fall down in their thinking. A plugger just gets you a higher number lottery ticket. They don't guarantee you anything.
And, as I said about appointments, the one Marvin used is very typical. They can give you a record of who they played something for or dropped off. But they can't tell who that person played it for. We are dealing with assistants and assistants of assistants. And what happens when they get it? They have to play it for other people as well. The artist, their producer, and usually a lot of steps in between.
That is why it is important to know who a plugger or publisher hangs out with socially, plays golf with, etc. This is a social business. And most of the cuts I have had have been in the nature of social events, not just the "sitting down in the office playing songs for people." There has to be a personal touch in it."

MAB

#704526 - 03/24/09 11:56 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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So Marc, it's virtually impossible for an outsider to get a cut with a Streisand, Celine Dion, or Bette Midler type. And artists like Bennett, Feinstein, and Diana Krall work basically from the "Great American Songbook", so that's also a dead-end. I guess I would have faired better in the "Tin Pan Alley" days.

Broadway seems to be closed to outsiders as well.

Maybe I better start writing more current sounding songs - duh.

Thanks, John

#704527 - 03/24/09 12:06 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Tom Shea Offline
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March, I appreciate your insights. You seem to take a very realistic approach.

Tom


Thomas Shea

Thomas Shea - Songwriting
http://www.soundclick.com/thomasshea

Justice - Songs
http://www.soundclick.com/justice-nebraska

#705005 - 03/25/09 10:18 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Tom Shea]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Hey guys, good to hear from you all,

I think I am going to start a new thread on some publisher issues and how to approach them. i don't want to go to long on these pages. It's very complicated and it takes a little understanding and patience to understand these ins and outs.

John, I have known Jim and Joe and actually have worked with them on a few processes. They actually sent me a couple of writers that I have worked with on their songwriting skills. That tells you a little about certain people. They did not want to take their money on songs that were substandard and so they sent them to me in order to help them build their "credible catalogue' which is what I do.

As we have detailed in earlier posts, there are reasons song pluggers have become so prevelant. As the music industry became more competitive and compartmentalized, song pluggers were added as one section of a larger picture. They did the plugging or presentation, the publishers did the administrating, A&R reps acted as "filters" as the songs worked their way up the ladder of the pyramid. Basically it has been an inside business for many years, with the co-writing process sort of an "intern" system.
In baseball, you would have the minor leagues farm teams,which is where the up coming major leaguers come from. The co-writing process is kind of that same thing. Writers write with artist, and inside writers to prove their mettle, personalities, and relationships along with their writing skills. The outside song to a song plugger is kind of the "walk on" player. A person that hasn't really developed those relationships but are kind of "Paying their way in.'
Now everybody does this. That is the part most people don't see. Publishers, writers, etc. all pay the same money or are having some form of relationship. But the inside writers have the leg up because they are personally known. And if you had the choice between cutting songs that are very similar (and you cannot believe how similar they are) and cutting something from someone you know, or don't know, the one you know wins out every time.
Should you pay a plugger? I can't say. I use actually about three of them. One is my own publisher,two are from the publishing company I still am "on Staff" with, while not being paid, represent my back catalogue and few newer songs.

I always suggest people establish solid co-writing relationships before proceeding with a song plugger or even a publisher or PRO. That is the fastest and most effective way to negotiate the pathways of the town.

New York and Los Angeles, have never really been open to "Outside songs." They had their songwriting mills, tin Pan alley, etc. where George Gershwin, George M. Cohen, Cole Porter, Carol King, Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka, and others came from. The LA scene were always writer/artists.
Nashville always had writers and artists. And it still does, but the lines are more and more blurred now. So even people who not long ago had hits on the radio, are even exploring My Space and you Tube, in addition to finding new artists, and pitching the traditional ways.

I hope some of this peels back the curtains.

MAB


#705020 - 03/25/09 10:56 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Brian Baughn Offline
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As a songplugger, I always kept records of meetings and results. I needed to know what I'd already pitched to people. Reporting consisted of me telling my boss and the writers what happened at the meetings soon after they occurred. Or, if the song was just "dropped off", that's what I'd say. My notebook was my written record.


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#705025 - 03/25/09 11:11 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Brian Baughn]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Brian,

When you got songs in that you felt were just not there but being pushed by the writers to pitch them, what steps did you take? Did you pitch them anyway or tell them they were not up to snuff?
How did you protect your reputation and contacts?

MAB

#705029 - 03/25/09 11:30 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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I'll plug anyone's song for $50 apiece. Really.

And if you don't like my results, I will stop plugging them, guaranteed. wink

Cash, checks, beer, it's all good. Send 'em in, folks!

#705075 - 03/26/09 04:29 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Mark Kaufman]  
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kcmapublishing Offline
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If I may... everyone here has their own theries and beliefs, not saying they are right or wrong, but everyone has them. I have it from a nationally known writer, that a "song plugger" has never gotten a major "deal"... ever!!!

I have been in this business for quite sometime now, and I personally haven't seen it either. My involvement now in the industry, is on the publishing end of it. My company is new and upcoming, I assure you, and I will be honest with you, I haven't gotten a "deal" yet, but I have made my contacts in Nashville over the years and I use them to the greatest of my ability. My contacts include managers, A&R reps from major labels, and some low key producers.

Back to the topic though... in this business, there are two key elements. First, the song, the song has to be something that at any given point in time, evokes some kind of emotion in anyone. Whether or not, it is a personal emotion or a business related emotion, it depends on the song and the indivual who hears it.
If in fact, any person who hears any song, responds to it favorably, has any strong ties with, or does decision making for a publishing company or label, the song then has a chance of getting somewhere. I personally, have had three songs on a "hold" with two different major labels, with the result being a pass on them respectively. But they did get past the first obstacle, being the A&R reps. That brings me to my second of two key elements... the people that could hear your song. I always say... exposure, exposure, exposure!!! If someone has an interest in your song, let them expose it for you, but in a proper manner. In some way, there has to be guidelines set and adhered to when giving the authority for any exposure of YOUR material. That is when common sense and good character judgement comes into play. Keep in mind though, someone could play your song for "Joe-blow" down the street, and he may in fact know someone that might be in the business. I always explain to any and all of the writers my company represents, that I will only pitch songs that I feel "fit" the artist. I feel, that if any song gets shopped around for any artist to record, people in the industry will start to be wary of that particular plugger or publisher. I do believe, however, there are pluggers that do "know" people on the inside. Whether or not they are successful, I couldn't say, but they do know someone. The bottom line here is ultimately, a great song has to be in the right place at the right time!!!

My whole take on anyone taking on the responsibility of "pitching" anyones material, is this... If a song has interest from a plugger or publisher, I don't think an "up-front" fee should even come into play. If there is such an interest, then the representative who wants to pitch it, should act accordingly and respectively to the writer. If there is an interest and someone wants an "upfront" fee to pitch it, my whole outlook on it is, they are not in fact on the up and up.

My company, for example, does not require an "upfront fee". My song selections for pitching is very time consuming and very dedicated, and my name and reputation are on the line with every pitch I do. So, I only pursue the very best material I have submitted to me at any given time. My advice if wanted, no money changes hands until an favorable outcome has been reached legitimately.

I offer this advice and response to this topic as a professional in this ever-so-changing country music business. My thoughts, views, knowings and opinions are strictly mine and I hope, I have helped in any manner, anyone who has any issues with any involvement with what this topic concerns.

If anyone has any questions or thoughts, and would like to reach me about anything... please visit us at www.kcmapublishing.com
and click on the "Submissions and Info" page.





#705138 - 03/26/09 11:33 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: billrocker]  
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Rand Bishop Offline
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Unfortunately, this is a typically woeful tale of the dangers of Nashville song-plugging. There are a number of people who claim to be "Independent Song Pluggers" in Nashville. You don't need any license, credentials or certification to hang a shingle as a plugger. And, quite honestly, capable and/or effective indie pluggers are extremely rare. If anyone actually qualifies as honest, capable and effective, he or she is usually scooped up by a major publisher or a hit writer on an exclusive basis.

Some of these "indie pluggers" are driving around in $50,000 cars, dangling golden carrots and preying on the hopes and dreams of out-of-town writers. They collect retainers from dozens of aspiring writers for their "services" (usually around $500/mo). In actuality, all they do is drop off CDs at record companies -- something anybody could do, with the same level of success (which is pretty much no success at all).

That's not to say that there are no good indie pluggers with real integrity. But, they are few and far between. If you ask any pro writer in town who they recommend, fewer names than Django Rheinhardt's fingers will come to mind. Antoinette Olesen, Sherrill Blackman, Steve Bloch and Dallas Gregory would be on my short list. (There are others as well).

Ironically, for out-of-town writers, hiring a plugger is probably the only way to create any presence at all in Nashville. But, even if you live here -- pitching songs the least likely way you'll ever get cuts and make the charts. Every legitimate pitch is like buying a lottery ticket -- with pretty much equivalent odds. (But, you can't win if you don't play the game.)

The friends made, the relationships developed over years in the music-biz will be the source of most of every songwriter's success. Ask yourself - why would an A&R person, a producer or an artist prefer your song over every other one of the thousands they hear for any project? Only two reasons -- your song is by far the most unique and brilliant composition and demo they've heard in their entire life; OR they have some other reason to choose your song (they like you, respect you, want to see you succeed, and/or they have something to gain from the song being recorded).

That's a long way around the block to answer the basic question here: YES! EVERY INDIE SONG PLUGGER SHOULD PROVIDE DOCUMENTATION OF EVERY PITCH AND ITS RESULTS! INSIST ON IT! BEFORE YOU HIRE ANYONE, MAKE IT A PART OF YOUR CONTRACT!

And, in the long run, don't expect any substantial results from pitching songs -- even pitches by reputable pluggers. After nearly 40 years in this business, I've found that the real world just doesn't turn that way.

Rand Bishop
songwriter/producer/author - Makin' Stuff Up, secrets of song-craft and survival in the music-biz
www.makinstuffup.net


Rand Bishop
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#705149 - 03/26/09 12:01 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Rand Bishop]  
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niteshift Online content
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Hey Rand,

Thanks for your comments. As one who has never heard of "song pluggers" before joining this forum, I find the concept a little strange. My experience is in NZ, Australia, and London, and I can honestly say, most folks I know would turn up an eyebrow or two at the idea.

It seems to be hailed as the so called "short route", but I think it may be a long and winding path, straight past your bank account.

Just an observation from someone who just doesn't "get it".

cheers, niteshift


#705150 - 03/26/09 12:03 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Rand Bishop]  
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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Once I mailed a fifty dollar bill to a publisher. In return I ask if they'd listen to a 3 minute song of mine in return.

He mailed my fifty back to me and told me to send my song. It's great when you find an honest person in this business.

Best, John


#705192 - 03/26/09 01:56 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Tom Shea Offline
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Reality is .... and the truth is the truth. Thanks for the insights.

Tom


Thomas Shea

Thomas Shea - Songwriting
http://www.soundclick.com/thomasshea

Justice - Songs
http://www.soundclick.com/justice-nebraska

#705539 - 03/27/09 11:46 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Brian Baughn Offline
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Originally Posted by Marc Barnette
Brian,

When you got songs in that you felt were just not there but being pushed by the writers to pitch them, what steps did you take? Did you pitch them anyway or tell them they were not up to snuff?
How did you protect your reputation and contacts?

MAB


Marc,

I would often ask writers before meetings what songs of theirs I should consider. If I felt a particular song wasn't a good pitch I'd let them know why. They also understood the limits of a 15 minute meeting.

As far as "dropoffs" go, I'd just about pitch anything one of our writers would suggest unless the recipient had already passed on it or I could give another valid reason to the writer. If I thought the pitch was a good idea I'd put my name on it...otherwise...theirs!

Most of my songplugging was at small publishers so I wasn't inundated with these kinds of requests. Reputation-wise I was only as good as the places I worked, really...which is why you see pluggers gunning for jobs at companies with better writers.

I know one plugger with a lot of experience and contacts who told me that he, in a tough time for him, took a job at a small, new publishing company where the songs just weren't that great and new ones weren't any better. He said he went to meetings with his old contacts but didn't play any songs...just told them he didn't have anything to play them, yet. On one hand, I'd have to say he was deceitful to his company. But on the other, I'd say I didn't blame him for maintaining his reputation.


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BaughnSongs
#705548 - 03/27/09 12:14 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Brian Baughn]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Brian,

Good answer, thanks for that post. A very good friend of mine is the top independent song plugger in town. He has gotten a lot of cuts and is really a great guy. We hang out from time to time and have done songwriter workshops all over. I don't want to use his name for this post but let's just say he has been talked about quite a bit on these posts.
The point is about mediocre songs and what to do with them. Early in his career he was working for a mid level publishing company that had a lot of Kris Kristofferson's catalogue. He say's "Kris is known for about five HIT songs but he also wrote a LOT OF DOGS!" His job was to go through all of those.
None of us really know. We write songs and do our best to be objective, get critiques, be pointed in the righ direction and hope that others can see some things we miss. I can't tell you story after story I have heard from writers, publishers, pluggers, record company people, producers, etc. of songs that came through the process and people thought "What a dog!" but became a hit. And songs that people ran around screaming, "listen to this, listen to this" yet, just didn't hit any targets at all. It is all best guess, which is what makes all of this so confusing and subjective.
I guess at the end of the day the by word is caution. Learn who you are dealing with, their process, and how they work.
You try to write things that are worth getting out and that people are going to hook into. You try to make sure they are presented well and hope they take a life of their own. It takes a lot of people in that process and at the end of the day we are all just doing the best we can.

MAB

#705650 - 03/27/09 05:57 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Moker Jarrett Offline
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they all gotta eat. for every Gary Nicholson, & Walt Aldridge in their pitch "stable" there are probably several $2500 ones who stay in the "field". Not that the songs aren't up to snuff, they probably are, but there are volumes of these stories and not many of them have a happy ending. Cuts being as hard to get as they are i suspect those volumes will keep filling up. when hit writers are hiring the same plugger you are you're probably with a legit person, leap frogging over those hit writers with just a good song is probably a bit presumptuous, it would probably have to be great and land on a four leaf clover to do that. sorry this has not turned out in your favor, truly i am. i'm not sure it wouldn't have been in better taste to just call the guy songplugger "x" here on an open forum though. let anyone who hires a songplugger be very aware that the money may evaporate without so much as a single hold coming from it. that's part of the game. be well, write something great.

#705916 - 03/28/09 10:32 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Moker Jarrett]  
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Rand Bishop Offline
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Moker, this is brilliant: "It would probably have to be great and land on a four leaf clover to do that." In order for a song by an unknown writer and pitched by an indie plugger to get cut and become a hit, the song would not only have to be exceptional, the stars would have to be in absolute perfect alignment.

HOWEVER, as you point out, even extremely successful writers utilize song pluggers. Sales is a noble profession. After all, we are all trying to create commerce with our creative work - it couldn't hurt to have a sales staff dedicated to that purpose. A great song plugger can actually help create a mystic for a writer, boosting his or her rep (even without succeeding in getting cuts). It's just that effective, honest pluggers are rare, and there are no credentials required. And any plugger who refuses to document his or her pitches and results is not worth hiring.

Rand Bishop
songwriter/producer/author - Makin' Stuff Up, secrets of song-craft and survival in the music-biz
www.makinstuffup.net


Rand Bishop
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#705929 - 03/28/09 11:16 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Rand Bishop]  
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I have found that being vague on the descriptions is usually the wisest.

I recall acts out of Minniapolis that went in to the indie music scene that are more unheard of across the music world.

Acts like The Suburbs that started out as all male groups, came out at the same time as Blondie, which started out as an all male band and playing a similiar kind of music.
Taking plain song ideas that may have otherwise been dead in the water and reaching a large audience, or finding a major recording contract.

I do not want to do anything major or wish to do much with what that entails from what I know of that lifestyle, outside of kicking something out of my home.

But why would someone have to know anything either way?
Either they like the song or they do not, like any other listener.

#706554 - 03/31/09 03:17 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Rand Bishop]  
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Rand,

Thanks for your replies. I've talked to 2 of the reputable pluggers that you cited in your previous posts and 2 others that are 'in the game'. The verdict is int and it's unanimous...they keep meticulous records of EVERY SINGLE PITCH and that info is available to EVERY SINGLE CLIENT.

That's what I thought but I wanted to run it up the pole here and see what people thought.

Bill Renfrew
www.writethismusic.com

#706556 - 03/31/09 03:48 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Bill Osofsky]  
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Bill,

Thanks for your remarks. This wasn't 'heresay'. I was careful to substantiate the facts. I know better than that. 8>0

I was also simply reporting a situation... I passed on the documentaion policy of one particular plugger in Nashville to see if that was what people here considered to be 'typical' or otherwise. I didn't mean to imply that that policy was good or bad and said nothing to imply either. I did pass on the reaction I got frmo another Nashville plugger when I told her the story you read here, and I simply wanted some more opinions.

People mention names all the time here to ask about business referals and to get references, etc. so I didn't think it was an issue if I asked about someone's policy on plugging documentaion.
The plugger in question has done much in this town and in the past was extremely active. Several here have spoken for his credibility, so to that end knowing specifics was helpful to me and perhaps others.

I'm very protective of my clients so I just wanted to ask around a bit. I didn't know if clients should even expect documentation from a plugger and I thought I might learn something here. And I did. ;>)

Hope you're doing well.

br
www.writethismusic.com

#706558 - 03/31/09 03:54 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Mike Dunbar]  
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Nashville TN
Mike,

As I told Bill, I wasn't implying good or bad or otherwise, and I absolutely NEVER report in on anything based on heresay. Just call me Sgt Friday... :>)

I always appreciate and value your comments tremendously. I also learned a ton about plugging in this thread.

Thanks much.

br
www.writethismusic.com


#708396 - 04/06/09 12:36 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: billrocker]  
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 1
jericat Offline
Casual Observer
jericat  Offline
Casual Observer

Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 1
Nashville, TN
I personally got a $3K lesson on who to stay clear of--Dodson. This is not secondhand hearsay, it's first hand experience. I too didn't know enough about Nashville when I first got to town and followed up on ads for songpluggers in the back of American Songwriter Magazine. Chris said what ever I wanted to hear to get my money, but he didn't return countless phone calls or e-mails. I was impressed by his credentials as an attorney, a purported scout for several major labels, his management and production claims, his client list claims and the fact that he had a staff of songpluggers working with him, too. He told me he loved my songs and that he felt strongly that he could get them cut. He was willing to cash my checks, but in order to provide pitch reports on any activity, he outright refused unless I was willing to pay him even more. I may sound bitter, but in reality, I really have him to thank for making me get my own house in order without him, despite the steep price I paid financially. Over the last few years since then, I occasionally find myself in the same room as him at an event--he appears to not want to look me in the eye or have any contact with me--what a surprise, huh? It was still a lesson well-learned and, in reflection, I would probably have gotten more attention for my material back then if I had just used that money to buy meals and drinks for industry folks I met casually on my own at some of the bars and restaurants in the vicinity of Music Row and the various hangouts around Nashville. WELL, WHAT DOESN'T KILL YA ONLY MAKES YOU STRONGER...ANY SUCCESS I NOW ACCOMPLISH WILL BE SOMETHING HE MISSES OUT ON. THANKS, CHRIS!--SEE YA ROUND! Please realize that this doesn't mean that every songplugger is unscrupulous, but that every songwriter should not be scared to hold them accountable.


Sam Cooper, sam@jericat.com
#708534 - 04/06/09 11:13 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: jericat]  
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 6,480
Everett Adams Online content
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Everett Adams  Online Content
Top 40 Poster

Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 6,480
,NL Canada
Thanks for that Sam. This may save some other person from being scammed by this guy or others like him. It's not easy admitting that you've been duped, but many of us have and these people count on us keeping quite about it so they can continue doing it.


The more you taste the bitterness of defeat, the sweeter final victory will be

May the flowers of love forever bloom in your garden of life

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#709047 - 04/08/09 01:56 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Everett Adams]  
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 301
billrocker Offline
Serious Contributor
billrocker  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 301
Nashville TN
It has become one of my goals to let people know what's up with people doing buisness in Nashville when and if at all possible. Not saying one thing or another about the above mentioned situation...I'm just trying to provide info and generate discussion. ;>)

Bill Renfrew
www.writethismusic.com

#709054 - 04/08/09 03:44 AM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: billrocker]  
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 382
Stevens119 Offline
Serious Contributor
Stevens119  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 382
Nashville, TN
This thread is so crazy.

DON'T GIVE ANYONE MONEY - unless, you're paying for demos, or paying for some cool new club you want to join.

I am assuming whats happening is, "this guy just told me these songs were great and he wants to pitch them for $____" I'm willing to bet that the songs these guys say are great aren't, and they are just trying to get paid. I can't knock the hustle. Not everybody in this world is honest. Some peoples jobs are to cheat people I guess.

Want your song pitched? Well then pitch it. You've got just as good a chance at getting it cut as the guy you just payed to pitch it. What does he have that you don't? A couple phone numbers? Some email addresses? It's 2009. It's not that hard to find peoples numbers, email addresses,myspace or facebook accounts. Find a start up publisher that might pitch it for you. He's got nothing to lose. If he gets it cut then split pub with him. I can't seem to figure out why everybody is so afraid to pitch their songs to people.

Here's the point. If your song is good enough, then you don't have to pay people to walk through doors for you...You can walk through them yourself!

#709295 - 04/08/09 10:12 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Stevens119]  
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 5,040
Marc Barnette Offline
Top 50 Poster
Marc Barnette  Offline
Top 50 Poster

Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 5,040
Nashville, Tn.
Stevens,

I'm sorry to argue with you, but no you can't. There is a thing called track record. That is what publishers and song pluggers have that most people don't. That is why there are signs everywhere that say "no unsolicited material." That is unsolicited material. This has been developed since the beginning of Nashville.

Most everyone who are publishers or pluggers have developed relationships over the years in the various entities, songwriting and business circles they run in. Of course, it is great if you can pick up the phone, send an e-mail, or meet someone but that is harder and harder to find. And it is not just the shady guys that are having problems. Everyone is. Just because someone is having problems getting appointments or getting cuts doesn't mean they are shady or just saying something to get paid.
Everyone is fighting the inside cuts. Artists are writing more and more of their own material because it is the way to make more money because record sales are dissapearing. So they are becoming more and more involved in every aspect of their career.
More songs are staying on the charts longer and longer, which mean less songs are even being listened to or having a chance. That is business.There is a down business cycle and it is in every business out there. this is not a giant conspiricy.
People seem to think there is something wrong when they can't get material in and that labels, publishers, pluggers, artists, producers, etc, are all circling the wagons. That is what happens and has happened for quite some time. The nature of Nashville is 95% inside cuts. Has been for a long time. in other formats it is 98-99% inside cuts, where the artist is always the writer.
So sure, you can pitch your own material. Anybody can pick up a phone, send an e-mail. But until you are known, that is going to go nowhere. I have been here 21 years and it was that way when I got here and from people I know, a pretty common practice for about ten years before that.
You don't have to pay anyone. but to get access, you have to have someone on the inside, working it for you because the nature of the business is structured that way. The same is in Hollywood in the movie and television community. Writers, actors, artists, directors, production designers, camera men, gaffers, best boys, grips, etc. have agents, and unions that provide reprensentation. That is the filter for that business.
Publishers and pluggers, A&R and interns are the filters in our business. The most sure way to get anything accomplished in Nashville is by co-writing your way in the back doors. You write with up coming artists, established writers, and work your way up. And that is what everyone who is up there now has done. That is the nature of Nashville, and always has been.
In the modern world of technology and competition, and the BIG bear in the woods, lawsuits, you are not going to get anything anywhere unless you are represented. Cost of doing business.

MAB

#709313 - 04/08/09 11:26 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Marc Barnette]  
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 46
Brian Baughn Offline
Serious Contributor
Brian Baughn  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 46
Baltimore, MD
I have seen VERY many privately financed music ventures open and close in Nashville. We're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars in most cases and millions in some. Those were the days when, Marc has pointed out, there were a LOT more staff songwriting deals in existence.

I guess my point is that if you spent money trying to make money in Nashville, you've got a lot of company.


末末末末末末末末末
Brian Baughn
BaughnSongs
#709317 - 04/08/09 11:59 PM Re: Should a Song Plugger provide documentation on pitches? [Re: Brian Baughn]  
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 5,040
Marc Barnette Offline
Top 50 Poster
Marc Barnette  Offline
Top 50 Poster

Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 5,040
Nashville, Tn.
Six years ago we had 1480 staff writing deals. We had about three thousand publishers. We now have a little over one hundred real publishers and around 310 staff writing positions. They all pay the same money. Publihsers hire song pluggers and complain about not being able to get appointments.
There is not a group of people at the top of the pyramid that keep everybody out. It is constantly changing and flowing. It is a tough game.

MAB

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