Have you ever wanted to hear what your songs would sound like if your favorite artist was to pick them up and record them? That’s the dream of many songwriters over the years and although a huge number of songwriters have lived to see the day, others never had that pleasure. Actually, there are ways your songs can be heard, at the very least, so let’s take a look at what you can do.
Lay Down Those Tracks!
Before getting into any of the actual legwork you will need to do, think about laying down your tracks in a professional recording studio. This is where so many songwriters have gone astray in the past. For just a moment, think about the very real difference between you and a little recorder at home and authentic mixes done in a studio. It’s night and day, right? Unfortunately, you may be wondering how you can afford the cost of a high-priced recording studio. That shouldn’t be an issue in cities like LA where there are affordable DIY/self-serve studios with all the equipment but you provide the people to operate it.
If you’re looking for a music recording studio in Los Angeles, Pirate studios in Los Angeles is a good choice. The primary benefit of booking a studio like those at Pirate minus the staff is obviously the cost. Those studio techies don’t come cheap! Pirate has made it possible for even aspiring songwriters to sit down to a professionally mixed session. So, you’re not in LA? There are also locations in New York with new studios being added in Chicago, Dallas, and Houston. You see? It can be done!
Before Going into the Studio
This is something many aspiring songwriters have probably overlooked. Before booking that time and going into the studio, it is imperative that you take the time to think about where you will be sending those masters once they go through the final mix and are ready to send off. Not all recording artists have the same style, so you may want to lay down a couple different genres or mixes. Believe it or not, a song can easily crossover to another genre with:
- A change in tempo.
- Different instrumentation.
- Vocalist renditions.
It all depends on which artist or artists you want to hear your tunes. This doesn’t mean that the song will ever reach the performer but, if done right, you’ll have a pretty good shot at making that happen.
The Much-Dreaded Legwork
This is the point where a lot of budding songwriters hop off the bus. Unfortunately, this is a necessary evil. There are several paths you might want to follow but finding them is going to take some effort on your part. Before you get started on your quest to get your music to the artists you can envision doing your songs, remember there is a path set in stone that you should follow. The first thing to do is look at which label those artists are signed with. Next, compile a list of “Artists and Repertoire,” commonly referred to as “A&R” departments, for each of those labels. If you are like most people outside the business, you probably don’t know that these scouts, known as gatekeepers in the industry, are among the elite within any recording company.
They are responsible not only for finding new talent but also for helping them choose which songs to record. Wouldn’t it be nice if one or more of those songs were yours? These are the people who keep labels fresh with new talent. Their role is highly predictive based on what is trending at the moment and movements within each genre. Today’s hits may be tomorrow’s flops so you can bet your bottom dollar these highly skilled professionals are keenly interested in new songwriters for the artists they are already working with.
Mix and Match
This has been one of the leading catchphrases in the clothing industry for almost as long as anyone can remember. The object is to get as many outfits as possible with just a few items of clothing. You could say the same thing about trying to get your songs heard by the labels and artists you can envision them being recorded by. Once you have your list of A&R departments it’s time to start mixing and matching the various renditions of your songs with the artists you believe could propel those songs to the top of the charts. However, you will have to mix and match renditions with each and every studio based on artists you believe could do your songs justice.
The Crossover Challenge
Remember, the reason for laying down more than one version makes it literally effortless for your tune to easily be a crossover, and those are the most coveted types of songs. It’s like getting twice the airplay and twice the sales. Why? Because they will have fans of two genres buying one song. As an example, no one other than country fans knew that “I Will Always Love You” was written and performed by Dolly Parton a couple years earlier than Whitney Houston’s chart-topping rendition. Think about just how huge that audience just became! Not only did country fans have the pleasure of hearing that song but so, too, did pop audiences, easy listening audiences, R&B audiences, and so forth. That’s quite a lot of ride for a single token!
Why Not Try to Get Signed Yourself?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions asked of songwriters. Many people can’t understand that someone with as much talent as that would be satisfied for another artist to record their songs. Sometimes it isn’t as simple as that. If you are being plagued by questions like this, maybe you don’t even know why that is! The number one reason is usually a fear of failure or rejection. By nature, songwriters and performers are an emotional lot. If they weren’t, raw emotion wouldn’t spill over onto their tunes and would probably result in a half-hearted attempt at a song. It’s the emotional impact that makes or breaks a song and so it is with writers.
By gauging audience reactions to the tunes they ‘hide behind,’ they are able to see how well they ‘might’ be accepted. For someone who isn’t used to being in the spotlight, being an unknown singing an unknown tune can be frightening. You wouldn’t believe how many songwriters stepped up to the stage only after one of their tunes hit the top ten in their respective genres. Many of us may remember Kris Kristofferson circa 1960s, 70s and 80s. While Kris did perform some of his biggest hits, he was actually the songwriter that propelled stars like Janis Joplin to the top of the charts. Her rendition of Me and Bobby McGee is an iconic testament to the flower power days.
Whether you will be content writing tunes for other artists or want to eventually kick off your own solo career, it all starts with getting heard. This is how you do it. Get in there and lay down those tracks because they can’t be recorded if they’re never found!