We asked Water Music Publishing what publishers are looking for and how can an indie artist connect? Here’s what they said.
Like music selection in a playlist, what music publishers are looking for varies depending on the project. In the broadest sense, a music publisher looks for music initially like an A&R rep at a label would. We’re searching for the best talent. We do differ in one significant way: talent alone can sometimes entice an A&R rep to sign an artist. With music publishers, that is rarely the case.
As a publisher, we have to factor in the financial viability of any songwriter or music producer we sign and the types of records the market is calling for. In the plainest terms, it’s not about how talented they are, the question is, “Can they make us money?” We evaluate the track record or discography of a songwriter. Who have they worked with? Are any of their previous works major singles? Have the royalties on any previous work been fully collected? Most importantly, what are their splits on the songs they have done? We ask these questions not only to learn about the writer or producer, but to forecast what a potential deal might entail. Everyone searches for the massive advance, not realizing there is a formula to this process including profit/loss ratios. As publishers, we take calculated risks.
The best way to get a publishing deal, in my opinion, is to write and/or produce on everything you can. Collaborations are key, just make sure your split sheets and copyrights are filed. Hustle and get your name out there because you never know if your next song will be a hit. And most importantly, don’t be too laser focused – open your mind to everything outside of major label recordings and the U.S. market. All the credits add up.
I spoke with my friend, client, and Grammy-nominated songwriter Autumn Rowe, about how an indie artist can connect with a publisher. From her perspective, indie artists now have a much easier time getting seen and recognized. She mentioned that with all the opportunities and TV shows that promote musical artists, such as “America’s Got Talent” (on which she works as a vocal coach and mentor), there are more and more avenues for up-and-coming artists to get instant notoriety. But aside from that, for the everyday songwriter or music producer coming up anywhere in the USA, the opportunities are plentiful.
Services like Music Xray and Blazetrak, which we are a part of (there are many other reputable sites), allow artists to reach out and submit directly to industry professionals. Now, you might be asking, “Why should I pay to have people listen to my material?” The simple answer is this: listening is part of what I get paid to do for my work. If you are as good as you think you are, submit, get feedback, get better, and maybe you will get lucky and have someone hear your talent and want to help you.
Aside from all that… nothing beats hitting the pavement and doing showcases, co-writes, etc. At the end of the day, it is about exposure – we can’t sign you if we don’t know you are out there.
Now, last but not least, fill out the meta data (track info) for each and every track that you send and FOLLOW UP (not “stalk”). We get tons of demos every day!
Now get to work, and good luck!
Anthony Morgan is a managing partner and A&R at Grand Rêve Music/Water Music Publishing, a Grammy- and Emmy-nominated music publishing, production and entertainment company located in NJ. He’s also an independent consultant for Grammy-nominated songwriter Autumn Rowe, Tangina Stone, and the Mixtape Museum.
Attend “The Business of Music” seminar on May 28th at 7 pm at the Guitar Center Times Square (218 W 44th St). Admission is free and the topic is “The Indie Artist as a Start Up: Marketing, fundraising, and branding.” Learn more at BMSeminars.org.
Image via ShutterStock.com.
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