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PITCHING YOUR SONGS

PITCHING YOUR SONGS
by Mark Winters

What is the correct way to pitch a song to an artist for them to cover? If you see a lead in SongLink that you think you may have a suitable song for, make certain that your song fulfills all the requirements that are mentioned in the lead. Is it the correct genre of song? For example do not send a rock song to a pop artist! Or if they are asking for an uptempo pop song, then don't send a ballad! This is of course just common sense, but you would be surprised how many writers (and even some publishers) don't bother to stick to this pretty basic rule.

Christina Aguilera - Genie In A Bottle

Do your research, listen carefully to the artist's last album or singles, and get immersed in their vocal style and type of music. Now, before I move on to the submission itself, people often ask what standard of demos should they submit. Well, my answer to that is, as high a quality as possible, as one should keep in mind that a lot of artists that are looking for songs are not necessarily writers themselves, so they need to hear the song as if it was the finished "release". These days high-quality demos are pretty much industry standard, as many of those demos' production ideas are often used for the final master, if not the actual tracks themselves on many occasions - the power of ProTools & Logic means that everything is interchangeable of course. Also remember that you stand a much better chance of getting a track taken by an artist, by pitching same-sex demos, i.e. pitching to a female artist by using a female singer and a male vocalist if you are pitching to a male artist.

Successes
Here's a couple of examples: one of SongLink's biggest successes was Christina Aguilera's huge worldwide hit "Genie In A Bottle" written by Pam Sheyne, David Frank and Steve Kipner. The original demo was so good that it was reproduced almost note-for-note for the master recording, which also included most of Pam's backing vocals. A perfect match of singer and song. Not long afterwards, Argentinina-born singer/songwriter Marie-Claire D'Ubaldo pitched a fabulous song to Celine Dion titled "Falling Into You" (co-written with Billy Steinberg & Tom Kelly), which Mare-Claire also sang on. Celine and her team loved the song and recorded it, becoming the album title track and eventually selling well over 30 million copies - can you imagine that happening today?! Marie-Claire also included it on her own album, so you can listen to her version yourself. You will find that Marie's version is so close to how Celine sounds, that you can understand why Celine decided to record it. So it pays dividends, if you tailor songs to the artist that you are pitching to.

Celine Dion

So if you want to appear professional, adhere to the guidelines as there is nothing worse than receiving songs that do not fit requested requirements. If you ignore the guidelines, then you stand a good chance of being binned. A&R execs and artist managers will remember the writers that blast them with totally inappropriate songs and all future submission will go straight into the bin. The writers who take the care to send songs within the remit requested, will always get listened to. So, if you build a reputation of only sending songs within the requested guidelines, then you will always get listened to. It does not mean that your songs will be used, but at least you are being listened to and are considered a "professional", which commands a certain amount of respect.

Formats
In addition to sending the right type of song, you should always follow the guidelines for the format that is requires, so if the song-seekers ask for an mp3 attached to an email, web links only or a CD in the post then that is what they want. You might think it's a lot easier and faster to send mp3s or links, but some A&R executives and artist managers still like to receive CDs so they can stockpile them for a listening session, or play them in their car. There are no rules, but if you follow my guidelines, then you will definitely have more success. One other thing - never tell anyone that you have written hundreds of songs, not even the top writers have written that many, unless they are about 90 years of age!

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