On many band buses etc there lives a "shoebox" (or other box to put CD's that they are pitched on the road). There is also a garbage bag where many of the pitched CD's end up in without a listen. The shoebox contains CD's that may get listened to when the band/artist is getting ready to head into the studio. The best result that you can hope for from a "pitch" is that the band/artist gives your song a "serious listen". At that point the song has to stand on it's own.
So...how can you increase the odds that your CD will get into the Shoebox and not into the Garbage bag??
Rule #1 for me is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS BE PROFESSIONAL!! Sometimes I feel sorry for artists that are open to a "pitch" out on the road as they are bombarded by all kinds of songwriters trying to ram a song down their throat. What are some of the things a songwriter can do to be professional. A few thoughts:
1. Always RESPECT the artist's time!!! The timing of the "pitch" is critical!! This means things like DON'T GET IN THE WAY OF PEOPLE WANTING TO BUY THE ARTIST'S PRODUCTS TO DO A PITCH!!! You can all but guarantee your demo CD will hit the garbage bag!
2. Don't ask to use the artist's guitar to play your latest great song if you don't know the artist WELL!!! And even then you should wait until the artist might offer the instrument for you to play the song. Steve Gulley was telling me of a time that a guy asked to use his guitar at the record table to play him a song. First, Steve didn't know the guy from Adam and he, like most artists, had a very valuable guitar. Was the guy even a decent guitar player or maybe he would put scratches on the front from a pick etc. Just a no-no!!!
3. INTEGRITY AND CREDIBILITY!!!! Just as in everyday life...as a songwriter you only have two things that you should guard with your life!!! I heard the analogy years ago that everyone has a bucket full of water where the water in the bucket represents your credibility and integrity. Every time you tell a lie, do someone wrong,break a promise or other you put a hole in that bucket and the water (credibility) starts draining out. The more holes you put in your bucket the faster it drains out until you may have zero credibility and integrity. Once you lose all your water it takes A LONG LONG TIME to repair the holes and fill the bucket back up. When you promise a song to someone...KEEP IT....If you promise to do something...DO IT!! If you lose your integrity and/or credibility you are sunk...and the songwriting/music community is a small circle and word will travel FAST!!! KEEP YOUR BUCKET FULL!!!!
4. BE A GOOD PERSON!! This may seem like a stupid thing to list but it is so many times forgotten. I would rather have artists say that I'm a good person or a "great guy" than ever get a "cut" (of course I LOVE cuts!!!) but it is more important to be a good person in my opinion. Be kind, be fun and upbeat, be positive, be someone that when an artist sees you coming they welcome you with open arms and not feel like running the other way..."oh let's get out of here...I see Brink heading our way!!! LOLOL.
Bottom line is I don't care HOW GOOD your song is...HOW GOOD the demo is...if you can't get the artist to listen you might as well have stayed home. I love the fact that many times I can talk to an artist in Bluegrass, Americana, Gospel and Folk and feel a great PRIVILEGE that an artist would allow me to pitch them a song. I try NOT to abuse the privilege!!! Now "country music"...well...we WON'T go there this morning!!! :)
So, these are a few thoughts this morning on getting songs into the "Shoebox" and avoiding the "Garbage Bag" :) Your mileage may vary.
Remember: Write more...whine less!