So you're a great, good, or mediocre musician and you want to get your music published and/or recorded so you can have adoring fans buy your CD and make you filthy rich. Well get in line because there are thousands just like you and it doesn't matter what genre of music you play. Most people never make it to first base because they don't know the rules of the game, try shortcuts that never work, or try some Fly By Night outfit that will do nothing but gladly take your money. The first thing you must know is that if you have to pay money up front to get your music published, then you are just throwing your money away. If a publisher thinks your song(s) are good, then they will pay the publishing costs and the marketing costs, but there is a caveat to this, which I will discuss with contracts later. The second thing is to not waste your time sending your music to a music company or to a music publisher. The chances someone will listen to it are extremely slim to none.
So, how do you get your foot in the door? The answer is contacts. You need to know someone who knows someone (who matters) in the music industry. This is far from being hopeless because there are many avenues. Some club owners have ties with the music business. Try to find out the clubs where current or fairly recent past stars played before they became famous. Someone introduced them. It could have been a club owner, a club manager, or an music industry AR man. AR men are like scouts looking for new talent. If an AR man approaches you after a show, be ready. If you are a solo artists or a group, you must have a portfolio. This portfolio is basically a folder that has your picture on the cover. Inside is a neatly typed cover letter that introduces you, the instruments you play, the style of music you play, how you can be contacted (agent?) and your future goals. Keep the cover letter as short as possible. The rest of your portfolio should list the places you performed and the dates you played there. (Don't list places where you've had a falling out with the club's management). If there are any newspaper articles about you, include this. Put two CD recordings inside of the same songs, not two different CD. Have a page with the lyrics to your song neatly typed and double spaced. If you have your song on sheet music, it is helpful, but not necessary. Make sure you put the Copyright symbol and date on your CD, lyrics and on possible sheet music. On the inside of the last page paste your business card in the center. Have several copies of this portfolio with you at all times to give to anyone in the music business that approaches you.
There are two other ways to possibly get your foot in the door. Many Internet radio stations and some regular radio stations will play your music. They all have rules for acceptance of submissions, usually requiring a portfolio. You can also contact stations and see if a disc jockey will meet you, or come to your show. Some disc jockey have ties to the music industry. Besides all that I've mentioned, your audience or your fans are very important because if you can't consistently draw an audience, you aren't going to be noticed. No matter how good you are, developing a fan base takes time. If you are drawing a good crowd, stay put. Don't go running to another club just because they offer you more money unless of course it is substantially more. Building a repertoire with your audience should be thought of as vital to your success. If you build a fan base, they will tell others about you and your fan base will continue to grow and this will put you on the map for possible newspaper stories (a big plus for your portfolio) and for notice by other music professionals.
About eight years ago, one of my friends in LA had a very good Rock band, but in actuality they had only one good original song. She invested $100 to have T-shirts made with a picture of her band on them. She gave them all away during a weekend show. This created a helpful buzz. Her band eventually got a recording contract. Her band made one CD, but her 'hit' song only made it to 147 on the charts. She was offered a modeling job and took it because the time and effort they had put into getting a contract and playing gigs and doing promotional work simply wasn't worth it. The band disbanded. They had spent five years working hard to get a recording contract, but their success was very limited and the costs involved in producing the CD left the band $2,000 in debt. Success isn't easy. The contract they signed had some provisions they had not noticed in their excitement. If there is interest in this article, my next article will be about Copyright and contracts. What is and isn't in contracts is simply amazing. If you have questions, please put them in the comments. If I know the answer, I will respond with a comment on this page. Please do not ask me about Copyright or contracts. That is for my next 'possible' article.