If you are writing your own material you need to get it copyrighted. In order to copy right your songs, the easiest way to do it is to go directly to the US government site which is http://copyright.gov/.eco/ . this is important. You do not want to send your music to anyone to review until you have done this. Once you register your song, it is considered copyrighted even if you haven’t received your certificate in the mail. Unless you are notified that the copyright has been rejected. If you are sure your music is all original and lyrics too, then you can consider it done. I suggest that you buy a small, fireproof box specifically to store your copyright certificates for each song when you receive the first one. It’s a good place to store them if you are writing lots of material. The bonus is, you always know where they are and they are protected in case of a fire.
One word of caution. The government site is not super user friendly. It can be a bit confusing, so don’t sit down to do it until you can concentrate. When you go to the page above that I have linked, you find links to the type of document or recording you are registering. If you are unsure, there will be links where you can read what each one actually means. Stay calm, it’s simple enough and a lot cheaper than using a lawyer or legal zoom.com which you can do if you like, but it can cost you hundreds to use a lawyer and you can do it yourself for between $55 and $85 on the government site. Here is the link to the costs http://copyright.gov/about/fees.html I believe this is much more sensible unless you are using OPM (other people’s money), or have your own to waste and don’t want to bother putting in the time. It’s very rewarding to create your own account and start receiving those certificates in the mail!
Once you have copyrighted those songs, then get going promoting them and yourself! You will have many things to think about now. Do you want to keep all of your songs for yourself, or do you want to sell them to other artists? Many music artists start out by carving a career in writing for others and growing to writing for major artists. I will list here some sites that you can market your songs on, whether for your own purpose or for the attention of A&R from labels who might be looking to purchase material for their signed artists.
Now, these sites are not always free, some are charged per song, some per year for a broader range of songs, some have membership fees. I will list them here:
My favorite and most recommended site if you are very serious is http://www.taxi.com I recommend this site because I actually know heads of A&R at major labels that really do scout this site for new talent and new songs. It is not cheap, around a few hundred to join for the year. Worth every penny. You could score a publishing deal here if your material is good enough. You might even get yourself some major label attention. Hands down best site for music artists on the web!
My next favorite site is https://www.musicxray.com this site is free to join but they do charge a fee for uploading songs. It is a minimal fee and worth it. Not only can you then submit your music but you can also have it reviewed on site and get some free publicity from it! They will do their own picks of great songs and tweet about them, etc. I do know artists who have gotten deals on this site. I also know artists who have gotten their music picked for commercials from this site as well.
There are many others including, Spotify, Last.fm, Youtube, Twitter Music, Reverberation (which I think is a fabulous tool..more on that in another issue). Facebook, Bandsintown, Soundcloud, Soundcloud, Wix Music, Reddit Music, Myspace Music (which is not big anymore in my opinion but worth putting stuff on). Feel free to comment below and throw out any other sites I have missed that you feel are worthy of mention and why.
As soon as you copyright your songs you can also sell them yourself on iTunes and Amazon or CD Baby. Word of caution…don’t expect many sales other than your closest friends and family if you are an unknown. Doesn’t hurt to put them up, but until you have done tons of marketing on yourself don’t expect to go check and find you’ve sold hundreds of copies.
One last word of caution on ALL of this…DO NOT put any song on any site on the internet if it is not produced and I mean produced well. Not something you have recorded in your house unless you really know how to make it sound professional. If you think today’s A&R reps will listen to a raw unproduced song, no..not unless you are already connected. Many of them today can’t hear it with vision. Sort of like a person who cannot walk into a house that is in horrible shape and see what it can be when it’s all fixed up. Same thing..there are more people who cannot see what it could be, can’t get past the clutter, or the smell, or the broken windows. You get my point? Don’t chance putting up something that sounds less than completely professional because you can’t take it back and you don’t get a second chance with labels and A&R. Once they hear it and aren’t impressed they won’t visit it again! It’s a different story if they have already picked you up and then want you to send other ‘ideas’ for songs. Not the same thing, don’t mix them up. Be professional and polished, you won’t regret it. I will get to an issue on producers who are willing to work with unsigned artists for reasonable prices. Also in a future issue, how to become a member of ASCAP or BMI.
Go write those hits!!!!