Jason Blume reports:
"[W]hat should you do if you're writing ["staff writer"] songs instead of hits? The first thing to do is to congratulate yourself for reaching this level. You've worked hard to get there, and many writers never master the tools and techniques as well as you already have. You can't get to the next level until you've reached this one, so you're right on track. Now, let's look at some cold, hard facts. It's not uncommon for a major artist to be pitched in the ballpark of 1,200 songs for his or her album. Most of these songs will have been written by professional writers with major credits. There are simply not enough slots on hit albums to accommodate every songwriter who's vying for one of them. If an album includes 12 songs, it's likely that some of them will be "inside" songs—songs written or cowritten by the artist, producer, the label executive's boyfriend, or someone else involved in the project. It's likely that a couple of the songs will be contributed by one of a handful of top writers who are consistent hitmakers. This may leave only one or two available slots. So how can you possibly compete?...You've got to give the listener (a publisher, producer, record label executive, or recording artist) a compelling reason to choose your song over all the other songs in consideration...That reason won't be your sparkling personality. It'll be a combination of a fresh, unique lyric, an attention-grabbing idea, an exceptional melody, and a demo that shows off the song to its best advantage. In other words, in a field this competitive "good" isn't good enough. Let's assume you've indeed written a truly incredible song. Now other factors come into play. The publisher you meet with may already be representing other songs that are similar to yours. He may have 30 [staff writers] he's already committed to. Possibly your song is not his personal taste, or maybe he's just having a bad day and missed the fact that your song truly is brilliant. Presuming your songs really are strong, there are a multitude of reasons why a given publisher might not choose to publish them...Developing writers often achieve their initial successes by working with small, independent publishing companies. If you're targeting huge publishing corporations that have tens of thousands of songs in their catalog, as well as fifty or more [staff writers] (many with number one songs to their credit), there's not much of a chance that your song will be something they feel they "need." However, if you're pitching to a publisher who represents a small catalog of songs and does not have a commitment to many [staff writers], your song (if it's exceptional) will likely be something this publisher will be thrilled to represent. There are countless stories of songs that went on to become huge hits after being rejected by virtually every record label...Timing is another critical factor...Once the demo goes into the mail there are at least a thousand factors that are out of our control. We can't affect the mood the listener will be in when he or she hears the song; whether it will fit a specific slot required for a particular project; whether the idea of our song is similar to one the artist has already recorded for this album; if it's consistent with a theme or concept for the album; whether it's something a particular artist wants to express musically and lyrically; or a hundred other things that might stand between us and getting this song recorded by this artist. So, what can you do? Keep plugging away. Hone your skills until you can consistently write excellent songs—and, occasionally, exceptional ones. Build your catalog until you have incredible, fresh songs that are appropriate for a wide variety of artists. Continue to network, join local songwriting organizations, and attend workshops and seminars where you'll have an opportunity to interact with industry professionals and other writers who are working their way up the ladder. Understand that it's normal for a song to face many rejections before finding its home. And remember, you've chosen to pursue a career in a fiercely competitive field. Don't beat yourself up for not being where you'd like to be. You're on your way."
Writing and editing can be pretty rigorous processes if you want to do them well, but that's what this page is here for. Check out the latest tips here.