In the Loop: How to Stay Informed in the Music Industry
Successful songwriters have a strong awareness of what is going on in the music industry, including who the players are (artists, labels, producers, etc), what songs are finding success, where music is at, and what direction it is heading.
This information empowers them to make better decisions regarding how they write and pitch their songs.
To be in the loop with the ever-evolving music landscape, familiarize yourself with some or all of these great resources.
Sure, award shows are often cheesy and self-glamorizing, but they are a great way to see who the music community esteems highly and what sorts of work they are creating that is generating positive waves.
This is probably your most important source of information. Not only should you listen to traditional and online radio to hear what is currently making it big, but you should also pay attention to the charts. Since radio chart rankings largely determine the success of a song, knowing what songs are ranking highly and for how long they are ranking helps you get a feel for what style of music is resonating.
Websites and Blogs
You’d be surprised what you can learn just from periodically visiting websites, particularly those of record labels, publishers, producers, and artists.
You may despise selfies with a passion and you may not like using social media in your personal life, but social media provides a great channel for staying informed.
Artists, record labels, publishers, producers, and songwriters often use YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to share content and information and to communicate directly with fans and colleagues. LinkedIn is great for building your professional network in the music industry, while Twitter and Facebook are excellent for keeping up to speed with what is going on in the music scene.
Yes, you may need to fill up your inbox a little more than it is already. But it will be worth it as you learn and stay informed with email newsletters from publishers, artists, and others.
Use albums as a research tool. Each song will have the publisher and songwriter(s) listed. This will help you get a picture of who is working with whom behind the scenes. Knowing these names can help you try and network in to the right circles. Also, you’ll get a full taste of the songs that are getting cut and not just the few singles that you hear on the radio.
Tip sheets, which tell you who is looking for songs and what they are looking for, are released periodically by companies like RowFax and SongLink. While these are a bit pricey, they may be worth the cost, especially if you are pitching your own material.
Check out fun shows like the Hot 20 Countdown, Top 20 Countdown, Backstory, Great American Playlist, CMT Crossroads, Instant Jam, and Inside Fame.
Also, don’t forget to watch shows like American Idol and The Voice, whose winners and finalists usually end up becoming mainstream sooner or later.
Staying informed is hard work! While you don’t need to know every detail about everything country, knowing the key players and their moves will help you become a more successful songwriter.