What a Songplugger Is and Why You May Need One
There are two halves to making money as a songwriter: writing and pitching. One of the most difficult and frustrating aspects of being a songwriter is trying to balance both halves. Many songwriters have great material but no plan to get it to market, while other songwriters confidently pitch songs that aren’t nearly good enough to be pitched in the first place.
Many songwriters decide to delegate or hire out pitching so they can focus on becoming better writers. That’s where songpluggers, essentially the behind-the-scenes salespeople of the music industry, play an absolutely critical role in helping songs get to market.
What a Songplugger Does
Songpluggers either work for publishing companies or work for themselves. Those that work for publishing companies pitch material from staff writers or other songwriters with publishing deals, while indie songpluggers pitch material that they find directly from songwriters.
Make no mistake: songplugging is a full-time job. With a fluid, constantly changing marketplace of song-seekers and songwriters, songpluggers have their work cut out for them as they play matchmaker.
Here are a few of the main things that songpluggers do on a day-to-day basis.
- NETWORKS, NETWORKS, NETWORKS: An elite songplugger makes friends everywhere he goes. He actively attends events and gets involved wherever music is happening. He builds, strengthens, and grows his network to ensure that he keeps his pulse on the music scene.
- SCOUTS FOR OPPORTUNITIES: Both established and new artists need hit songs to become or stay relevant. With the lifecycle of an album lasting about 1-2 years, artists are constantly on the lookout for that next great hit. Songpluggers keep track of who is looking and what they are looking for so the pluggers can effectively meet those demands.
- SCHEDULES & ATTENDS PITCH SESSIONS: When an opportunity presents itself, songpluggers are there to capitalize on it. They schedule meetings with producers, artists, and record label executives to present material they feel confident meets the criteria of what the seekers want. Great songpluggers are able to take rejection well (since few songs are ever selected), and are persistant in their efforts (since many songs are rejected multiple times before finding success).
Sound like a lot of work? That’s because it is. Welcome to the life of a songplugger.
How to Know If You Need One
Not all songwriters, specifically those who have already had success, need a songplugger. But keep in mind that songs don’t pitch themselves, so if you don’t have a songplugger through a publishing company or through hiring one yourself, you will have to do the plugging if you want your songs to be placed.
Consider these factors as you decide whether or not to use a songplugger:
- LOCATION: Do you live in Nashville or another city filled with music decision makers? Since pitching songs happens in person (most of the time), you’ll struggle to get songs placed unless you live where the magic is happening. If you don’t want to move then hiring a songplugger that lives in Nashville (or another key city), is a better option.
- SKILLS: Can you network well? Are you a “people person”? Are you comfortable in social situations, particularly in pitch sessions? Are you relentless, driven, and thick-skinned? If so, you can likely pitch your own songs. If not, then finding a songplugger that has all these qualities is a better choice.
- TIME: If you have the skills needed to plug songs, do you have the time? If your time is split between your full-time job, part-time songwriting, part-time plugging, and family/social life, can you handle it? Do you have enough time to effectively plug your own songs? If not, then a songplugger is a good alternative.
- MONEY: Yes, hiring a songplugger is a financial investment, so if you can’t afford to pay someone to represent your catalog, you will either need to find a publishing deal (which doesn’t require up-front cost to you) or represent your catalog yourself.
Songpluggers really do make the music world go round. So whether you decide to plug songs yourself or use a songplugger, best of luck as you try and get your songs to market!