By: Sheree Spoltore, Debra Gordon
Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) is passionate about positioning YOU to succeed from the very first phone call to your first cut, publishing deal, and award. Below are some helpful tips, starting with your very first call. Even if the example in the tip is referring to an NSAI situation, the overall concept relates to all music industry interactions.
• Have a working pen and paper in hand! Seriously, this may sound remedial but our NSAI office has multiple incoming lines and we receive hundreds of phone calls a day. Each and every call matters to us! However, many times the person who has been thinking about calling us for days, finally gets up the courage to act on their dream and dial our number, doesn’t have a pen and paper ready to write down the answers to their questions. At NSAI, we love helping you by giving you information that will INSTANTLY impact you and your music career, just like the information in this article. Be ready to write it down!
• Briefly introduce yourself and touch on a couple of highlights of your music career, then state your need! Music industry representatives, like those at any other business, are extremely busy. Our NSAI staff loves getting to know our members but that usually happens over time and not in your first phone call. Many first-time callers are songwriters who have waited all their lives to make “that call.” They frequently start the conversation by telling their entire life story. We understand this often happens because you may be a bit nervous the first time you call a music industry office. NSAI suggests you prepare a BRIEF introduction of yourself that is less than three minutes long. This introduction should state your name, where you are from, your identity as either an artist/writer or a songwriter, and your specific need. At NSAI, we become family over time and we look forward to getting to know you personally as you utilize our signature services. Here is a suggested script of what you might say if you are calling a music industry office:
”Hi my name is Jane Smith and I am a songwriter from Arkansas. I’ve been writing for years but I am just getting officially started in the music business and was wondering how NSAI might help me with my goals?”
“Hi my name is Bill Thomas and I am a successful indie artist from Alabama, doing about 50 to 60 gigs a year, and I wondered if NSAI could help me take my career to the next level?”
NSAI serves songwriters at every level of development and we can’t WAIT to help you.
• Have specific questions ready! Many times a songwriter will call and ask a huge general question like “How do I sell my song?” Heads up, this question INSTANTLY notifies any industry person that you are just getting started in the business. They may also say, “I just wrote my first song and was wondering if you could get ‘fill in the blank superstar artist name’ to sing my song for me?” We are thankful you called because NSAI is a great place to start, and YOU WILL BE BETTER PREPARED for every future industry call after working with us!
We have free resources that tell you WHY you don’t “sell your song” and why a specific Superstar Artist may not record your song. We can also help you figure out how to start with the Next Big Artist in your own home town, and develop a relationship with them BEFORE they hit the big time.
Be ready with a question like “Hi, my name is Tom Adams, and I am a beginning songwriter from Ohio, and I want to be a successful songwriter. How would you recommend that I get started?” State your goal. When we state a specific need, people usually want to help. You might say, “Hi, my name is Kathy Mills, and I have been writing songs for years as a hobby, but really want to improve my songwriting skills OR …learn more about the music industry OR …learn how publishing works.”
• Research the company you are calling and KNOW what they do; more importantly, know what they don’t do! Knowledge gives you CONFIDENCE! We want our members to be in the know, and that is why NSAI is the world’s largest not-for-profit songwriter association, teaching you about every step of the process. It is imperative that you understand the various types of music industry companies and what they do. It is important to distinguish between music industry roles and what responsibilities fall under those roles. Get prepared before you call by looking up companies online, reading the bio of the person you may be speaking with, and getting an understanding of what that company and that person can and more importantly cannot do for you.
• Have an email address! Often a music industry person will have step-by-step information or answers to your questions they can send to you if you have an email address. If you are serious about a successful career in the music industry, an email account is a minimum requirement. Can’t afford a computer? Go to your local library and use their computer to set up an email account. Don’t know how to set up an email account? Your librarian can help. The ability to creatively solve problems is a necessary skill to becoming successful in the music industry. You cannot allow any obstacle to become a roadblock to your purpose.
What’s happening at NSAI:
• Interactive Song Evaluations | NSAI now offers you the opportunity to interact via Skype, with an NSAI Song Evaluator without having to leave your home.
• NSAI Song Contest presented by CMT (August 1 – October 31)| The only major song contest that is open to only amateur writers, this contest helps establish and build relationships within the music industry. Visit the NSAI website for more details and prize information.
• World’s Largest No. 1 Party (September 19)| Help us celebrate the writers of the year’s No. 1 songs under the party tent at NSAI.
• SongPosium (September 20-23)| The ONLY comprehensive, week-long, educational event exclusively for songwriters.
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