The music business is all about marketing. Music is a product no matter what form it’s packaged in. Even marketing itself is the product of the moment because we’ve moved from an industrial age to an age of connectivity where technology is the vehicle to dispense information. Things are very different from the time when that famous line emerged, “If we build it they will come.”
So here’s the deal. If you’re a songwriter hoping to get your music into the right hands, a music publisher is the person to market it for you. Unless you’re a songwriter with an established history of cuts that have been recorded, it’s the publisher who is your marketing person. They are responsible for building name recognition for you among management companies who represent talent looking for new songs, A&R people representing the major and indie labels. Publishers also shop songs to film and television supervisors for placement; as well as advertising agencies looking for jingles or a catchy tune to include in radio or television advertising.
Songwriting is a very specialized craft. Nashville exists for the songwriter…the celebrities who make the songs hits often happen to live in Music City too.
Because songwriting is so specialized it takes people with a background in that discipline to make it work. They cannot make it work without exceptional songs to market. Publishing is in a league of its own, there’s no two ways about it.
My marketing experience goes to the consumer. I market music that has already been produced, mixed, mastered, packaged, shipped, and ready to go on tour with the artists who created it. Some of the same principles apply between marketing for songwriters and recording/performing artists, but a vast ocean lies between how that marketing comes to fruition.
ASCAP, BMI and SESAC have good marketing teams and campaigns behind what they do. Publishers market music generally through word of mouth campaigns to get your music to just the right person. Word of mouth marketing is a horse of a different color. Publishers pitch songs. Publicists pitch stories.
They say the devil is in the details…and this is a devil in a blue dress. Trust your publisher to market your music. A music publicist is not what you’re looking for.