If you’ve written a rock song and want to earn income from it, here’s how to sell your rock song!
Multiple Ways to Earn
Turn on the radio, walk through a department store, watch TV. Rock songs that earn income are seemingly everywhere! Just some of those sources of income for your song include:
- Downloads direct from your own website
- Downloads through second party sites like iTunes.
- CD sales by distributors
- CD sales at live events
- Movie royalties
- Cable television royalties
- Airplay Royalties from rock radio stations
- ASCAP/BMI/SESAC income from live band licenses
- Mechanical Royalties on cover versions
- Overseas Royalties
- Advertising use fees
So You’ve Written a Rock Song, Now What?
What do you need to do to sell your rock tune? The first decision you’ll need to make is whether you will self-publish and keep 100% of the royalties from your song or if you’ll allow your song to be represented by a music publishing company and let them handle the promotion and/or the licensing and collections paperwork.
Next, you’ll need to have either a demonstration recording (a.k.a. “a demo”) made for pitching your song to rock music publishers, producers and record companies, or, if you are self publishing then you’ll need to hire a producer to make a master recording or have a limited release CD made containing your song(s).
A master can double as your demo but the cost is much higher. If you can afford it and definitely intend to exploit the copyright yourself it may be the best investment.
If you only have lyrics, no melody, because you don’t write music then you’ll need to have a melody and chord arrangement written. You can’t get around this; the only “industry people” who review lyrics are known as “song sharks” and they’ll be glad to take your money but they have a horrible reputation in the legitimate music world. They’ll never get you a hit and worse, your song will forever be tainted by your association with them. Almost all demo services will write music for a fee under a “work for hire” agreement that lets you keep all rights.
Selling Your Song Outright For Cash, A Bad Idea
You are reading this to find out how to sell your song, right? Unfortunately songwriting may be a high income cash business but it’s not fast. It’s illegal to sell songs outright to anyone, even music publishers. Especially music publishers! Why? Because back in the 40’s and 50’s struggling songwriters were starving and selling their songs for ridiculously tiny amounts, in some cases just ten or fifteen dollars. The song publishers who purchased them made millions while the songwriters continued to starve.
To rectify this injustice Congress passed laws that prevent the outright sale of a song and eventually resulted in songwriters benefitting from the multiple payment streams they now enjoy. Music Publishers these days have totally cleaned up their act. Their business is now modeled around being more of a mentor and agent to songwriters with both parties sharing in the money the song generates.
Yes, you can assign your publishing rights and tap into the income streams available, but you can’t sell the entire copyright or your songwriting share of the rights.
That covers the basics of How To Sell Your Rock Songs. Hopefully it puts you on the path to getting a professional demo made, signing your song with a music publisher who gets you a huge it and you enjoy royalties from your efforts for years to come!
Bill Watson is the owner of Play It Again Demos which is a song demo service for songwriters and song publishers. He has produced demonstration recordings that have helped hundreds of songwriters get their songs signed to music publishers.and start earning income. He has also written magazine articles for publications as diverse as Gig Magazine, Small Business Opportunities, Songwriter’s Monthly, Entertainment Weekly and Sports Afield. His book “Guitar Shop: A Beginner’s Guide To Learning Rhythm and Lead Guitar” was #1 in its category on Amazon.com for nearly two years.