I not-so-recently experienced the thrill of having a song “put on hold” by an artist. I had labored hard over the lyrics and melody to tell a special and meaningful story. I created a “scratch” recording of the song and a chart to communicate the chord progression.
Putting Demo Songs on Hold
I sent these items to BDT, where an incredible demo was created (Hey, I could play that demo on the radio! It was that good). I paid a few hundred dollars for the demo, organized the lyrics and chart, and pitched the song to two dozen suitable artists with whom I had previously established working relationships.
One of those artists (let’s call him Bob) asked for the right to record my song on a solo project; Bob had already released other singles from this project. I was elated to have my song “put on hold”!
It has now been 18 months since Bob reserved my song.
Due to changes in his career, Bob has yet to make further progress on his solo project. I don’t know if Bob will ever get back to his project; when he last answered my call, he said he still wants to record my original song but can’t tell me when.
What Happens When Demo Songs are Put on Hold
I am confident Bob acted in good faith. Yet, my investment in time and dollars in creating and recording the demo song remains unrecovered – and neither Bob nor his label has invested anything so far. Zero dollars.
During these same 18 months, I’ve written quite a few marketable original songs and purchased excellent demos for them, drawing from my own financial reserves to fund them. I don’t know how many will yield cuts (I’m proud to say a few more demo songs were recently placed “on hold”), but I do know that I’ll soon have to stop spending on demos if I don’t start to recover my investments!
Or, I could take an additional job to increase my income, leaving me much less time for songwriting. So, I am several thousand dollars behind my investments over all the original songs I’ve been pitching.
Why Songwriters Should Be Paid When Demo Songs are Reserved
It’s time to let you in on a little secret: everything I’ve just told you is a fable I’ve created to make my point. Bob doesn’t actually exist, but he very well could!
If your experience sounds a lot like the fictional one above, you’re not alone; this is a pretty accurate description of how most songwriters live. On a cash flow basis, it would be hard to justify this business without that “one big hit” whose licensing and royalties balance the checkbook every few years. To thrive, it takes several of these producing royalties simultaneously.
The simple solution is for the songwriter to receive payment when their song is reserved.
The “right” to protect the original song (i.e., to hold it for the first release) has value to an artist. That value should command a price in the marketplace that enables the songwriter to cover most, if not all, related expenses incurred at that point in the song’s life cycle.
In return for first-cut rights, the artist becomes linked to the song in a more tangible way than had it been a cover. Think of the song, and the original artist is remembered immediately. In a very real sense, the song becomes “his/hers” in the consumer’s mind regardless of the actual owner of the original song (the songwriter).
Buydemotracks.com has developed a process whereby artists pay a reasonable fee to the songwriter at the time they reserve a song.
This serves two primary purposes:
- The songwriter receives sustaining income promptly, thus enabling them to devote more time to their craft
- The artist now has “skin in the game,” motivating them to cut the original song, get the song released, and begin recovering their investment
The Buydemotracks.com process allows songwriters to get paid and continue creating songs that artists and their audiences can listen to and enjoy.