In today’s tech-driven and ultra-competitive music landscape, how you pitch to execs is almost as important as the quality of your music. During a recent Songtradr Happy Hour event, three longtime music industry pros shared tips on giving a winning pitch.
Digital Music News was on hand for the hour-long discussion, which was replete with pro tips centering on how to get your music heard by big-name professionals, brands, and, ultimately, audiences. Longtime film composer Matthew Head, established songwriter Andy Love, and Emmy-winning television writer Yule Caise participated in the virtual happening.
Here are a few of the ways that artists can tighten their pitches, and maximize their chances of getting juicy placements and gigs.
1. Show up prepared.
“I do the research. And I’ve been guilty in the past, early in my career, of not doing enough research,” said Caise. “It’s just giving you the broader sum so that you can walk into a room open, and be open to ideas.”
Each of the Happy Hour guests emphasized just how significant it is for you to plan ahead of pitches. This means being friendly and building strong relationships with company higher-ups – centering on something besides music, if possible – and carefully compiling works that fit the mood and style of the visual media at hand. Additionally, you should be sure to introduce only your best-suited tracks, as especially lengthy pitches could very well dissuade execs and drawn attention away from your songs’ merits.
2. Don’t let inevitable setbacks throw you off; confidence is key.
“You have to have the toughest skin, you know, out of most other jobs,” said Love.
Confidence is an integral ingredient in the recipe for pitching results, and as you likely already know from other elements of your career, challenges and obstacles are unavoidable. With pitches in particular, the way you respond to difficulties – from short comments to outright denials – is everything.
Do all that you can to connect with execs and set yourself up for success, but realize that thick skin is more a necessity than a suggestion. Setbacks are inevitable, and music is highly subjective.
3. Trust your instincts.
“Every piece of music that you hear is something that I personally like. … If I can stand behind something that I don’t question, then if you don’t like it that’s on you,” said Head.
During pitches, it can be hard to remember that the involved execs have agreed to meet with you because they need a product that only you can deliver – or, at the very least, that they cannot produce on their own. And in the same vein, their recommendations are just that: recommendations.
The reality is that you’re the expert, and as such, you have to trust your instincts. Advice and remarks are a dime a dozen, and to supply moving music, you must draw on your vast expertise and many hours of experience. That doesn’t mean disregarding criticism entirely, but rather, it means creating exclusively on your terms.
You might be surprised by the results that accompany staying true to yourself. Some of the Happy Hour speakers’ greatest professional achievements arrived when they weren’t catering to the crowd – as opposed to catering solely to the whims of those who are, admittedly, unfamiliar with the creative process.
4. Let the opportunities come to you.
“Now I’m at a place where I’m like, ‘Ah, they’re not calling back,” said Caise. “If they wanted to, they would. …There’s somebody else who’s gonna think that what you’re doing is amazing.”
In an industry that revolves around constant motion – writing, recording, rehearsing, performing, and tending to the business side of things – you might find this pro tip counterproductive. Realistically, though, it’s a major step towards fully understanding how to get your music heard.
Assure that your website and social media handles are up to date, of course, and make a point of cultivating industry contacts – but bear in mind more than anything else that you’re represented by your music. If your works “check all the boxes” and resonate with listeners, execs will call you. Attempting to force deals will waste your invaluable time and energy.