Nobody makes it by themselves. Nobody ever has, nobody ever will.

Part of the process as a songwriter is to network and meet the right people. Even if you write the best songs and Clapton doesn’t come to your heel as a guitarist, you’ll still go nowhere if nobody hears about you.

Even if all you want to do is have others perform your songs, they won’t do it if they don’t know you exist.

Answering Ads

The first thing you should do is get to know the people around you. Going to clubs and talking to the people who perform there is not a bad idea. On the other hand, you must be selective when doing so. Too many bar performers don’t want to go anywhere else (and that’s fine) or simply have reached a point where they don’t even know how to get ahead.

One thing that can bring surprising results is to answer adds. “Songwriter looking for musicians”. “Drummer needs singer”, etc. First you get to know the people out there and what they want to do. Second, they know about you. Maybe this drummer will get a call from someone who is looking for somebody like you and he’ll relay your number. Don’t be afraid of telling others who you are and what you do. And give out your phone number!

One way or another, it’s a great way to gauge who else is out there. You’ll normally get a pretty good idea, fast enough, of who stands a chance of making it and of who doesn’t.

Another reason why you should reply to adds is that you never know who you’re going to meet.

Don’t for a second believe that you have the faintest idea of who the industry players are unless you are in the industry. Names you read on CD covers or overhear are just the point of the iceberg. Some people in the business have strange ways of discovering new artists.

Other times you may stumble upon someone who’s spent twenty years in the industry and is just interested in helping somebody else make it.

This guy can be Chris De Burgh’s old guitarist. The name may not ring a bell when you hear it, but as you talk to the guy you start to get an idea of who he is.

Be a Good Student

If you stumble upon someone like this, be a good student. These people have been in the industry, they know how it works. It doesn’t mean that they have all the answers and that they know all the ins and outs, but they do know a lot more than you do. You can dramatically shorten the learning curve by taking these people’s advice.

Also, if they like what you do, they can introduce you to the right people.

One way or another, you can’t lose by listening to what they have to say. But beware: you won’t like everything they have to say. A lot of people still believe that talent is the main element for making it. It isn’t.

First, it’s an industry. Things like your look are much more important than your voice. The quality of your songs isn’t as important as how many copies the record companies can sell.

You may not like hearing this, but if you understand it, you stand a much better chance of going somewhere.

The Five Year Process

In general, once you seriously start to work on your career (which doesn’t mean doing top 40 in a bar, but rather playing your own songs in an empty room or establishing a serious network), it takes on average five years to make it to the record deal.

One of the reasons for this is plain: why should a record company invest money in someone who doesn’t have what it takes?

Most people will drop out in the first year. After a first contact with the record companies, they will get discouraged and give up. Every subsequent year, other will drop out until only a very few last to the fifth year. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that you automatically succeed after five years. Some people do get signed up right away. They, however, are the exceptions. Others will have to stay at it for ten years. The average is five.


Another thing that will greatly help is having someone to represent you. Bob Roper gave us some advice on getting a manager (When is it Time to Get a Manager?). For most of us, managing and meeting up with execs is not what we’re good at it. We just don’t have a good head for business. That’s normal for just about any artist. Get someone to do that part for you.

You don’t need to get an agent who’s in the business already, although that’s certainly not a bad idea. A lot of people get somebody they know and trust to represent them. Someone with a good head for business. A girl/boy-friend, a pal from College with a degree in business admin, a family member. It also adds a bit of weight to your whole package when a record company is approached by a representative rather than by the artist him/herself.

Bottom Line

In the end, whatever you do is your decision. Nobody can make any decisions for you, nor can they tell you what to do. They can only act as guides. What you must do is listen to their advice, combine it with your ambition and try to arrive at a result you can be happy with.