Utilize the internet – Spotify, YouTube and triple j unearthed are your best friends
Networking is key – make the most of industry conferences and songwriting camps
Timing is everything – make sure your career and songs are ready before approaching publishers
For aspiring songwriters, it’s no easy feat catching the eye of publishers. Apart from being inundated with material from all corners of the sonic universe, publishers are often busy in a diverse range of roles on behalf of their signed writers.
Luckily though, scouting for talent remains an essential part of the trade, with publishers just as keen to unearth that next diamond in the rough.
Here are some invaluable tips proffered by three of our resident publishing gurus.
1. Use digital platforms to gain exposure
With so many options to choose from, Marianna Annas, Head of ABC Music Publishing (Tim Rogers/You Am I, Ruby Boots, William Crighton), cites her preferred digital platforms for gauging songwriting potential.
“Platforms such as SoundCloud, Spotify and triple J Unearthed – Soundcloud is an accepted sharing format, Spotify due to its accessibility and Unearthed as it’s so highly populated with new talent.”
2. Less is more
Damian Trotter, Managing Director of Sony/ATV Music Publishing Australia (Tame Impala, Sia, Paul Kelly, Delta Goodrem), agrees and recalls how one of their hottest topliners was uncovered after she had sent an email with just one song and “that was enough to convince our A&R team that we had to sign her.”
3. Networking is key
Marianna also alludes to the power of ‘word of mouth’ when discovering talent.
“Managers, booking agents and music lawyers can be great sources as they are often the first port of call for emerging talent,” she says.
“In this sense personal networks are important – a manager or booking agent may approach a publisher on an artist’s behalf if they have a professional relationship and are across the kind of songwriting potential which may be of interest.”
Karen Hamilton, General Manager of 120 Publishing (Bombs Away, Sam La More, Joel Fletcher, SCNDL), adopts a similar approach with signings.
“We do get a lot of ‘hot tips’ from (sister company) Ministry of Sound Australia which has a number of labels, booking agencies, promoters, and a huge marketing team under its umbrella,” she says. “But at the same time, our staff are heavily involved in the dance music scene here and around the world, so a lot of our signings come from direct personal relationships.”
In order to build and cultivate these relationships, networking is key, according to Damian.
“APRA AMCOS itself runs SongHubs events which are good places to start but there’s also the Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition and conferences which will give you an opportunity to meet face-to-face with industry and form valuable relationships.”