How to Earn Income from your Songs on YouTube!

Gary Nowak operates a business on YouTube using our productions of his original songs. His latest A Miracle At Work is just getting started.

The first, titled Gasoline featuring actor Christopher Rigali is closing in on a half million views! Chris is an awesome actor and has superb lip syncing skills. It really looks like he sang it!

YouTube compensates songwriters several ways and you don’t have to be on a major label, any independent songwriter can create a song video and post their song on You Tube.

1) Independent songwriters are paid for advertising revenue clicks on their video post.

2) Your music is made available for licensing to professional and consumer content uploaders. You get paid each time your music is played as featured or background music in someone else’s video.

3) You get royalties for original song material video plays.

Besides continually pitching the majority of our catalog (of client song demos and masters) to our major label and top independent label contacts, if you’re not computer savvy, we can create a video of your song for you, then post it on YouTube.

We can also place your songs on through’s Advantage program; on CD Baby and their associated AllMedia and MicroSync programs, on TuneCore etc. to make your music available not only on YouTube, but also through licensing channels for TV, film, video games, and more.

We can place your single demo on Kickstarter and request funding for a master recording or a full blown CD, video and promotion.

Of course there are more traditional ways to profit. Your songs could be picked up by a producer looking for songs for an artist, they could be featured in an indie film or placed on a network TV show.

Like the idea of making a pro version of your tune and posting on You Tube to see if you can pull in some bucks? Want us to produce a song for you? Send your rough MP3 to and request a quote today!

Music Publishers Looking for Songs : Free Songwriting Tip Sheets

 Is Songwriter's Market long in the tooth?

Is Songwriter’s Market long in the tooth?

Once you’ve had a pro demo made by a demo service that meets industry standards it’s time to find a home for your song, also known as song marketing.

(Click here to hear a demo that meets or surpasses industry standards. Compare. Do your demos sound this professional? If you want to do more than spin your wheels, they need to.)

Where can you find pitch opportunities, especially publishers who are looking for songs?

Start with free songwriting tipsheets available through SRN and PIAD:

PIAD Not genre or area specific but predominately it lists Country, Contemporary Christian and Pop album recording sessions on tap in Nashville. Basically a “who’s looking for songs right now?” blog with tips. You’ll need to follow the blog to find out the latest artists are in need of songs with a little of your own required followup research. Tips are accurate and current when posted.

SRN Quite a few “producer’s looking” type listings. Beware though, anyone can post so quality is suspect and song sharks likely swim the SRN waters.

The book Songwriter’s Market isn’t as useful as it once was and needs updating badly but it does contain a few valid pitch opportunities and it’s not super expensive: 2014 Songwriter’s Market

I just read the review, ouch! But it echoes what songwriter’s have been saying as far back as the 2011 edition!

Paid Subscription Songwriter Tip Sheets
tend to have valid tips but also have a long history of slacking off and repeating old tips as the publication ages. They are usually pretty expensive.

Songlink There are various subscription levels starting at $385 per year. This is a well respected sheet but it tends to list more independent artists throughout the world, not many of the coveted major label artists.

Tune Data $750 per year. Tune Data’s tips started great but have declined in quality and quantity. Caution: It’s unclear if their business model is even sustainable much longer.

Taxi The Taxi song pitch service has an interesting business model. Songwriter’s pay over $300 per year ($299 + $5 per pitch) for the opportunity to pitch songs directly to Taxi. The listings being pitched to are disguised so the songwriter has no way of knowing exactly who they’re pitching to other than “Producer huge in TV and film seeking hard rock song for movie scene involving…”

With no accountability it’s hard to say just how legit Taxi is.

If your song is good and your demo sounds great (meets or surpasses industry standards) it’s not that difficult to get a song signed. My firm recommendation is to sign with a music publisher if possible. If you sign your song directly with the producer of a big name act they’ll want a cut of the royalties and the artist will want a cut. That’s why you’ll sometimes see many names listed after “written by” in credits. The song was likely written or co-written by one to three people with an additional person or two who added nothing to the songwriting process except their name.

Refuse to give up a cut of the $ and they’ll go to the next best song. Pitch to producers certainly, but when they show interest and it’s time to sign you’ll have the leverage to quickly pull in a music publisher and will get a better deal.

If the song isn’t a hit and it’s contracted with a specific artist’s camp, it’s then permanently tied up with a producer who spends his days producing artists, not pitching songs. A music publisher will keep pitching it and has leverage to keep hands out of the pie that don’t belong there.

In any case my firm opinion is if you aren’t pitching demos that meet industry standards it’s just not likely paying big money for a tip sheet will benefit you. Be honest with yourself and get three or four quality demos made before wasting money that should have been spent on bringing your work up to pro level. Once you do have pro level demos get some songs contracted through free or nearly free avenues then let your music publishers pay for these expensive sheets while you focus on writing songs – b.e.

Bill Watson of Nashville Trax

Bill Watson of Nashville Trax

Singers: Get Signed! How To Perform Your Way to a Major Label Deal

Singers, once you’ve cut your demo or CD at Nashville Trax and you’re preparing to perform at a showcase for label A & R, do focus on being a brand they’ll see as marketable. A previous post detailed the importance of taking control of the stage with real intent so you won’t lay an egg; : Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds

But I do think choreographed dancing can play a big role too. Permit me to demonstrate. Some things you just have to do yourself:

I have a pen, where did those A&R people go?

Happy Holidays everyone!

Many thanks to my assistant and friend, Cynthia, as well as several family members who worked so hard (lol) to help make this video possible.

Session Alert!

Play It Again Demos performing band silhouette

Three special recording/mixing session dates are coming up Nov. 26th, 2013 plus Dec. 3rd and Dec. 4th featuring some musicians who are regular members of Billboard charting country artist’s bands. Tracking and overdubs are on tap the first two days, mixing the last.

Jenee Fleenor, the backup singer and fiddle player who plays for hit recording artist Blake Shelton has confirmed. Blake Shelton’s Mine Would Be You is currently the #2 song on the Country Billboard charts.

Jenee also plays regularly for Martina McBride.

William Ellis, drummer for Montgomery Gentry will also be on board. We’ll also be recording bass guitar and guitar.

If you’d like to get a song or two in on this event, or even attend the session to watch your song get tracked and meet the musicians, simply e-mail and let us know how many songs you want to include. We’ll promptly reply with the cost. 25% down will secure your slot but all remaining fees must be paid in full, in cash, by first downbeat. There’s room, we’ll work all night if necessary.

Update 11-26-13. 6:00 p.m. We tracked multiple songs today starting at 10 a.m. after which every part was backed up to additional hard drives (we do 1 backup as we record). Long day but the tracks sound great so far, we’re looking forward to the next session!

Casting Now : Reality Show For Aspiring Male Country Artists Age 14 to 20

Hit The Country Music Jackpot!

Hit The Country Music Jackpot!

Jan Smith, vocal coach for The Band Perry’s Kimberly Perry, Usher, and Justin Bieber is part of a new reality TV show focused on discovering the next generation of country music talent.

If interested, upload your video to YouTube then e-mail the link to

Please include your city of residence, age and all contact information.

Nashville Skyline

The Music City Songwriting Competition is accepting entries in just about any genre or category imaginable. No instrumentals though.

Entry fee is $30. A pro demo isn’t necessary to enter but considering many entrants will be from cogs in the the Nashville songwriting machine who always do great demos; it’s questionable if you’ll win without one, we believe it’s a very good idea.

Click through the link for more information.

Cowboy Coterie: Proof That Indie Product Can Be Great!

The album of cowboy songs by Brian Berquist, Cowboy Coterie

The album of cowboy songs by Brian Berquist, Cowboy Coterie

Coterie: A small, exclusive group of people with shared interests and/or tastes. A clique.

Cowboy songs may not be your bag, but you might wish to check this out anyway, it’s a great example of an independent project “done right!”

I had produced about fifteen songs for Brian Bergquist- country, pop, you name it- when he called me one evening from his home in Manitoba, Canada (I think he said the temperature was average, about forty below zero there!) with an idea: “I want to do an entire CD of Cowboy songs,” he exclaimed.

The whole thing was pretty much mapped out in his mind and it made sense: the musicians, the artwork, the promo. He wanted it sparse, to sound like cowboys sitting around a campfire telling stories and swapping songs. Sparse, yet high quality: acoustic guitar, male and female vocalists, and he just had to have a Nashville musician he’d heard playing fiddle on a TV show coming out of Nashville, one Wanda Vick. “She just plays so beautifully,” he said.

I discovered, courtesy of Brian, that there was a bigger market than you’d think for cowboy songs. There were cowboy poetry circuits, cowboy conventions, magazines serving the market, just all manner of places and devices to market a project of this sort. I realized an endeavor of this magnitude would eat up a great deal of my time but he convinced me it was well worth pursuing. And “cowboy campfire songs”….who does that? Very cool!

For the next few months I entered an imaginary world where men wearing cowboy hats and carrying six-shooters still ride the range; where cactus, rattlesnakes and campfires were part of daily life; and where tumbleweeds are fascinating objects worthy not just of mention at every opportunity but often the focus of an entire conversation.

And oh how I LOVED being there!

So we started bouncing his tunes back and forth. He’d sing his melodies over the phone, I’d record them into Pro Tools, figure out the chord arrangement his melody and lyrics suggested, record a simple rough with me singing and playing acoustic, then send that on to the real singers as a guide. Because he “wrote” a capella, things didn’t always line up in a musical framework. There was quite a bit of lyric revision and rewriting to beat Brian’s songs into shape.

Finally, we moved on to actually recording tracks. Meanwhile Brian was working with various graphic artists designing the cover and inner sleeve artwork. I was astounded when I started receiving the proofs from the graphic artists:

Independent product CAN have fabulous artwork!

Independent product CAN have fabulous artwork!

And this, which has the list of songs and credits. The lyrics to every song are on the back:

inner sleeve, BrianBergquist's Cowboy Coterie

Inside Sleeve of Brian Bergquist’s Cowboy Coterie

Just because you own a computer and software allowing you to design your own artwork doesn’t mean you are a graphic artist. Be smart like Brian and get the input of a pro. Yes, it costs, yes it makes your project look more professional and speaks well of the music inside.

So the project is now complete, the songs sound great, the whole thing has a cohesive feel, and the lesson here is valid regardless of whether you’re doing cowboy songs, pop or metal: to not limit yourself, take your time, invest wisely, and you too, can do quality.

Just as important, have a target market in mind upfront and ensure every element of the project aims straight for it.- b.e.

* Unfortunately Brian passed away on May 7th, 2013. I never met him in person but we spent many hours on the phone working out song details, discussing the music business and becoming friends. We often joked that we were long lost cousins.

Cuz, you be sorely missed until, I too, reach “The End of My Trail.” But we both know where this trail ends and the next begins; there I’m sure we’ll saddle up together once again and ride where the tumbleweeds roll.

The Cream Rises

Nashville Skyline

The best advice I received when I first came to Nashville was, “Work hard, the cream rises to the top here.”

And here’s proof it can rise quickly. Songwriter Ryan Lafferty, who moved to Nashville about one year ago has just signed with Still Working Music as a songwriter . b. e.

Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds

A lot of aspiring artists just don’t seem to get it. They can sing, they may be good looking. But in Nashville that’s only the bargaining chip that gets you to the table, everyone holds those cards. In most cases, to “win” you need more.

My advice: Hit the stage with intent.

This band gets it:

Sure, there are big acts that basically just stand nearly motionless onstage and win people over with their personality and/or talent. But they already have hit records. Too many aspiring artists who “want to get signed” get the chance to do a live showcase for major label A&R and when the lights go on, have nothing.

No stage movement, no personality, nothing unique.

The difference between singers I’ve recorded during my time time here who did move on to a major label recording contract and the ones who had great talent yet failed to move beyond a development deal or even the showcasing stage is a lack of drive, a lack of setting themselves apart from other aspiring artists in some way.

Sister Sparrrow and The Dirty Birds is a group totally into what they’re doing. It wouldn’t matter whether there were 5 people watching or 55,000, they’d perform just the same. The band is tight, the girl has a unique voice and makes the most of what she’s got. This is the type of act any A & R person would jump to sign- b.e.

Did You Know? The Revenue Stream From Songwriting

ist1_4647415-money-pile-100-dollar-billsAre you aware there are numerous ways a song can can produce income? It’s true. There are mechanical royalties; airplay royalties; foreign publishing; synch licenses; sheet music income; download income; ringtone revenue; YouTube views; jukebox and bar band cover tune revenue from licensing fees collected by ASCAP and BMI … it’s a long list and I have to question the wisdom of the songwriters who decide to self-publish. For a few it makes sense, For most it’s, “What are they thinking?”

It’s highly unlikely that most songwriters with no publishing experience have the contacts or experience to fully promote their work. In many cases the money generated by a major label release is the tip of the iceburg with the bigger money being made on covers of the tune by other major label artists; “Greatest Hits of the Decade” type packages; foreign language releases by top artists in other countries and other avenues.

Some songs make substantial money from repetetive upfront licensing fees paid by aspiring artists. When I produce a singer who doesn’t write on a Nashville Trax project I search for suitable songs from our own Play It Again Demos catalog as well as the catalogs of song publishers and begin running them by the artist. In order to be legal to sell downloads or press CDs the artist or their backer has to pay the songwriter(s) upfront according to the type of project. The minimum is a limited release license payment for 10,000 CDs or downloads.

One reason to consider pursuing publishing deals for your songs is it frees you from copyright administration and promotion. You’re most likely a creative type and not particularly good at exploiting a song copyright so why not hand the reins over to a pro while you focus on increasing the herd?- B.E. Watson

Why Are Songwriter Demos So Expensive?


This question was asked on a songwriting forum recently and I decided to answer it here. Many demo services and recording studios base prices on what other services charge and try to either beat the other guy’s price a little or up the other guy’s price. That approach reveals convoluted logic, bad business practice and is terrible for clients.

Pricing downward based on competitor’s prices forces a downward spiral in the race to be the “chief bottom feeder.” How can a studio owner be sure the prices they’re using as a guide haven’t already been through the same process?

A good businessman determines prices based on his own costs and need for profit, period. To do otherwise invariably leads to overcharging or not quite charging enough which means cutting corners to ensure a profit is made and it’s the client who always comes out on the short end of that stick.

Equipment necessary to make professional sounding music is not cheap. In the pic above taken at Play It Again Demo’s studio the two digital converters cost over $2,000 each and the high power computer, large enough to run commercial recording software, costs about $5,000. The software it runs (in our studio and most studios in Nashville area, that’s the commercial version of Pro Tools, PT HD ) is about $8,000. The software that runs in it (the plug ins such as reverb, delay, mastering tools, pitch correction, etc.) cost about $100,000. There’s also an expensive control room speaker monitor system as well as computer visual monitors, an earphone monitor system to each tracking musician station, so you’re looking at over $120,000 and that’s just for starters on the computer recording system alone. But oh it does sound good!

The building and utilities also must be paid for. Heating or cooling a building for a day isn’t cheap and electric to run all that gear isn’t free.

So studio rates are typically $50 to $150 per hour, depending on the studio, which may or may not include the engineer/producer. A professional session singer hired for a demo generally costs $80 to $175 per song but some are even higher. And musicians capable of playing at session quality, a rare commodity, are about $50 to $75 per song. The time required to take one average three minute song from rough through pre-production (writing charts), recording rhythm tracks, doing overdubs, adding vocals and doing a demo quality mix is about a one full day per song. The producer and engineer will be present throughout with each musician and singer contributing about an hour to an hour and a half.

Add it up and you can get to a relatively large number fast. That’s just reality.

But reality is also that doing a pro demo is simply the bargaining chip that gets you taken seriously. That’s because you’re not competing with Joe Smith’s home recorded demo made in Iowa, you’re playing poker with pro songwriters with previous hits who can afford to set the demo quality bar extremely high. It’s not that a demo made on a Fostex home quality 4 track recorder can’t get signed, it’s that very few amateur songwriters know how to make that Fostex generate a pro sounding recording. And perhaps not in all, but in most cases, a poor sounding recording equals “amateur” in a publisher’s mind so they can’t drop that demo in the nearest waste can fast enough.

“Expensive” is relative. Is it better to scrimp and save a few hundred dollars on a song demo only to and have a song publisher use it to play trash can Frisbee or is it more intelligent to spend what’s necessary to really get in the game, bowl the publisher over with a compelling piece of music, get signed and possibly get a hit that will return hundreds, maybe thousands of times what you spent?

Which is the better investment? Do you believe in your song or not? If you don’t, who will?

Demo Pitch Opp: Josh Thompson

Country, male vocal, Josh Thompson.

He’s on Nashville label Show Dog Universal. Show Dog is the company Toby Keith started some years ago.

The pitch deadline is March 7th, 2013 so if you have a song we’ve cut the demo on in the past you think would work for J.T. and believe we should take a look at or have a new song you’d like to have demoed for this (we’ll put a rush on it), get it on in.