SANTA, CAN I HAVE A CUT FOR CHRISTMAS by MAB
Every year, kind of like clockwork, people go through their “NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS” and of course with songwriters, it always includes, “THIS IS THE YEAR TO GET MY MAJOR LABEL CUT!” I understand all the “Norman Vincent Pealeism’s” of “The power of Positive thinking, and all, and do understand the propensity to “If I put it OUT THERE in the UNIVERSE it’ll happen. Yeah, I know that one well. Every year when I used to re-sign my publishing deal, we would toast champagne and say ‘THIS IS OUR YEAR…” RIIIIIIIGGGGHHHHTTTTTT……
Unfortunately, when it comes to major label cuts, or anything in the music industry, it doesn’t quite happen that way. It is a VERY INSIDE BUSINESS, and it is NEVER who YOU KNOW. It is WHO KNOWS YOU AND HOW!! And even with that, nothing is guaranteed.
While I believe it is a good exercise, it should probably end at that. Getting a major label cut, without being on the “inside”, inside writer’s circles, working with the artists directly, their producers, or their inner teams, that pretty much is not going to happen. And this is not just being dramatic or negative, it is REALITY.
When writers or artists are signed to deals, this comes after a LONG process of the publishers or record companies getting to know those writers and artists. They become best friends, big brothers, sisters, a place to live, lending money, etc. It is not just random getting someone off the street. They are THOUROUGHLY VETTED, are watched at how they perform, how motivated they are, what skeletons are in their closets, THEIR SOCIAL NETWORKING HABITS (artists BEWARE, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, YOU TUBE, INSTAGRAM, SNAPCHAT, etc. Will destroy more careers than alcohol or drugs ever did. That political rant you think no one will read or that smoking the bong picture you think no one will ever SEE, WILL BOTH COME BACK TO HAUNT YOU!!!! Think before you text. Just ask Hillary.)
Writers form alliances early. And often are working with the artists YEARS before anyone else even knows they are out there. Since the 90’s, most artists have come under the wing of producers, hit writers or even other artists. Just like the JAY Z’S, 50 Cents, and Dr. Dre, all came up under some preceeding rap star, then developed their OWN labels, production companies, etc, to bring on the Beyonce’s, Rhianna’s, etc. now the hit writers develop the new artists coming up, Liz Rose with Taylor Swift, Craig Wiseman with Fla. Ga. Line, Victoria Shaw and Lady A. They are THE inside track. If you are looking for that “major label cut”, that is what YOU have to be with the “unknowns of today, for the stars of tomorrow.”
And there is a LOT of money involved. It costs around FOUR MILLION dollars to launch a new artist. That means the companies with the money and the political capital to do so, the major labels, are going to keep as much INSIDE as they can. They have their own publishing companies and high level contacts, and they are not going to just let people cut in line in front of those.
Also there is PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT when it comes to writing with artists. They are not going to just let someone “put words into their mouths” any more. They want songs to be about THEIR LIFE EXPERIENCES, THEIR EMOTIONS, THEIR REALATIONSHIPS.
And there are some REALLY good artist/writers out there now. Chris Stapleton, Kacee Musgroves, etc. got cuts on OTHER ARTISTS BEFORE they got their own record deals. These days the bar is higher and higher to get attention in the first place. You better be on your game.
All is NOT lost. But if you are a writer looking for that cut, an artist trying to get a foothold, you better be finding the stars of tomorrow today. You better be GREAT, not GOOD, and you better do it a LOT.
Good luck. MAB