Getting a chance to sit down with a music publisher and play them some of your songs is a genuine opportunity and one not to be taken lightly. While having great songs is certainly an important part of the equation, it is by no means the only thing that counts. To that end, I’ve listed a few things below that you should consider in order to help your cause.

Show up on time 

There are lots of ways to show a publisher that you’re serious about your songwriting and about being a professional. One of the first – and easiest – is to show up to your meeting on time and by “on time” I mean five minutes early. Publishers are busy people and if you’re fortunate enough to have found one who will take time out of their day to listen to your songs, you should treat them – and their time – with the utmost respect. Publisher’s want to know not only that you write great songs but also that you’re dependable and professional. Showing up on time goes a long way towards making a positive first impression.

Only bring a few songs 

There is a temptation when meeting with a publisher to bring as many songs as you can. I get it. You’re proud of your songs and you’re hoping the publisher will love all of them as much as you do. The reality is that, as I mentioned earlier, a publisher’s time is limited. I’d highly recommend bringing only a few songs to your meeting. On top of that, if the songs are on a CD, make sure the CD is clearly labeled so that you know which track number goes with which song. Also, believe me when I tell you that if a publisher wants to hear more songs that the ones you’ve brought, they’ll ask. It’s a good problem to have.

Don’t “defend” your song if the publisher doesn’t like it

It pays to remember that songs are art and art is subjective. In other words, not everyone is going to love your songs as much as you hopefully do. This is the simple reality of getting your songs out there. If a publisher doesn’t care for one of your songs, that is their opinion and they’re absolutely entitled to it. Spending even a second defending your song or arguing with a publisher is not only wasted time but also a foolish approach if you’re hoping to interest a publisher in any of your future work. Simply accept that for this publisher your song wasn’t their cup of tea and move on. This shows the publisher that you’re comfortable enough with yourself and your songs to understand that not everyone will love everything you do. And, by the way, our industry is full of stories about publishers who passed on songs that later went on to become huge hits. That’s the best “defense” there is.


Working every day to improve your songwriting is a noble pursuit and one we should all aspire to. That being said, when it comes to meeting with a publisher it’s about much more than just your songs. Professional behavior and a great attitude count for a lot. Pairing those with strong songs is definitely a winning combination.

Good Luck!

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5 responses to “Navigating Your Meeting With a Music Publisher”

  1. Darsi Eveland says:

    Great advice!! Thanks, Cliff!

  2. Carl says:

    Cliff, is it better to get yourself an agent to get your songs to the right people? Will publishers even consider listening to an unknown writer? And how do you find a reputable agent?

  3. Carl Beverly says:

    Thanks Cliff!

  4. Avi says:

    Ugh you said don’t get upset if a publisher doesn’t like your song…well why would one be meeting with a publisher who hasn’t even heard your songs? I mean what a waste of time that would be.😃

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