One of the questions I get most from beginning songwriters is whether there’s any risk or problem with getting their songs out there on social media, streaming services, websites or any other ways that songs can be heard by (hopefully) large numbers of people. It’s an interesting concern to me because, in my experience, the real danger lies in not getting your songs out there enough. I thought I’d spend a little time listing a few of the advantages and putting your minds at ease about some of the myths of making your songs publicly available.

The Advantages

1. Your Songs Will Be Heard

The more your songs are out in the word, the greater the chance that someone in a position of influence will hear them. I spent way too many years demoing my songs and then dropping the ball when it came to getting them out there. The reality is that if you have songs you’re proud of and quality recordings of those songs, it’s in your best interest to get them heard by as many people as possible.

2. Social Proof

Putting your songs out on YouTube or any other social media site where the number of listens can be documented is a great way to show the music industry that your song is commercially viable. In other words, if your YouTube video has been watched a half a million times, that’s a fairly good indication (without you have to say so) that your song is interesting to people.

3. They Can Generate Income 

If the recordings you’ve made are not just demos of your songs but also a representation of you as an artist, putting them out on streaming services like Apple Music or Spotify can actually result in performance royalties. If that is part of your goal, make sure your songs are registered with your performing rights organization (BMI, ASCAP, SESAC) and that you’ve also signed up for and registered your songs with SoundExchange.

The Myths

1. Your songs will be perceived as already used

Another major concern I’ve heard expressed is that if a songwriter releases their song instead of just pitching it directly to the publisher, record label or artist, it will be perceived as “used” and not as interesting. Again, I can give you countless examples of artists who have cut songs that were on independent albums that were favorites of theirs. Secondly, think of all the hit songs that are re-recorded years – even decades – later and become hits again. In other words, a good song is a good song no matter when it was written.

2. Your Songs Will Get Stolen

A common concern that I hear among songwriters who are newer to the game is that if they get their songs out there someone will steal them. While I can’t promise that won’t happen, I can say that I’ve been writing songs for twenty-five years and the ONLY example I have of copyright infringement with someone I know was when their song was a #1 hit and another chart-topping song borrowed enough of their melody to result in a justifiable legal situation. My semi-serious suggestion would be to spend less time worrying about your songs getting stolen and more time working on songs that someone would want to steal.

Bonus Observation

Speaking of songs getting stolen, I get a lot of questions about whether songwriters should copyright their songs (with the Register of Copyrights in Washington, D.C.) immediately after writing them. I, personally, don’t register my songs that way unless and until they’re going to be available for commercial release. Strictly speaking your songs are copyrighted the moment you create them but for a more detailed description of why you needn’t worry, take a look at this insightful piece by Songwriter Universe.


Creative types like us struggle with self-promotion enough as it is. Don’t let unsubstantiated fears of stale songs or theft dissuade you from promoting your material in any – and every – way possible.

Good Luck!

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11 responses to “Should Songwriters Put Their Songs Out There?”

  1. good stuff….and, regarding protecting your creations,
    your songs are covered by a common law copyright,
    providing that you attach a © (that’s option G on a Mac)
    plus your name and date….on every track, lyric or image that you present to the public….(™ is option 2)….
    plus, you need to add the metadata to any image…
    on Photoshop, click on “file”…then “file info” and again add your name, © and date…plus the title of the image….
    otherwise, your tracks, lyrics and images, are going to wander the digital desert as orphans….good luck…

  2. Mitch says:

    Thanks Cliff. I have grappled with the very same questions. Thanks for putting my mind at ease!

    Robin Mitch Mitchell

  3. Karl Crosby says:

    Thanks Cliff! At first the music publishers don’t accept unsolicited material. But when some give you permission,
    it makes you afraid if they are eager to do something undercover. It used to scare me at times, especially those Indies.
    Thanks for the info.
    Karl Crosby

  4. Karl Crosby says:

    Cliff I want to know before you send songs to record labels and music publishers, should you still get your songs copyrighted first?

  5. Tyler Morger says:

    Interesting read Cliff!
    I like the statement, “spend less time worrying about a song getting stolen and spend more time working on a song someone would want to steal.”

  6. is the site for people to register their copyrights. Check for the latest fees. Hopefully the investment would be worth it to them. Get a bunch together and go for it.

  7. derry fahy says:

    HI Cliff, as per usual , good sound advice .I am a songwriter , I play guitar and sing but i am not a professional . I record my demo’s on computer , as i don’t have funds to get them professionally recorded in a studio . Do you know of any Studio that does affordable demos for songwriters.

    • Hi Derry,

      Thanks for the comment. My recommendation would be to work to improve your ability to record your own demos if finances are tight. That’s what I did when I had more time than money. Hope that helps!


  8. Grace says:

    Hey Cliff,

    I’m Grace, a songwriter. I wanted to know when I pitch my songs to labels, artist, A&R reps and publishers, should I send the full song song or just the first verse and chorus? And should I send a lyric sheet?

    Thank you,

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