Mastering the craft of songwriting has always required – and will always require – good, old-fashioned effort and time but as technology progresses, there are quite a few improvements to the ways songwriters can effectively manage their careers. Not only has technology enabled us to be more efficient but it’s also allowed us to bridge physical distances in ways that were previously impossible. For songwriters serious about making a living, these improvements are worth noting as they allow us to maximize our efforts while minimizing the inconveniences of the past. Below are three such areas that merit our attention.
For decades and decades, the only way to truly collaborate in real time was to be in the same physical space with your co-writer. Then, slowly, the internet began to provide ways to semi-effectively bridge the distance such as emailing lyrics and snippets of melody – via mp3 – back and forth. Now with free and often high-quality video chat options like FaceTime and Skype, songwriting collaboration at a distance is a truly viable option. Skype can even allow up to twenty-five people to be on the same video call at the same time – although I’m not sure that would be my recommended number of co-writers. Another great boon for lyricists is the opportunity that Google Docs provides for multiple participants to look at – and edit – the same lyric sheet at the same time which can be a huge help when it comes to keeping tabs on the evolution of your song’s lyric during a long-distance co-writing session.
Getting your song demos recorded by the world class session musicians and studio vocalists that the big music cities have to offer used to require either a trip to Nashville, NYC or Los Angeles or mailing in the cassette or CD of your rough recording to a studio in one of those cities and hoping they shared your precise vision for how your finished demo should sound. Now, studios have the ability to send a high quality audio – and video – streams through services like UStream.tv to their studio clients wherever they are in the world. As a producer with a studio in Nashvile, I’ve had clients listen in to their studio sessions from their homes in Taiwan, Australia and even an oil rig off the coast of Scotland!
Another area where technology has greatly changed the lives of songwriters for the better is in how we pitch our songs. Submitting songs for pitch opportunities used to require the time and hassle of physically mailing or dropping off either a cassette or CD to the potentially interested parties. The interim step of emailing an mp3 was a double-edged sword given that the sheer numbers of songwriters sending audio files to industry professionals could overwhelm their computer inboxes. These days, using free online storage services like DropBox, it’s dead simple to simply send a link to your songs in your email. This works well not only because it’s as simple as the recipient clicking a link to hear your song but also because links take up zero “space” since your songs are not actual attachments in your email.
Another related area when it comes to technology and pitching is how much easier it’s become via social media to market your songs. A classic example is that by placing a simple lyric video of one of your songs on YouTube you can reach an almost infinite audience of listeners with your work.
These days, being a great songwriter is a strong start but it’s really not enough if the goal is royalty income. Taking the time to explore and get familiar with the technological advances above will yield great results in a very short time.