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Getting a Publishing Deal
Relationships are the most important thing
By Marc "M2E" Smith

Here's a few quick tips on what I've learned being in the music business over the last 17 years.

Try to get on records first before shopping for a deal. It doesn't matter if you produce them, as long as you've written on them, you can get some meetings set up. Then you have something they want that is publishing-worthy, which adds up to money. As far as getting your tracks heard, there are many different ways. Find out what clubs some of the A&R people hang out in. Mingle with them and slowly let them know what you do and then hype your stuff up to no end. Get them to want to hear your stuff.

Always remember that relationships are the most important thing. Once you meet two or more people from A&R, use that to your advantage by using their name to get other meetings. Mostly all A&Rs know other A&Rs and they all talk to each other every now and then. Don't be scared to use their name, because if they do talk to each other, they always talk in codes like "Hey, what's going on, I met with this guy blah blah and he has some hot stuff." " Yeah, I met with him, too. Oh yeah, he told me." Then they move on because no A&R will let the other A&Rs know what they're going to do next with you or any other producer, artist or whomever.

Don't send your music through the mail. Maybe I should repeat that: "DON'T SEND YOUR MUSIC THROUGH THE MAIL!" 98% of it gets thrown away or put in a box and thrown away later. An idea would be to send it FedEx, because they get all their important stuff sent to them via FedEx from different record companies.

If you have a hard time getting meetings then maybe you should get a manager. But be careful and always remember Rule 1: Managers don't handle your money. That's a business manager. Rule 2: they work for you, you don't work for them. They might say, "If it wasn't for me, you wouldn't be able to get all this work." Then you say, "If it wasn't for me, you wouldn't be working either." Remember, you make the product. The manager sells it. With no product no sell, no manager. They work for you!

Not to be funny, but at your first meeting with a prospective manager, ask them, "So do you work for me now?" If they laugh and say, "Don't you mean that the other way around?" — or say anything other than, "Yes, I'm here to push your song and make money for you and do what I got to do to make this happen," then just be cool and say you have another meeting to go to and you will contact them later. Always be cool, no matter if you know they could be a snake, because the music business is smaller than you think and you will meet them again. But the next time they'll be the A&R of the record company you're working with or trying to get on, or they'll be the record company president that's looking for acts and producers to produce their acts.


Marc "M2E" Smith is a songwriter, engineer and producer based in California. He has worked with Tha Nappy Headz (Polydor), Destiny's Child (Columbia), 4 Da Honeyz (Mercury), Tyreese (RCA), CeCe Winans (Pioneer) and many others.

This article was originally published in Digital Pro Sound in August 2003.

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