SPONY, and events like it, exist to offer an opportunity to get in front of someone who can forward your material, and in turn your career. After almost three years of watching approximately 75 pitches per session, I see how some songwriters turn it into a win, and how others can shoot themselves in the foot.
You and those who love you may know how much work, time, money, heart, and soul went into the writing and recording of your song, but unless you present it to its best possible advantage, you’re doing yourself (and the song) a disservice.
So, some thoughts on the subject:
DO come prepared. Songwriters are asked to bring three copies of their CD in case every one of the panelists would like a copy. Bring a bagful! Then you are also prepared if another songwriter is interested in working or collaborating with you, or if someone else in attendance is interested in helping you. Your CD is your resume. Bring enough to cover every possible opportunity.
DO bring lyric sheets. Songwriters are also asked to bring three copies of the lyric sheets. I’ve never been able to figure out why approximately 10%-15% of the attendees come with none. First and foremost, you are not giving credit to the lyricist, even if you were the one who wrote them. And, this is a shoot-yourself-the-foot situation – there have been at least 5 or 6 instances where the panelist originally passed on the song, then later changed their mind. They handed me the lyric sheet so that we knew to whom to reach out.
DO make a professional presentation. The packaging doesn’t have to look like it was produced by a major label, but a typed CD label and J-card, along with a typed lyric sheet, with contact information on everything, will give you every advantage on being reached later. Don’t forget, when these panelists get back to their offices, the CDs they have taken will join the 3,000 other CDs already on their desk. You need to make it easy for them.
DON’T forget to test your CD on a CD player. A lot of bulk-packaged CD-R’s have trouble being read by some of the older CD players. Since you can never be sure what kind of system the person you’re giving it to has, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Computers will generally have no trouble reading any CD-R, so it is not a reliable test.
DON’T be shy. If you’re a Keeper I will call your name, so stand up and let the panelist(s) who took your song put a face with it. Even better, make sure to stay to the end and introduce yourself to them after the pitching has concluded. Part of what this event is about is the networking aspect so take advantage of it. Plenty of songwriters were able to get panelists who hadn’t even taken their song to allow them to send additional material.
As a singer/songwriter myself I learned it’s important to make sure decision-makers are not distracted by anything in the package or presentation so that they can focus entirely on the song and/or artist.