I recently recieved an email from a songwriter who had been offered a “contract” with a publisher. Part of that contract required her to pay for a re-recording of her song.
If a so-called publisher wants you to give them money for ANYTHING, run the other way! This is not standard practise. A publisher who is interested in your song will send you a single song contract that will give them permission to take your song and pitch it to artists or bands for a period of time. There should be a reversion clause that essentially gives you all of the rights back after a period of time if the song has not been successfully signed to anyone. And that’s it!
There are people out there who want to take advantage of newer songwriters who don’t know any better. Songwriters are flattered when they get a contract of any kind, and often don’t know how it’s supposed to work, so they’ll go ahead and pay for the “re-recording” thinking that this gives them a better chance to have the song picked up. It’s all baloney.
Arm yourself with knowledge! Before embarking on any business venture, you’d want to learn about that buisness, right? Well, song publishing is a business and you also need to know how it works before you embark on contacting publishers with your songs.
If you want to learn more about publishing and how it works, I have an article called “Publishing: A Brief Beginner’s Guide” that’ll give you a little bit of an idea. You might also consider picking up a copy of Songwriter’s Market…you can buy it online through Amazon through my store (or click here: IJ’s Songwriting Store). Songwriter’s Market is not only filled with publishers looking for songs, but there are a lot of educational articles that are worth reading.
The general rule of thumb is that if anyone asks you for money, they are not legitimate. Also, if you can afford to, have a contract read by an entertainment lawyer so you know for sure what you’re getting yourself into.