What To Do With Those Less-Than-Perfect Or Unfinished Songs

piano_photos_4© 2011 Vinny Ribas

Every songwriters has various degrees of songs in their catalog. There are those songs that have great commercial potential (surprise – not EVERY one of them does!). There are those personal songs we’ve written for ourselves but not to share. There are those ‘b list’ songs that are good but wouldn’t cut the mustard against what’s being pitched by a-list writers. There may be songs written for particular projects that don’t fit anywhere else. There are probably a lot of ‘throwaways’ (there’s really no such thing), unfinished songs, song ideas and titles as well.

So what do you do with all of the material, good and bad, that you have but are not pitching to the majors? Here are some ideas.[private_freebie]

  • Pitch your best and your good songs where a-list writers don’t! Pitch them to up and indie artists, indie film projects, commercials, documentaries etc.
  • Remember that songs that we think are not our best, or that we think are too personal, may be exactly what the public wants. There are been many hits that the songwriters or the artists themselves didn’t care for, but someone else had the vision to see why the public would.
  • Get them critiqued by someone you trust. You may be just a simple modification away from a hit!
  • Give your unfinished songs that are built on good ideas to co-writers to finish them with you. Sometimes we just need an outside perspective to stimulate the creative juices or take a song where it needs to go.
  • Give some of your unfinished songs to co-writers that you find online but who you can’t sit with one-on-one. Check references to be sure are reputable.
  • With a few tweaks, your ‘personal songs’ may be appropriate for other artists to sing. After all, we all go through the same challenges. Find a strong co-writer who can look at the song from a more ‘public’ perspective.
  • Sometimes our ‘personal songs’ are perfect for films and TV. Don’t overlook this possibility.
  • Sometimes your unfinished songs are perfect for TV, film or commercials. Try recording just a strong chorus (maybe repeated) and submitting it to a short pitch.
  • You may never finish many of the songs you start, but the lines or ideas in them just might fit into a newer song you are writing. Keep everything! If possible, keep it all organized as well so you can find things you wrote a long time ago.
  • Be sure to keep your song ideas and song titles in one place. They are a perfect starting point for co-writing! In fact, many serious writers won’t co-write with someone who doesn’t come to the writing appointment.
  • Can’t seem to finish a song? Take one verse, the chorus, the hook or something else from it that is strong and start a new song. Sometimes we get deep into one direction and can’t find our way out!
  • Take a song that you can’t complete and try writing if from the opposite gender’s perspective. That may shake loose some new ideas!
  • Try writing the song in a different tense.
  • If the song is in 2rd person, try writing it in 1st ort 2nd person (and vice-versa).
  • Change the temp. Maybe the lyrics would be more suitable, more easily sung, more impactful or more believable at a different pace.
  • Do you have a song with a great melody but not great lyrics? Why not make an instrumental version of it to license for film and TV?
  • You can license your not-so-great songs to indie artists who are not songwriters and just need something to show their vocals off with. If you’ve had the song demoed, you might even license the tracks for them to sing over so they don’t have to pay to have it recorded from scratch.

Once again, there is NO such thing as a throw-away song or idea! As you can see, it just takes a little creativity to put all of your writing skills and efforts to work for you![/private_freebie]

About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.