"This is a great book -- a logical approach to an illogical business. Whenever a writer comes to me asking, 'What do I need to do?', I'm going to show them this book."
- Ralph Murphy
VP of International and Domestic Membership ASCAP

How close are you to getting your first cut?
(A questionnaire)

1. You play guitar or piano. ____ (2 pts)
2. You set aside at least a three-hour block once a week to write. ____ (3 pts)
3. You also set aside at least a three-hour block once a week to co-write. ____ (3 pts)
4. You are involved in a local songwriting organization (not just a dues-paying member). ____ (3 pts)
5. You do at least one thing each day, no matter how large or small, to further your songwriting career. ____ (5 pts)
6. You visit a major music center (Nashville, New York or Los Angeles) to attend and play writer’s nights, co-write, and network at least three times a year. ____ (4 pts)
7. You actively drop off CDs or tapes of your songs to a music center publisher who has agreed to listen to them. ____ (4 pts)
8. You have pitched your songs in person to a music center publisher. ____ (4 pts)
9. You perform your songs, either solo or in a group or band, in a major music center at least once every two months. ____ (3 pts)
10. You live and frequently participate in music industry events within 100 miles of a major music center. ____ (10 pts)
11. You co-write on a regular basis with someone who has signed a single-song contract. ____ (4 pts)
12. You have signed a single-song contract with a music center publisher. (Add 5 points for every additional single song contract with a different publisher, but not more than 15 more points – total possible = 20 pts). ____
(5–20 pts)
13. You co-write on a regular basis with a writer who has an exclusive songwriting agreement with a music center publisher. ____ (5 pts)
14. You have signed an exclusive songwriting agreement with a music center publisher that involves an advance and a demo budget. ____ (15 pts)
15. You co-write with a major label recording artist. ____ (8 pts)
16. A publisher has dropped off your song to a major label A&R representative, producer or manager. ____ (5 pts)
17. A publisher has played your song to a major label A&R representative, a producer’s assistant or the manager of a major label recording artist. ____ (7 pts)
18. A publisher has played your song to a producer of a major label recording artist. ____ (9 pts)
19. An A&R rep, artist manager, or a producer has played your song to a major label recording artist. ____ (11 pts)
20. A publisher has played your song to a major label recording artist. ____ (12 pts)
Total ____

Your score:

0 - 20: Now don’t be discouraged. Not everyone starts at the top. All hope is not lost. Look at it this way: there’s lots of opportunity for improvement. You need to discipline yourself to write and pitch your songs. No excuses, just hunker down and get to work.

21-44: You do have a steep climb ahead of you, but there’s still hope. We know there doesn’t seem to be a light in the tunnel yet, but you have begun to build the foundation for your songwriting success. Seriously look at the answers in which you could not give yourself a score and begin working toward making those goals happen.

45-64: You are moving in the right direction but it’s still not enough yet. Get out there and exert yourself. Expand your writing and co-writing experiences. Do some networking with other writers and people in the business.

65-84: You are on the cusp of seriously making it happen. This is a critical junction for you. Honestly examine your songs and find ways to improve your writing and enhance and expand your business relationships.

85-104: This is the place where persistence, determination and your ability to take rejection and move on needs to kick in. Continue to take an attitude that there is always room for growth and improvement. Don’t give up now.

105-130: It’s just a matter of time here coupled with a lot of luck and a great song. Keep at it. Keep writing.

© Copyright 2002, Jerry Vandiver and Gracie Hollombe. All Rights Reserved.