How I Got Signed to a Music Publishing Deal

Guest Article: Written by Dylan Lloyd

It was September 21, 2009…I was in pursuit of the ultimate dream.  From Chicago to Los Angeles, I drove nearly two full days to meet a girl who would change my life forever – with a music publishing deal.  Her name is Lindsay Vinarsky, also known by her artist name “Elle Vee”. We first met back in Chicago a few years prior at a quaint little music venue formerly known as the “World Folk Music Company”.  We had played a gig there together, but then never spoke again for years after.

MySpace in 2009 was at its peak.  It was the leading platform for social media at this point, so as an artist I used it quite regularly.  I had stumbled upon Lindsay’s page and saw that she was on the verge of signing something called a “Music Publishing Deal”.  I had never heard of a pub deal before, so it immediately intrigued me. She and I reached out and talked to each other, met up before she had to fly to LA and sign the deal…and that’s when it happened.  

“I think you’re extremely talented Dylan, you should try signing a deal with the company I’m going to be signing with”, she said.  I immediately jumped at this opportunity, but it didn’t come without sacrifice. I left my fiancé to pursue the deal head-on. I wasn’t single for long though, Lindsay and I had developed strong feelings for each other in the process.  Lindsay and I fell in love and were now simultaneously working on our career and our relationship together.

Does that sound crappy?…yes, in a way it certainly does.  But this is the true nature of the music business, nothing in this business comes without a certain type of sacrifice.  If you’re not willing to make a sacrifice, then you must re-evaluate the nature of your desire to become a music industry professional.  Not to say that you have to make decisions like these to get somewhere quicker…but you have to make calculated decisions and stick to them even if they’re risky.  

There is no definitive way to get into the game officially, though there is one common thread between all stories of people who’ve been signed…their connections.  Who did they know, and how did they know them. These are the ultimate questions that most aspiring artists struggle to find out. Admittedly so, it was a blessing that a girl, I genuinely fell in love with, had a connection to a very respected music industry professional named Jonathan Stone.  

Jon Stone formerly oversaw all of the publishing aspects of Quincy Jones company in the mid-’80s and subsequently ventured off into the role as President of Windswept Pacific Music in the early ’90s.  It wasn’t until 2009, that he switched gears and started his own publishing company called “Radar Music Publishing”. He signed writers who had placements and didn’t have placements. He even signed aspiring artists to develop them, and up-and-coming producers he saw had a lot of business potential.  Jon Stone is a rare gem in the music industry…and I was blessed to be discovered by him.

In order to sign a co-publishing deal, I had to make sure I had a few ducks lined in a row.  I had to first be affiliated with a writer’s organization and set up my own publishing company within that organization.  Reason being, you’re sharing your publishing percentages with another pub company in exchange for an advance. The advance can be given to you monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or all up front.  It’s just contingent upon the agreement made between you and the pub company you’re signing some of your publishing percentages away too.  In my case, I had opted to receive the funds on a monthly basis.  

After I made sure my pub company was set up with a chosen organization (ASCAP is who I had chosen), I gathered together my entire song catalog, included all of the splits for each song between all writers involved, and sent it to the pub company with a concise biography and professional photos.  Keep in mind, I had management in place and they were the middleman in this entire process. I was sending none of these materials unsolicited, they were requested via the connections I had made. I would highly advise against sending any professional materials to labels or publishing companies without establishing a substantive relationship with them first.  You risk your work being overlooked and ignored. Regarding my particular situation, my management had a great communicative relationship with Jon Stone. You’ve got to build a team around you that has your best interests at heart and they must be professional. They have to be thorough and consistent, but not pushy. And most importantly…they have to be motivated.  My management at the time I was pursuing the publishing deal was very motivated for two reasons. One, he believed in my work as an artist and knew that I could be successful. Two, he would be awarded commission if he were to get me signed to a publishing deal.

It came down to the wire for me…I had moved to LA in September with about $2500 in my bank account…and by the time November came I was wearing thin.  Management continued to tell me that negotiations were ongoing, but nothing was imminent yet. I had to just continue praying to God and hope that I was going to get signed before the industry closed down for the year.  Then one day in November…it happened. Jon Stone called my management and said he wanted to make a deal and sign me. He loved the way I wrote, and felt that I would be a huge asset to the company. It was my first official break into the music industry, and it changed my life forever.

Never give up on your dreams.  Always push forward to get to a higher level.  And each time you move forward, remember to count your blessings.  The road to success is not perfect, and not every decision you make will be the right one.  But as long as you’re trying hard to accomplish your dreams, eventually you will accomplish what was at first thought to be impossible.

Written by Dylan Lloyd