1. Song is turned into publisher
2. Song is demoed (three months later)
3. Publisher pitches song to artists/labels/managers around town (six months)
4. Artist decides to record song (three months)
5. Album gets mixed and label promotes upcoming release (six months)
6. Album is release, and publisher and songwriter look forward to royalties (six-nine months)
Yesterday my publisher said to me and my co-writer, "You can kick off 2011 by writing something that will make you money in 2012 or 2013!" He was jokingly serious. Or seriously joking. Sort of. If you add up the months in parentheses, you get about two years.
For example, I co-wrote songs over two years ago that are just now on the Mosaic album (leaving me at step 6). Making money in song publishing is a long-term investment for both the publisher and the songwriter. Both are players in the waiting game, and expecting things to happen too quickly can only bring disappointment.
But this should not be a daunting reality to the songwriter. The long period of time can serve as a reminder that it doesn't necessarily pay off to try to simulate what is currently on the radio. A good song written today will certainly stand two years from now, regardless of what the top 40 landscape may look like.