Image by: rajsun22
Approaching Record Labels - Do's and Don'ts
You may be wondering if record labels are needed any more given the huge potential for online DIY marketing. It's a hot topic and everyone seems to have an opinion.
If you are on the fence you might like to read this article Do We Need Record Labels? which balances the argument and reminds us what a record label actually does.
If you do want a record deal, what should (or shouldn't) you do? Well, as with any topic, there are always exceptions to any rule. Don't get stressed, check out our top Do's and Don'ts for getting a recording contract;
#1 Work on your music - To get anywhere in the music business you need to be great at what you do. Make sure you constantly improve, day after day until your music is truly world class. Until you are producing world class songs you will find it very hard to get record labels to invest their time and money in you.
#2 Start with smaller labels - Aiming for the majors is fine, but you will find it painfully hard to get noticed. It can be smarter to court the smaller independents and as you grow on their label you will naturally attract the attention of larger labels.
#3 Firm up your philosophies - Having strong philosophies will help you stay focused and positive. Check out the philosophies of one of the highest achieving musicians of all time, Quincy Jones in our blog Think Like Quincy Jones
#4 Research a little - Before you start contacting record labels you should know a little bit about them. It makes a huge difference if you have a basic understanding of the labels' history and current roster. Sending an email that says,”Check out my beats” fails to connect you with the label or show that you “get them”. Compare that to an email that says, “I enjoy the artists you have released in the last three years and I think my sound perfectly suit your company's direction.”
#5 Check the demo submission policy - Almost all record labels have a submission policy. This simply outlines what they are interested in hearing (if anything at all). There is no point sending your Rock song to a record label who has no experience working with rock bands, you will end up wasting yours and the labels time.
#6 Spell and grammar check - We all know that the music should speak for itself, but in reality YOU are representing your music. If an A&R exec receives an email with unreadable English or text speak he will have to assume that you will display a similar lack of attention to detail in your music career as a whole. Remember, touring and promoting records is hard work so you must show that you have a professional head on your shoulders and make a good first impression.
#7 Include your name and contact details - If you have permission to email a track to a record label, always include your name and telephone number in your email signature. Finish your email with your name also! I get emails all the time from people who don't mention their name anywhere in the email.
#8 Follow up - This is by far the most overlooked part of connecting with a record label. Most often you will not hear back from a record label, they get a lot of demos and are busy people. So, you will need to do polite follow up emails and telephone calls. The best way to manage this is to keep a simple database of who was contacted and when you contacted them. Schedule a follow up phone call every two weeks until your music has been listened to.
#9 Network - If you speak with a record label who likes your music but doesn't think it's right for them, it's worth asking if they can suggest anyone they know who may be interested in your music. Quite often they will suggest a friend of their who owns a label, which gives you a great personal referral!
#1 Don't blanket send - Sending your material to every single company you come across not only wastes your time but wastes the record labels time. It's easy to think that you'll “hit” more potential ears, but in actual fact it is way more time consuming than doing your research and contacting a few labels in a controlled and professional way.
#2 Don't send long emails - Your introduction email doesn't need to be long, a couple lines introducing yourself is enough. People respond better to a short message with a simple question or call to action. Always say what you want early on in the email so that the reader can quickly determine if they need to read the whole email.
#3 Don't get disheartened - You definitely need a thick skin in this industry. There are a LOT of musicians going after the same goal. To be a successful recording and touring musician is as hard as trying to be a pro basketball player or a government leader. You are entering a very competitive arena and you must understand this before assuming you will be successful without effort!
#4 Don't get defensive - This relates to the above point. We have noticed some musicians who take criticism to heart and get defensive. If a record label, or anyone for that matter, declines your music you should accept it and move on. Don't defend yourself or tell the record label that they don't know what they are talking about! It is a surprisingly small industry and you don't want to create enemies!
#5 Don't forget it's a business - Music and business must go hand in hand, so when you approach a record label you should consider what's in it for them. They are running a business like any other and need to see potential for a return if they are to support you. Usually a growing fan base or a sign that you are on the way up helps. Every record label is looking for the next hot act so you need to convince them that you are that!
Music Production Services
Your music matters and song production can help bring out the best in your tunes. If you require expert song production then click the button below.