HOW TO GET A RECORD DEAL?
“How can I get a record deal?” It’s been the gnawing, desperate question on the lips of almost every singer/songwriter/band on the planet for generations. The mythical record deal is the end-all, be-all for aspiring recording artists: The Golden Ticket, the Shangri-La, the Promised Land. If you can just get that record deal, your troubles are over forever.
(You can perhaps hear the snickers from the artists who have actually had a record deal.)
While landing a record deal can certainly open up a lot of doors for you as an artist, there’s no point in sugar-coating it: Getting signed to a label is more elusive now than ever before. First of all, there are so many artists clamoring for the labels’ attention that it’s nearly impossible to get an audience with A&R (Artists and Repertoire) unless you’re extremely well connected, or if you’ve already sold 10,000 records and have about 2 million YouTube subscribers.
Secondly, because of the ongoing upheaval in the record industry, the labels are not taking nearly as many risks when it comes to signing artists. This is why so many artists are figuring out how to make it independently, and why even lots of label artists are now “going indie” to release music. This is to say you don’t absolutely need a record deal to turn a profit or make money making music.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t try to get signed, or that you shouldn’t try to get signed. In fact, the good news is that you no longer have to wait to get “discovered” or signed before building your career as a recording artist. There are plenty of independent artists who are doing quite well without a record deal from a major label.
But if you think you have what it takes and you want to try, at the very least, you can work toward getting signed while continuing to develop your career on other levels. Then if and when it happens, it’s just gravy. Here are some common-sense tips to help you position yourself for signing to a record label.
HOW TO GET SIGNED TO A RECORD LABEL?
- Make the Best Album or Demo You Can
- Build a Fanbase and Build Momentum
- Consider a Publishing Deal First
- Build Music Industry Connections
- Improve Your Sound
1. Make the Best Album or Demo You Can
With easy access to powerful computers, it’s never been easier to make music-making the music industry more competitive than ever. This means you can’t just deliver a “good” song or a “presentable” demo. You need outstanding songs with great hooks that are professionally recorded, mixed, mastered, or very, very close.
Many artists today, in fact, skip the “demo” step completely and just raise the money to do a professional-level EP or full-length album that they can sell directly to fans. That recording is then passed as a “demo” for the labels. If nothing else, the product positions you as a serious artist.
2. Build a Fanbase and Build Momentum
Record labels today take more interest in an artist or band if they’re already demonstrating a level of success. Play lots of live shows, develop a social networking presence, put your songs on YouTube, SoundCloud, and Apple Music, and get your fans excited about what you’re doing. The more momentum and excitement you can build around your act, the more likely the label execs are to take notice.
Remember, Justin Bieber was discovered singing songs on YouTube before becoming a megastar around the world. In addition to YouTube, build up those Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds to keep your fans “in the know.” By keeping your social media profiles going, you can keep current fans happy and attract potential new fans.
Like it or not, social media should play a big part in your overall music marketing strategy. It’s free in most cases, can reach anyone in the world, and is a good way to interact with other artists and others in the industry. Just look at megastars like Taylor Swift who use social media to build and maintain meaningful connections with her very energized fan base. A like, follow, or mention from a superstar on any of those platforms can give you a huge shot of attention and swell your fan base.
3. Consider a Publishing Deal First
If you’ve got great songwriting chops—particularly in the pop/rock and country genres—you might try to start by landing a music publishing deal before attempting to court the labels. This basically means you write the songs that publishers pitch to the labels to try and get them onto the records of established artists.
You don’t have to have a broadcast-ready demo for this—just simple, well-recorded arrangements of your best songs. Some of today’s up-and-coming pop and country stars got their start writing songs for other label artists. Prince, Dolly Parton, Ed Sheeran, Pharrell Williams, and Sia are just a few of the artists who have written songs for others, even after hitting it big.
4. Make Tons of Connections
In this business, it really is about who you know. Pay attention to the industry event calendar and attend every event you can afford to attend. Go to shows. Go to where the music business people hang out, make connections and build relationships. Industry folks rarely accept unsolicited materials but are much more likely to listen to your stuff if they already know you.
So gather email addresses, start following others on social media, and make those in-person appearances when you’re able to. If you’re serious about getting that elusive record deal, there are still ways to do it. It takes commitment, passion, and patience, but with hard work and a bit of luck, you might just reach that “Promised Land” after all.
But just so you know—that’s where the real work begins. Let Recording Connection help you get started.
5. Make Connections While Improving Your Sound
Whether you want to learn how to produce your own music or work with others on their music, Recording Connection will place you in a fully immersive environment to work on your trade. We offer several music courses and workshops, including Creator Pro where you’ll learn how to produce your own record professionally.
You’ll work side-by-side with a mentor who’s already a music industry professional from inside their real-world recording connection. This kind of access just isn’t available in traditional schools and allows you to begin making those connections that are so important in the music business.
This 10-week course will cover the basics, such as loading a digital audio workstation on your computer or laptop, discussing different plugins, and learning how to begin recording. How to work with arrangements, instrumentation, and accompaniments will follow. The course ends with mixing for different genres and a finished, professional-sounding song.
Our mentors know what it means to engineer or produce hit songs, working with stars who are known around the world. Lady Gaga, Snoop Dogg, Taylor Swift, Metallica, Justin Bieber, Beyonce, and more. As we said before, the first step in getting signed to a label is making the best album you can. With the Creator Pro course, you can do just that.