How to get signed by a record label?
Here at Major Mixing, offering mixing and mastering services, we have the opportunity to talk with thousands of independent artists, their managers, and record labels. The topic of how to get signed to a record label often comes up. Through the years, the picture of what traits the top singers have and what brings them record deals became clearer. We started to understand what ingredients produce a successful career for a singer or songwriter, and what sabotages the growth. In this article, we want to share these ideas. You can be sure, what we are going to tell you is firmly backed up with our 10+ years of experience working on top projects in the music industry.
What do you need to do to get signed by a record label?
The main steps to get a record deal are:
- Write a couple of songs
- Create nice social media accounts
- Write a perfect email for sending to the record label
- Attach the demo of your song to the email
- Wait for the response
No, these are not the main steps. Just kidding. : -)
However, this is what you will read in most of the blog posts on this topic, right? All this is included in the process, of course, and we’ll talk about it later, but those are not the main things you need to accomplish.
So, let’s start over.
How to successfully submit music to record labels?
First of all, companies differ. There are tons of old and new record labels now available, and many of them will not support the growth of your career. With most of them, you’ll just release one album and after that, you’ll see yourself at the same place where you were before. No growth, no result. How to get a record deal you are going to benefit from? It’s very important to choose a successful record label, which will support the start and skyrocketing of your popularity. It’s hard to get signed by those labels, but it’s what you want, and these are the companies we are talking about. You don’t want a deal you do not get profit from.
So, in short, the steps of getting signed look like this:
These steps include much more than you can realize from reading these lines, so let’s get a deeper look and discover what exactly they mean and how to accomplish them.
How to get a record deal. Researching the market
You need to be the artist the label needs, the singer in whom they will see the potential for their profit and successful development.
Like any other product on the market, music is subject to the laws of supply and demand. First of all, the artist must determine what are the demands that the record labels and managers have in mind, what do they seek. This requires some research. As an artist, you need to study the music market, the trends, and perspectives of development. You need to position on the market the music you are about to make and estimate its chances to meet the demands.
The artist nowadays must be consistent in producing new material and constantly creative.
You should be able to quickly produce new songs, social media posts, interviews, vlogs, YouTube posts, etc.
There is a popular misconception that when you submit music to record label, they will be looking for artist with one huge hit, and that you need to put all your money and efforts into creating a super-hit that will get you signed and will make you famous at the same time. This strategy used to work in the past but is not working now. In our world of unstoppable information flow, one song can not stay on top and bring you fame for a long time. It used to be true 30 or even 20 years ago when one hit could support the singer’s popularity for a year or more. And he or she could do many successful tours and people would come because this one main song was remembered and loved. One of the last examples of this type of long-living hits is “Gangnam Style” by a South Korean artist PSY, released in 2012. After that, the strategy stopped working. Now any hit can only remain popular for a month or two, for example, “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish.
How to be different.
The artist must bring something new with their work, something different from what we have already experienced. It should be different in a substantial way. One can not just add some stupid peculiarity or foolishness to the image and expect it to represent innovation.
How can you create your unique and distinct style? There are three major ways to do so.
Way #1 – Improve.
Create something similar to already popular material, but a bit different or a bit better.
To create something similar to an already existing and popular project is not plagiarism, it’s a common practice in different industries, not only in music. It’s usual to have two or three popular products in one market niche.
For musicians, we can trace this tendency from the classical old bands like Beatles and Rolling Stones who worked in the same niche, for the same audience. You may compare Panic! At The Disco and Fall Out Boy, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B to see that similarities don’t stand in the way of popularity for both singers or bands.
Major record labels often use this rule to create and promote new artists. They can try and make a product similar to the one that has already conquered the market, and keeping in mind the resources big labels have, this strategy is quite feasible and safe for them. However, for an independent artist, copying someone famous, for example, Beyonce, and improve her style, is quite a challenging task. Challenging, but not impossible.
Way #2 – Innovative
Create something absolutely new within the modern tendencies and trends of the music industry. You need to be original and unexpected but within a safe zone of an already popular modern style. The artist needs to bring in absolutely new features, be distinct and recognizable. This is the most popular way and the most effective.
If a singer or songwriter chooses this path, it will not only help him or her to be signed by a label, but also in general, to start a career in the music industry and quickly move up. I’m sure you already have some of your favorite artists in mind who brought a new style to a popular genre and can tell exactly what their new unique features are. However, let’s still see some more examples. Ok Go band and their creative video clips. Lady Gaga and her unique style. Slipknot with their masks and aggressive percussions. Marilyn Manson with his crazy makeup and contact lenses. David Guetta and his tempo and singing style. LMFAO with their image and interesting sound.
You can develop your distinct style in everything:
• Silhouette. There is a saying that ideally, an artist’s shadow should be recognizable. So, when you see the silhouette, you should be able to recognize the artist immediately.
• Voice and singing style. You can have your own different voice and manner of singing. For a hip-hop artist or a rapper, it can be your unique style of rapping, unique voice timbre.
• Music and instruments. You can also choose to do arrangements differently than others.
• Appearance. You can look differently, wear certain clothes, in a certain unique way, your way.
This list could be continued endlessly. Take everything you do, your appearance, everything that surrounds you, and think how it can be contributing to your style, to your uniqueness. The more of these new unique details you bring in, the better the results will be.
A good set of perfect unique features by which you will be recognized is the most important thing. It is the crown jewel all the labels are looking for. Such artists will be able to get a record deal easier and quicker.
Way #3 – Revolutionize.
Here we are talking about creating something absolutely new that will completely change the way the music industry is developing.
This way is unpredictable and risky, but if it works, it will bring the most profit, popularity, and a skyrocketing career. Of course, big labels are looking for this kind of artist, but they understand that those musicians are a rare phenomenon.
These are artists who change the musical paradigm, change the style. Their appearance can’t be planned, it happens uncontrolled and is unpredictable.
Take, for example, Nirvana. Kurt brought in a completely new sound and style. Another example from our days is Billie Eilish, with also a strikingly unique way of singing, arrangement, and song lyrics.
The music paradigms have always been changing, new styles emerging and rising to the top, and others gradually losing their popularity. The cause and the basis of these changes are the people, the needs of the audience, changing times, political and social conditions. But of course, there always is this one artist who first introduces this new tendency.
This third way holds a big risk that can stand in the way. For example, you have invented a completely new style of song and want to bring it to the world. How do you know if the people are going to like it? It could happen that you are ahead of your time, and your new type of music has a chance to become popular only in the future, not now. It could also happen that the big audience will not need your new style of music at all, and no amount of marketing will help.
So, as we see, way #3 is unpredictable and risky, however, in the case of success, it’s the most rewarding one.
By the way, these three types of career development can be used not only by musicians. Any creative activity like, for example, art, movies, or literature is subject to these rules. In every area of our lives like marketing, social media, or design we can use these 3 rules of innovation to succeed.
Originality and your style is everything
Originality and your own style are the things an artist should keep in mind all the time. How you post on social media, how you act during an interview, your tours, how you dress and talk. Your own style will not only give you a good chance to be signed by a label but also will save you a lot of money. For example, you record a song similar to those that already exist in the industry today, and you’ll spend a lot of money on making the song, and then promoting it everywhere, but people simply won’t notice it, because there is nothing new in it. Many artists fall into this trap, they create songs without their own unique traits, and no matter how hard they try to promote, they still can not achieve popularity.
Advertising and promotion can not substitute an original style. No matter how much money is invested in advertising, it can not buy the genuine popularity that has grown on the basis of a unique style and creative new features.
When you know that you are ready
So, when you know that you are productive, you can generate a lot of songs, a lot of content. At the same time, you have successfully mastered one of the three uniqueness strategies, have your unique features and style, and your recognizable image. When you are sure that you’ll bring something new and fresh to the industry, and that there is a niche market for it, then you know that you are ready to approach record labels and sign a contract that will be profitable for you.
Then it’s time to create a project presentation. It should be impressive, professional, and well organized. You should always have material about your project with you because you need to always be prepared, you don’t want to miss any opportunity for presenting and bringing your product to the world.
How to get your music heard by a label
The classic method is to write an email. And we agree, you should do it. But what are your chances of being heard if there are thousands of emails similar to yours coming to a record label every week?
Searching for ways of how to get your music heard you also need to be creative. You need to build your connections, get acquainted with people working for record labels. Particularly, look for A&Rs and talk with them. You can use social networks to find them, for example, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram etc.
Give concerts and try to meet as many people as you can, draw attention to yourself, and get heard. Use every creative method to meet with A&Rs, because the chances that emails will work are minimal. Be persistent, this stage requires consistency and patience, and might take some time. You’ll need to step out of your comfort zone and talk with new people.
When you manage to get the attention of a needed person, try to schedule an appointment. Meet in person, not online, if possible, because this communication will build the connection that will help them make a decision in your favor.
High quality is not optional
Quality is important. Everything you do, your videos, your clothes, how you look, everything should be unique, but on a good quality level at the same time. And what needs to meet the highest quality level is the sound of your music, otherwise, your songs will sound very amateur and not competitive on the market.
For your demo, you’ll be creating at least 3-4 high-quality songs, 2 nice videos. You may need to invest money in all this and in your development as an artist. Our estimation, on average, artists invest $2,000 – $5,000 in their projects to prepare them for showing to a record label.
The last thing you want to witness is your project being turned down because of the low sound quality of your songs, amateur mixing and mastering, or not impressive video clips that looked cheap.
We can help
The quality of the sound makes the first impression on the listener. If done correctly, it captivates, draws attention, and impresses the audience even before you start singing. That is why you always need to mix and master your song professionally.
Here at Major Mixing, we have been working in the music industry for more than 10 years. We are a team of professionals, each of us has worked on big production projects, with modern trends and demands. We work with every genre and style, and know how to make your song sound up to the highest industry standards, draw the attention of the listener, captivate and create a good impression from the first notes.
Professional mixing and mastering will increase your chances to be signed by a label greatly. Because your song will already sound like the top-chart material and the listener will be able to compare easily and clearly see your strong points.
Contact us, we’ll be happy to mix and master your project to the highest level or answer any questions you may have.