How to get signed by a record label? Whilst it’s perhaps not everyone’s goal to get signed, it remains at the forefront of many of my clients’ minds and partly defines what “success” means for them.
I thought I’d offer this free guide and ebook on how to get signed by a record label, by pointing you in the right direction and help you in your success goal.
I’ve gleaned these tips from blog posts and conversations I’ve had with clients and musicians whilst trying to understand my how my role as a mixing engineer can help you on that path.
What are labels looking for?
They’re looking for bands that are showing some initiative. Ones that have already built up a good following and are regularly showing up online and seem serious about their career.
They want to see:
- you have a website with a newsletter
- you’re active on all social media platforms
- you have lots of engaged fans on at least two platforms
- release music that sounds “finished” or “polished”
- you possess something unique about you or your music
- you are serious about your career
They’re looking for the next big thing and if you can show that you are easy to work with, have talent and are driven to succeed then that will be seen in a favourable light.
The following 5 strategies will show you where to focus your efforts so that music execs will find you an appealing prospect and consider getting in touch or coming to your next gig.
Strategy 1: Have a website
You must have some sort of space on the internet that you are in control of and own. A social media platform can disappear overnight and all your followers and hard work go with it but a website is yours.
Having a website that you update regularly will:
- Make it easy for fans to find you
- and for record companies to find you
- Create your brand image
- Allow you to keep in contact with your followers by email
Labels will want to see a website to get more idea about who you are and what you’re about.
Apart from your contact information, they’ll want to see that you are operating a newsletter for fans to sign up to.
A mailing list or newsletter is a means to control your messaging and your brand. You own it and it’s a very valuable thing to have. It can’t be taken away from you and provides a means to promote and sell your music to fans who have a proven interest in what you do.
Labels will love to see that you have the means to bring with you a mailing list of dedicated fans that buy everything you release!
Strategy 2: Choose your social media platform and OWN it!
Have a profile on every social media platform where your fans hang out with a profile that has your email or website URL where they can make contact with you.
However, choose only one or two to be your main focus.
Which platform works best?
Decide where you think your fans are and will interact the most and hang out there daily.
If it all sounds too overwhelming then just choose one platform to post to for the next 90 days.
Reply to every comment, post new music as often as you can, shoot quick live videos of band practice or a gig crowd going nuts. Ask for their opinions on a new song idea, lyric or ask for their favourite song. Get the conversation going and keep talking!
Ask for shares or develop content that is most likely to get shares, like a video for example.
Shares are the number one metric that music executives look at before they investigate further.
For the next 90 days try a different platform and do the same things.
Which one worked best for you?
By posting daily for 90 days you’ve actually created a new habit for yourself and will have found that it’s now easy to find things to post about and talk about with your followers.
You don’t even have to come up with things on the fly if that’s not your jam. Plan your content weeks in advance and pre-prepare your posts.
Take a day or a week to do nothing but write your posts for the coming month and schedule them on a tool like Buffer or Later.com and they will be posted automagically!
Strategy 3: Make it your primary goal to gain as many quality followers as possible
What do I mean by “quality”? Fans that are genuinely interested in your music, not fake likes that can be tricked or bought.
It’s not just about the numbers, it’s about engagement. A genuine fan will feel thrilled that you’ve replied to their comment and it will build loyalty and trust. They’ll talk about you to their friends and champion all that you release. A bought “like” does nothing for you.
Learn all you can about how to gain genuine followers on your chosen social media platforms. Have your profiles URL printed on everything you produce, flyers, CD artwork, posters, even guitar picks that you can throw out into the audience!
If you can show you have a decent amount of engaged followers that love what you do and that you are posting regularly, then a music exec is will see that you are serious about what you do.
They’ll see that you already have a sizeable following who are hungry for your music and that you’re giving followers lots of great reasons to keep following you.
Strategy 4: Practise and gig as often as possible
Show the record label executives that you can play or sing like a pro already. Make it a priority to practise and play live as often as you can.
Always be writing new material and continue to understand what makes a great song.
Learn all you can about songwriting and study song structure so your music stands out as being interesting and exciting to listen to.
Get lessons or take home study courses, not just in playing but in business and marketing.
By playing lots of gigs you will hone your skills as a musician and showman or woman. You’ll develop your stage presence, banter and performance skills with every gig.
Chat to the crowd, interact and put on a great show because you never know who’s in the audience!
Get as close as possible to the real deal or finished article and show that you only need a little extra refining to make you a worthwhile investment.
Strategy 5: Have music released and available
Have a release ready to send out at a moments notice and not only that, make it sound as professional as possible.
Make it stupidly easy for them to hear your potential and visualise exactly what it is you can produce and that it is in demand.
Whilst bedroom demos have a certain charm, you really ought to invest in a recording that sounds more like a finished record.
In this crowded marketplace, to get signed you have to grab music execs within the first 15-20 seconds of playing the song. Present yourself in a way that proves you’re worthy of investment.
Again, this goes to show that you’re going to be cheap to develop and promote because you have proved you’re three-quarters of the way there already.
A&R companies get hundreds of demos sent to them every week, you can’t get away with sending a poorly recorded bedroom demo unless your songs are truly amazing.
You make your own luck in this world. Nothing is going to magically drop into your lap without doing your best to be seen, heard and followed.
But you’re doing this because you love it right? It’s not like you’re selling double glazing or doing telesales. This is what lights you up, excites you!
By giving it your all and going the extra mile it will be noticed. Either by a prospective fan, influencer or record label executive.
Think about your band as if it were a business and make smart, informed choices.
Be great at what you do, learn how to do it better and who knows what unexpected opportunities will pop up!
Don’t lose heart
It might not be a record deal yet but it could be an offer to do a major festival or be the support act for a band that pulls in big crowds. It could be that a music producer expressing an interest in working with you or maybe a manager.
Invest your time and gig money where it counts the most; in things that bring you the most value or bang for your buck.
However it plays out, you’ve got nothing to lose so, why not go for it. Now go and get signed!!!
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