If you’ve ever wondered how to get signed or how to get a record deal, then this is the guide for you. There is a lot of very valuable information in this article, so if you find it useful, please share it on your favourite social networking website (E.G Facebook, Twitter , Google + etc) or your own site.
The reason this guide came about is because the old method of getting signed to a record label has died out. It used to be enough to simply have a talent and bump into the right person, but not any more. No more will sending your demo to a record label give you the chance of being signed, you now have to do a lot more to get on the radar of a record label a&r.
Despite the old methods not working anymore, when you do a search for how to get signed to a record label, you still see articles giving outdated advice. This article aims to change that.
So if you’ve ever asked yourself “How do I get a record deal”, read on and find out the best way to go about doing so.
Why Would You Want A Record Deal?
Before I go any further, I want to look at why you might want to get a record deal. This is after all a site for independent musicians, teaching them how to handle all business aspects of the music industry by themselves.
Being an independent musician can be very rewarding. You are 100% in control of what path you take, and you can push your music as much or as little as you require. You can work with who you want, and you have full creative control.
It is perfectly possible to make a decent income from your music without the help of a record label, but in all honesty, there is only so far you can go. If you ever wanted a shot at doing well in the mainstream charts, there’s a good chance you’ll need a record label to help you do so.
The thing is, promoting your music to a mainstream audience can cost a LOT of money. The type of money is can cost to run a successful campaign will cost thousands and thousands, and is more then most independent musicians can afford.
If you had a record label however, they could help fund this money for you. They will also have links to the bigger companies you need to make everything work (E.G. pressing plants and distributors) and get everything out on time.
While you can make a good living not signing to a record label, if you want to pass a certain level of success they may come in handy.
The Best Way To Get Signed To A Record Label
As I mentioned before, you won’t get signed by simply sending your demo to a record label and them liking your music. This may have worked before, but with the changing shape of the music industry, record label ‘artists and repertoire’ people (A&R) are a lot more hesitant to sign unknown acts. They don’t know if you’ll make back the money they invest in you, and they’ve got a lot less cash to chuck around then ever before. So unless you can prove to them there’s a good chance they’ll recoup the money they invest in you, most likely you won’t get signed for a record deal.
If you want to prove to a record label you are worth getting signed, you first need to show them you can make it without them. In other words, you have to do all the promotional work, getting shows, and more all by yourself. If you then reach a level where you have a good amount of fans behind you and you can prove that these fans make you money, you have a much better chance of getting offered a record deal. In fact, record labels will start approaching you as they will want a piece of the action.
But what if you don’t know how to do everything yourself? Simply put, you need to learn. You can join a course like the IMA Music Business Academy, saving you time learning everything yourself through trial and error. By building up your music business knowledge, you will be able to start making money from your music and drawing in crowds. Once you have a good amount of numbers behind you, record labels will start to take notice. From here, you can get your first recording deal.
What Are Record Labels Looking For With Independent Musicians?
So, what are record labels looking for when they’re ready to potentially sign someone? Here are a few things you need to prove to them…
1: Show You Can Draw In Crowds – Getting Signed
If you want to sign to a record label, you need to prove that you can draw in crowds. Crowds are the people who fund your music career, and can mean the difference between a rich musician and a poor one.
These crowds pay for tickets and show up at your live gigs. They buy your merchandise, sing along to your lyrics, and go home and tell everyone how great you are. If you have these type of fans, getting signed shouldn’t be much of a problem. If a label rep comes to one of your gigs and they sees this type of thing happening, they’ll instantly see dollar signs. This will get you closer to getting signed and getting the record deal you want.
2: Show You Can Sell Units – How To Get A Record Deal
As well as selling out live shows and making good money on merchandise, another thing record labels want to see is you selling units. While the amount of units you’re expected to sell has gone down over the years, you’re still expected to sell a decent amount of songs. This shows that people are willing to buy into you, and you fan base is still willing to spend money on your brand.
You won’t be expected to sell anywhere near the amount that big artists do. Record labels realise that there’s only so much promotion you can do as an independent artist, and the less promotion you can do, the less units you will sell. Despite this, they do want to see some numbers. If you can prove you can sell a good amount of songs, the label bosses will be more interested in having you on board. With their budget for a bigger promotional campaign, you will be able to sell a lot more units in total.
3: Demonstrate You Have A Big And Sticky Fan Base – How To Get Signed
One of the other major things record labels will want to see before they sign you, is how big you fan base is. They can get a good idea about this in a number of ways:
- You social networking accounts (E.G. Facebook and Twitter follower numbers).
- The size of your mailing list.
- How many people turn up to your gigs.
- Your Youtube views and ratings.
- How much buzz there is around you when you do something new and newsworthy.
Having large numbers on all of these things is a good thing, but not enough by themselves. As well as a large number of Twitter followers for example, they also want to see how ‘sticky’ these people are. By this, I mean do they interact with your Tweets at all? Or are they on your account but have no real interest in you? How responsive is your mailing list? If you have 10,000 people on it but no one reads any of your emails for example, your list is pretty much useless.
Read on for ways to improve your chances of getting signed if you really want a deal:
Because of this, it’s important you don’t artificially increase your numbers just for show. The quality of people you have in your ‘fan base’ will be very poor, and be clear for A&Rs to see.
Aim to build a genuinely loyal and responsive fan base. Even if your numbers are smaller then some other artists, you will still be an attractive prospect to sign. Remember, getting signed to a record label will mean you’ll have a much wider reach. What you need to prove is people really take to you, and that you’re someone they’ll buy into.
Should You Definitely Aim For A Record Deal?
Even if it is your aim to sign to a major record label (Or even a indie record label), please remember that this isn’t the only way to do things. There are many people that are making a good living by making their own music and not relying on any type of label along the way. In fact, you might start working towards getting a record deal, then when an offer comes along realise that you’d rather carrying on doing it all yourself.
The DIY methods has become increasingly popular these days, and can be greatly satisfying if you only have to rely on yourself to have a successful music career. Either way, you will need to start out learning the music business by yourself. When you get to the stage where record labels are sniffing around, you can decide if you want to sign or remain independent.
If you have decided you definitely want to sign for a record label however, here are a couple of things you’ll need to bare in mind:
1: You’ll Only Get A Record Deal If You’re Easy To Work With
Have you ever worked with a really annoying college? Maybe they didn’t pull their weight enough while everyone else put in 100% effort. Maybe they were just rude, and not nice to be around. Either way, you wish they wasn’t there right? You didn’t want to work with them at all.
The music industry has their fair amount of these people. Getting a bit of fame can tend to bring out the arrogant side of people, and sometimes people get too big for their boots. Guess what? Record labels can choose who they want to work with, and don’t have to put up with this kind of behaviour! If you’re gaining interest and have the chance of signing a deal, please don’t start acting like a diva and like you’re above everyone else. Throwing around demands and being stubborn won’t get you more from your record label, you will get dropped if you already have your deal, or not signed at all if your deal hasn’t been finalised yet.
You obviously want to have a say on how your music career goes, but don’t be rude or arrogant with it. Being humble but well spoken can get you far, and won’t mess up any chances you have.
2: Being Likeable Can Help You Get Signed
Similarly to the point above, if you are a nice and likeable person, you will find it easier to seal in a deal. When labels start to become interested in you, they will look deeper into who you are as a person. They will have meetings with you, and come and see you perform. If during these times you are friendly and very welcoming, they will more likely warm to you and see you in a good light. If they can get charmed by you, then why wouldn’t other people?
Greet them with a smile. Be open with them about what you want to achieve, and share personal information that will help them see you in a different light. Ask them about themselves and make general conversation. The aim is to have them see you as a friend. People are more likely to help their friends out, and want to work with them. You’re building emotional connections between you and them, one that will make it harder for them to let go.
Small things like this can make a big difference when it comes to signing a deal, and shouldn’t be overlooked.
You Need To Make Yourself Easily Contactable
If you want to sign to a record deal, you’ll need to be easily contactable by record labels. If you only have a Twitter account and you never check your messages, how do you expect a record label to get in contact with you? Are they supposed to magic your number out of thin air?
Having you own website with a contact form is probably the best way to go about this. Make sure you check all your mail yourself, even if you do have someone else running your website for you. Having said that, you should ideally run your own website yourself as it’s not very hard these days…
How To Get Signed To A Record Label – Get A Record Deal Conclusion
Whether you want to know how to get signed to a label or you want to stay independent, you will need to do everything yourself initially. You will need to build your own fan base, sell your own songs, and draw people into your gigs. Once you know how to do this and are drawing in decent numbers, record labels will start to approach you.
If you’re not sure how to do any of these things, I suggest you sign up to the IMA Music Business Academy. During this weekly course, we show you how to handle the business side of the music industry. This will allow you to get your self out there in the best way possible, and save you years of trial and error along the way.
So how do you get a record deal? You build up your brand as much as possible, and have the record labels come to you. If you know anyone else that wants to know how to get signed, please refer them to this article.