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Getting a record deal

Getting a record deal

Getting a record deal seems to be getting harder every year. With the introduction of the internet, it seems as if anyone with a guitar, microphone, and laptop is all the sudden a professional recording musician.

So how do you, as an aspiring musician, stand out with the gluttony of music that’s currently out there? Is your talent alone enough for the record labels to take notice? The simple answer is, probably not.

Gone are the days of artist development. With the state of the music industry, most notably declining records sales, labels are more than ever looking to lessen their risk. The more of a finished product you can bring to the table, the better the chances of a major label getting behind your career.

So what does this mean for you?

It means it might be time to start asking yourself some tough questions. If you believe you have paid your dues, so to speak, and yet no one still seems to be paying any attention, maybe there is something you are missing. Below are some question every aspiring musician should ask themselves when trying to get the attention of record labels.

Does my music have commercial appeal? Your fourteen minute song featuring a five minute bassoon solo might seem like an artistic extension of who you are as a person, but lets face it, it has no commercial appeal. No one is ever going to buy it, much less a bunch of people. Record labels like songs that are radio friendly. If you couldn’t imagine hearing one of your songs on the radio, chances are they can’t either.

Do I have a big enough fanbase? Like I stated earlier, the more you can bring to the table, the better. Having a fanbase is no different. This is probably the most important thing label and managers are looking for. How many people are coming to your shows? How big is your mailing list? How many records and merchandise have you sold independently? An established fanbase will give labels more confidence that consumers will purchase your music.

Is my demo good enough? A great demo cd should be no longer than 3 to 4 songs. Put your best song first and go from there. Leave off or edit any song with incredibly long intros or outros. A&R guys are overwhelmed with submissions and no one has time to sit through your four minute intro, before getting to the meat of the song. Have, at the least, “good” production value. If it sounds like it was recorded in a dumpster, chances are that’s where it going to end up.

Do I have a press kit - Now that you have a good demo, the next step is making sure you have a good press kit. In the music business, the folder that contains your photo (current), bio, press clippings, and demo CD is called your press kit. So it better look good and contain everything you need others to know about you and your music.

Do I need management - Is having a well connected manager really that important? Absolutely. Record labels receive on average several hundred submissions a week. From friends, manager and attorney’s they have a previous relationship with, as well as “unsolicited” submissions from artists themselves. With only so many hours in each week, their time for dealing with new submissions is somewhat limited. So they generally start with the top of the pyramid of submissions and go from there. In other words, the top of the pyramid are the people they already have the closest relationship with. They at least know that the material being sent to them by a manager they have a relationship with will at least be worth listening to, because someone has staked their reputation on it.

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