Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How To Get Your Band Signed To A Record Label

How To Get Your Band Signed To A Record Label
by Pandie Suicide

Getting signed is at the top of a lot of bands to-do lists. It marks
the pinnacle of their careers, a sign that you're really 'making
it.' But with things the way that they are in this digital age, the
whole industry structure of record labels, who historically found bands
and other artists, signed them for a (sometimes) nice advance, then
released, promoted, and distributed the album (or at least oversaw all
of this happening)… has changed.

Nowadays, the industry has been reduced to a few select major labels,
and many smaller, more independent or niche labels, due to the
availability of every flavour of music in the world online for free or
otherwise – CD's in some ways are becoming obsolete. Even the
concept of an album is becoming somewhat redundant in some aspects –
when individual tracks are available on iTunes for 99c a piece, why
wouldn't you just purchase the three songs you like most, rather than
paying ten bucks for the whole thing?

Some musicians today are bypassing the traditional record company route
and going guerrilla-style with great results, such as my buddy DJ FM of
Psycho Realm, who sold something like 10,000 copies of his Mixtape (on
CD not cassette!) out of the trunk of his car, or Mary Magdalan who made
a living off their homemade albums by selling them on iTunes and on
self-pressed CDs at shows with good results. Many other bands, simply
record/produce their own album and obtain distribution through stores
like Best Buy etc themselves, completely bypassing the record company
– and keeping all of the profits. Record companies definitely take a
cut of your profits, but there is a reason for this, unless you're a
master of the internet or a self-promoting guru, it is a lot harder to
do EVERYTHING, from writing to recording to pressing to releasing to
promoting to distributing etc, the album by yourself, and it can be
really hard to get that "household name" success of the Beatles, or
Beyonce or Marilyn Manson without a major or large indie, label backing
you up. It's not impossible, but it is a lot harder, and if you're
up for the challenge, more power to you!

It's not all bad news though, there are success stories everyday, and
with the advent of the internet, it may really be a blessing in disguise
rather than the end of record labels forever, as new and innovative ways
to utilize this medium are discovered for finding bands, promoting bands
and sell, sell, selling bands. A huge return to the 'live'
experience has happened also, where playing live shows is so important,
with music so easy to obtain online and offline, fans want the authentic
experience of a live show, and it can be the make or break way to prove
yourself as the "real thing" to a world that has just soo much music
in it. So it is definitely important to work on your live show, and use
the internet to give yourself a presence online for fans, friends and
record labels to take notice and interact with you, most of which is
important whether you want a label or not.

But after all this, if you still want to get signed in this strange
digital age, I've come up with a few pieces of advice for you, some
from insiders at record labels, music managers and success stories:

"The best advice I could give to any band who is trying to make
career in music and looking to sign with a record label is TOUR TOUR
TOUR ! Buy a van and trailer, start booking your own shows and
networking and don't look back. The more shows you play the tighter
your band will get, the more connections you will make all over the
country, and you will gain real fans who will come back and support you
next time you come to their town. Second piece of advice would be make
sure you interact with your fans as often as possible, via twitter,
facebook, live chats, and most importantly at shows. Hang out, don't
play your set and then disappear to your van for the rest of the night,
hang out and interact with fans and other bands. If a label can see that
you're working hard promoting your own band, interacting with your
fans, and touring as much as humanly possible they will be more likely
to sign your band because they know that you already have a solid fan
base who supports your band and will buy the records that the label puts
out. A lot of people who start new bands think that they can sit at home
and record a great album and submit it to a label and everything else
will fall into place. It doesn't work that way at all." – Tim
Patenaude, Metal Blade Records

"Make sure your shit is dope" and get your stuff on YouTube and
get that YouTube page looking amazing because – "YouTube is the most
visited website in the world, and the player is BETTER than MySpace"
– Scott Koenig, King Artist Management, managing Fear Factory, Divine
Heresy, Yeti, By Any Means Necessary

Read Music Connection religiously. You can download a PFD of the
magazine or even just certain pages that interest you, all for free. It
features inside info on the music industry and is a trade publication
for musicians, bookers, label people, publicity people, music publishers
and more. It contains invaluable information for bands, for example, the
current issue features a "26th annual directory of rehearsal studios
– 175 contacts!" and "7 ways to be more effective on Facebook",
"Kill or be killed 24 foolproof ways to improve your LIVE gigs" a
"Q & A with the Devil Wears Prada" and more scintillating, useful
articles as well as profiling important people in the industry. What is
even more to your advantage though, as an up and coming band, is the
fact that Music Connection has several pages where it features reviews
and profiles of unsigned/ newly signed bands, albums and performances,
along with artist's contact info etc, and if you sign up on with your band's info and submit yourself, (which
I highly recommend) you may get into the magazine, and not only will you
have a nice clipping for your mum, but you might just be seen by people
who count.

Having said that, get as much press as possible – if you have an
album already, send it to magazines both online and offline for review,
send it to radio stations, especially college radio – they love
unsigned bands, offer yourselves up for interviews – and work on your
interview skills, the more interesting/ intelligent/ funny etc you come
across as, the more chance you have of being published and therefore
noticed by potential fans or record labels. That said, try to be
authentic, you want to present the best image possible in an interview
and get the best info about yourselves out there, but you still want it
to be your image and info, not somebody else's!

Make friends in the industry! (aka "networking" but nicer) I
don't mean be all fake and "Hollywood" about it, but a little
politeness and courtesy can go a long way. However, if you can cultivate
real friendships within the industry, and it shouldn't be too hard –
these people have one big interest in common with you, they all love
music – you will go far. It's like any industry really, the whole
"it's not what you know, it's who you know" does, unfortunately,
(or fortunately?) apply. That said, don't ruin a good friendship by
being too pushy with your friend at the label, or step on anyone's
toes, and don't expect to get signed just because your friend's Dad
is a shareholder in Interscope or something, it might help, but
there's only so much a friend can do, the rest is up to you – make
sure your demo/album/ live performance/youtube channel/ twitter etc is
up to scratch before you try to call in that favour, because if what you
give your buddy is a piece of unfinished crap, and they take a chance on
you, they will probably never help you again when you give birth to your
real masterpiece.

Spend some time in LA playing shows at whatever clubs you can – you
never know who might be there. Good places to play include anywhere
along the historic Sunset Strip, such as the Key Club, Whisky A Go Go,
The Roxy, Viper Room and various Hollywood Clubs which also look great
on your resume or band Wikipedia page. As well, this time in LA is a
great opportunity to make some friends (see above), record, mix or
master a new record, do some publicity or set up some meetings with
potential labels, bookers etc.

Good luck!!!!

Originally posted at:

"Move Forward To Where YOU Want To Be"

Exel Management
Pittsburgh & Chicago