Get Your Music Heard By Record Labels

LLet’s start with a not-so-bold statement: as a musician, you’ve either sent a demo to a record label, or at least planned to do so at some point in the future.

In fact, “How do I send a demo to a record label?” is one of the most common questions we get asked at WeSpin, our music growth training platform and community. So I sought out to answer it. Instead of recording a members-only lesson on WeSpin however, I decided to collect the best resources on the topic, and create a available-to-all blog post, inspired by a Gibbon playlist I created recently.

To get a more detailed, hands-on advice, I consulted with Anthony Mansour, the CEO of a Canadian imprint Blue Label Records. Study this article to get better at pitching to record labels. Provide your feedback, and practice your newly learnt skills by submitting your demo to Blue Label using the link at the bottom of this playlist. You may even get signed right here. Good luck!

1. Write a Great Bio

First things first: make sure your brand is properly and professionally represented online. Below is the our WeSpin Recipes Podcast, that talks about how to write a bio. The formula in this podcast episode will help you master your bio, but don’t stop there. Check the consistency of your artist name and social media URLs, the look of your Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages (and other networks you are active on) and post fresh content. Don’t make yourself look like an inactive project.

2. Prepare Your Tunes

Remember about producing and delivering good quality. This is the number one thing Anthony from Blue Label Records notices when listening to demos. Make your music release-ready before sending it to a label. Indie record label b-sonic wrote about their experiences in receiving music of bad quality: “Nevertheless, we are noticing a massive lack of quality in the last weeks. Most of the tracks are built on bought templates, sample cd’s, construction kits and Sylenth presets. Additionally the tracks are mixed badly, have no clean frequencies, are over-compressed in order to sound simply loud and were produced without passion. We got stolen tracks and tracks by ghost producers as well. Good mastering is not done only with a few plugins, you should know what you are doing, with or without plugins.”

This gives you a good idea of things to watch out for in terms of the quality of your tracks. B-Sonic go on to describe the difficulties in the industry as well as the perseverance and patience required to overcome them: “Professionals know the process of being successful. Nobody will be rich after one release in the digital stores. Nobody will be rich after a good place in the Beatport charts. Being in the charts in these times does not mean that the release is sold millions of times. “

3. Do Your Research

Do Your Research

Do Your Research

Know who you will reach out to. We recommend creating a spreadsheet first, with contact details of the imprints you want to target (including A&R’s first and last names where available), and links to demo submission requirements.

David Wimble, publisher of The Indie Bible wrote an interesting article on the Disc Makers blog covering this topic. In the article, he says: “Music blogs and record labels have specific guidelines on how to submit – and how NOT to submit – your music. As the publisher of the Indie Bible and the Indie Venue Bible, the most frequent question I get from artists is, ‘How do I contact the music services listed in your directory?’ The answer is always the same: Whether you’re contacting magazines, music blogs, radio shows, record labels, music distributors, or promotional services, you have to check THEIR SPECIFIC submission guidelines before getting in touch. This is the most fundamental rule of promotion. It is the rule now, and it will be the rule 2,000 years from now when humans have giant heads and tiny bodies.”

That article, titled “How To Submit Songs to Music Blogs, Record Labels, Radio, and Press” also covers things you shouldn’t be doing, such as sending a generic email blast, sending unsolicited material, writing with bad spelling and grammar, and so on. The article also points out that you should know what style of music the service you’re contacting actually wants to receive.

4. Be Relevant

In this post from Attack called “How to Get Your Demo Heard”, a key advice is offered that’s universal to many labels and so it’s a tip you should pay a particular attention to: “only send to labels which will be interested in your style of music.” Don’t blast to every label you can find. Be super focused, and spend time to learn a label’s catalogue to craft a personal, resonating pitch.

The article starts off by stating that “Producing a great track is just the first step on the road to success. Sure, you could release it yourself, but if you want to reach the biggest possible audience then linking up with an established label is still your best bet.” The article goes on to explain the importance of proper research as well as appropriateness. The post quotes Andy Daniell, A&R Manager at Defected who says, “The biggest no-no for me is MP3s attached to emails. They clog up your inbox and crash your email program. A SoundCloud stream is far preferable as you can check quickly and download if it feels relevant. Also, private links are nicer…”

There are other points worth considering in the article, many of which I covered in previous points, but the takeaways here are to send the right style of music to the right contact. If you cover those points, remember that labels receive lots of music, so if you are relevant to them, you still need to present yourself creatively in order to stand out. The article quotes Thomas Von Party, ‘A&R Slash Vibe Master’ at Canadian imprint Turbo Recordings, who says, “Being creative about how you present yourself is key. The more you can appear a fully-formed artist, the more likely you’ll be taken seriously.”

5. Think Like a Label

Think Like A Record Label

Think Like A Record Label

Budi Voogt, co-Founder of Heroic Recordings and author of The Soundcloud Bible, shared his insights in a post called “The unconventional guide to getting signed by a record label” where he covers the previous points, and gives us a better idea of how to think like a record label. In the article, he shares an example of an email pitch and covers the tools to use to share your audio files, such as SoundCloud (private tracks only), Dropbox, or the newly launched Byta.fm. These are in line with Anthony’s views that you should not attach MP3s to emails.

Voogt first writes about getting feedback and using that feedback to polish your sound. He says, “Send it over to people whose opinion you value, but not your friends or relatives. They will likely be yeah-sayers. You don’t need that. You need hard criticism. Take it all in and work with it.” And then Voogt follows up with a practical guide of how to think like a label. He says that labels are primarily a business, and that business need revenue in order to survive.

As such, he says that “Essentially, all labels are looking for a hit. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a ‘mainstream’ hit, but something that’s good enough and unique to catch a lot of attention. However, with the ease of access and distribution of music in the digital age, labels, as Voogt puts it, are “dependent on the marketing power of artists themselves.”

So they will look out for artists that have fan bases as well as the capability of branding, marketing, and promoting themselves, without necessarily the help of the label itself. Although there is a paradoxical element to this trend, the reality is illustrate with an example given in the article: “Deadmau5’s label Mau5trap stated earlier that they no longer sign artists whom are not totally self sufficient, regardless of musical quality.”

6. Send it Out!

It’s time to send your demo. Start small, pitching to one or few labels at a time, and don’t be upset if you don’t hear back. Try with another track later. Do follow up with every contact at least once though, and remember: a rejection is a very good result as well (much better than no response at all). Use this checklist on HowToSendMeMusic.com to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything. it’s a concise and simple list that summarizes several of the points I’ve covered here.

7. Submit a Demo to Blue Label Records

If you are looking for a record label to contact, consider sending a demo to Blue Label Records – who helped us compile this playlist. Their focus is on EDM and Urban, but they accept submissions in other genres as well, so just give it a try – send your email (following the instructions above, except point 4!) to demos [at] bluelabelrecords [dot] com.

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