Why You Should Stop Looking For A Record Label

IIt is every guitarist’s dream to sign on the dotted line with a recording company and finally switch that pesky ‘unsigned’ status on your Myspace page to ‘signed.’ We’ve all sat at work fantasizing about that phone call from Universal offering you a million dollar advance! The reality is that labels no longer take shots with a band based on a demo track. Yet bands are still sending demo after unsolicited demo to companies and waiting by the phone. And unless you’ve got a “Sex on Fire” up your sleeve it’s time wasted.

Ironically, you’re best tactic for getting signed is to stop trying to get signed. (Bear with me!) Don’t make ‘getting signed’ the goal for your band. Give yourself manageable goals first and you’ll find yourself getting closer and closer to the big shiny record contract. You need to create the buzz so that labels come to you. And trust me, if you’re making enough noise, they’ll hear you. This also puts you in a much better bargaining position when labels do come knocking. Here are three tips to get you started.

Put On Your Own Gigs

This is an absolute must and has so many benefits for your band. Firstly you’re taking the financial risk which shows important music-types that you have the confidence to invest in your band. (If you don’t believe in yourself strongly enough to invest, can you expect a label to?) Also, the risk means you’ll work twice as hard to make it a success.

Secondly, it’s key to expanding your network. You’ll need to get in touch with venues, techies, other bands, media etc and you’ll end up with a personal relationship with them all. These guys all talk to each other and if they like you and you play half decent, they’ll be talking about you. Lastly, you keep all the profits and not some measly slice of ticket sales. Sweet!

Image credit: BrianHenry ////|// on Flickr

Release Your Own Music

Fancy seeing your music on iTunes? Don’t wait for a label, do it yourself! For as little as $30, online companies such as Tunecore can get your music on iTunes, Spotify, We7 and most other online outlets.

Set yourselves a sales target and try to hit it. Plan a promotional campaign and get in touch with your local media. Don’t just put it on Myspace and hope for the best! And forget ‘demos.’ Choose your best song and do a single release. It looks and sounds infinitely more professional.

You can even go as far as creating your own record label. All you need is a name and you’re all set! Then on your press releases, posters, gig tickets etc put “[your record label name] presents: New single from …” How much cooler does your band sound now?

Get Out And Into Your Local Scene

The best thing you can do for your band is network. Instead of sending out endless demos to record companies, get your material out in your local scene. Go to gigs, chat with the bands and promoters, and get in touch with local radio, newspapers and magazines. Set yourself the target of becoming the most popular band in your town before setting your sights on a label. Record companies can ignore a demo that lands on their desk but they can’t ignore a town-full of people talking about you.


Start working on these ideas and you’ll see yourself getting somewhere. Sure, it won’t be the instant record deal offer we all hope for but you’ll be well on your way. It’s a pretty rewarding experience to watch people stream into a gig you’ve organised yourself and buying your single. Give it a shot!