It seems like everyone today is aspiring to be something, somebody or another— whether it is an actor, writer or musician. These businesses are very hard to break into and even harder to be successful at, but nothing should stand in the way between you and your dream. If a professional musician is what you want to be, then put yourself out there and actively seek label attention. Unfortunately getting a record deal can sometimes be a long and somewhat painful process (have you seen some of those episodes of VH1 Behind the Music!?). Unless you are fortunate enough to win American Idol, buckle up for a wild ride. The process is not for the faint of heart. Fear not. Here are some helpful tips on how to get signed to a record label.
[DO SOMETHING] Very few people get discovered singing while pumping gas or in the shower. If you sit on your duff waiting for a deal to fall into your lap, you will be waiting a long, long time! Have a plan of action and go after it. Be your own marketing team. Pass out promotional material. Create contacts within the business. People are very often willing to talk about what they do (see “do your homework”). Go onto other bands message boards and be a fan of yourself. Make a website. Actively seek label interest. A popular way many artists like The Strokes have gained label interest is by approaching a label with a whole album of material already made, not just a demo with a few songs. With home recording studios becoming more popular and rented studio time becoming more affordable, people often do as much work as they can before they reach the label. Just do something, anything to help you achieve that dream!
[PLAY] This might seem obvious, but it is the most important act an artist can do to help facilitate getting a record contract. Practice makes perfect, right? Play anywhere and play often, no matter how small the place and even if your mom is the only audience. The more exposure you have, the better your chances of being exposed to the right person. There is always that chance that maybe a record exec is in the audience. Play every show like he is. Also, many musicians are finding that their initial fan base before signing to a record company, are simply invaluable to future success. How cool is it to say you have your own street team? The local music scene in your area can be a huge tool for your success.
[DO YOUR HOMEWORK] Research the Industry. What is the music market right now? What is hot or the new up and coming trend? Research labels to see what kind of musicians they take on. Explore a record company to see what smaller labels they own. Investigate your networking abilities to see if perhaps you know someone who knows someone who knows someone. If you don’t, call someone at a label and make a new friend. Obviously do not call the CEO or tie up someone who is busy. Simply call and say you are interested in learning about the business and were wondering if he/she would be able to help you or knew someone who could. This can also be done through e-mail.
[SELL YOURSELF] Not literally, but when a record company is shopping for new talent they are essentially looking for dollar signs— that next big thing that will make them money. There are literally millions of other people out there with the same goal/dream as you. Don’t let this discourage you though, let it feed the fire. Ask yourself how you and your music are marketable and to what audiences. By simply knowing your own audience and going after a specific label will help you tremendously. Have these materials and your already made album ready when you meet with a label. Show them you are prepared and hard working. But, do not compromise your own personal values and your music to try to be popular either. Would you rather have those five seconds of fame (aka a one hit wonder) or a long, respectable career like the Rolling Stones?
[HAVE PATIENCE] Unfortunately, this is something that will not happen overnight. Well, it might, but that is very, very rare! If you are willing and committed to this goal then sacrifices will have to be made along the way. Jewel lived in a car. Other bands have gone through numerous painful and hindering member changes. Some musicians struggle, taking on odd side jobs to pay rent. There is something to be said about the cliché, “the price of fame.” But if your goal is simply to get famous and make money then you need to rethink your motive. Passion is one thing that a label will look for. Hopefully you will not have to go through extreme circumstances. Just be dedicated to your music and your goal. Be willing to start small and pitch your music to every label in the country three times if that is what it takes. Rejection might become a familiar thing, but nothing good comes easy. Persistence is the key.
Getting a record deal is definitely not the easiest thing to do. But is it possible? Yes. By following the above tips, you can be that much closer to your goal. The bottom line and the suggestion that echoes through out all of these tips are just to play. Play all the time, anywhere and anyway you can. Start small and dream big. Get your music out there and hone your craft while you are at it. And I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try out for American Idol, either. Good luck!
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