I get sent emails almost every day with links to peoples music, and as people know I do aspire to listen and feedback, however; I will admit a lot of the time stuff goes straight into my recycling bin. Not because I am rude or lazy, but because people are not following simple etiquette when it comes to promoting their music. These days I generally reply to ones that are personalised to me. Now think about this, if I have started moving things to my recycling bin, and I am eager to help producers and give them feedback, what do you think these big labels that get 100s of demos a week are doing? I can tell you right now sending an email like this: 'YO BRO, check out my sick beats I want them on your label, get dem feeeels I am 13 years old and make sick tunes for 6 months!!' and including every single demo email on the planet will most definitely get your email marked as spam, and then it is game over for you.........every email you send will go straight in the bin.
So here I present to you, a guide for contacting record labels or other people in the industry. In order to grasp these concepts, lets start right at the beginning.
First things first, we need to be completing music and making sure it is at a worthy standard. To many people are far to eager to just churn out mediocre tracks and expect them to get picked up by record labels. Wake up! This is your art, focus on it and get it right. Before you even think about sending any record label your music you have to make sure you are completely satisfied with what you are sending.
Focus on getting your mixdown as tight as possible and please do not be just another copy cat of someone else, try to forge your own sound and don't be a poor imitation of someone else.
Get Feedback!! .... It really helps to build a network of people who will give you honest, constructive feedback. Sometimes when you have been sat at your desk for hours making a track you need someone with subjective ears to listen and give you feedback. Get as much feedback as you can from trusted peers and decide what changed could be made. Listen with open ears and do not take offence is someone tells you your track isn't good.
Make Sure your track is properly mixed and mastered. I highly recommend getting your mix as tight as you possibly can and then polishing your track off with some good mastering. Why waste all them hours you spent on your track by applying poor mastering. Mastering isn't the be all and end all as most people think, but record labels want to hear fully polished tracks, they do not want works in progress of terribly distorted masters.
Okay now the music is out the way, lets talk about something which is just as important...........your social profile and how you present yourself!!
Unfortunately I am going to sound slightly hypocritical here because I am guilty of neglect when it comes to my social presence! I use twitter....sometimes, and I have never bothered to try and build my facebook profiles........here is my advice.....don't do what I am doing (don't worry I am changing my ways!!!).
Okay so in this day and age you need the fundamentals, for example: Facebook Page, Twitter, Soundcloud (or a base to showcase your music but soundcloud seems to be most popular), Youtube channel and it may also be worth having your own website. But remember with all these social profiles, it does become very easy to neglect the important things......you know......like making music!!
Recently I read a few interviews by big label A&R guys and they pretty much all said that they check out peoples social profiles to see how much of a fanbase the artist has managed to gather on his own...........BUT.........they also said it is very easy to spot the fakers!! You know the people who have 10,000 fans but next to no interactions, mentions, shares or likes.......SO DONT GO OUT AND BUY LOADS OF FANS!!! it just doesn't work! I do understand the importance of getting your profiles up to a certain number of followers but trust me it is way better to have 400 fans who are talking about your shit than 10,000 'fans' and never have your stuff talked about.
BE ACTIVE!! You have to stay active on these profiles and try to build some sort of organic growth!!! (yes I know, at this very moment in time I don't do it but it is imperative if you want people from labels to start taking notice of you!)
GET SOME SORT OF PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS AND LOGOS MADE.
although this is not hugely important......labels do like to see you. You need to start thinking of yourself as a brand so it is worth getting some shots done. Plus if you do get signed then the label is going to need some sort of pictures of you for promotional purposes so it makes sense. This doesn't have to be some super expensive and super edited modern art masterpiece.......just get someone who is pretty good at photography to get some decent snaps of you. Unless o course you have the money to burn on Gucci photographs then go wild!!!
HAVE A CLEAR VISION AND SHORT TERM GOALS
To many producers have it in their heads that they are going to bang out a track and then blowup and start ripping stadiums apart. Nothing wrong with dreaming big!! But lets be more of a realist here: Set short term goals and keep getting small successes, this will eventually snowball into bigger wins and always always have a clear vision of what you want to achieve.
First of, you need to have an idea of EXACTLY which labels you want to target for a release. If you make techno then don't go sending your track into Hardwell's label. Make a short list of labels which correspond to the types of music that you create. Honestly I check whos emails people have CC'd into emails I receive and people are sending big room hardstyle donky dubstep things to labels like toolroom........it just doesn't make sense and you will not win. You have to be very clear about who you are as an artist and what sort of style you want to represent and then target labels who are on your wavelength.
Remember, a record label is a business. Yes, for a lot of people who run labels it is a passion project but the core of the label is still music AND business. Every label has costs and every label needs to generate revenue. Labels want to work with people who genuinely have passion for what they are doing and have a clear vision of how they are going to achieve their goals. The first thing they are going to check is if your music is not only good but RELEVANT to what they are doing. Then they are going to look up how much of a following your have managed to generate on your own, and probably seek out exactly what you are doing as an artist, for example ae you djing regularly or are you networking and keeping yourself involved in the scene and finally if you pass on the test, they will want to know just how dedicated you are to the cause.
Record labels are Smashed with endless streams of Demos!!
Everyone knows that every kid and a laptop can now make music, so it comes as no surprise that big labels are being bombarded with music. Unfortunately as a bi product of this, labels are now working more from 'recommendations' from known and trusted friends of colleagues. Do not be deterred by this because demos do still get listened to and people DO still get signed from contacting a label directly. With all of this in mind lets now look at exactly how you should submit your music to a demo email, then we will look at some alternative routes!
SENDING YOUR MUSIC
I have already stressed the importance of getting your music FULLY complete! that's a finished mix and master which has been listened to by your peers and you are fully convinced it is finished and label ready!!! I have also stressed the importance of RELEVANCE! Send to labels which are releasing your type of sound. Honestly most A&R guys must be sat at their desks thinking......'what the fuck are these people sending me? do they even listen to music released on our label?' REMEMBER TO AIM FOR YOUR TARGET LABELS!!
Although I said earlier make a short list of target labels, there is nothing wrong in starting small. What I mean by that is if you want to be signed to toolroom then you have a way better chance of doing so if you already have some good music released on small yet respectable tech house and techno labels but don't just release with any old label all the time because that can also pose a negative effect!
DO NOT USE COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL!! The last things labels want is a court case because you have chosen to smash loads of un-cleared samples in there.
I find downloadable and streamable links work best!!! Soundcloud seems to be the standard way of sending in material. A&R guys do not have the time to be sitting there while you direct them to zippyshare for a WAV download, honestly the brutal truth is this.......your song might get about 10 seconds of listening time! True Story. Labels want quick and easy streamable links to quickly listen and make an instant judgement on your music. That is just how it goes. Scrap the zippyshare or rapidshare or whatever the fuck else and stick to a downloadable soundcloud link, a PRIVATE link!!! labels want exclusive music!
MAKE THE EMAIL PERSONAL
massively massively important!!!! As I said before DO NOT include more than one email!! you should have already identified your target label and now you need to focus on making the email personal to that label. Your chances of getting a listen are astronomically higher if you persoanlise your email to the label!! Show interest....make sure they know you are familiar with the label and are familiar of the music on the label!!! If you know the A&R guys first name then address him by his name!!! Take the time to make a little comment about their last release or tell them how much you love what the label is doing......but don't rabbit on too much! It also helps if in the subject of the email you drop their name in there.......for example ...... 'Techno Demo for Drumcode' or something like that........this means whoever is checking the emails can instantly see that email is personally meant for their label.
Patience is key!!! The beauty of sending a soundcloud link means you can actually see if your track has been listened too......and since you are sending the track to ONE label then you can easily see if it has been listened to. Fact of the matter is, you don't know how long it will take. Some labels listen fast, some take a month or more.....but I generally wait a good month before I move onto the next one! And the process is this....make a NEW private link for each email.......so you can easily see if it has been listened to by the right person. It is ok......you will fail, and people will not listen to your music.....but some people will and even if you don't succeed on getting the track signed at least you know you are on their radar and that they are checking your demos. Labels do not have time to sit and reply telling you why your track isn't getting signed......if its been listened too and you haven't received a reply....chances are you are not getting it signed. That is fine, just move onto another of your target labels.
TRY AND NETWORK WITH PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE LABEL
A slightly more unconventional way of landing yourself onto a label is by networking with people who are directly or indirectly involved in that label. Many people have succeeded by becoming friendly with friends of the label and then getting a recommendation. Look at Jeremy olander as an example. He happened to know a friend who knew someone involved with Eric Prydz.....and his music got recommended and due to his amazing talent he get the time of day and got asked to send in more music. There is a lot of power in approaching DJ's or managers of big Djs. If you get your tracks played by some of the Dj's in the Defected Records artist roster....then chances are Defected are going to start enquiring who is making that music. Face the fact that Demo emails receive hundreds of emails but some djs and managers of djs may not!!! If you have some great music then try and get it into the hands of people who are spinning that music on a regular basis.
Well I cantreally think of anything else off the top of my head right now but that should give some of you an idea of how to go about contacting record labels!! I hope this has been of some assistance to you guys!!! And good luck!!!!
Also remember im always open to feedback music: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bloody hell I actually put links to my social media!!!!! See im changing!!
Also I apologise for any mistakes in this post......I did not proof read it because I'm lazy :D