While many artists are taking a DIY route and eschewing labels altogether, there's still a lot to be gained from a connection to a label, and while submitting to a label can be challenging, we here examine eight tips that will spare you wasted time and frustration.
Guest post by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0
Even though most artists (especially those just starting out) are doing so much for themselves these days, many would still prefer to be connected with a label to relieve at least some of the burden of the business that doesn’t involve creation. Submitting your works to a label can be tricky though, and unless you’re careful, can result in rejection before you even get started. Here’s a list of 8 tips to help with your next submission.
1. There’s no such thing as a demo. Label people have extremely high standards as they’re used to consistently hearing great material, so make sure the music you submit is as good as you can make it.
2. Make each submission note label specific. In other words, don’t send a generic submission note to multiple labels at the same time. This will probably result in a pass before anyone even listens to what you have to offer.
3. Don’t submit blindly. Try to find a name of someone at the label that you can send your submission to (the A&R Registry is great for that). Send to only that person, and don’t copy to other people at the label unless you have friends there. Sending to a general label email will usually result in no one paying attention to your submission.
4. Don’t attach an MP3 file. Not only do label execs hate this, everyone hates it. Also, many email accounts and ISPs are now configured to reject an email with a large attached file, so your submission won’t even get to the person to begin with. If your music is on Spotify, send the link. Otherwise, it’s best to get a SoundCloud or similar streaming account that will host your music where you can send the person to listen.
5. Attach a link to a specific song – two at most. If the label person finds it interesting, he or she will ask for more. If you send someone to a page with your entire music catalog, chances are good that they’ll choose a song that might not represent you best. Worst case, they’ll just give up and move on.
6. Keep it short. Keep any attached notes short and sweet with only the necessary information. Include your name and contact info, the name of the song and genre, and a sentence or two about you or your band. Also, try to mention the label and the person’s name in your note as well.
5. Don’t pester the label person on social media, especially with direct messages. It’s okay to follow the person and it’s great to engage with their posts, but don’t expect any personal interaction to be greeted with open arms unless invited. Just stay cool, don’t act desperate, and if the exec is interested, he or she will reach out.
7. A referral is still the best entrance. People trust other people they know, which is why you’ll probably get an immediate listen if the referral comes from an attorney or manager, an artist already on the label, or someone who does business with the label.
8. Don’t take rejection personally. There have been too many artists to count that have been passed over multiple times that have gone on to be legends. Rejection isn’t necessarily a comment on your music. The timing might be wrong, you might not fit in the label’s plans, you might sound too similar to someone already on the label, they might not have the budget for another act right now, or any of dozens of other reasons might come into play. Keep writing and recording, and keep sending those submissions. The key is to remain persistent.
Playing and recording is the easy part of making music, it’s the business side that’s hard. If you want a label as a partner, following these tips can definitely save you time and a lot of potential frustration.