Intro (list below)
During our time being a musician, one decision comes across all of us. The decision to approach a record label with the aim to get signed and eventually released. When this day comes, you want to be prepared and make sure you got your perfect game on.
I have been a musician for quite some years now. After a couple of years being an artist myself, I wanted to contribute something to the community and help young artists get released. I wanted to enable them to make the next, maybe even the first, step in their music career, and hence I founded my very own record label in the summer of 2015.
Since I faced the situation in the past of approaching record labels and receiving many emails and applications of artists on a daily-basis, I gathered a list of things you should do and things you should avoid doing, when approaching a record label.
There will be different types of people reading this article. There will be readers, who think they do everything right. But maybe there are things they have not considered so far or things they have done completely wrong without noticing. Some may have never approached a record label. Furthermore, there will be the ones who stumbled upon this article because they have realized that they did not receive many responses by record labels and thus searched for help in the internet.
These three types of readers have one thing in common, they want to learn and improve their way of approaching record labels and increase the chance of getting signed. I believe that each one of you can make use of at least one bullet-point to improve your record label application.
Before I start my list there is something I would like to mention. Please be aware of the fact that many applications are simply ignored by the staff of record labels due to limited amount of time. There is a scare capacity for reviewing applications of new artists. But nonetheless there are things that you can do to stand-out of the mass and get the attention by the record label.
BUT before you can even consider to apply for a record deal, you want to make sure you got a couple of high quality tracks, which are finished and ready to release. Without a good track you won’t be likely to get a record deal.
You can check this off the list? Great, the first step is taken.
Here is my list of what you SHOULD do, when approaching a record label.
16 To Do’s:
- I know it is hard to think in terms of genres, but you got to make sure that you are approaching the correct labels which fit and distribute your style of music. Search for charts and check-out a couple of websites. Listen to the other artists released on the specific labels, do they fit your style? Could you imagine to play a DJ set alongside those acts, without having a genre gap between your tracks and the ones of the other artists at the label?
- The next step is to make a list of 5 to 10 labels that you are interested in. Rank them and save it as a file – you can for example create a database with it later on.
- Read the Submission Guidelines on the website of the label and make sure you stick to them – there is no way someone will even consider reading your application, if it does not fulfill the minimum requirements mentioned by the record label.
- Read through the website and take notes. You should mention something from the label, e.g. what makes them stand out and say WHY they are the right fit for you and vice versa.
- Find out who the contact person is, in case there is none, make sure to write your E-Mail gender neutral – you never know, who might read your E-Mail in case you send it to an info@ email address. Personalization is crucial, correct spelling, e.g. of the names, is very important – attention to detail!
- When do you send your tracks to a label? You are most likely to finish a new track by the end of the week or during the weekend. Did you consider the timing when approaching a record label? Timing is really important. The best days to send you E-Mail to a record label is between Tuesday to Thursday. Why? Because during the weekend many E-Mails are received and processed by Tuesday. On Tuesday afternoons the staff of the record label have an empty inbox and are ready for new projects. On Friday, the staff are most likely to work less hours and prepare themselves for the weekend. New E-Mails and tasks received on a Friday are most likely to be postponed for the upcoming week. Of course, during the weekend no one will take care of their inboxes and bother reading new E-Mails received during these days.
- Be professional. A record label is a business and has economic interests and is most likely run by people who want to earn money in a really competitive and tough industry. Therefore, try to think like a label and behave like an applicant you would be most likely to consider for your own record label.
- The Topic/Subject line should be easy to understand and clearly written.
- Be pro-active and make it as easy as possible for the reader.
- Introduce your music with all relevant aspects, such as Artwork if you already have one, Links (such as Social Media, Soundcloud), featured artists and Genre.
- Make a selection of up to 3 tracks to catch the attention of the label.
- Make sure you send direct links – better than mp3 (will be ignored due to the possibility of viruses).
- Set the track settings to “private” and don’t use already published tracks – Labels want unreleased material.
- Make sure the track is a good quality recording!
- Make sure you stick to deadlines or communicate before the deadline in case you cannot meet a deadline and need to postpone. Remember to be pro-active and professional.
- LAST BUT NOT LEAST: BE CREATIVE – You are an ARTIST and you want to make sure you stand-out.
Send a Reminder
You did not receive a response within a week? Don’t worry, you can send a friendly reminder or call the record label directly. Makes a good impression and maybe something came in between while working on your application. As well, you know afterwards if it is worthy to wait or to move on.
Also respond to labels who declined your inquiry. Make sure you are polite - you never know if you meet again. And hey, maybe they might be interested in a future track. You can also ask them if it would be okay to stay in touch.
Draw a conclusion after you received responses by the record labels on your list. Maybe you should re-consider your track choice or you could try to make a new list and repeat the process.
In the next article I will go over the things you should avoid when approaching a record label. In the meantime, I would like to hear from you guys, what do you think one should do when applying for a record deal? Is anything missing on my list? Post your thoughts in the facebook comments, I will gather a list and update the article with your ideas.
I'm Konstantin Kraft, a passionate DJ, Producer, Visual Artist, Head of Label and Blogger. Many musical genres had an influence on my path to being a musician, starting with my beloved and beautiful Hamburg, Germany. I also have lived in five countries abroad in the past six years, Boston, USA, Maastricht, NL, Seoul, KR, Brussels, BE, and currently in Vienna, AT. Fascinated by Electronic Crossover genres as well as multiple facets of Techno and House music I incorporated live elements in my sets, playing live gigs with saxophonists, drummers, violinists as well as rap support.
Keywords: How to approach a record label. How to send your demo files to a record label. How to get in touch with a label. How to find a label.
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