How to Approach a Record Label: 19 Essential Things to Know
If you’re a singer or musician just starting out, you may be wondering what the best way of approaching a record label in the hope of getting signed are.
It’s a given that most artists out there want to be signed by a record label. Before you think about approaching a record label, here are some helpful insider tips and tricks to help you get ahead of the pack and show you the easiest way to get signed to a record label.
When you are ready to consider approaching a record label to get signed, at first it can be quite daunting. So before you go gung-ho sending emails and making phone calls, here are a few things you need to know.
The easiest way to get signed to a record label
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know in order to get signed to a record label.
- Make sure you’re ready
- Research the record label
- Be relevant to the label
- Perfect your live performance
- Stand out from the crowd
- Make sure your demo is high quality
- Get feedback
- Use a professional recording studio
- Consider your demo packaging
- Make yourself a good investment
- Build music industry relationships
- Keep your social media and website up-to-date
- Research your contacts
- Write a brief Bio
- Consider when to email
- Be polite, but professional
- Create an EPK
- Add all your contact details
- Prepare to be persistent
How to get signed to a record label
#1 Make sure you’re ready
Before you send your music out, it’s important that you know that you are ready for this step. How will I know if I’m ready? When you are at gigs, see what songs the fans and people in the audience most respond to.
If you have a catchy track that gets people singing and bobbing their heads, then this is easily something that could be picked up by a label.
#2 Research the record label
Before you send your music to a record label make sure that you’ve done the appropriate research. Depending on where you are in your music career, it’s a good idea to consider the smaller, independent record labels who are more likely to sign someone with less experience.
Then you can start thinking about what songs you would like to send the labels. Remember, each label is different from the next so you may want to adapt your game plan slightly when approaching different labels.
You can begin by doing the appropriate amount of research, go on google and check out the other artists that the label has signed, listen to their music so you know what the label is after.
Start by following the label on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook so that if they do search for you then you are already on their radar.
How many songs should you send?
Two or three songs are the usual amount that artists are required to send to labels, but make sure these are your best songs.
If you are unsure of what to submit then ask for feedback from family and friends, they will usually give you the best advice.
Send the songs that you have really put your heart and soul into and hopefully the record label will see the passion involved and want to sign you.
#3 Be relevant to the label
Are you a soulful singer like Joss Stone or are you more pop orientated like Katy Perry? When approaching a record label, it is of utmost importance that you share the same style of music as the other artists that are represented by the label.
If you’re a pop singer, sending a demo to a heavy metal label won’t make any sense. You need to be sure that the style you are going for is the direction you want to go. Therefore, you need to affiliate yourself with the label and style of music they represent.
How to approach a record label
#4 Perfect your live performance
If you do not hear back from a record label but a record executive decides to make a surprise trip to your gig, you will need to be putting on an absolutely brilliant live show.
This is what they are after, someone who is confident on stage, who knows their instrument, whether it be on an electronic guitar or your own voice. You will need to have a commanding presence but also be easily accessible to your fans.
#5 Stand out from the crowd
As the label is there to represent you and to make sure you grow creatively as an artist. You need to make sure that you are unique and that you stand out from all the other artists that are in the same genre as yourself.
Think about what you can offer the music industry that is different. Have a few on-stage moves handy in your repertoire, speak with your audience at gigs to gain more fans and let the people know what you are like as a musician.
How to send a demo to a record label
#6 Make sure your demo is high quality
When sending out your demo, it needs to be of high quality. It is best if you can record it during a proper session at a studio, The writing needs to be of a high standard or will the and the lyrics need to make sense to whoever is listening. You also need to have a strong vocal performance that shows off your voice.
#7 Get feedback before you send your demo
Is the songwriting of a high standard or will the lyrics make no sense to whoever is listening? Is it your best vocal performance or was it your first take and that will do? Ask your friends and family for honest feedback. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so you need to send your best work.
#8 Use a professional recording studio
Consider recording your song during a proper session at a studio to make sure your tracks are polished, mixed well, and either mastered or ready for mastering.
#9 Consider your demo packaging
Think about including some artwork on your demo, this shows the label that you have really thought about every possible aspect and they will be more likely to give your music a listen.
Along with the demo, you will need to contextualise your work, as it is important for the record company to know what your influences are and how you would fit in as an artist. Keep all communication brief and straight to the point, and don’t forget to follow up any demo submissions with an email.
Record labels looking for artists to sign
#10 Make yourself a good investment
A record label is unlikely to invest unless they see it working as a sustainable music business model that they can make money from. So if you are selling and getting booked enough it’s telling you, that there is a demand for you and an audience to sell your music too.
When is the right time to contact a record label?
Are you doing enough gigs, merchandise and selling music online to be a full-time artist? Are you or capable of making a sustainable living from music?
There are a few rules that it would be best to remember when you want to be picked up by a label. First impressions are everything, from the way you talk on the phone to the way your word your email, all of it has to be well thought out and polished.
#11 Build music industry relationships
Begin by building relationships with other people in the industry, this will always work in your favour, as long as you stay true to yourself you are not selling yourself out. You are simply making the right connections for the future.
Another thing to remember is to be consistent, keep up to date with email messages and phone calls and always try to be as professional as possible, no matter how daunting it may seem at first.
The more you get used to contacting industry professionals the more you will begin to hear back from them.
#12 Keep your social media and website up-to-date
Make sure all of your social media, and artist website is up-to-date, if the label does happen to like your work, then they will want to see that you are keeping on top of things, playing gigs and getting people to listen to you.
Upload some tracks on Soundcloud and make sure that all of the information about you as an artist is up-to-date.
How to write an email to a record label
#13 Research your contacts
These days, record labels get inundated with demos and press releases by singers.
Try and find out the name of the person you are contacting. It goes a long way to getting them to read the email you send. A simple ‘hi there’ will not draw their attention.
They will assume you have just done a generic email sent to multiple people at once.
#14 Write a brief Bio
Include a brief Bio that is engaging and interesting. It should give a snapshot of you, your music and your achievements. Aim for a total of three paragraphs that capture your sound on paper.
Throw in some quotes. If people have been saying you’re a great singer, put it in there to back up your belief in yourself.
Is there a good time to send an email?
#15 Consider when to email
The timing of when you send an email to a record label is very important.
Don’t send it over a holiday or at the weekend. Monday morning will be when an email inbox is at its fullest, so chances are most emails will be skimmed over and discarded just to get through them. Wait until later in the week, maybe a Wednesday afternoon once things have calmed down.
Maybe try sending the email when you have good news to report. If you have an EP launch approaching or a slot supporting a well-known singer, it gives your email some clout and will make it of more interest to the recipient of the email.
Time sending it to coincide with you having some gigs lined up around the area that the record label is based and invite them to come down. This gives them a chance to check you out in the flesh as opposed to relying on your demo. Make sure the show is accessible, so the record label has a genuine chance of seeing you before they forget about you!
#16 Be polite but professional
Try not to be over the top, but saying how much you like and appreciate the work of a label along with your demo submission could really go a long way to getting you signed.
Flattery may work in your favour, but don’t overdo it.
Emailing a record label
#17 Create an EPK
It also helps in this day and age if you have an EPK (Electronic Press Kit), and a good EPK is the way forward, it will make record executive sit up and take note of who you are even before they have listened to any of your music.
What is an EPK?
An EPK is a digital promotion package that you can send out to record labels, it has replaced the traditional press kits in a sense that everything is now done electronically. There are many free programs out there whereby as a musician you can create your own free EPK.
Your EPK that you are planning on sending out to the record label should include; a biography, news about gigs and tours, details of new releases, marketing information and information of any other artists that you have previously had the pleasure of supporting or playing with.
This then gives the record label and idea of what you are about and would make them much more likely to listen to your songs.
#18 Add all your contact details
Make sure that you include all your contact details, including:
- Your phone number
- Email address
- Social media
- Web links
Is it hard to get signed to a record label?
#19 Prepare to be persistent
There is no point in beating about the bush, with record labels they simply get too many messages from artists hoping to get signed.
Be prepared for the reality that you may not hear back. Some may argue building up your own record sales, social media reach and higher profile gigs to network at will be more fruitful. Plus you’ll hopefully be getting a return from the gigs and sales
Have you approached a record label before? Do you feel that you’re now ready to? Let us know in the comments below!