Some of the best songs in history have been collaborations between artists, often with one artist featuring on someone else’s song. We only have to look at Under Pressure by Freddie Mercury and David Bowie to see how powerful that can be, or more recently Ed Sheeran featuring his friend Taylor Swift. Featured artists often enhance the song, and bring a new twist to it.
What Is A Featured Artist?
A featured artist is another singer or instrumentalist chosen to feature on a song for a particular reason. They may have a great voice that the creator wants to showcase or some superb instrumental skills that will enhance the record. Featured artists are often singers, but not always. A good example would be Beyonce ft. Jay-Z. Although they are married, they collaborated on records to enhance their sound. A featured artist will also receive a royalty for their part on the track in most circumstances.
Why Have A Featured Artist?
Having a featured artist on your song, EP or Album is a very useful tool in building or enhancing your profile. It is also a lot of fun. Having another artist on your song or project will mean that your music will be available and most importantly, attractive to both fan bases. It’s a great way of diversifying or gaining new fans. Some artists just feature an artist on a song (think ‘Get Lucky’ by Daft Punk featuring Pharell Williams), whereas others produce whole collaboration albums, like Frank Turner and Jon Snodgrass on their project ‘Buddies’.
How Much Do Artists Charge For A Feature?
Artist feature prices will vary depending on the experience and profile of the artist involved. Some may even do it for a minimal price if they know they will benefit from royalties in the long run. For example, Chris Martin or Ed Sheeran would command a large fee for featuring on a track by an artist of a lower standing in the industry, whereas they may choose to feature on each other’s records as they are friends and would likely come to a royalty agreement.
The fees for featured artists will vary significantly depending on the artist’s profile. Unsigned artists may charge a few hundred pounds, whereas a big artist could well be hundreds of thousands!
How To Ask An Artist For A Feature
There are a few ways to go about this, and whichever suits you best should be the way you choose. Or you could try a couple of options, as the first tactic won’t always work.
This could be the first port of call. If you know the artist already, you could phone or text them, but if you know of them, but don’t know them personally, social media is often a good way. Show an interest in them, follow them and maybe send them a direct message after a little while, detailing your proposal, or just start a chat and instigate a conversation. Everyone is different in dealing with social media, so some people respond to a direct question, others take longer to start speaking about projects.
Bear in mind that established artists are very busy and don’t always have access to their social media channels, or time to respond to DM’s, so do get despondent if you don’t get a reply.
You may also want to email them. Most musicians detail an email address on their website, and while established artists will usually defer to a manager or agent, some will put their own email on there. Frank Turner for example is one of the most contactable major artists. He takes care to answer all his fans’ emails, but this is extremely rare for an artist of his stature.
For artists who command fees, you usually have to go through their agent or manager to facilitate a booking. Signed artists will also have to get permission from their label, and there may be subsequent discussions between yourself and the label following this.
The traditional way for artists to collaborate with other artists is simply through networking. You might meet musicians at gigs you would like to collaborate with, or if it’s a more established artist you would like as a featured act, try going to their gigs and meeting them afterward. You could also book time in their studio. Many artists own studios or work out of particular studio premises, so if you know where they are – go to them. This practice is particularly effective in Hip Hop as many rappers hang out with a large number of musicians and producers and they tend to collaborate a lot.
Pay for a feature artist
If you are well placed financially, you could simply use one of our previously mentioned routes and then pay for the artist you would like. This would involve speaking to their management, and is often the fastest way to secure a feature artist because money talks.
How To Feature An Artist For A Song
Once you have secured your feature artist through one of the routes above, the best way to go about making it happen is to act quickly. You should probably already have your song ready in demo form at least.
- Send them a copy and instructions/ideas for what you would like
- Maybe have a zoom call or chat on the phone
- Arrange to meet in a studio or in your home recording set up and go about recording your song.
- If you are working with a producer, you may be doing this remotely or at their studio
- Once recorded, mixed and mastered make sure you get all the featured artists details and start setting up your release with your distributor or label.
How To Add Feature Artists On Tunecore
To make sure royalties are fairly distributed, and to get the correct representation on streaming platforms, it is important to add all artists who feature on the song. In your distributor dashboard, which may be on Tunecore or another reputable distributor platform, make sure to add the featured artist under your name as the main artist. There should be a tab for this. If the featured artist was also involved in the songwriting, you will also need to add their name to the rights collection agency’s website (this would normally be PRS or your countries equivalent).
Now You Are Ready To Collaborate
We have walked through the various steps and things to consider when preparing to feature an artist on your song, EP or Album. Collaboration is one of the most enjoyable parts of being a musician and songwriter, and a good feature from an artist who is well respected in the industry could really help to raise your profile as an artist. Overall, it should be beneficial to both sides, and above all – a lot of fun!
Let us know what your favourite collaboration would be and any fun stories you have of featuring artists in your music, or even being a featured artist yourself.
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