The Best Way To Get Your Band Signed
Here’s a big one where I think a lot of groups really fall down. You need to be judicious when you are targeting labels and make a concentrated effort on specific folks in order to actually get signed. No one really gets discovered anymore, or if you do the odds of it being with a label who you actually want to sign you who aren’t scam artists are so astronomically small that you probably shouldn’t be banking on it. It’s like betting your future on winning the lottery. So, if you are a relatively unknown band looking for a record contract in order to get notoriety or ideally even money what can you do in order to start to get some of that attention that you so crave? Well, I want to get really granular with this for a moment and help you to determine some key steps you can take in order to access new markets and impress labels in ways that you might never have thought of. Heads up, a lot of them are going to suck, so dip out if you don’t want to actually work.
So first and foremost, if you have never been signed before, don’t think that you are going to immediately get onto a heavy hitter who is going to be giving you money, big league distribution and all that stuff. No it’s going to take a while to get there because you need to prove yourself. Here’s the thing — I, as a label guy do not want to work with someone I have to explain everything to and who is a clueless mug, unless they are really that good, which rarely happens. What I would much rather do is be able to have a band who have shown on multiple occasions that they are professional and have a track record of success and excellence. I want to be able to take a band, give them a few directions and then have it come together quickly and easily. I am going to explicitly ask my friends who own other labels the band was signed too if the band sucks to work with or not. As a band you need to learn how shit works and how to work if you want someone with some power to be spending time on you, otherwise even if you get that big deal they will just get frustrated and put you on the backburner.
This is a huge part of why on your first few releases as a band you need to focus on getting onto some tastemaker labels, even doing having the same release come out on multiple labels. Tastemaker labels are run by die hard fans and people who are excited about new music who want to work with beginner bands in order to expose something cool and new to the world. Tastemaker labels are not huge machines looking to make money or plug you into their system, usually they are just one person operations dedicated to helping the artist grow. Now think about that, that’s a huge win for any sort of band out there trying to take it to the next level. At least at this point they can say that they are signed. Furthermore, they are called tastemaker labels for a reason, the good ones are a veritable breeding grounds for the bands that will get picked up by some of the larger labels. I love going through some of my favorite labels when trying to understand what’s happening in the scene, and guess what, a lot of that stuff is then taken into consideration when I think about what might make sense to sign.
Furthermore — you need to make sure that you aren’t just firehosing your way through record labels. I see so many bands do this and then not get anywhere and it does them no good. Seriously — whats the point of trying to get signed if you are hitting up completely inappropriate labels? And the crazy thing is that this happens all the time even with major artists and people who should know better. When pitching to labels always make sure that there’s at least some sort of connection to your sound otherwise you’re just going to get laughed at and probably mocked within the circle of label heads, because remember, they all know each other. You need to be smart about your pitching and even better, curate your shit to the label so that even if you are hitting them totally unsolicited they see that you are a fan and that you understand what they are about. In the case of tastemaker labels in particular this is going to get you a lot of traction.
So what’s the best way to get signed to a tastemaker label? Build a relationship. These people are out there and they are extremely fucking accessible. They want to be accessible because they want people to find out about their brand and what they are bringing to the table. This is a huge step you need to take as a band if you are trying to get noticed and spread the good word about what you are doing. If you are not actively working your fucking face off in order to build friendships then you are literally wasting your time. If you want the easiest hack to get someone to notice you, here it is: If you REALLY think you are the complete package and that your music is great, live show flawless and social media popping off, and you still aren’t getting label attention, then follow the ten labels you most realistically think you can sign too on Instagram and then comment MEANINGFULLY on every single thing they post. This will get them to notice you, listen to your music and eventually hopefully become interested. Or they will just think you suck and are a poser. This obviously all depends on your music not sucking which for some people is the hardest part of this whole shebang.
I told you that the grind of getting signed to the label of your dreams would suck and be a lot of hard work didn’t I? It’s not exactly a world that you are going to easily immerse yourself in or find drenching you in success. You need to work our face off at it and then hop from small label to slightly larger label to yet another slightly larger label with the understanding that this is eventually going to turn into something much cooler, much more meaningful and something that people will connect with, that is, once again, assuming your music is good and you are talented performers. If you’re just another group of schmucks clogging up Instagram… well then you’re just wasting your time and need to sit down, shut up and figure your shit out all over again.