How Do Record Labels Find New Artists?

Plants need water, labels need artists

One of the most frequently asked questions we get here at Promo Panda goes something like, "how exactly do you record labels find new artists?"

The implication of this question tends to be that its asker is looking for label representation, and they're curious about how exactly they can get labels to give them any sort of chance to sign a deal.

We'd be remiss to not mention that, these days, you don't totally need a record label in order to have a legitimate career as a musician.

These days, some incredible distribution and promotional platforms are out there on the Internet for any independent artist to make use of.

With that said, for those of you who are keen on figuring out exactly how you might court a record label and find a way for them to sign you to some sort of deal, we created this guide.

Curious about how exactly a record label might find a new artist? To find out, it pays to be aware of the following.

Labels need artists

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to learning about how labels find new artist, is that in order to actually function as a business record labels have to have access to amazing artists they can sign to their roster.

Now, just because a label needs artist doesn't mean that they necessarily need you.

This is where making yourself attractive to record labels comes into play.

But before we dive into tactics to make yourself interesting to a record label executive, we thought it pertinent to mention one thing you should always remember: if you're a real talent, you're in the driver's seat. 

Record labels peruse social media

Instagram Logo

At Promo Panda, we're constantly working with artists from various record labels all over the world.

When communicating with record label executives and A&R representatives, We're always surprised to hear stories about how labels found artists that they've signed from simple social media posts.

Even more interesting still is that a lot of times, the label isn't even necessarily interested in the artist having a big following. What they are just fine with seeing instead, is potential.

This isn't to say that having a big following or lots of engagement on your socials isn't a plus (it is), but don't think that you have to have a ridiculously large follower count in order to entice someone a record label.

Trust us, there is always someone looking (maybe even at you!)

Label reps do a lot of online research

Online Research

Once label representatives find an artist on social media that they think would work well for the label, or even if they find the artist through other means (which we'll cover later), that's typically just the beginning of the research that they dive into to learn more about the artist.

One level executive that we work closely with said that he scours Google constantly in order to learn about artists he has heard of from colleagues, or artist he has seen himself on social media.

Something interesting he shared with us is this:

Even if an artist has a legitimate social media presence, or has some sort of buzz that comes via word-of-mouth, if he can't find information about the artist via Google (in the form of a website, interviews, reviews, write-ups, etc.) then he immediately becomes skeptical that the artist will be a good fit for his label.

His reasoning is simple – if other people haven't taken the time to write about the artist, why should he take the time to consider them for his label?

We asked this label exec if he was nervous about losing good talent on account of this "gut feeling," his answer?

"If I don't see anything about the artist on the internet outside of socials, someone else can have him or her... Even if the artist becomes the next big thing, I d0don't care. Too many times it's seemed like an artist has a chance at making it based on social engagement, but they end up not being able to do much outside of social media. We sign artists, not influencers."

Labels do their homework – make sure you're visible online!

Label reps secretly (and not so secretly) attend shows/festivals

Shows

Anybody at a record label who is responsible for finding new talent will inevitably attend a ton of local shows at various venues.

And it's not like they were representatives are always listening for a pitch-perfect performance, from a music perspective.

What's far more compelling to a label rap is that the show is engaging and intriguing and that the audience has a good time and doesn't lose interest.

If you can command an audience in which a labor rep is a member, you'll be sure to impress.