The internet has all kinds of tutorials and resources to learn about music theory, how to record music, as well as how to mix and master anything you record. In the past, we’ve even created guides on how to upload your music to various online streaming platforms and promote that music on your own.
But not nearly as many online resources cover the topic of how to get noticed by a record label once you’ve worked out the kind of music you’d like to make.
We’re here to fill in that gap and go through some of the most important things you can do to attract the attention of record labels and, potentially, secure a record deal with that label.
The benefits of having an actual label deal are pretty enormous, especially if you’re a relatively unknown recording artist without access to large-scale marketing or performance booking services.
But apart from the logistical benefits of signing a deal with a label, big or small, there’s also just a lot more potential to make some real money from your music.
When you’re on your own, the best you can hope for in terms of monetization is usually something like a payout from streaming listens or whatever pay you can agree to for any number of live shows.
But being with a label almost always means that you can now get some merch created, as well as some physical versions of your releases.
Different labels handle revenue splits with their artists in different ways, but in a very general sense, it’s just better to be signed on with a label, and even if you don’t like working with a particular label, it will always be a better option to sign with a different label rather than going back to being fully independent.
With all that said, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to attract label attention and work toward a deal.
This might seem like a fairly basic concept when it comes to getting your music noticed, but today especially, your music really does need to stand out from the crowd.
More people are making music now than ever before, and by that we mean there are more people hoping to make their music into a viable career.
Why is that? Well, one of the most obvious reasons is that access to instruments and music recording equipment and production software has increased enormously over just the last 30 years.
As long as you have some spare cash and a working computer, you can make music, sometimes even without the use of actual real-world instruments.
That massive amount of music career hopefuls isn’t good or bad news, inherently, but it definitely means there are lots of other people out there who are also hoping to attract the attention of music labels.
Whether you like it or not, these other people are in direct competition with you on your quest to get a record deal.
Above all the other tips we’re about to go through in the rest of this article, your music itself is going to be your best promotional tool.
If your music feels exciting and different, then you’ll immediately have an advantage over a lot of other artists.
How to actually achieve that unique quality is up to you. Take a long hard look at the genre you tend to write in and ask yourself what the most common techniques are. How can you add to these techniques or advance them in some way? What has this genre never been able to say before now?
Even small, artsy record labels are, in the end, businesses, and businesses like to avoid risk whenever they can. It’s simply in their best interest.
When they’re looking at artists they might want to sign, you can bet that they’ll be asking themselves exactly how risky each deal would be.
Yes, your music could be revolutionary and inventive and original, but there’s always going to be that nagging question in the back of their minds: “Is this going to work out? How much money do we stand to gain here?”
So what can you do to appear less risky to record labels? Well, you need to show them that your work can stand to bring in some real money.
How can you do that outside of making big promises? Grow your audience on your own and be ready to prove that you already have an audience when you start talking to labels.
How do you grow your audience? By performing live shows and generating positive word-of-mouth. Also, it will be a big help to make your music available on streaming platforms as quickly as you can.
This tip is really about managing your expectations when you start looking into getting a record label deal.
As we already talked about early on, getting signed to virtually any music label is going to be a good thing for you and your music career.
However, getting signed to a label isn’t a guarantee that you’re on the fast-track to fame and fortune.
For one, getting the attention of one of the world’s biggest labels isn’t going to be easy, especially if you don’t already have a PR team backing you up in your efforts.
Furthermore, even some of the biggest labels around can’t guarantee that every artist they sign is going to find success.
Yes, they’ll probably pay for some recording time, and if you’re working as a songwriter, you might even be given a yearly salary.
But for most young musicians out there, the much more viable option is getting signed to a small, independent label.
There are hundreds and hundreds of small labels out there today, and you won’t only be able to get their attention more easily, but they’ll also be able to give you more attention than one of the big labels.
Remember, you can always work your work up to a bigger label later on, but for now, even the smallest labels can mean some big help for your career in music.