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"I Want to Get a Record Deal" is Wrong Until You Are Ready – Here is Why
There are many paths to the top in the music industry depending on who you are, who you know and how good you are. Depending on which of these you or your band have. Your march to the top will take a significantly different path. We’ll focus on each one individually to get you started. If you’re doing research because your band is struggling to get to the next level, this article will help you break through the glass ceiling. Let’s start with a general way of thinking about how to achieve success, how we define that success. Most small artists define initial success as a record deal. This is a common mistake with most smaller bands. This is an even worse misconception considering the state of the music industry. Look online for “How to get a record deal”, “Singing auditions for a record deal” and “Audition for a record deal”. Please take this as an emphatic warning that getting a record deal should not be the goal! Instead, turn your attention to something you want to do in the first place, making money. It makes you make better decisions as a business in the long run because it’s your band. Ironically, it helps you get a record deal, and a better record deal.
Why do you have to sell records and make money before being offered one?
So you want to get a record deal as quickly as possible. Bad! Although it sounds really cool, telling your friends that you’ve signed up would be a mistake. In a perfect world, every artist would get a very good deal, and the big guys would guarantee big marketing and distribution, with guaranteed exposure and a big number of points (how much you get per sale) on album sales. If you don’t have a track record and you don’t have market traction, it won’t happen. You get the worst deal you’ve ever seen and you sign it because a record deal is an artist’s dream. When I was 18, I signed a band contract with Sony Music Germany. We were a high-priority project with a large marketing budget. Since we were a bell band put together for the record company, we got almost nothing in our contract other than a signing bonus and about half or less of what we were supposed to. The label wasn’t bad though. They brought us together and we had no history and no fan base. In the business world, the sooner you buy a business, the riskier it is. Along with the risk comes the promise of a much higher return if the thing succeeds. Music is no different. The more you have completed, the bigger the piece you can get. In another article, we’ll discuss how to market your music on your own. Of course, this catch is twenty-two. Getting to the top, which is so hard to do. Now that you have the idea, share how you got there.
Who you know is the best way to land a record deal. Many people don’t realize this, but sending unsolicited material to A&R is about as much of a waste of time as it gets. While some small labels are open to spam, most of the big ones are not. Your material will most likely never be heard. Getting in front of the decision-makers is done through people whom the decision-makers know or respect. These include successful producers, successful artists, entertainment lawyers, successful managers or other influential people. Consider that for every signed artist they send a hundred demos. It’s very similar to a job interview. In the real world, over 50% of hiring is done by referral or personal contact. Music is no different. It also gains the credibility of the person representing you. A well-respected entertainment lawyer won’t put his name out there or recommend a product that no one wants. People won’t listen to you if you keep bringing bad products. However, you won’t be ready to connect with these people right away unless you have some kind of personal connection. Make sure you put together a really solid demo, and I’m not talking about what you did at home. It’s better to be close to the radio. Even if you only make 2 songs, you’re much better off making 2 really solid, high quality songs than a whole album of decent songs. The whole idea is to have a high quality product to market. Some solid images and a great press kit are also a must. In another article, we’ll discuss the things that really fascinate these people and labels. Many times even these people are difficult to reach. Good luck contacting Johnny Wright, for example. Make no mistake, it will cost you at least a few thousand dollars to get there. If you are serious about this, you should make a plan with the rest of the band to save the money you need. If that means not having to party for a month or two, paying a hard fortune, it’s a small price to pay for glory. Remember, the music industry is about who you know.
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