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How does a music artist get someone at a record label to listen to their demo?

I am going to be studying music to benefit a career as a performing artist. Investing in someone's career can definitely boost determination and fulfill the goals of a record label. I'd want to know what to prepare for and how to enter the field. #music #music-industry

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Kevin’s Answer

Best of the Village

Hello!


Well, I have good news and bad news.


The bad news is there aren't really any record labels left in the world. And by that I mean they all got swallowed up by mergers in the 1990's. I strongly suggest you study the career of Ani DiFranco. She started her own label. The major labels all came knocking on her door to sign her and she turned them all down.


What labels do is loan you money to make a record, they own your master tapes (that lets them control what is known as the "mechanical license". The music business is full of stories, from the Beatles right on down to folks you've never heard of, who regret signing their first record deal.


Do you understand that Mr. James Taylor does not own the copyright to "Fire and Rain", the song that made him famous all over the world?


So here's the good news:


Everything you would need to do as a performing and recording artist you need to do before a so-called "record label" would even bother looking at you.


You can have the greatest sounding demo tape in the world, but guess what? Get in line! So do 100's of other folks! So here's what you can do:


1.) Write your own songs
Write them and then take them out into public and play them. Open mics are a good choice. You can "road test" your songs. See if they're in the best key for your voice. See what other people think.


2.) Record your own songs
Once you've got 10 songs YOU really love and believe in, record them. You don't have to spend a lot of money. Use Garage Band or one of the other Mac-based recording platforms. The more you know about these programs, the better off and more independent you will be.


Here is a really good website: http://recording-studio-software-review.toptenreviews.com


3.) Once the songs are recorded, mixed, and mastered, release them yourself.
Here's where you have to make a big decision. Do you want to release your material on a web-based platform, or do you want to actually manufacture your own CD and get physical copies.


You'll have to feel this out for yourself, but I do have one suggestion. If you release your songs on a web-based platform like Bandcamp, you can actually sell your songs and make money. Since it's way less expensive to do this, do it first, before you drop another $2500 or so to manufacture 1000 CDs.


Here are places you can place your music yourself, without a label's help. You will be, in a very real sense, your own record label.


Here's a good online only platform:
https://bandcamp.com


I suggest you use CDBaby if you make your own hard disc copies. The are fair, and best of all, they will distribute your music (digital only) to virtually every place on the planet.


Here's CD Baby:
http://www.cdbaby.com


Here's the man who founded CDBaby, Mr. Derack Sivers. Study him closely. Listen to what he says. He's been ahead of his time since the day he was born, and I don't give praise lightly:
https://sivers.org


One more place that is super cool is Sound Cloud:


soundcloud.com


Good Luck!

Thank you comment icon I think Kevin said it all. In the end, even when the industry wasn't fully transformed, so many producers/managers/artists told me that, in the end, you have to steer the ship and oversee the big picture yourself. That said, someone in your corner who has some experience with reputable artists and has also adapted to the new system, is valuable. They are out there, but probably in the same freelance/not-working for a label way that artists are. Don Rosler
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Vineeth’s Answer

Before you start sending out your demo, you need to compile a list of labels who might be interested in hearing it.Spend some time online researching artists you consider to be similar to yourself and the labels that work with them.

Learn Demo Policies

One you have your short list of labels, you need to learn each label's policy on demos. Some labels, especially larger labels, will not accept unsolicited demos for legal reasons - they worry about people sending them demos, and then later suing them, claiming their songs have been stolen. Most labels have demo policies clearly displayed on their sites. Find out:

Are unsolicited demos accepted?

Acceptable demo formats (CD, mp3 clips, thumb drives, etc.)
Demo mailing address
Is there a specific demo (A&R) rep to whom you should address your package?
Follow up rules - OK to call? OK to email?

Keep it Short and Sweet

Remember, even small labels are inundated with demos, and many labels do listen to everything they get. Making their job easier will only help your case. Your demo package should include:

A short demo. Go for two to three of your best songs. Anything longer won't get listened to.
Your demo should be clearly labeled with your name and email address (NOT your number - you're more likely to get a response via email).
SHORT band bio. Keep it on the subject and to the point. No need to go for "My parents have known since birth I would be a musician..."
Press clippings, if available.

Follow Up
Once you have sent your demo out to labels, you need to follow up with the labels to make sure they have received them and to solicit their opinions. If the label has a demo follow up policy on their website, make sure you stick to that. Otherwise, an email a month after you have sent the demo is a good place to start.
It may take months for a label to actually get around to playing your demo, but a friendly, occasional email will help your demo stand out from the pack. Unless you have been told differently by the label, Don't call. It puts people on the spot and won't win you any friends. Stick to email. Above all, don't guilt-trip the A&R staff because they haven't yet listened.

Keep in Touch
When you do hear "no" from a label, that doesn't mean you have to scratch them off your list. Include labels you like on your emailing list, which should include an "opt-out" option, to let them know what is happening with your band. If you record a new round of songs, it is perfectly fine to send a new demo to a label that has rejected you in the past. If you're playing a show in the town in which a particular label is based, invite them to the show. Getting people to know your name is half the battle.

Make a database of contacts. Keep a list of every label to whom you send your demo, and of every person you talk to about your demo, whether the conversation is positive or negative. You never know who will be able to help you sometime down the line.Pick songs with strong beginnings. When you demo goes into the CD player, if the song doesn't grab the listener out of the gate, then the listener is likely to press "next." Don't go for the slow burners on your demo. Pick the songs that grab people on the first listen, from the first note.
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Kelly’s Answer

Have you ever thought about creating your own audience and performing shows and making money on your own. It may be a slow start but keep in mind you will be able to do it how you want and not how you are told. Have your friends help you. Stay focused. It can happen for you. "If you believe it you will see it!", a famous ism by Quicken Loans.
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Kelly’s Answer

The best way to have your music viewed of course is to know someone. Packaging and Labeling is the best way. Make sure that you have an audio visual of no more than 3 minutes. 3 songs preferably. You want to show your variety of music. Think about what catches your eye or causes you to want to look at or read something. Establish a contact person , send the information certified and request a signature. that way you can call and ask for the person who signed for it.
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Paul’s Answer

Wow, Kevin's answer was fantastic! Hard to top an instructor from Berklee! A few more things I'd add for suggestions.

1. Network, network, network. Get to know people in the industry, and not just to get something from them. The reason they call it networking is so you can help each other. Maybe you're good at writing, and someone in your network is a great singer, but needs a couple tracks to fill out a new project. Or perhaps you know a little more about BandCamp, so you help another fellow artist get their account set up. I'm told the early grunge bands in Seattle actively helped each other, recorded on each other's records, etc. Build a support system around you that you can also contribute to.

2. Play out - as much as you can. Even with all this great technology, the number one way to build a fan base is STILL one person at a time. Live shows are still the best opportunity to show people who you are.

I was fortunate to mix an acoustic showcase with Kacey Musgraves 6-7 years ago, before she was a big name. Her and her co-writer with two acoustic guitars, and I was hooked! She sold me in that live performance. I still follow her today.

3. Work like labels don't matter - because they don't. With the ability to release your own music through BandCamp, CD Baby, etc, you don't need a label. The only thing a label can do for you is spend more money, and possibly get you on a big tour - but you can do that yourself if you're really good.

There was a story floating around the business many years ago about MC Hammer (yeah, the "Can't Touch This" guy). He was a DJ, and sold CDs out of the trunk of his car. A label approached him and offered him a $1 million dollar deal. The story goes, he sat at the negotiating table, did some quick calculations, and said, "According to my numbers, I'll make more money selling CDs my way than going platinum with you." And he left. (Later, they came back with a $5 million dollar offer, which he accepted.)

In other words, do music for the love of it. If you've got great unique talent, build your audience, and blow people away at live shows, record labels will come to YOU. Then you can turn them down! LOL

Good luck!
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James Constantine’s Answer

Dear Andrew,

How can a musician catch the attention of a record label executive with their demo?

Here's a step-by-step guide for musicians to get their demos heard by record label executives:

1. Craft Top-Notch Demos: The initial step involves creating superior quality demos that effectively highlight the musician's skills and potential. Ensure the demo is professionally recorded, mixed, and mastered to leave a lasting impact.

2. Investigate Record Labels: Musicians need to research and pinpoint record labels that match their musical style and genre. It's crucial to focus on labels known for signing artists with a similar sound.

3. Adhere to Label Submission Rules: Every record label has distinct guidelines for demo submissions. Musicians must meticulously adhere to these rules, which might involve sending demos through email, online submission forms, or traditional mail.

4. Forge Connections: Networking is vital in the music industry. Musicians should participate in industry events, establish connections with music professionals, and foster relationships with A&R representatives or talent scouts from record labels.

5. Leverage Online Platforms: Musicians can use online platforms like SoundCloud, Bandcamp, or YouTube to share their demos with a broader audience, including record label executives scouting for fresh talent online.

6. Engage on Social Media: Musicians can use social media platforms to interact with record labels and display their work. Regular updates about new music, performances, and accomplishments can draw the attention of label representatives.

7. Solicit Feedback: Musicians can approach industry professionals for feedback on their demos. Constructive feedback can help musicians enhance their work, making it more enticing to record labels.

8. Participate in Music Industry Showcases: These showcases offer musicians a chance to perform in front of industry professionals, including A&R representatives from record labels. These events can be instrumental in getting noticed.

9. Employ a Music Manager or Agent: Professional representation, like a music manager or agent, can boost a musician's chances of grabbing the attention of record labels. Managers often have industry connections that can create opportunities for musicians.

By diligently following these steps and persistently promoting their music and talent, musicians can boost their chances of having their demo heard by a record label executive.

Top 3 Credible Sources Used to Answer this Question:

Music Industry How To
Sonicbids
TuneCore Blog

These sources offer invaluable advice on the process of submitting demos to record labels and provide practical advice for budding artists aiming to make their mark in the music industry.

May God bless you!
James Constantine Frangos.
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