How to get your music noticed by labels
After producing your latest track, one of the key steps in elevating your career is to get your music in the hands of the people who can help you take it to the next level. But with so many aspiring DJs and producers trying to get their tracks heard, how can you make sure your record won’t get lost in the mass? Following these simple steps will help you move to the top of the pile.
Do your research
Before you start sending out your music, you need to compile a list of labels who might be interested in hearing it. Sending a trap production to a predominantly-house focused label like Axtone, is a waste of time and money, whilst offering Heldeep or Hexagon a trance track, is not going to appeal to their demographic. Which DJs do you like or admire? What labels are they on? What labels deal with the kind of music you play? Spend some time online researching artists you consider to be similar to yourself and the labels that work with them.
Learn demo policies
Once 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.)
- Music mailing address
- Is there a specific 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 new music all the time, and many labels do listen to everything they get. Making their job easier will only help your case.
- Your music should be clearly labeled with your name and email address.
- Short bio. Keep it on the subject and to the point.
- Press clippings, if available
Once you have sent your music 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 follow-up policy on their website, make sure you stick to that. Otherwise, an email a month after you have sent the track is a good place to start. It may take months for a label to actually get around to playing your production, but a friendly, occasional email will help your music 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. And 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.
Mind your manners
How many times have you sent an email out or made a phone call about your brand only to be ignored? It happens to everyone – and it happens a lot. That’s why it is so great when people actually take the time to share some advice with you or talk to you about your music. When it happens – say thanks. Not only is it the decent thing to do (you’d be surprised how many people don’t bother with the whole gratitude thing), it puts a little goodwill in the bank for you. Who do you think is more inclined to help you out in the future – someone who took some time out to share some advice with you and who was rewarded with a thank you, or someone who tried to help you out, only to receive no reply from you?
Turn that frown upside down
The word “no” is one you’re bound to hear a lot as an aspiring producer or DJ. You can’t take it personally, and you can’t let it discourage you. When a label turns you down, most of the time it comes down more to your kind of music not being a good fit for the label or to the label not having any room in their schedule for new releases. When you get turned down, consider your music, decide if there was anything you could have done differently that might have made a difference, and then learn from it and move on to the next label.
Make a database of contacts. Keep a list of every label to whom you send your track, and of every person you talk to about your music, 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. 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 in your email. Pick the tracks that grab people on the first listen, from the first note, and try to include radio edits rather than extended mixes, for this very reason.