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One of the most common questions that Toolroom Academy students ask is how they can get signed to a record label. To help answer this burning question, today we have a guest post from our very own Pete Griffiths.
Truly a man who needs no introduction, Pete has been with Toolroom for over 12 years and has helped to A&R some of the label’s biggest hits. An accomplished producer, DJ, and now tutor with Toolroom Academy, Pete offers a rare glimpse into what it really takes to get signed in 2019.
Without further adieu, let’s hand it off to Pete.
With the cyclical nature of the music industry, the market is saturating at an ever-increasing rate in 2018. Producers all over the world are beginning to realize that getting noticed by a label is becoming an even more difficult task than in years past.
As such, the question of how to get signed to a record label has become more crucial than ever!
Nowadays, anyone with a laptop can upload a track to the internet and send out a mass email to label A&R’s in the hope that they will get lucky.
While it’s possible this method might work in rare cases, most people will not see success by doing this alone.
In fact, most labels won’t even open unsolicited demos!
So, how do you go about gaining the attention of an A&R?
The best way is to stand out from the crowd and create the most appealing package that you possibly can. Showcase your strengths, not only in your music but in your marketability as well!
Here are five quick tips to help you along the way.
Most people have a strong desire to be successful, but overnight success is a very rare thing.
Dedicate yourself to learning and perfecting your craft, learn from your peers, listen to advice, and when you think you’ve finished something take a break and go back to it again.
It is completely normal to face disappointment, re-invention, and subsequent success. Embrace it!
You need to be pro-active, which doesn’t just include being on every social media platform known to man. In reality, there are several key ingredients beyond just being a good marketer.
A&R’s are ideally looking for someone who knows the industry and has already made some connections, and you need to dig deeper.
This isn’t against new and undiscovered talent! A good A&R will always follow his heart if he hears something he loves, but in the current market with an ever-increasing number of new producers coming through, you need to try and stand out from the crowd.
2019 doesn’t favor the old model whereby the manager handles every aspect of your life as an artist.
Producing music is just one part of the equation, these days!
Unless you’re Adele, you have shouldn’t have any business releasing all of the tracks you write, let alone releasing them all at the same time!
It takes one strong record to get yourself noticed.
Don’t fall into the trap of releasing your music because it’s finished. Less is more. When you think you’ve finished a track, take a break from it, get feedback from someone who knows what they’re doing, and listen to what they have to say.
A fresh pair of ears hearing your work for the first time may point out something obvious you’ve missed after hearing the track over and over.
Also, look into getting your track mastered before you send it to an A&R.
Mastering isn’t as expensive as it used to be, and could seriously enhance your track. In fact, mastering is one of the many services that Toolroom currently offers.
While you can certainly have a go at it yourself, you can have your tracks mastered by the same team as the pros for a menial cost.
Coming from an A&R, you can trust that it makes a world of difference.
Your most important asset is your network.
Not your virtual one, but your real one.
When opportunities come, it’s always a real person knocking…and answering. Make sure you take care when nurturing the important people around you. While it’s sometimes easy to burn bridges in such a competitive industry, it’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make as an artist.
We suggest that you treat your peers like one big family rather than competition. Work together with other artists, learn from them, and improve yourself! It’s likely you’ll be working with and seeing these same people on your journey in years to come. Make a good impression.
Building the right team of people around you can be an indispensable asset, especially when it comes to people who are as passionate about your music as you are.
Make it your job to find someone who’s going to set concrete benchmarks for your career, and knows how to utilize his or her connections accordingly.
While contracts aren’t set in stone forever, they can be seriously tedious to get out of.
When approaching a label for the first time with a new demo you should remember to ask yourself a few questions.
What other artists release on there?
Will your music fit the label’s style?
Do you know where they are based if they have staff working for them?
It’s good to know these things, as this is a family you are looking to join and having a connection can really help.
In your email, include a few words about why the track will fit in with where the label is musically.
This shows that you know the sound of the label, and as an A&R, it makes them feel this demo has been personally sent to them.
Also, if they do events, why not introduce yourself face to face, hand over a USB, and look to strike up some conversation about what they are doing.
There’s a balance between pestering people and going out of your way to make yourself heard. Follow your gut instinct and never give up!
Remember: A career-minded DJ/producer will never rest on their laurels, and must keep reinventing themselves and putting their all into this pursuit!
It’s wise to start out small and grow step by step.
Having a good base is the key, not the amount of your first advance. Remember always to be proactive and ready.
Although there are always exceptions, try putting yourself in the A&R’s role.
If you work hard on covering the above rules, then you will be well on your way to achieving your much-desired career goals.
At Toolroom, we recognize the value of A&R feedback. That is why in both our in-person and online programs, new producers are given the opportunity to work with Toolroom’s highly sought after A&R team on their productions.
Do you feel that no matter what you do, your tracks are missing something? Have you “hit a wall” in terms of your progress in the studio? Worst of all, have you thought about giving up?
We’re here to help. Toolroom Academy was invented to help nurture & create the next generation of talent in House, Tech House, and Techno.
We’d love to hear from you to see where you’re at career-wise, and how we education through a Toolroom Academy product can push you closer towards your goals. In the end, it all comes down to you!
What are you waiting for? Get in touch today!