How To Get Signed By A Record Label
I know a lot of artists who are new to the music industry think that signing a record label deal will blow them up.
They think that signing a record label deal means that a record label will take their music and do all of the work it takes to blow them up.
LOL….. LMFAO!!! HAHAHAHAHAH!
I used to think that too…. Unfortunately that’s not even on the same planet of truth.
In this article I am going to give you the information you need to understand about record labels to make the right choices for your career.
I am going to start this How To Get Signed By A Record Label article by telling you that you do not need a record label until you already have a ton of buzz and momentum built for yourself.
And even when you have the momentum you don’t really NEED a record label nowadays if you know where to put your money and who to hire to do the right work for you.
The industry has changed…. MASSIVELY.
You can create an entire record label TEAM yourself if you have the cash flow, ambition, knowledge and leadership skills.
There is still a huge myth floating around out there that signing to a record label will blow you up. What is funny is that is the furthest thing from the truth.
People get signed everyday that you never hear about for YEARS. I will get into that further in this how to get signed by a record label article.
If you read the article I finished and released earlier today about why I moved to LA you will see that I:
1) Just moved to LA for the music industry
2) I hung out with the girl who is in the new HBO Movie All The Way
That girl is ALSO an extremely talented singer AND songwriter. I would like to point out right now that I VERY VERY rarely say that about ANYONE.
Last night when her and her manager were at my apartment we talked about the great records she has and how one of them is an absolute SMASH radio record.
They were talking about getting her signed to a label and they started talking about how her friend is an A and R at a major label and they were watching her.
Me and my roommate – who is deep in the industry – immediately tried to talk them out of it because they already have financial backing (Rich Parents)
This article pretty much re-explains everything we told the girl and her manager.
You’ll see why they no longer saw a need in signing to a label after this.
I haven’t released this article How To Get Signed By A Record Label yet… So here is an update 2 days after the outline for this article was written.
Today the singer’s parents just confirmed a budget for her song’s release.
A music video which will be shot by our good friend Nick Brazinsky, production for the finished record by my right hand guy Loud Life and marketing by me and other PR people.
Magic just happens when you are consistently working.
One thing that REALLY REALLY slowed me down when I was starting off in the music industry was that I didn’t care about money.
I thought it was evil and fake af to go for money. I was all “Artist” and only cared about the music and my fans.
You will quickly realize that you HAVE to go for the money because you need money to fuel your entire career.
Without money you can’t shoot videos, pay people to get work done, market or anything else important in the music industry.
The thing you need to realize and understand before anything else is that this is called the ‘MUSIC BUSINESS’ for a reason.
If you are not an artist that a record label can monetize and make large amounts of money from than you are not an artist that is going to get signed to a record label deal.
Especially not a deal that has things in your favor.
Record Labels are BUSINESSES. You need to run yourself like a BUSINESS so that if you ever DO sign to a record label you are already set up in a way that they can grow your current business to make MORE MONEY.
You think they invest in artist because they make good music?
This is them laughing at you ^^^
LMFAO… Don’t worry, I used to think that they signed people for music too.
They don’t care how ‘REAL’ you are or how ‘COOL’ you are… they care if you can sell records, sell tickets at shows, sell merchandise and make them money.
Record labels are a BUSINESS and nothing but a BUSINESS.
America is a business. Everything is business and you will see that as you connect with more people.
Don’t lie to yourself and pretend like it’s anything else.
You can sit there right now and call me a liar or say “Nah Uh” and I’ll sit here and wait till you realize it’s true.
You can be an artist and be a business at the same time, you just have to learn how to do it right through branding yourself properly. That’s an article for another time though.
Let’s move onward.
How To Get Signed By A Record Label Fact #1
Labels are only gasoline.
You don’t want to get signed by a record label unless you already have A TON of momentum built for yourself.
You have to build the vehicle before they can fill it with gas to get you to your destination.
If you don’t have momentum they won’t even care enough to really help you.
Why? Because they are a business and need to make money from you.
They may take the risk of throwing a little bit of money at your project to see if it sticks (since its just a tax write off to them) and if it moves properly they will continue dumping more money in because they already tested the waters and are getting a good ROI (return on investment)
Anytime I have had a record label meeting they use the analogy that they are basically just there to “Pour fuel on the fire that’s already burning to make it bigger” but if you don’t have a fire going, they can’t do anything for you.
This is why one of the first articles I wrote for Smart Rapper was “Why buzz is more important than anything.”
That’s a whole other article topic that I will go much further into in other articles on the site though.
Just know that if you are not “Buzzing” than you are not “Relevant” in the industry. What is not “relevant” is not being talked about and therefore is going to be harder to push and generate sales from.
This is why artist always do publicity stunts to get talked about right before an album releases so that people are talking about them and they can increase the awareness to their new album’s release. It increases sales.
How To Get Signed By A Record Label Fact #2
What most people don’t realize is that the work REALLY begins when you finally get signed to a record label.
A lot of artists are signed to labels that you have never heard of in your life. They spend YEARRRS in the background working (while already signed to a record label) to finally get heard.
This is because they didn’t already have that momentum we talked about.
Big Sean was signed to Kanye for years before you ever heard his name.
I know 3 good artist signed to Lupe Fiasco that I have met in the last 6 months alone that you have never heard of. Three artist who have very small fan bases even though they are signed to a huge artist like Lupe and have resources me and you do not.
You probably think getting that big deal with someone will blow you up… I’m happy to tell you the truth so you can start working from the right angle and hustle…. It will not.
And if you sign and don’t sell units…. then you are pushed to the side, forgotten and it’s harder to get a deal later since you couldn’t prove yourself before.
It’s a tough industry. I am here to help you navigate it.
I’d also like to point out that I know rappers that are signed to labels that want to buy themselves out of their label contracts because once you sign to a label you can’t even release projects unless the label says YES.
They pretty much own you according to most contracts especially if you signed before you had enough momentum to sign on your own terms.
Imagine not being able to release your own music to your own fans because you would be violating terms of your contract…. lol. What kind of artist wants someone else controlling their creativity like that?
Build your BRAND so you know exactly WHO your fans are. Build your image and your social media presence.
Then…. have an incredible song that you can put a bunch of money into in order to use it as the first thing people hear from you as an artist.
Your entire focus will be to get that song into people’s ears and make them like YOU (Your Brand) for whatever reason there is to like you.
If you try to sign to a label without a BRAND already established or a RECORD they can push… You are going to get shelved until they groom you into what you need to be to sell records and that might not even be WHO YOU WANT TO BE. It will be who THEY want YOU to be.
And all for what? Sitting in the background working your ass off like you could have without them?
Except you wouldn’t owe a fucking dollar because you never spent their money on anything?
It’s damn near 2020, you can do anything thru social media.
Complete morons get a million followers on Vine for acting stupid in 6 second increments.
Build your brand and get your records together, build a business plan that you can bring to a financial backer.
Then find a financial backer who you can get to believe in you who gives you money for a return on their investment. You won’t be in the hole like you would with a label.
I can go about 20 more paragraphs into this but I am just saying what needs to be said in a nutshell.
You don’t need a label unless you already have so much momentum that you are already unstoppable. That’s when they want you the most for a reason anyways.
Once you get the money or if you already have the money… You just need to know what to spend it on.
Most of us don’t have money to just throw at growing our music career. I sure as hell didn’t.
BUT… if you have money and you know where to put it… you can grow your fan base VERY quickly.
It’s about being smart with your money.
How To Get Signed By A Record Label Fact #3
Let’s say you take a $10,000 loan from the bank.
You only pay 7% on top of that $10,000. So you pay back the bank $10,700
Now let’s say you sign to a label and they give you $10,000.
You have to pay them back from record sales and everything else agreed on.
But they also take a percentage of everything you are selling…. For example… you don’t get every $1 you make from things you sell… you only get 50 cents of it.
You pay them back $10,000 in 50 cent increments… basically that $10,000 loan cost you $20,000.
Then the label gets to continue getting paid from your stuff even after you pay them back or until the terms of your contract are met or ended.
This is because you are still only getting the 50 cents while they take the other 50 cents from everything you sell.
I am only using 50 cents as an example. Every deal is different with different stipulations and clauses etc.
This is why if you have rich parents it’s smarter to get a 0% interest loan from them and put the money in the right places.
If you feel like you already have the things required to sign to a record label you can get in contact with record labels by getting your hands on the music industry contacts list.
It includes contact information such as E-mail addresses, Addresses and other information of every record label in operation.
You can get that here Music Industry Contacts List
It looks like this
You can create your EPK and e-mail it to A and R and label e-mails you get your hands on.
You can create real press kits that stand out in the mail and actually send them to the addresses. If they stand out and are unique, labels are more likely to open them instead of the bland packages they received from all the artist.
For example, one time for a project I had I e-mailed all of the big rap blogs and radio DJs my press kit that also included a real full sized hammer in the press kit that said “I hope you like these bangers” and I got really good reaction from it.
Stuff like that lets people know I’m witty and different from other artist.
You can also do something like put a sticker of a shoe on the package and say “Now that my foots in the door give me a listen.”
I’d open the package, wouldn’t you?
If you are already Buzzing then record label A and Rs are already watching you even if you don’t know it.
Why? Well like any stalker they like what they see lol
They see you as someone who can potentially make the label money so they have their eyes on you until you develop and hit the point where you are monetize-able.
They are tracking your growth on social media, your interactions with fans, your releases etc.
Every time you do a live show, you need to act like an A and R is watching your performance. Live performance ability is a HUGE thing that labels consider before signing an artist because artist make a majority of their money through shows.
If you can’t perform… you can’t make money as an artist… right?
I remember hearing about how Kreshawn’s stage performance wasn’t up to par when she was signed but the label was working hard on making sure she was getting better as quick as possible so she could increase her show sales.
A live show is where people connect with the artist and become life long fans. If you don’t have a strong show, you lose A LOT of money in the long run.
I used to think that signing a label deal would change everything for me until:
1) I paid close attention to what record labels actually did
2) I watched every interview from every artist and all they did was talk about record labels fucking them
3) I signed a label deal and witnessed how it works for single project of mine
Don’t be tricked into thinking you need to get signed to a record label.
Don’t sit there and tell yourself that is all you need to focus your energy on because it will blow you up. It won’t do shit for you unless:
1) You have a 100% SMASH HIT RECORD.
2) You are buzzing more than a bee hive in a tornado.
Work on your records, your brand, gaining fans 1 by 1 and making sure that you are growing in all areas from mental to musical.
Record labels will come to you if the time is right…. and if the time is truly right…. it will be a bidding war between numerous labels.
Good luck my friend.
Again, if you want those music industry contacts and contracts here they are:
– T 3