How to Get Signed to a Record Label in 12 Steps - EDMtips

How to Get Signed to a Record Label in 12 Steps

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Getting signed to a record label is often a huge milestone in any music producers career, so I've put together this 12-step guide to help you do exactly that.

In this article, I share with you how I released a record on a decent label with no followers, no contacts and no track record, and how YOU can do the same.

To get signed to a record label is not always the best option – especially nowadays, as we can do a large amount of what labels actually do in terms of promotion and marketing – but sometimes it IS the best option.

It opens doors and opportunities (if you target the right labels), and you make contacts, build a reputation, and benefit from the label’s network.

(Watch the video, and/or read on below it...)

"I wanted to first build a platform and then use it to shine a light on music/people that I believe in. This record label is for people across all corners of the world, to showcase all genres of music."

DJ Snake

The most important step, of course, is to MAKE THE RIGHT MUSIC THAT IS GOOD ENOUGH! If you want to learn HOW to make the kind of music that a record label would be interested in, click here.

I ran an experiment a couple of months ago, looking to get signed to a decent label without mentioning my track record, or dropping any names of people I’ve worked with. Of course, my music had to be good enough, but I’m assuming you already know that’s essential 😜.

After a couple of weeks, EDX’s label “Sirup Music” signed my new track, "Don't Wanna Lose feat. Nat Conway" (you can listen to it here).

EDX has worked with Deadmau5, Tiesto, Calvin Harris, Armind Van Buuren, etc. and released a whole host of awesome house music over the years. This was a good fit, and I knew it.

So, in this article we are going to go through the 12 step process I used to get signed. Here is a summary of the steps, and then we’ll go into more detail:

1. Choose 1 or 2 labels to target.
2. Make GREAT music that’s right for that label.
3. Sort out a professional-looking SoundCloud profile.
4. Research other artists on that label and make a list.
5. Check their social media. Highlight those with less than 30k followers.
6. Reach out and provide value to them. Help them. Build rapport.
7. Be genuine and ask if they’ll check out your music.
8. If they say yes (and only then), send them a private SoundCloud link.
9. If they like it, ask if they could share it with someone at the label.
10. If they DON’T like it, ask for honest feedback.
11. Keep the relationship going. Be cool. Don’t spam.
12. Build the snowball effect. Be professional. Give, give, give.

WARNING! Don’t make this mistake!
OK, first thing’s first. If you are targeting a larger label, don’t bother sending your track to the demo inbox. These guys get hundreds of submissions every week (most of which suck), and the chances are that yours will slip through the cracks. This is amateur, and we’re going to be a bit cleverer in our approach.

OK, without further ado, let’s jump in!..

How to get signed to a record label with no contacts, no followers and no track history.

get-signed-to-a-record-label

1. Choose one or two labels that you want to target (in the same genre that you produce).

The key here is FOCUS. Don’t shotgun your demo out to 50 labels. It’s a waste of time. Focus on one, two or three labels that you’d be happy releasing your music on.

For example, your first choice might be Spinnin’, then you might have one secondary choice. You target Spinnin’ first, then your second choice if you’re unsuccessful.

2. Make suitable (and awesome) music for that label!

You won’t get your music signed if it’s not good enough OR suitable for that label. This is the price of entry, and doesn’t even need mentioning.

So, how to make music that’s good enough? Well, here are some ideas:

Check out the latest music in your genre on that label. Use it as a reference. Here are some particular points you’ll want to focus on:

  1. The drop or chorus. Make sure it’s “in-keeping” with the vibe of the label.
  2. The breakdowns. If you are releasing on Anjunabeats, your breaks will be much longer than on Spinnin’, for example.
  3. The arrangement in general. If the other tracks on your target label are 3.5 minutes long, make sure yours is a similar length, hitting the same amount of peaks and troughs.
  4. Make sure you have a unique twist. You don’t want your music to be a carbon copy! Make sure you have an original idea or twist in there. It doesn’t have to be huge…just distinctive. For more tips on creating your signature sound, click here.
  5. Ensure your mix and master is absolutely bang-on. You can do it yourself (click here to find out how), or you could pay a professional to do it.
  6. Get feedback BEFORE sending your music out to record labels. They really don’t have time to give feedback. You can join a couple of Facebook Groups, Reddit, SubmitHub.com or the EDMtips community, and get real feedback from people who know what to listen for. Don’t ask your Mum for feedback; she (probably) doesn’t know what to listen for, and she’ll not want to hurt your feelings!

3. Sort out a professional-looking SoundCloud profile.

Next, is sort out a professional-looking SoundCloud page. It doesn’t have to have loads of followers, but you’ll want it to look good. Make it as easy as possible for the label to say “this guy / gal is serious, and has a strong brand identity. We can work with this”.

How to do that?

  1. Check out the profiles of similar artists on your target label, and use them to guide you in terms of styling, logo and photography.
  2. Again, add a unique twist so you’re not a carbon copy.
  3. Use a website like airtasker.com, fiverr.com or upwork.com if need help with design or photos.
IMPORTANT: When you upload your track, MAKE SURE IT’S A PRIVATE LINK! If it’s public, a label won’t be interested as they’ll have already lost exclusivity before you get started.

4. Research other artists on that label and make a list.

Ok, you might actually do this before sorting out your SoundCloud profile.

Go to your target label’s website and check out the artists that are producing in a similar genre to you. Make a list of them.

5. Highlight those with less than 30,000 followers.

Then, check out their social media profiles, and highlight the ones with 20, 30 or 40 thousand followers. They’re big enough to get signed by the label you love, but small enough to respond to fans.

6. Provide value before asking for anything.

Now you want to start building a relationship with some of these guys, providing value to them without asking for anything in return.

Here are a few ideas of what you can do:

  1. Comment on several of their tracks.
  2. Share their music on social media, tag them, and let them know specifically what you love about their music (be genuine).
  3. Add their music to your Spotify playlist(s).
  4. Record a video of you and friends rocking out to their tracks at a party or club. Share on social media and tag them.
  5. Head over to their website and find an email address. If there are any broken links on their site (it does happen, especially as social media channels come in and out of fashion all the time). Drop them an email letting them know if you do find a broken link.

7. Ask if they’ll check out your music.

If you’ve spent a week or two helping them out, you can then message them saying something like “Hey man, I’m really digging your music. It’s right up my street. I’m a producer, too, and I’ve just finished a track that I think would fit right into your set. Would you mind if I sent you a link?”. Obviously, use your own words!

8. If they say yes (and only then), send it.

Great, you now have permission to send them your private SoundCloud link!

Let them know you appreciate their time, and write something like:

“Thanks, man! Here’s the link:

*PRIVATE SOUNDCLOUD LINK*

If you could let me know what you think, I’d really appreciate it.

Be as brutal as you need to be 😆.

Cheers,
Bob”

They will be receptive, as you have a genuine relationship, and you haven’t just been the same as the 100 douchebags that email them out of the blue saying something like “Check this out…my new track is LIT! 🔥”. HINT: It’s almost certainly not “lit”, and you’re certainly an inconsiderate d**k.

Also, you’re inviting them to give genuine feedback, rather than them just replying “yeah, it’s ok” which is much easier.

9. If they like it, ask for a little help. You may then get signed!

If they like it, GREAT! Good work…you should be pleased. Then, you can let them know your intentions for the track (i.e. you want it released on that label), and ask them if they’d mind passing it on to someone at the label.

Now, you don’t know what will happen. They might say “sure thing!” or they might say “it’s not for this label, but I know another guy who’ll love this”.

Either way, if your music is on-point, some doors will open.

10. If they DON’T like it, don’t get disheartened.

If they don’t like it, ask for some feedback….something like:

“I really appreciate you having a listen. Is there something in particular that lets it down? I’m always trying to improve and your opinion will really help”.

This is a great opportunity to learn.

However, if it’s just a personal taste thing for them, and you’re convinced your track is indeed “lit”, you can go through that process with a couple of the other artists on that label.

If you get 3 people saying it’s not for them, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and tweak your track or write a new one.

11. Keep the relationship going.

Once you’ve built a relationship, you should be able to send them through one or two new tracks through a month.

If the music is awesome (make sure it is), they’ll appreciate getting the exclusives as they can play them in their DJ sets.

The main thing is to be cool…continue to help them out, and don’t be spammy.

12. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

At this point, your foot should be well and truly in the door, and this is the time to REALLY get to work.

You may have had your track signed to your label of choice (or another good label through suggestions and contacts), and you want to shine here.

Offer to remix other tracks, or if someone on the label wants to collaborate, go for it. Basically, keep giving value, show up, be professional and show you can be relied on.

This is will pay dividends in the future.

And there you have it! My 12 steps showing you how to get signed to the record label of your choice with no contacts, audience or track record.


Takeaways:

  • Make it as EASY as possible for the record label to say “yes!”.
  • What are they looking for? Give it to them….with a twist.
  • Go in the “back door”; start building relationships with other artists on the label and look to provide value before you ask for anything.

Remember, the most important step is to MAKE THE RIGHT MUSIC THAT IS GOOD ENOUGH! If you want to learn HOW to make the kind of music that a record label would be interested in, click here.

Any questions? Let me know in the comments below! 😎

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About the Author

My name's Will Darling. I've been making and playing dance music for over 20 years, and share what I've learnt on EDMtips. Get in touch on Facebook.

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