You sure play good music; But how could you make sure people listen to it? The labels support groups and artists financially, but also profit from them. Labels are looking for established bands that have proven they can attract a good following. Getting the attention of a label is not easy. Develop your music and performance, make a recording and you are ready to take the next step in the music industry!
Part 1 of 4: Developing the Music
Step 1. Look at the competition
To improve your performance, observe the musicians and bands that you admire and that have already signed with a label. What do they do that you don't? Think about their image, their music, and the way they relate to their fans. What works in your presentation? What could you do better?
Learning their songs and performing them could be a useful exercise. Find out how they compose their music. What can you learn from them?
Step 2. Be professional
To be successful in this business, music must be your life. Record labels won't invest money in you and hope for the best just because you're a "promising talent"; They will want to invest in polished, professional artists who make a profit. You have to dedicate yourself completely to this career and give it your all. Show them how professional you are by dedicating yourself to your art, your product and your image.
Step 3. Practice constantly
Practice until you can play each song even in your sleep, until the drummer memorizes each letter, even if he doesn't sing. Take time for rehearsals every day and focus on writing new material. Make the best music you can.
- Record your rehearsals and then review the recordings for ways to improve.
- Polish your presentation in the privacy of your rehearsal space. Take a chance when no one is around to notice.
- With enough practice, the quality of your concerts will reflect your professionalism and dedication.
Step 4. Evaluate the commercial possibilities of your music
You have to find a balance between the artistic vision and the commercial focus of your music. It might be great to explore the art direction of your experimental jazz opera with rock elements, but labels won't want to sell it. You have to make music that a large audience is interested in. Does your grandfather like your music? What about your friends? Could someone who doesn't speak your language like your songs? Think a bit about the audience.
- Make the music you want to make, but have realistic goals.
- If you don't want to compromise your vision, you may have to reconsider your desire to record with a major label. Focus on developing a group of fans who love your angle in the world of music.
Part 2 of 4: Getting Followers
Step 1. Start looking for local performance contracts
When you've put together a solid set of material, start looking for contracts to perform at coffee shops, bars, or other venues that host musicians in your area. Before signing a contract for a concert, look at the shows that are presented in the possible stages. Make sure the type of people who hang out there enjoy the style of music you play.
- In the beginning, play once or twice a month, until you have a consistent group of local fans. Then you can start playing weekly at some venues in your area and broaden your horizons to regional events.
- Don't plan a bigger tour until you know you can play all your songs, weekly, without a hitch.
Step 2. Play with bands like yours
The best way to build a following is by joining other local bands or a "scene" that already has them. Go to the concerts of the local bands that you like and ask if you can open for their next shows. Invite them to watch a rehearsal or show them the music you have posted online.
- You can also schedule your own concerts and ask other bands to play with you. Maybe they will return the favor.
- Keep in mind that it might be rude to ask an experienced and popular group to open your little, unfamiliar show. Out of respect, offer to show up last or let them choose their own space.
- When you join a "scene" and are part of a community, the other bands will be more willing to share resources and advice with you. If you have to borrow an amp or need some contacts to record in a studio, turn to these new relationships.
Step 3. To keep in touch with your new followers, promote your band on social media
Announce presentations and post any recordings you've made. When labels sign new bands, they look for those who already have a consolidated image.
- The most popular social networks among older users (18 to 34 years old) are Facebook and Twitter. However, Snapchat, Vine, and Instagram are more popular with younger audiences (14-17 years old).
- Encourage your fans to take a look at the work of bands you've played with before. If you cultivate a presence in the middle, people will be more likely to notice your work. It will be difficult to get someone to come to your presentation on a Saturday night if you didn't show up on Friday.
Step 4. Make great shirts
Compared to a professional recording, T-shirts are very popular products with a low production cost. People like to buy things at concerts, and T-shirts are a great way to earn some money. Not only will you make money to keep your band going, but you'll get free publicity every time someone wears the shirt!
Swap shirts with other bands so you can wear them on stage. Cross marketing benefits everyone on the scene. When the scene is strong, everyone in it has a better chance of landing a record deal
Step 5. Take your presentation elsewhere
You don't want to play on the same stage too often, as you could start to bore the regulars. Show up at other venues and stages to build a larger group of followers in your area.
- Schedule a small tour with a few other bands and visit some cities where one of you has a friend with a big basement to stay in.
- Call local festival organizers and find out when admissions start.
- Sign up for band contests sponsored by local radio stations or concert halls.
- Ask someone to film your presentations and find out how you could broadcast them on free-to-air television shows.
Step 6. Save
The first time you get hired to give a paid concert is exciting: You did it! You are earning money for playing! Spending it all on a celebratory party is tempting, but don't do it. Open a specific bank account for the band and save as much money as you can.
- Use that account only for "band expenses." New guitar strings, an upgrade to equipment, or renting a rehearsal room will cost money.
- To sign a contract with a record label, you will need a well done demo and, generally, that material costs.
Step 7. Post your music videos on YouTube
YouTube is a powerful free platform that allows you to spread your music to a wide audience. Many successful musicians started their careers on YouTube, from Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen to Soulja Boy and Cody Simpson. Make yourself known to the public that is beyond your locality. You could potentially win new fans around the world.
- Make a recording of yourself, or your band, performing your songs. You won't need fancy equipment - the built-in camera on your computer or phone will suffice.
- Open an account on YouTube with the same data with which you access Gmail.
- Upload the videos to your account. This process is very simple, you can even do it from a phone.
- On your social media accounts, share links to your music. Make yourself known! Probably the people who are not willing to go to live performances may be the ones who click on a link and find that they like your music.
Part 3 of 4: Record a Demo
Step 1. Find a studio and reserve a few hours
Recording an impressive demo is a great way to get a record label's attention, and your fans will like it too. It includes some of those songs they love to hear when you play live and some they haven't heard yet.
- The cost of renting an hour of recording in a studio can vary, prices fluctuate between fifteen and two hundred dollars, for the first recording. In general, engraving a matrix (recording from which copies can be made) costs more.
- Given the high cost, limit yourself to recording one or two of your best songs. Plan in advance how to record them quickly and efficiently.
Step 2. Plan your time in the study
Recording engineers and producers organize recording sessions differently. Make sure to focus on your part of the deal (the song) as much as possible. If you know your material backwards and forwards, you won't need multiple takes to get it right.
- Find out what the facilities and the process are like before booking somewhere. You have to know if the members of the band will feel more comfortable recording together as a band or if they prefer to do it each separately. To what extent do you want the engineer to lead?
- Do not record with instruments and equipment that you are not familiar with. It's tempting to flutter around fancy guitar amps and pedals that you couldn't afford, but that will eat up your time in the studio. You also don't want your demo to contain sounds that you won't be able to reproduce on your own.
Step 3. Record your best original songs
Do not include any cover in the demo, or anything very different from most of your material. Think of your demo as the band's resume. Which song best represents your music? What songs do fans like the most? The demo recording session is not the time to entertain yourself with the brand new song you haven't mastered yet or to try to start a new freestyle beat. Record what already works.
Step 4. Try recording on your own
With a decent laptop and some cheap microphones, you can professionally record audio and upload it to the internet in a single afternoon. To avoid the high costs of the studios, the bands, more and more frequently, make their own recordings. Save money for other things, like traveling and buying better equipment.
- If you recently purchased a Mac, it may already have the GarageBand recording program installed. If not, you could buy it from the Apple app store for a small fee. Apple also offers Logic Pro X, a program that has more professional features, but costs a lot more.
- Audacity is free, open source recording software that works on computers with Windows, Mac OS, and GNU (Linux) operating systems.
- Explore options for recording during presentations, free or for a low price. Let your friends open for your next tour in exchange for recording your presentation, free of charge, with their equipment.
- Ask around and see if any other bands have gotten a deal. Musicians are often willing to share information if you are also willing to share it.
Step 5. Share your music
Today's technology allows you to bring your music to a large audience, easily and inexpensively. You have to take advantage of this advantage! Share videos and recordings of your music for free on YouTube and SoundCloud. The process to create an account is simple and allows you to reach a large audience.
- You can directly request iTunes to distribute your music, but they review all the material before making a decision. Maybe you can use an external "aggregator" to help you show your best face to get a rate.
- Spotify does not work directly with artists. Get the label, distributor, or aggregator to contact them to distribute your music.
- Focus on increasing your popularity and don't worry about making a profit yet. The industry is moving away from the disk model and opting for one based on popularity on the Internet. If you get a million views on YouTube, a label will contact you.
Part 4 of 4: Taking the Next Step
Step 1. Research record labels
It is not convenient to give the demo to labels that do not work with bands that play music of the same style as yours. What label do your favorite artists work with? Do you accept unsolicited demos?
Step 2. Contact the labels that suit your style
Once you have a solid list of potential labels, find their addresses. Send them the demo or the press kit and let them know the music you have posted online. Make a follow-up call and make sure they get the package.
Step 3. Think about hiring a manager
If you already have some success, an experienced manager will be a great asset. Managers know the weaves and drives of the industry. A manager might be able to help you schedule better gigs and find an entertainment industry attorney when the time is right.
- Make sure this is really what you want to do. Is it your vocation ?, since you may dedicate a large part of your life to it.
- If you don't get a contract, don't be discouraged. Dedicate yourself to making your followers happy. If your group of fans is large enough, people will listen to you.
- Some people just aren't photogenic or don't look good on video. If you are one of them, acknowledge it. Experiment with your look and find out what you need to do to look your best in a video.
- Find out your six degrees of separation. You never know who knows who. That might help you get a manager.
- If you can't get in touch with the producer, aim higher! Every person has a boss and if you keep quiet, no one will hear you!
- Allow yourself to learn. Listen to the comments and respond constructively. Make the necessary improvements; don't mistake artistic integrity for a lazy or sloppy output.
- Having a band is like owning a business. Sometimes you will have to get rid of someone who does not contribute and replace him with a person who helps you move forward.
- Consider auditioning for a television talent show, as these are good opportunities for bands to get noticed. Even bands that don't win often get a lot of attention from labels.
- Go to talent shows.
- Do not sign any contract without reviewing it carefully and without receiving legal advice.
- Remember that not all managers will be your friends. Various rules, terms and conditions apply. Just because you're the main attraction doesn't mean you can do whatever you want; most of the time, you won't. Choose wisely.