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Finding a Record Label

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by Kruddler, Nov 3, 2012.

  1. Kruddler

    Kruddler Active Member

    Hopefully this thread hasn't been started too many times. I apologise if there is a thread on this already but I couldn't find anything that matches the question I want ask exactly.

    I've been producing music for a while. I wrote a full album about 1 1/2 years ago. It was a kind of experiment. I quite liked it so I kept producing. 6 months later I put together an EP that I felt was of much higher quality. The mix was decent and I got it professionally mastered, bought album artwork and printed a bunch of CDs. I gave away a lot of CDs and put the EP (along with my first album) on my website for download. I mostly did this for the purpose of getting my name out there and getting people in to my music. After this, I kept releasing tracks for download on my website and Sound Cloud. The basic idea was to create as much good will for my artist name as possible so as to develop a following. I think that my music is pretty inoffensive and to many people - probably a bit on the boring side. So, my Sound Cloud following as not really taken off.

    Over the last 6 months I've been building up tracks to release as another full-length album. I feel that this album will be better in quality again, and plan to spend quite a bit of time on the mix detail and getting it to sound just right. I feel that this album will finally be a truly enjoyable professional album. I plan on finishing it off over the next couple of months. But, I'm a little scared of releasing it because I want people to notice the event, and I want to create some buzz around the release. It's not necessarily about making money, but more about getting the exposure that the album deserves so that I've got a strong body of music that people know so that I can play in front of audiences and have some chance of them knowing my stuff. I feel that I have reached the limit in terms of self-promotion and would now really like to take it up a notch so that I can perhaps notch out some kind of musical career for myself.

    So, the question is, how should I go about approaching a record company with an album? I see lots of threads about approaching companies with demos . But, I figure that by demo, they mean a single track. This is a different situation. I will basically have a finished product. Should I get the album mastered before I approach the companies? Should I give the album in its entirety, or should I cut off the end of the song so as to not get my songs ripped off? Is there a way to verify that recording companies won't just pass my music on to people to sell as their own? Am I even barking up the right tree? Should I be looking for a record company? Or, should I just find one of those distribution type deals where they merely place the songs on Beat Port or iTunes and I have to do the self-promotion myself?

    This is new territory for me. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    PS: The type of label I'd be looking for is something like Warp, or Rephlex, but of I don't expect any labels of that calibre to be interested in my stuff. Would something like this service (http://www.taxi.com) be a good idea? I wouldn't think thank big record companies would really be looking for my obscure brand of ambient electronica.
     
  2. BobbyRose23

    BobbyRose23 Active Member

    This is just my opinion, Take it or leave it. I found myself in a pickle when I wanted to do my own studio and I am hardheaded and hate putting up with other people. Not to mention corporate people in suits won't make my attitude any better. If your already putting this time and money into something your passionate about, release this yourself and have a promoter worry about shows, maybe find people in your area that do the same thing and do one show for your cd release party. No one knows and loves your music more than you!

    I am going to start an 80's hair metal Band, so I am going to record in my home studio (after its set up and I have a house). I am going to self release because we are in the age of social media, I thought going to cd baby doing CD's and Digital download cards so people who attend get a bang for the buck and get to see a great show. I am releasing it under my own record label pretty much, i'm funding it. So my friend is joining me in it and we are going fun our own projects under the name!

    I hope you really don't worry about record companies, do things yourself and make sure you have fun with it, I hope this helps!
     
  3. Kruddler

    Kruddler Active Member

    Thanks for your input.

    Of course, this is my gut feeling as well. I'm not really interested in working with other people too much if I can avoid it. I think everyone would prefer it if they could magically click their fingers and then suddenly their album is getting sold all over the net.

    I guess the difficulty for me is that I would really like someone else to help with the promotion. When you have a record label with some clout behind it, you basically get a kick start.

    I guess though, that the nature of record companies in completely changing. There used to be a strong distinction between recording companies and distribution companies. The former would engineer, record, mix and master your music and take a very large cut, while the latter would get your CDs in to stores. The delineation is nowhere near as clear these days. Record companies barely even do any of the production work these days (except for maybe the mastering). Record companies seem to range from the mega fauna like Warner and Sony etc. to small collectives of artists who bunch together to promote each other's work in a particular genre. I'd be happy to find a record company like that: something that releases stuff similar to my style and has a following behind it so that I get the benefit of their collective interest and exposure. It also helps when those groups tour because the artists from a particular label tend to do a lot of shows together.

    Out of curiosity, have you sold many albums and made a decent following? If I thought I could go it alone, I certainly would, but after having my music on the net for a while now, I've come to notice that a) people are very reluctant to part with their money, and b) people ignore you all the time unless you are pushing new free stuff directly in to their face.
     
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    My family and many friends have been in this business for years. Some famous. There is a saying we all share. "Talent is 10% and the rest is hard work" Some people make it on sheer talent and luck, but most I know took a few good beatings and never broke stride. They also never took no for an answer and took every opportunity to network. I never got to where I was relying on someone else. If you wait for it, I don't think it will ever happen for you.
    People will only let you down. People need to see money in you for them to stay with you, sign you, whatever. As soon as you are empty, you're dead. So, the more you are able to survive on your own, and understand what makes it all tick, with talent too, you have a better chance during the times you take that beating.

    You have to be good at networking and building a following one way or another to make it in this business. It was easier when I was younger than it is now. If you are great, they will come. Agents and leaches will be everywhere. The question is, what do you do from here?

    "Show me the money". What a great line.
     
  5. Kruddler

    Kruddler Active Member

    audiokid. You're right. You're obviously right.

    But, what question exactly are you answering? Are you saying that I should go it alone and not approach any record companies at all? I do realise that ultimately, it's up to me as to how much self promotion I do, and up to me as to how I can be smart about making money from the music industry. But, my question really is about whether or not I should be approaching record companies, distributors, or merely trying to sell the album myself. What do you think about that?
     
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Okay, we are on track here.

    Make sure you are protected and then send your material out to everyone you can. Thats what I meant basically. They will come and believe me, if you are really hot, its a rush when you have a bidding war going on. That's what you want. The idea is to get your ducks in a row and BLAST yourself out. Start a buzz. This is how you make Luck happen.

    Stay away from friends when you are marketing yourself. They will drive you nuts. Stay away from crazy makers. You want to surround yourself around people with positive energy that like you. Put your energy into people that make you feel good about yourself. Trust your instincts and don't let impatience lead your common sense.

    When I'm writing and creative , I stay away from everyone. I just write and do do do until I am done. EMPTY. Then I build what I created.
    When I am in marketing mode, I look for people who want to make money. Doors open and present themselves. But once you start, keep it rolling. That's the best advise I can give you.
    There is no one way. But what I would do for sure is don't put all your eggs in once basket.

    Different publishing companies are looking for certain styles at any given time. Its all about business and whats hot, now. Find who is doing what on what labels. Look for label competitors. Publishing companies are looking for what the other guy is doing. They talk each other.

    Does this make sense? I have no idea what you do. Do you perform?

    I think there are a few books on this but to be honest, they are a bit dated because the internet has changed the way we buy and sell music. But you mentioned label so I'm giving some tips on what I learned when labels were the thing to do. I still think this hold true, but we also have more freedom to be on our own.

    Hope this helps.
     
  7. Kruddler

    Kruddler Active Member

    Thanks audiokid. How can I protect my material? In Australia we have something called Apra. Australian Performing Right Association. You can register tracks with them in order to get a copyright on tracks. Is this what you mean? Seems like a real pain in the bum to get registered though unfortunately.

    So, I understand you correctly, you would suggest sending my material off to every single record company that is within the realm of what I do. Is that right? You don't sound as though you are recommending shooting for a record contract, or a distribution contract, it sounds as though you are suggesting blazing away and contacting whoever I can.

    As for creating a buzz - I already have a modest following. It's not much but its a start. The point of this exercise is to expand upon the following I have.

    To answer your question - I don't currently perform. I'm kinda stuck on that one. I'm not a DJ but my music is all electronica. So, what am I gonna say? "Hey everyone! Come and listen to my music and watch me hit the play button in Ableton!". My music is headphone music plain and simple. I wouldn't listen to my music live.

    My music is not going to be hot now, or ever!

    I make old school ambient electronica. Nobody listens to that style anymore. Nobody cares.
     
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Look, the bottom line here is, you want to get yourself out there and for people to hear your product. It takes money to make money but not always. That was the business modus operandi of years past. Today, we have the Internet. So how to get people to hear your stuff? It's simple. We have all sorts of freebie Internet sites where people get to illegally download all sorts of their favorite groups. Many record albums have been posted on YouTube, not by the folks who created them.

    Coming from an advertising and marketing background, I'd say, you could actually ride on some other groups shirttails on one of these Internet sites, hee hee. And here's how to do it. Simply label your work as that of some other popular superstars tune. Then include a little voiceover to introduce yourself and your deceptive policy. And roll on into your song. They might stick around long enough to listen? You won't be taking anything away from some other multimillion dollar popstar they didn't post their music on the site you are using. So all is fair in love and war. I know this sounds goofy but it's a little akin to the bait and switch game. Which ethically is illegal. But you're not selling anything. Not really other than yourself. And this might spark controversy which is actually free publicity. You're not going to get arrested for posting your own music with a misprint. Especially when the other artists music isn't supposed to be there anyhow. So you're aiming at just the right demographic group to begin with. The folks who want new music and don't want to pay for it. Which from a business standpoint makes no sense. But then, it's music and it's not supposed to make sense because it's art. So ya get to take and use your poetic license. And if somebody asks you for your poetic license, take out something by Walt Whitman. Sam Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain? Or just recite the limerick the man from Nantucket.

    Who had a studio so small he said plug it. He said with a grin as he posted his bin, if you thought my song was good I'd say pluck it.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    This is of course just my opinion, remember that too. There is no one way for anyone in this business.

    Apra, yes, we have Socan. You need something played on the air to be registered. They take samples of what's playing and pay you. Until you are on the air, there is no reason for them to work for you. Its a partnership.

    You mentioned Label, this is a bigger step than i think you are wanting. You should call one in your area and talk to them.

    yes, make sure your music is protected regardless. But yikes, its a wolrd of samples now so I have know idea what its all about in Electronica. You need to learn the business part of that. There are music lawyers.

    From your answers then I would ask these questions:


    • Who is your audience?
    • What are you selling that warrants a label to invest in you? Remember that it cost money to make money. Time is money.
    • What do you want from this business? A modest living? Why would a label invest in something that is hard to sell?
    • Why do you need a record company?

    No matter what you are selling, you need to know who is your audience and IMHO, be able to take that on the road.
    But I don't know the electronic world. Maybe your music is ideal for gaming?

    I would hope that your country has is own artistic support programs. Here in Canada we have FACTOR
    http://www.factor.ca/default.aspx
    This is a great place to start too.
     
  10. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Is one thing to remember about any kind of copyright. It can all be stolen. The only thing to protect you is really an entertainment attorney and that costs big money. If somebody likes you or song all they have to do is invert a couple of cords, change a couple of notes around and it's theirs. So if the rich person wants something of yours and doesn't want to pay for it they only have to hire an arranger. And you're screwed. It's that simple. Remember if you got money, you can travel. If not, copyright is going to stop no one. It's a phallus, see? And that's what you get. Pop music is simply a different type of lottery to play. And if you don't play, you don't win. So work the Internet, it's there for you.

    A record label will only sign you, today, if you can prove you already have a healthy sales track record of your own. FUGAZI tried to get a label but couldn't. They released their own product, stocked the stores, kept track of all of their sales. When it sold nearly 500,000 copies, that's when they were contacted by the record labels. It was then that they told the record labels to go screw themselves. And we haven't heard from them since. What's that tell you? They sold nearly 1,000,000 copies on their own. So perhaps they are all retired today? And that was almost 20 years ago now. Before the Internet was as heavily entrenched as it is today in our lives. So use folks', illegally posted music to advance your own. It's sneaky and underhanded and it could possibly make the news? That's free advertising. There's nothing anybody could do if you post yourself as Britney Spears, Metallica, Foo Fighters, anyone like that. Especially if you're not posting any of their music.

    Or ya could just cut bait?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  11. Dr_Willie_OBGYN

    Dr_Willie_OBGYN Active Member

    What style of music are you doing?
    Really the key is to get exposure through radio airplay. SoundCloud is like a haystack while you're the needle. Honestly you'll easily get more exposure on YouTube than SoundCloud.
     

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