A message from our sponsors, Horus Music.
Are you looking to get exposure in the worldwide music industry?
Every year we attend Midem festival, which is the largest business-to-business event in the music industry. We’ve been attending Midem for the past 10 years, so we have a significant presence while there.
Would you like to take your career to the next level?
If you’ve been trying to get a deal with record labels, managers, etc. this could be your lucky day. This year, we are looking for artists from all genres to represent at Midem.
This means, we will attend Midem on your behalf and hold meetings with top industry delegates. We will be looking to get you the deal you’ve been looking for. Our reputation means that we can secure meetings that others simply cannot. We will create a tailor-made EPK that will include your music, videos, bio and other relevant content that will be presented the relevant contacts and executives.
Why are you doing this?
We’re dedicated to helping musicians further their careers, this is something we do on a daily basis. We know that there is no better place than Midem for helping musicians get the opportunities and exposure that they’re looking for.
What can I expect from Midem?
Each artist is different and we never guarantee any specific outcomes. However, the more high-quality resources you have then there’s a higher likelihood that you’ll get the results you’re looking for.
In recent years, we’ve had artists that have received licensing deals with Detour Records, French and European promotion through Music Media Consulting, management and recording deals with Animal Farm, synchronisation deal wit O’Neill’s surf brand, publishing opportunities in GAS territories, booking agent deal with Kir Tomkinson as well as opportunities to tour Brazil and China.
What happens after Midem?
When we return, we will follow-up with each of the people we met and provide you with a full report detailing who was contacted, what meetings were organised, what comments were made and the outcomes of those meetings, along with other information that could help you when it comes to finalising deals. A copy of the EPK that we used can also be provided upon request.
How do I get involved, and what do I need?
For a small one-off payment we will attend Midem on your behalf and you will retain full rights to your music in this none exclusive deal and will keep 100% from any deals that are made, we will help you make the contacts you need to finalise your own deals.
All you need to do is get in touch here and send us more information about you, as well as links to your music, and if we like what we hear we can go ahead and start preparing your EPK.
Like all indie labels, I receive a high number of emails from musicians requesting that I consider their music for release. Some of these emails do all the right things in terms of how they approach the subject, but many do not. Here are 5 things to avoid to help you get signed to a record label.
If you’d like to get signed to a record label, I hope my advice will be of use to you. Please note: these are my personal opinions and thoughts on this subject will differ, sometimes wildly, from label to label.
1. Don’t Come in Half-Cocked
First impressions count, and chances are, you’re only going to get one chance with each label you approach. Make sure you include all relevant info — things like your name/band name, links to your music, and perhaps a brief biography, reviews of your music and so on.
2. Don’t Send Unfinished Tracks
Demos are fine, of course, but I’ve had people send songs that even they admit aren’t finished yet. “I just need to write a chorus” or “I’ve not worked out the ending yet” aren’t things that you’d expect to hear from an artist who feels they’re ready to take on the world.
3. “I’ve Just Found your Label!”
Appearing out of nowhere rings alarm bells. For me personally, it strikes me as odd when someone who has not previously engaged with the label makes contact — it suggests that they’ve just Googled “indie labels” or similar and found a handful of labels by pure chance. Much like the above point, it smacks of throwing enough doo-doo at the wall to see what sticks — and no-one wants to be on the receiving end of that doo-doo.
Where possible, approach labels you know and love. If you don’t get the response you’re after, look into similar labels, and do your research on them before contacting.
4. Avoid the Copy-and-Paste Approach
Perhaps even worse than number 3 is the generic or copy-and-pasted email. You know, one that’s been sent to hundreds of labels at once, in the hope of a response from at least one of them.
No-one likes to feel like they’re disposable. Tailor your email to each label you approach — the personal touch goes a long way, as does a little research on the label itself.
5. “Hey Indie-Pop Label in Barcelona, We’re a Sludge-Metal Band from Wisconsin, US…”
This is a two-parter. One: it usually best to approach labels based in the same country as you. They’ll likely be better equipped to handle the music scene and marketplace in your area. Two: if the genre you fit into doesn’t fit with the label you’re contacting, you’ll be wasting your time and theirs. At best, you’ll get no response, and at worst, you’ll get yourself a bad reputation.
I sincerely hope this advice is of use, and helps you get signed to a record label. If all else fails, start your own label…
Written by Lewis from The Adult Teeth Recording Company
Whether you are signed to a major label or an independent label these are the jobs that you should expect your record label to be doing for you. Knowing the difference between the two can be very useful when you are approached by them.
Major labels or large independents will have different departments that look after each task. They have more money and resources but may limit your creative freedom.
Smaller labels will give you more creative control but have a lot less money and resources. They will employ just a handful of people that will look after the manufacture, recording and promotion of your record.
What Does a Record Label Do?
- Labels provide you with money so that you can make music and manufacture your record. They foot the bill for your recording process including paying for your studio time, the producer, engineer etc.
- Record labels will find you a suitable producer to help you create the best album possible. They may also have an art department that will develop your album artwork and website.
- The promotions division should create a strategic marketing campaign for your release involving press, radio, and TV appearances etc. A strong marketing campaign will increase the chances of a successful album release.
- Record labels are in charge of the distribution of your record. If they are a major or big indie label then they will use their own distribution services. Some smaller and independent labels may use outside distributors such as the brilliant Horus Music.
- They will sublicense to other record labels to release the recordings in different territories. This is done by licensing the use of the recorded material to them. This allows a local company to use its expertise in a territory.
If you know what help you would be looking for from a label, you know which would be the best option for you to sign with.
Maybe you’re looking for international music deals with publishers, labels, or a brand sponsorship. Maybe you’re looking to expand where you perform and build new audiences. This is about getting deals in different territories, where they can be obtained and what to do once you have the meeting.
What is Midem?
In the middle of January, the world’s music community gather together in the South of France for Midem. Midem (Marché International du Disque et de l’Edition Musicale) began in 1967 and is the largest trade fair for the music industry. It’s a real diverse mix of people and companies from all areas of the music industry.
Types of participants who attend include:
- Artist managers.
- Labels (of all sizes from small independents to the majors such as Universal) Distributors.
- Tour managers.
- Accountants and lawyers.
- Festival bookers, venue bookers (Live Nation).
- Promotions / PR people.
- Brands (such as Coca-Cola, Swarovski, Durex, Heineken, HTC, Ford, Nike).
- Brand Agencies (Grey Group).
- Games Makers (Activision).
- Stores (Apple iTunes, Google Music, Amazon, Deezer, etc.).
- Technology companies (Sound Cloud, Topspin).
The appeal of international music deals are very exciting. It’s not unheard of for an artist to have little success at home but make a wonderful musical living overseas. The music industry is not just about managers, labels and publishers, there are so many more important partners. So if you want international music deals, there really isn’t a better place to be.
The music industry was a different place before 2000 and deals were so much easier to obtain. Today in 2013, any company looking to make a deal with an artist has to be much more careful.
How Do you Get a Deal?
Being on the pitch is a great start to being a part of the game, but it’s not enough to win. So what do you need to get a label deal or publishing deal?
We’ve been attending Midem for years so we’re familiar with what companies look for before offering a deal. So what important information do you need to tell them?
- A small amount of information about your background and how you got to where you are now. It’s important you keep this to the point and not tell long stories about your childhood.
- What releases have you done? Do you have sales sheets for these releases?
- What gigging and tours do you do? Where do you do it? Do you have any previous, current and future tour schedules to hand?
- What press, radio and TV do you achieve or have achieved?
- Do you have a music video and a live video they can see?
- How pro-active are you with your fans and in gaining new fans? Do you have thousands of fans on social media and do you speak to them daily?
- Why do you want a deal in a particular country? Do you have a lot of fans from there and can you back it up with reports from Facebook etc?
- What sort of deal are you looking for?
- What are you offering (e.g. all recorded music plus future or just one album etc.).
The above applies to all meetings, not just label or publishers meetings, but meetings with gaming companies or brands. Before anybody invests in you they want to know what your fan reach is and how hard you work.
Some Final Advice
A meeting may only last 15 to 30 minutes, so you need to keep your information to the point. It’s best to keep it professional and business-like. You need to be friendly too as business is about building good relationships. However, you don’t have much time for chit-chat so find a balance between being friendly and approachable vs. being professional and giving precise information.
Finally make sure you have done your homework on the companies you’re seeking international music deals with. Does the company deal with the music you have for example? Do they have history in your field?
There is no doubt that the music industry is one of the most competitive industries in the world. Finding a record deal can take what seems an eternity. For many, getting signed to a label means years of hard work, busking on cobbled streets and wearing rucksacks filled with free EPs that are given to passers by.
With the help of online media platforms, marketing and promoting music has become easier and more cost effective. As the industry adapts to technological advances digital sales have sharply increased; with 6 million albums downloaded in 2011, a 24% rise on the previous year. Sites such as Bandcamp and Soundcloud are two platforms that enable artists to distribute their own material. They can do this free of charge and from the comfort of their own homes.
Getting Signed: What’s Changed?
2011 saw the introduction of the popular and expanding media platform SBTV. Founded by Jamal Edwards back in 2006, SBTV has been tagged as the ‘UK’s leading online youth broadcaster’. SBTV is based on a simple concept of filming upcoming and undiscovered talent and posting the videos online. The concept behind Jamal’s idea seems simple enough, however SBTV has somehow managed to accumulate over 166,000 YouTube subscribers and a staggering 92.5 million+ views. Seeing as there are currently only 1,384 videos on the channel, this is a remarkable set of statistics.
With the industry being as vast as ever, many new and upcoming artists have collaborated and toured with artists from other genres. Halifax-born signer songwriter, Ed Sheeran exploited this with his ability to work with different genres such as Grime and Hip-Hop. He began his career at the age of 14, touring London and playing over 600 gigs in 2 years. It all began after meeting his idol, Damien Rice while backstage at a gig. Sheeran has become an inspiration for many artists who choose to use a DIY route. This enables them to step into the mainstream territory and potentially bag themselves a record deal.
Sheeran used simple methods of marketing and distributing music while handing out free CD’s from rucksacks, on tube stations and in popular shopping destinations in London. In February 2010, SBTV contacted Sheeran and agreed for him to perform the track “You Need Me”, live in a studio.
Here is the original footage of Ed Sheeran’s live performance on SBTV:
How Did Ed Sheeran Do It?
Since then, the performance went viral it has now received over 5 million views, becoming an online hit with fans of both Sheeran and SBTV. The platform has given artists the chance to make the step from independent to mainstream. It has also helped talents such as Ed Sheeran, Rizzle Kicks and Jessie J to secure record deals worldwide. In 2011 Asylum/Atlantic Records snapped up Sheeran, 4 days after releasing No.5 Collaborations Project in January 2011. The project featured a host of Grime artists such as Devlin, Wretch 32 and Dot Rotten. Later that year, Sheeran’s debut album ‘+’ hit the shelves, producing a number of top 10 singles.
Artists such as Sheeran, and acoustic sensation Ryan Keen, have been touring endlessly for years. Touring is vital for those who aim to build hardcore fan bases up and down the country. Contacting media platforms such as R&R Productions and SBTV are great ways of distributing new material on a global scale. Online media players like Soundcloud enable artists to upload material for fans download and listen to later. For those who are relying on self funded releases, Facebook and Tumblr allow users to create pages dedicated to promoting video and audio content as well as information on upcoming gigs and tours. For those who are regular performers at local venues, Ustream is an online broadcaster that enables users to stream a live video to worldwide audiences. In 2011 Ed Sheeran used Ustream to broadcast a live gig held in a fan’s living room.
Getting Signed to a Label
With the introduction of these new online experiences, promoting new music couldn’t be easier. For new artists to succeed and develop, new doors must be opened which may lead to unexpected successes. Build up the fan base first; they are the ones who will guarantee sell out tours and sales. Websites, blogs and online profiles related to the artist should be updated on a weekly basis as these will be the first sources A&R will look at. Sheeran has proved to people that you don’t have to attend Brit School to make it in the industry. Constant gigging, saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity given to you and then taking advantage of the new media platforms, have proved to be effective for artists looking to swap busking on the streets to recording in the studios.