Congratulations, you’ve finished your track and you now have reached the point of an important decision.
Do you want to release it on a label or are you gonna release it myself?
You see, releasing your music on a label isn’t the standard go-to option anymore.
The reason for this is that it has become easier to release it yourself throughout distributors online and since labels don’t always add value to your release anymore, this might be the better choice for your release.
That’s something that has changed in the last few years.
I won’t go really deep into that specific subject right now but if your interested to know more about the reason why sometimes it’s better to release something by yourself, check this video.
Let’s say that you’ve chosen to release it through a label.
- What’s your next step?
- How are you gonna reach out to them?
- What is gonna make you stand out from the crowd?
In this article, I want to go deeper into the mind of the label.
What is a label exactly looking for and what can you do to get signed?
We’ve reached the point where mailboxes are being ignored and most of the music actually gets signed through through a label owns the network.
One of the reasons for this is that the quality of music, unfortunately, isn’t at its highest level at this moment.
A lot of music sounds the same and a lot of musicians are copying each other.
You might say there is a lack of uniqueness in the music industry.
Why do you think artists like Oliver Heldens, Don Diablo and Martin Garrix are doing so well?
Exactly, they have their own sound. They’ve created something no one else did.
That brings us to the first thing that labels are always looking for, uniqueness.
They aren’t looking for a Hardwell or Martin Garrix look-a-like, they are looking for something new.
And to quote Barney Stinson: “New is always better.”
Being unique isn’t easy, that’s why there are so few artists who actually are successful in their musical career.
Now I’m not saying it’s impossible to make a living out of music if you’re not unique.
I’m saying that creating something unique will make things easier for you.
One of the things that labels are also looking for is a long-term relationship.
They don’t want to be that one-night-stand where you’ve just released one single and left without leaving your phone number.
They want to build an actual relationship where you can both trust each other and build a future together.
There are a few reasons why labels are more interested in long-term relationships then they are in short-term relationships.
One of them is investing.
Question, did you ever bought a two hundred dollar bracelet for your first date?
Probably not… And why didn’t you?
That’s how labels think about investing in your career as well.
If you just released one single and they’re not sure if you will stay with them after it’s released, they will probably not invest that much time or money into your release.
If you can give them some kind of security that you will stick around for a longer period, they might be open to talking about possible investments.
‘Sticking around for a longer period’ means agreeing on a few options in your agreement or signing a deal for a certain amount of time.
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If a label is going to invest in your career, they would like to see something in return as well and that ‘something’ probably is a return of investment a.k.a. profit.
Since most releases don’t make that much profit anymore in today’s music industry, the label would like to have a lower risk by signing more of your tracks.
Why do labels think about money when it’s all about the music?
Because it’s a business as well and businesses need to make a profit.
The creative part is really important in this industry but the money part will never be forgotten.
Remember: “Music is a business and business means money.”
Since we’re talking about money anyway, let’s dive a bit deeper into this;
Labels are looking for something that is sellable.
I know that by saying this a lot of people will disagree with me but I’m pretty sure that if your label doesn’t want to make as much money as possible on your release, you might want to look for another label.
Why? Because more money means a more successful release and isn’t that what you are aiming for?
Let’s break this down. What does ‘sellable’ actually mean?
It means that your product (a.k.a. your music) is so good that people are actually willing to spend money on it.
So, when is your track good enough for people to spend their money on it?
The answer is simple: If they like the track on its own or if they are a huge fan of the artist brand.
One thing that a lot of creatives are wrong it is that they think that they are the ones who decide if their track is good enough.
Wrong. The audience will decide that for you.
The strongest point of a good label should be knowing their audience.
They pick music from which they think their audience will like it.
Why is it so important to them that their audience likes it?
Because the audience is the people who are spending their money on it and are responsible for the label’s profit.
“Music is a business and business means money” remember?
One thing that labels are also interested in is the fanbase that you’re taking with you.
The reason for this is that the bigger the fanbase, the easier it gets to sell the track and create more awareness.
You are actually making their job easier if you bring a big crowd.
It’s really hard to (maybe even impossible) to persuade someone who isn’t interested or doesn’t even know your music into buying or streaming your music.
If you bring a fanbase, you actually bring customers who are already 100% interested in their product (a.k.a. your release).
And bringing customers who are already interested in buying your music means more money for the label and an easier job to make the track successful.
Besides earning more money and having a more successful release it’s also about the promotion of their own brand.
You might consider releasing your music on a label as a collaboration in some kind of way.
You are both interested in getting a bigger reach by using each other’s channels
You are both interested to get more followers by using each other’s channels
You are both interested in creating more sales
This actually all happens when you release your music on a label.
You will both promote each other, grow your audience and get more sales if you combine forces.
Now that you know what labels are looking for, what can you do as an artist to increase the chance to get signed?
- Create your own sound and be unique
- Be open to a long-term relationship with a label if they are able to add value to your releases
- Understand that music is a business and your release needs to make a profit
- Bring a fanbase