The 'Outside The Studio Series' is a new series of articles written by Producer Loops, which covers topics related to your music, but not specifically production-related. The series will provide you with tips and tricks and guidance on how to get closer to becoming a fully-fledged, professional music producer. We'll try and help you out with issues that don't have to do with DAW's, synths or which bassline to pick, etc.. The series will give you guidance on what to do once a track is finished, how to develop yourself as an artist, and much more. First up in this series is a guide on how to get signed. Enjoy...
So, you’ve made this incredible track? You've spent hours, days, if not weeks or months perfecting it? This one’s surely got to be it? It’s definitely the best track you’ve ever made. All of your mates agree that this track needs
to be heard, and not just by the local radio station or club you’re spinning tracks at on the weekends. This one could go global. So, how can you take this track to the next level?
Have you passed the online test?
Is this track really
as good as you
think it is? Is it as good as your friends think it is? Firstly, you’ll need to make sure that your friends are being brutally honest
with you, and not just sheltering you from the truth. If you’re unsure and want a second opinion before trying to get it signed (and we strongly recommend you do this), then why not post it on your social media pages (making sure you copyright it first). Alternatively, you can share it on one of the many social media platforms and producer groups out there. It's essential that you get unbiased and impartial opinions about the track, so you know what's working, and what isn't. Sometimes, we all need a reality check, but if you get the same feedback online as you got from your friends, then you've passed the first test? So what now?
Step up your online presence:
If you've only got 120 likes on Facebook, 3 followers on Twitter, and your bio says nothing more than "I like music"
, then it’s time to seriously up your game and invest in your online presence. Add a few lines to your bios, explaining who you are, how you got into music, what your music or project is about and what you’ve accomplished so far. Not an accomplished writer? No problem! Get a professional biography written by a professional copywriter. There are countless copywriting services online, some of them even specialize in writing for musical blogs, and artist/band pages, etc. We’re not saying that you should buy
new followers and end up with thousands of fake likes, but you might want to step up the amount of posts you send and increase the quality of your content. Forget pics of you eating a sandwich, or goofing around! You need to be posting professional press shots, studio updates, news about where you're gigging, with photos of you on stage (if you're gigging) and interesting re-posts. Keep your followers engaged. If you need press photos then find a local photographer. Meet with them for an informal chat so you can discuss photoshoot ideas, show them artist photos you like and explain why you like them. Ask them if they can achieve what you need? If not, move on and find a photographer who can. Finally, if necessary, work with a stylist to get your image right. You may not be the best-looking guy or gal in the world, but having the right "look" will get you so much further in the music industry, which can be a superfical place at times.
When uploading your tracks to Soundcloud, add artwork which looks visually appealing, matches your musical style, and looks PRO. Don't know any graphic designers? Head on over to Behance.com
, and find a graphic designer who can create that awesome imagery which your track deserves. Make sure that everyone who follows you KNOWS how serious you are about your music. After all, labels will check you out online
before signing your music. If they like your track, but they can't see any evidence of online presence or that you're taking this seriously, or that you have (at the very least) the foundations which they can use to create a potential "brand" for you as an artist, then they're less likely to work with you. Labels generally like working with professionals who take their music extremely seriously. Wouldn’t you do the same if you were them? Think like a top label, think PRO, and you're going to get further!
Get DJ support:
Sure, labels like exclusivity. Sure, labels want to run the promo on a track they signed. But if you'd like to get their attention first, then make sure you get your track to a promotional mail-out service. There’s plenty of them out there that offer to send your track to a reliable database of DJ’s. If Armin van Buuren plays your track, that tells the label you’re trying to get signed to exactly how much potential you have as an artist/producer. If you’d rather go for a more personal approach, collect promo email addresses of your 25 favourite DJ’s and send them an email. Some DJ’s are more eager to reply to a simple email from the producer themselves, rather than adding feedback to a promo mailout that’s been sent out to the masses.
Find the A&R’s:
If you don’t know any A&R managers personally, try to find out who they are. They say everyone’s six handshakes away, so there’s always someone in your network who can hook you up, either by forwarding your track or sending you the email address of the A&R you need. They’re the ones scouting talent and listening to demos, but with the sheer overload of demos these days (big labels such as Dim Mak, Spinnin’ and Armada Music get more than 100 demos a day), it’s better to have them in your network than to be another ‘nobody’ in their inbox, which may get ignored.
Make a list of the labels you’d like to be signed to, then start off by contacting your Top 3 labels first. Wait one week, and if you've not heard back then send a friendly
email reminder. If you’ve gathered DJ support, or had radio play, then add that information into your email. It’ll give you a head start. Other than that; keep it short, tell them a bit about yourself and what you’d like to accomplish and why you think your track would be a great fit for their label. Add no more than 3 tracks and make it as easy as possible for them to listen to. Make sure you also include numerous ways that they can contact you. Use a private Soundcloud link or Dropbox to let them hear your track(s). Sending tracks as attachments is a crime in promo land, so don’t go there.
Be patient & friendly:
A&R’s are busy people, so be patient, and even if you don’t get a reply to your one week reminder email, never
give up on your goals. Reach out to some others labels instead. When you’re lucky enough to get a reply, but it includes some negative feedback, don’t be disappointed. Instead, use that professional feedback to improve on your productions and artistry. The most successful people turn negative situations and experiences into positives. Use negative criticiscm to improve your skills and when you've overcome the negatives, approach that person again. If you’re 100% confident that the track is exactly the way it should be, simply move on to another label that does
see the potential in you. Even the biggest stars don’t always start their career at the big labels. Building a solid discography with multiple releases on small(er) labels can help you to quickly build a fanbase and grow as an artist. Rome wasn’t built in a day! This is a process, don't be impatient.
Or use some of the tips from these successful artists and find out how they got signed:
Martin Garrix: "I sent tracks to the A&R department of Spinnin’, which also handles Sander van Doorn’s label DOORN Records and got the chance to release my first track, “Error 404,” on it. It was pretty successful and we decided to work together from there."
Hardwell: "I was just uploading all my remixes and bootlegs for free on my website and out of nowhere, radio stations started to play my bootlegs. One of the bigger record companies heard the track and contacted me — that's how I got signed."
Oliver Heldens: "Tiesto was following me on Twitter, and he supported my older tracks. And then I sent Gecko a direct message and within 15 minutes we’re Skyping, and a week later I met him in Amsterdam, during ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event)."
Nervo: "We were 19 when we got our first publishing deal. We were working as session singers in a studio in Melbourne. There was one particular producer who encouraged us to work on our writing as his publisher really liked our material. His publisher plugged our songs overseas and then we were offered a few publishing deals in the U.K. We ended up signing with Sony/ATV when we were 19 and moved to London. At the beginning, we left it up to our publisher to place songs, however as we met more A&R execs we would deal directly with them and pitch direct. We found the whole process of speaking directly with A&R’s very satisfying. It was great to speak directly to the creative teams and work out what they want. As time went by and we proved ourselves as writers, we would be given the opportunity to write directly with the artists."
So there you have it. We've given you the road map and some initial ideas to get you started along your journey to success. It's now up to you to drive your music forward. Just realise that Rome wasn't built in a day, follow these steps, even if you only follow one or two of the ideas, and you'll be closer to your goal. Thanks for reading this! And good luck!