Part I: The Role of Record Labels

Welcome to the first part of my ‘constructive notes’, penned whilst attending ‘Face The Music 09’ Conference. I transcribed as much information as possible, so I can help you develop as an artist/band and give you some sort guidance as to how to get your music out there.

Blogs to be posted are about the following:
• ‘The Roll of Record Labels in Developing Artists Careers’
• ‘Music Publishing and Distribution’
• ‘Business Models For Indie Artists’

PLEASE remember, these are guides only. My shorthand is rusty and I don’t own a dictaphone. Don’t go suing me for misleading information, I’m just the messenger with cockroach handwriting.

There’s a lot of info so I’m breaking it up in several blogs over the next week or so.
Feed back welcome!

Part I: The Roll of Record Labels In Developing Artists Careers

Once Upon A Sound Booth….
In the good ol’ days, the more traditional approach for labels was to find the talent and help develop them. Someone who could sing a good song, through them into a studio and fund the entire project. Though it’s not a step that’s completely scrapped, it’s simply rare form (more so for major labels – apparently).

Most labels nowadays don’t simply listen to a demo you’ve mailed, then make the big decision to sign you based on that alone. Fair enough too, it’s a business investment in the end, so there’s more to it.

DIY: Earn Your Stripes..
Though labels assist you to build a public profile, the more you do, the better and easier the relationship will be. They can help in other areas you can’t reach, whilst working on what you’ve already put in place. Most importantly, labels will help you connect with the one thing you want the most, the market! They have the links, distributors and networks, nationally and internationally.

Aretha Sang it: “R.E.S.P.E.C.T”
We all want it. If the opportunity to sign with a label, independent or major, comes along, put your cards on the table. Don’t breakdown the five year plan you’ve put together since you were thirteen. Be realistic and explain what you would like for your first release.
They’ll tell you what they expect from you and vice-versa. Listen to what assistance they’ll provide. If it’s not what you’re after then don’t sign. If you agree on things that aren’t your cup of tea, DON’T SIGN and think that you can try negotiate later. That’s the start of a rocky friendship. Be honest.

Get Unplugged….
I mentioned that it’s rare for a label to sign talent based on the listening of a demo they’ve received in the mail. It’s like buying a car, looks good in the showroom but how does it handle on the road? They need to make sure you’re versatile. Can you cut it performing live? Are you focused and connecting with the crowd? Or are you too busy trying to get the bar tender’s attention for that third and final free beer the venue owes you for the night?

Cameo One: Here’s my personal advice to all of you.
I’m gonna throw it in, take it or leave it:
Each time you play to a live audience do all of the following:
1. Perform like it’s your first gig.
2. Perform like it’s your ‘farewell to the world’ gig.
3. Perform like you’ve been doing it all your life.
4. Perform not because you need to but because you believe in the music and what you wrote.
5. Sing the song like you mean it!
6. Perform like it’s the ONLY SHOT YOU GOT!

Play every dive, keep yourself propped up on a stage and your name on the chalkboard outside the venue!
Word gets around. Do it right and some A&R may come around to check you out eventually.

Part II of ‘The Roll Of Record Labels to follow in next blog…

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