Tips and things for approaching Labels

Jogging House hat neulich einen Post veröffentlicht, der mir zur Zeit aus der Seele herausschreit. Eventuell habt auch ihr gegenwärtig mehr Zeit um Musik zu machen, die ihr gern veröffentlichen wollt. Zur Zeit ist der kreative Output aber besonders hoch und ich denke, aufgrund der anhaltenden Situation auch nicht unbedingt ringer. Mr. Jogging House hat auf seinem Patron-Kanal eine schöne Zusammenfassung an Tips veröffentlicht, die helfen, einen Überblick bei Demos und Labels zu behalten. Ich hoffe, Du bist mir nicht böse, Mr. Jogging House, dass ich dein Content 1:1 übernommen habe ;-)

As many of you know, I run a little label called Seil Records. And by doing so, I receive a lot of demos by artists from all over the world. So over the time I gathered some experiences on what inquiries work better (at least for me). And I thought I’d share what I consider a decent way of introducing your music. Of course I can’t speak for other labels, but my guess is, their experiences might be similar.

First off: Be ready for disappointment. Finding a label is really tough and a bit of luck is involved, too. Most small labels simply don’t have the capacity to squeeze your music in, even if they like it. For a label with the size of Seil, one release per month is A LOT. But I easily receive enough well made demos to release an album every day.

Now that we got that out of the way, here are some tips:

1. Be honest to yourself

Try to evaluate as objective as you can, if the quality of your music is on par with other releases on a label. Deep down you will know if you are really ready or just enthusiastic.

2. Mastering is not necessary

I often receive mastered albums. Which is fine, but it also means that an artist could have saved some money just sending the unmastered version. Many labels will have one or several mastering persons at hand and will most likely get a better rate than individual artists. But if there is a specific mastering person that you trust and consider an essantial part of your sound, that is a different story of course.

3. Demo Policies

Make sure to check the demo policies for each label you want to approach. Find out if they are receiving demos and how they want to receive them. Some will simply not listen to your music, when you send it the wrong way.

4. Use email

Unless mentioned differently in a demo policy, only send out emails. Don’t send messages on social media. And don’t write something like ‘I couldn’t find your email address, so I’m writing you here’. There is always an email address.

5. Don’t send follow-ups

If you sent out your mail, that should be it. The label will have received it and made a conscious decision to either check out your music or not. As frustrating as that may be. If you send follow-up mails it will only lessen your name for future inquiries.

6. No Mass Mails

If you receive a lot if demos, you can tell if a mail is writting for you or just copied and pasted. Take the time to write an honest personal message to your desired labels. This will also help you to filter out the countless addtional labels you would have included in you mass messages.

7. Be brief

Keep it short and sweet. A few sentences about you, an equal amount about your album. That’s it. You can share your life story after the label showed interest in your music.

8. Use Soundcloud

Yeah, Soundcloud sucks. I personally don’t like it at all. But it is still the best option to share a streaming link. With things like Dropbox or Google Drive, you can’t listen to all tracks in a row (at least I can’t) and things get even more complicated on mobile. If you don’t have an account, you can just create a dummy account. The only reason not to use it, is if the label requests a different kind of service in their demo policy. Or if there is another service that basically works the same on all devices (and then please let me know what that is).

9. Don’t send out too many demos

In the first round, only chose the labels you like the most and find the most fitting for your music. On souncloud you can see how often a demo was played. If these numbers are too high, it will be in your disadvantage.

10. Share some socials

For me personally, an artist’s number of social media followers isn’t super important. That may vary from label to label. But in general, it is nice to know that an artist is active in some way or another. Just so the label isn’t all alone in promoting a release. It is also a decent way of finding out more about you, should they be interested. I’d say just include links to your 1-2 most used platforms.

11. Don’t send out released music

A link to a release on bandcamp is not a demo. If you want to release your music with a label, keep it secret from the public until that happens. And should you think, that it does not matter if your music is public or private since you don’t have that many followers anyways, you are mistaken. A bandcamp release with no (or only a few) supporter badges underneath it might even give a label the impression that your music won’t sell.

12. Let the label decide how they like your music

This one is really personal, so please just take it as that. But I would highly recommend not writing something like ‘Here is an album that will fit your label perfectly’. The label people will know what they like when they hear it. In my experience, only bad restaurants will mention on their menus that their food is delicious.

13. Don’t let it bring you down

Seriously, don’t. I’ve been on both sides. And I know it can be soul crushing. By deciding to send out demos, you are basically asking the world to hurt you. But a decline from a label (or no answer at all) is not a statement on the quality of your music. Stay on your course and keep at it, no matter what. If you feel the process is too hurtful, think about self releasing your album. It is also a good way of learning more about promoting yourself, which in return might help you to get the attention of a label.

FAZIT: Nehmen wir uns das zu Herzen und halten uns vor die Augen, dass wir keine «Stars» werden und wenn doch einwenig persönliches Fame dabei herumkommt, freuen wir uns dann über das kleine Taschengeld für eine Tasse guten Kaffees! Als kleinen Zusatz zum Lesen empfehle ich: 16 Things to avoid when approaching a Record Label.

Wie vielleicht einige von euch wissen, leite ich ein kleines Label: EndTitles. Jogging House’s Punkt 6 ist allerdings das No-Go #1 für mich. Falls jemand von euch, der das gerade liest, niemals eine Antwort von mir bekommen hat – das ist der Grund. Bleibt persönlich, zeigt dass es euch wichtig ist und achtet, dass die «An»-Zeile einen einzigen Adressaten enthält.

Quelle: Patreon, Productionmusiclive