What Record Labels Are Looking For When Scouting Artists
What Record Labels Are Looking For When Scouting Artists
So you have hot beats, your rhymes are on point and you even got major swag. What happens now? Is releasing ‘good’ music enough to get you signed?
Although much of the industry is revolutionizing how it does business, certain aspects of it have remained the same. Every act should be doing shows consistently and selling CD’s along with merchandise. That being said, stay up to date with approaching new ways to sell your music. Artists need to see forward-thinking movement. One example is, state-of-the-art mobile apps that allow you to charge your fans by credit card, on the spot! If they just want mp3’s, you can charge them right away and have a link automatically emailed to them to download your album. Selling units is of the utmost importance. Record companies want to see that you can move units without their help. The bottom line is, if you can’t sell records on your own, labels no longer have the interest nor the resources to sign and develop you.
Are you completely inspired by Drake and want to sound just like him? I didn't think so. However, does his sound subconsciously influence how you sound? There is an interesting balance that should be considered here. Record label A&R’s love to hear familiarity in acts they are scouting. However, don’t (by any means) be a copycat. Borrowing elements of the hottest pop music of the moment can be used sparingly, but incorporate your own unique approach! Yes you are an artist, so you may feel inclined to write music that defies genres and sounds like it’s from the year 2040. Just keep in mind that a good song is like a good meal. Most people who like pizza, may be apprehensive of trying a duck burger over their favorite pizza. The argument then becomes, who is your target audience? Yes, many people eat duck but statistically pizza is consumed by millions more (also due to availability, supply etc). In this case, we are talking about record label A&R’s. They don’t want to market and sell a duck burger, they’d rather take a pepperoni pizza, add a dash of duck to it and voila! It’s all about a balance of pop appeal, uniqueness and believe it or not, talent. Just remember, you shouldn’t be 10 steps ahead of radio, but make sure you are a good 2-3 steps ahead.
Social media is so unbelievably important to record labels considering signing a new artist. Immerse yourself into this invaluable tool now. There are so many different ways to expose your music on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other sites (including the 45,000 sites that will launch by the time I finish this sentence). Once you have a product, you must spend a large part of your day submitting your music to blogs. The exposure a positive blog review can get you, can help propel you to another level. One of the most effective online campaigns, comes in the form of viral videos. Shooting clips can be done on quite the budget nowadays, so explore this idea as much as your resources allow.
Always remember that networking is one of the most important aspects of your career in the music business. The corny record producer from your neighborhood that you don’t like? Keep in touch with him. He may launch a label, get a distribution offer from Universal and be looking for music like yours! You never know, one person could change your life. All things considered, you absolutely should never burn bridges in this business.
If you take into account the aforementioned details and combine them with talent, hard work and persistence, there’s no limit to what goals you can reach!
Last week we shared some thoughts on the debate over "Payola" or pay to play on radio. Keeping with our radio theme, Bruce Warren, Program Director for WXPN in Philadelphia (and someone who has personally brought numerous unknowns to the national stage), shares practical advice to increase the amount of airplay for your music. Take a listen and get all the details behind these tips:
Do your homework - learn all you can about the stations Know the rules - look for stations that are playing music similar to yours The battle is waged online - you need to have a social following Touring - you've got to be playing in the area at some point Label or no label? - Bruce doesn't care, but the music quality better be good Promoters - sometimes they help, but not always Tip #5 says you need the highest production value for your music. Check out Mastering from Universal available through TuneCore. You'll pay for 3 tracks and get the 4th track free.
What are you doing to increase your radio play?
How To Avoid Serious Mistakes When Choosing An Agent
How To Avoid Serious Mistakes When Choosing An Agent
Role Of An Agent If you want to succeed as a live act in the music industry, you will likely need an agent. Agents strive to find great gigs for their clients at good venues and earn a nice commission in the process. Although they are also often involved in commercials, television events, tour sponsorship and other areas, music agents don’t generally have quite the same status or influence as those in the film business. This article contains some useful information on selecting the right agent for you.
Fees Agents should not receive income from any aspect of recording or songwriting (with the possible exception of film music) and they should NEVER ask for this.
In the US, music agents are regulated by the union AFM (American Federation of Musicians), which allow them to charge a maximum of 10% (it can be more in some instances, but agents should agree to this 10% limit).
Some agents will take a lower percentage at around 5% for artists who generate substantial revenues at concerts. This rarely happens for film and TV unless you are a big player in these areas. They may also offer a sliding scale where they drop their percentage as you earn more, which can work out really well for both parties.
It is very important you check what is right for your situation.
Negotiating A Contract The agency will probably ask for 3 or more years, but you should only grant them one year. This way, you can ditch them if things don’t work out, or try to negotiate bringing their commission down if you start to really progress as an artist.
If you do decide to go for more than a year, make sure you have a clause in the contract so you can exit each year if they or you don’t meet certain targets.
Choosing An Agent If you have a manager, you’ll only deal with your agent occasionally, meeting them at your gigs or to discuss setting up a tour. Most of the time, they will talk to your manager. You should feel confident in allowing your manager to find an agent for you, although you should make the final decision.
If you don’t have a manager, you should be very particular about choosing an agent as they will report directly to you. When you pick an agent, ask yourself, how hard will they work on finding great shows and concerts for you?
Are they powerful and well connected, with one or more major clients and happen to be extremely enthusiastic about you and your music?
If you’re a megastar, this should not be a problem, but if not, then it is very unlikely they will have a keen interest in working hard to find those lucrative gigs for you or your band.
Remember it takes more work to establish a new artist compared to one already at or near the top and which one do you think pays more?
Although you can find a reputable agent like this, it is rare and you may find it better to find a young and enthusiastic agent who will work day and night on getting shows and concerts for you. Check their credentials and find out if they come recommended from a trusted source.
3. Partnering with others for a mutual benefit Crowd funding campaigns can very quickly become about me, me, me. This is especially true when creating the rewards. And rightfully so in many cases… after all, this whole experience is about taking your fans, followers and customers on YOUR journey. But why not get others involved in this journey? This was the question we presented ourselves, and decided there was absolutely no reason not to! So we reached out to several other friends and allies in the music industry and social media space to take part as well by offering up products and services for the reward packages. We help them to connect with their target audience, and in return they help to continue to drive attention to the campaign. Win-Win. 4. Creating ALL of the content needed for the campaign There are two obvious pieces of content that you need for a crowd funding campaign:
Campaign Video 8 to 9 Levels of Rewards But something that we completely overlooked was the truly overwhelming amount of OTHER content that we also needed in order to launch the campaign, including:
Reward Graphics Webpages Blog Posts Newsletters Expanded Campaign Videos Video Testimonials Ad Banners Skins (Backgrounds) for Social Media Accounts 5. Overcoming the Fear… One of the biggest complaints about crowd funding is the fear of failing, but something that we personally came across was a different kind of fear. The fear we found felt resistance from sharing Ariel’s dream. This isn’t just ‘help me build a new product’… this is ‘I’ve got a dream and it’s in your hands to help me achieve it’. We found it incredibly difficult to find the RIGHT way of saying just how important this is to Ariel personally, not just to us as a company, without it coming off as cheesy or cliche.
Share Your PRE-Preparation Experience Ariel’s first campaign just launched on Monday, so this list certainly shares some insight into our PRE-prep journey, but it may not be comprehensive. For those of you who have also launched a crowd funding campaign, what else did YOU do to PRE-prepare for your campaign? To check out Ariel’s fan funding campaign and all that we’re doing, go to: http://bit.ly/ArielRockethub
5 Things Needed To PRE-Prepare for a Crowd Funding Campaign BY: ARIEL HYATT
Over the last several months, I’ve been helping Ariel to prepare for the launch of her crowd funding campaign (which went live on Monday!). While we were doing our research, we came across article after article saying the same few things about crowd funding preparation that we already knew about:
You need to have an existing fan base - crowd funding is NOT a discovery tool. You need to understand your target audience and create not only compelling rewards, but also a compelling story/ journey to bring them on. But what we finding to be most unexplained was even a step further back from this. The crowd funding PRE-preparation… There are so many things that we needed to decide on that we have never even considered, and we want to share some of these things with you for your own crowd funding campaigns:
1. Choosing the right platform There are several platforms available for crowd funding. While many of them seem to offer a similar experience to those funding the campaign (fund a campaign and in return become apart of an experience - oh yeah, and receive some pretty great prizes), choosing the right one for the campaign creator (us!) wasn’t easy. For us, it came down to understanding the focus of the platform itself, so that their support would be as effective as possible in planning, creating, launching and beyond.
We ended up choosing Rockethub because of their focus on educational products. We knew that Brian Meece and co. would be able to support our campaign and help us create an optimized experience surrounding education. And even though we love Rockethub, they have a limit on the character number for each reward descprition.
We were fortunate enough to pack each prize to the rim, but the character limit made it so we had to create a new page just to properly list out each reward.
2. Deciding the timing of your campaign It is a natural thought to start out of the gate with all of the cards on the table, but we learned that it is actually far more effective to continuously update the campaign with more and more as time goes on to keep interest high and persuade those still on the fence about which package to go with (or for those on the fence
about funding the campaign at all).
Image Credit: Sponsume
As with any launch, there is a long tail effect where the launch starts with a bang but then trails off, slowly fizzling out as time goes on. It is important to plan out the campaign so as to counteract this effect, keeping interest high throughout.
Why Music Venues Are Totally Lost: An Open Letter from a Professional Musician By Chris R. at CD Baby
Jazz musician Dave Goldberg wrote a pointed and darkly humorous open letter to LA club owners that I thought was worth sharing. In it, he argues that it’s actually a counterproductive practice for venues to book bands who are willing to work for free. And when I say “counterproductive,” I mean it’s bad for the venue’s business.
To read the whole letter, click HERE. But below are a few of the highlights:
Just the other day I was told by someone who owned a wine bar that they really liked our music and would love for us to play at their place. She then told me the gig paid $75 for a trio. Now $75 used to be bad money per person, let alone $75 for the whole band. It had to be a joke, right? No, she was serious.But it didn’t end there. She then informed us we had to bring 25 people minimum. Didn’t even offer us extra money if we brought 25 people. I would have laughed other than it’s not the first time I’ve gotten this proposal from club owners. But are there musicians really doing this? Yes. They are so desperate to play, they will do anything.
But lets think about this for a second and turn this around a little bit.What if I told the wine bar owner that I have a great band and we are going to play at my house. I need someone to provide and pour wine while we play. I can’t pay much, just $75 and you must bring at least 25 people who are willing to pay a $10 cover charge at the door. Now wouldn’t they look at you like you are crazy?
“Why would I do that,” they would ask? Well, because it’s great exposure for you and your wine bar. The people there would see how well you pour wine and see how good your wine is. Then they would come out to your wine bar sometime. ”But I brought all the people myself, I already know them,” they would say. Well maybe you could make up some professional looking flyers, pass them out, and get people you don’t know to come on out. ”But you are only paying me $75, How can I afford to make up flyers?”
You see how absurd this sounds, but musicians do this all the time. If they didn’t, then the club owners wouldn’t even think of asking us to do it. So this sounds like a great deal for the club owners, doesn’t it? They get a band and customers for that night, and have to pay very little if anything. But what they don’t realize is that this is NOT in their best interest. Running a restaurant, a club, a bar, is really hard. There is a lot at stake for the owner. You are trying to get loyal customers that will return because you are offering them something special. If you want great food, you hire a great chef. If you want great décor,you hire a great interior decorator. You expect these professionals to do their best at what you are hiring them to do. It needs to be the same with the band.You hire a great band and should expect great music.That should be the end of your expectations for the musicians. The music is another product for the venue to offer, no different from food or beverages.
When a venue opens it’s doors, it has to market itself. The club owner can’t expect people to just walk in the door. This has to be handled in aprofessional way. Do you really want to leave something so important up to a musician?
You can read the whole article @ http://diymusician.cdbaby.com
How to Book Your Band’s Tour, Step-by-Step BY: SIMON TAM
Once you’ve decided that you want to and are able to tour (and you’ve figured out the why’s), it’s time to plan the how, when, and where’s. This is what I do.
Decide on a Date Range. I strongly recommend that you plan, at minimum, 4-6 months in advance. Booking a tour requires months of contacting, follow-up work, and filling in gaps. Some venues book at least 6 months out in advance, some only one month at a time. You’ll also need plenty of time to market, promote, and contact local press. Choose Your Tour Route. Decide the general direction where you’d like to go. Chances are that you will probably have to make adjustments along the way. Some cities are easier to book than others. Decide how much you want to drive per day (I recommend spacing venues out 50-400 miles apart, depending on the region). and if you want any days off. Big cities have more venues to choose from but often times require a “pay to play” option or will hardly pay you at all. Smaller towns outside of the city tend to pay more and are sometimes easier to book. I also recommend sticking to major highways (such as booking along I-5). Begin Contacting Venues. Start by looking for venues along your tour route. Websites like Indie on the Move, byofl.org, and onlinegigs.com are free, searchable databases. You can also buy more details (and sometimes reliable) information from Billboard Music (they offer a touring guide for about $20), The Indie Venue Bible (about $100), and more. Most promoters prefer email. Some still use Myspace, some use the phone, some have their own contact form. Whatever it is, find out their preference and stick to it. Don’t use one generic message or method (nobody like spam) and answering the question on their mind: How will you make the venue money? How will you bring people in the door? No venue cares about how “good” your show is if you’ll be playing for an empty room. Nearly every venue would rather hire the crappy local band that can sell the place out over a touring, professional band that can’t even get their guest list to show up. Follow Up With the Venues. Most promoters are inundated with messages and are constantly juggling dates, bands, rentals, and other events. Get a confirmation, make sure you are on their website. Check in to see if they want posters mailed to them, see if there are local media contacts you should be following up with. If a promoter gave you a “hold,” find out what you need to make it a confirmed show. Follow-up again one more time before you leave for tour. If You Have Gaps…and chances are, you will…have a back-up plan. If a show doesn’t pan out and if want to fill the date, start thinking creatively. You can contact nearby towns, check Craigslist to see if someone wants live music for their party or corporate event. If you’re out of venues, try doing a search on Yelp or Google Maps for live music. Contact local radio stations, record shops, bookstores, skate shops, church groups, roller skate arenas, restaurants, malls, any place where you might make a good fit. Hot Topic used to allow touring bands to do an acoustic set (some stores still do). Ask your friends/fans in the area if they want to do a house party. Or, begin contacting all of the venues you already reached out to and see if something opened up. Get in touch with bands in the area to see if they can help do a gig-swap. The most important thing to remember is that this takes patience, consistency, follow-up, and a little bit of salesmanship. Keep at it everyday. Set up an appointment with yourself to contact venues, promoters, etc. for at least 1-2 hours per day (and more as you get closer). Never miss that appointment.
If you are consistent and tour often, you’ll begin building relationships with promoters and it becomes easier and easier. Then who knows? Maybe you’ll begin booking for other bands. That’s how I got started.
January 12, 2012 The Compelling And Powerful Power Of Confidence BY: BRIAN THOMPSON I’ve seen oodles of bands perform over the years in dark and dingy small clubs to soft seat theatres to hockey arenas. I’ve seen some of the world’s best and quite possibly the worst. I’ve also worked one-on-one with countless musicians and aside from sheer musical talent, one of the things that separates the good from the great is confidence.
When I think of bands without confidence, I think of shoegazers for example. You know, those bands who stand on stage and simply stare at their feet, too shy to truly connect with the audience. Too nervous to even look up and be ‘present’, for fear of being judged.
Think about it. Who’s more entertaining to watch on stage? Someone who has no confidence can be incredibly boring. In fact, you don’t even watch them, you end up watching the other guys.
So… is everyone in your band as confident, or more so, than you? Is everyone on the same page?
Confidence is perhaps one of the most compelling traits someone can have. It gives you a certain energy, an aura that’s hard to ignore. It’s a primal thing that runs deep within us and is impossible to escape. It’s rooted in our instincts, our ego, our emotions, our fears, our pride, our anxieties, our failures and our accomplishments.
Everything we do feeds it.
Having confidence in who you are and what you do is powerful. It changes everything. In fact, perhaps this is the mystical, magical Mojo itself. The secret sauce. That thing that sets the Rock Gods apart from the rest.
Having confidence in yourself not only makes you sexy and more appealing to the opposite sex, but it also elevates your perceived status among members of the same sex. Being confident will get you the girl, score you the gig, land you that job… in addition to making you kick some serious fucking ass on stage.
Yet if you’re overconfident and your swagger is unmerited, well then you’re just viewed as cocky and arrogant. Which is obviously not what you want. Stop that shit.
Confidence can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those without it may fail because they lack it, and those with it may succeed because they have it.
But consider this: If you don’t dwell on the negative shit, you can be more ‘self-confident’ because you worry far less about failure. And if you’re worrying less about failing, then you’re more likely to focus on the actual job at hand… which means more probable success. Kinda makes sense, huh?
Ok, real-world examples? How do you get over your fear of being on stage? Non-stop repetition. Gigging night after night after night.
How do you get over the anxiety of thinking a string might break during a live show? Practice. You need to know how to deal with a situation before you encounter it so that when it does arise it’s no big deal. Practice.
Being adequately prepared paves the way to self-confidence.
So aside from positive thinking what else can you to do to boost your confidence? Practice. Hard work. True grit. And lots of it.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”
Oddly enough, I’ve learned a lot about confidence from Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer. It turns out that projecting confidence as a ‘pack leader’ is one of the best ways of earning respect from your dog, which has lasting positive results. Here’s some of his tips. For starters, just be aware of your confidence levels. Be bold. Carry yourself more proudly. Hold your head high with your shoulders pulled back. Walk tall. Look people in the eyes and speak with a strong voice and a firm handshake.
Many artists make the mistake of sending their newly burned demo CDs to everyone they know before creating any local interest in their music and before having any of their business advisors in place. As an artist, material you send directly to an established record company will generally not be listened to, no matter how good it is. You should know that record companies receive more CDs than can properly be listened to. You should also know that as the industry matures, most major labels are looking to sign artists who already have established record sales histories. Despite the advice I've offered above, if you choose to send out your own material directly to record companies, then at the very least, make sure that the material is "solicited," and send it to a particular name person is the Artists & Repertoire department of a record company. They only time that you, as an artist, will send your material to a publishing company is if you are also a songwriter. If you want to be an artist, I recommend that you not sign a publishing deal until you are signed to a record deal, or until you are convinced that you will not be signed to a record deal without a publisher's help.
Many bandleaders become discouraged the first time they begin booking their band. It is a slow process that takes a fir amount of time and dedication. It also takes time to become comfortable with the financial aspects of booking a band.
A realistic framework that guides your booking policies are:
*Keep your band on the road. *Be flexible with your leader's fees. *Never work for assholes. *Price your band realistically. *Know your bottom line. *Book anchor, secondary anchor, and support gigs. *Avoid conflicts of interest. *Avoid double-booking and cancellations.
Take the time to analyze how you made them , chances are that you'll be less likely to make the same mistake again.