Make Them Come To You
By Chris Standring
Are represented by heavyweight managers and
Are being produced by successful production
Everyone knows how hard it is getting signed
to a record label. It's almost a dull and worn out subject. It
is a frustrating and all consuming process. With the present state
of the business, Internet piracy and lack of record sales in the
music industry, it has never been harder and seemingly impossible
for artists to get signed. "Ooh what a depressing article
opener" I hear you say.
And you might ask;
"Is there any hope?"
"Should I even been looking to labels at all now?"
Well let me try to uplift one or two spirits if if I may...
There is hope. A great deal of hope. Personally I want to believe
that opportunities are abounding in the present musical economy.
I think it is all a matter of perception, and changing the goal
posts. Look, it has always been near impossible to get signed.
Nothing has changed there. And now, the record stores have never
been more over-saturated with mediocre music than ever before.
Don't think the A&R guys know anymore about what "good"
music is now, than they ever have. Gone are the days of artist
development. "Let's have a huge hit with the next Avril
Lavigne and who cares if she's around in two years, we can finance
all the other failed acts on our roster!" seems to be
the record label philosophy of the moment.
So what should indie artists do? Well here are one or two thoughts
I read a wonderful article recently, I think it was in "Music
Connection" I can't remember. A tenacious unsigned indie
band was interviewed as they seemed to be making waves doing one
off shows, selling a ton of CD's at gigs and building their fanbase.
The lead singer mentioned that an A&R rep called him up and
said, "Send me a demo CD, I'd love to hear it".
The singer said, "What for? What are you gonna do for
me? Do you know anything about the band? Why would I send you
anything? Just so you can throw it in the trash with the other
thousand CD's you get this week? Show me you are interested in
this band, come to a gig, find out about us and then call us when
you have something more to talk to us about. In the meantime,
check out our tour schedule on our website"....Click!
I fell in love with this band immediately. Talk about right on
the money! He was absolutely right. Possibly a little rude to
the A&R guy, but he was right. Why SHOULD he send a demo?
The fact of the matter is this; A&R guys are too busy talking
to bands who have:
They are just too busy to realistically give five minutes to
an indie band fighting for survival. The only way to attract
label attention is either:
1) Have a heavyweight manager and/or attorney
2) Have a development deal with a hot production company
3) Have a growing fan base, playing well attended shows and
selling lots of CD's independently.
Any of the above scenarios will enable you to take it easy dealing
with labels. The trick is to get them to come to you. Even the
labels say this. They don't want to be bombarded by artists
beating down their door pleading for a record deal. They want
to do all the discovering.
If you are a young singer ala Christina Aguleira, you will need
to have situation #1 and #2 in place. If you are a band doing
live shows, you will need to have situation #3 in place.
Here's the reality. Labels WILL come scurrying out of the woodwork
when there is something to jump up and down about. Usually this
is when all the work is done for them. A finished master CD
with impeccable production or a huge fanbase that labels can
immediately sell product to will excite them. This, along with
star quality will keep them wide eyed, trust me. Finally, when
this is all in place, people talk. When people talk, labels
hear about it. They are connected. Before you know it they are
showing up to one of your gigs looking to speak to you about
a deal. Then of course you hold all the cards. A wonderful place
For all those gigging rock bands out there, I would advise planning
a strategy that does not involve approaching record companies.
Have them seek you out. Build your street team and get
working. If the band has what it takes, the A&R's will abound.
Make them come to you! It is simply the only way it works.
| Chris Standring
is the CEO and founder of A&R Online (www.aandronline.com).
He is also a contemporary jazz guitarist presently signed to
Ultimate Vibe Recordings. For more info on Chris' recording
career go to his personal website at www.chrisstandring.com
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