I’m done with an experimental / left-field Detroit influenced techno album and label shopping established medium size labels. I’m located in the U.S. and wondering if I should stick to my own area or reach out to overseas labels in Europe. I’m very confident about my release, but I don’t really know people in the scene so that’s a big disadvantage against me. I have my album uploaded on Soundcloud with a private link. Any advice on what to say (and what NOT to say) in the initial contact message / email? How many labels to reach out to? How many to reach out to at the same time? How long should one wait between contacting different labels? What are some best practices? Thanks!
Keep it short and sweet is my advice. Mention any social media where you have a following, any high profile gigs and previously successful releases. You basically need all of those nowadays to even be considered, no matter how good the music is. As for your questions on waiting and who to hit up, I’d say that it’s such a long shot getting signed nowadays (especially through sending in music to people that you’ve never met) that you might as well send it to as many appropriate labels as possible. But make each approach personal to them, by finding out the name of the person, mentioning a couple of things that attracted you to the label, etc. Then just see what happens. Good luck!
Thanks. I’m actually not well established despite doing this a long time. So I’m not another young clad in black techno hipster with a perfect haircut. I’ve just been self releasing thus far. I do have many releases, but on my own tiny digital only label. I’ve played live shows, but only small local shows. I have a small number of followers on my Soundcloud, Instagram, and single digit monthly listens on my Spotify - so yeah… not exactly someone who’s been tearing down dance floors around the world. I’ve just done this is to keep me sane over the years while working regular jobs, but in recent times along with getting out of the corporate world, want to take this more seriously and not remain a bedroom producer. This is the primary reason I want to be on a real label as I’ve been working in a total vacuum by myself and suck at marketing my music. It’s a catch-22. It’s like interviewing for a job that wants you to have experience but you can’t have the experience without having the job in the first place!
You could consider sending your stuff to pro dj’s who spin on webradio and podcast shows. Some play unsigned stuff (Dave Clarke does for example). If you can manage to get a positive contact with one they could perhaps introduce you to a label.
I think just be yourself, be real, state explicitly what sort of help you’re looking for with working with a label. Doesn’t hurt to give some context about yourself and your past if it’s informed your music.
Excellent advice all around.
I run a small label in Berlin. We’re genre agnostic and focus more on the contents of the music & the artists’ stories & inspirations (it’s what ties our artists together, rather than genre).
So we’re probably not representative in more ways than one, but my advice would be similar to what people have already shared with you above:
Be yourself, meet everyone on eye level, if you are proud of your music don’t be shy to like it and stand for it, at the same time be open and humble (otherwise why join a label in first place if you were to know/have it all already :)).
If you get rejected, don’t take it personal. It’s not necessarily a judgement on the quality of your output but rather a question of timing and fit to that particular label’s vision and roster.
The advice above re social media & following is actually a good one, ie labels will appreciate artists that have managed to build a solid base of followers / community as that suggested that you can excite and connect to an audience (This is the most expensive part of pushing an artist…marketing & PR…so by having some sort of proof of concept on your marketability to a particular audience would be encouraging for a label).
This also doesn’t have to be a huge following if the community is tightly knit. For example, we signed an Irish rapper last year that had some 700 followers on Instagram…but locally he had a band of people that would walk through fire for him. So this sort of base was very attractive to us.
Lastly, know what you want / hope for from a label and be clear and honest in your communication and expectation. And make sure the other side is the same with you. Don’t be afraid to “check out” the label for a personal fit as much as they may check you out for a fit with them. The whole process is more like dating than it is like an assessment / school test of some sort.
Oh and regarding whom to write when - just do what feels right to you. Take a decision and role with it and don’t look back. At this stage you’re better off taking a step that may be a little off than not taking a step at all because you’re caught up in contemplation.
Good luck mate!!!
can I hear it?
Not gonna lie, I never heard the term „label shopping“ in this almost reverse context, haha
You just made me realize what an awful term it is lol. Not sure if I heard it somewhere or if I just came up with it. I think I heard someone a while back criticizing people doing “plan shopping” and I subconsciously used a variant for this thread. :-/