Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

How To Get A Record Deal-1: What Record Labels Want

This is my first post in a three-part series I'm writing about "How To Get A Record Deal".

First of all, it is VERY hard to get a legitimate record label interested in signing you as recording artist. If someone promises you otherwise, RUN, do not walk, and slam the door behind you. With that understanding...

Before approaching a record label as an artist, you should understand two simple things.   

 - Record labels, like all viable businesses, want to make a profit. 
 - You want to make a deal that will profit you, the artist.  

Look for that win-win deal, which will result in a prosperous label AND artist!

What record labels want is for you to have at least one of these three things
  • Your own money to fund your recording project - and possibly fund your promotion & marketing.
Yes, labels still sometimes fund recording projects if you can bring the devoted fan base (see the following two bullet points). And there still is nothing like the promotional, marketing and distribution reach of a major or large indie label to extend the efforts you fund. But if you bring an already finished project to the table, it can help you retain control of your artistic definition, give you more deal options and possibly sweeten any deal you make in your favor. 
  • Your own significant, real and growing fan base.
Without a fan base, to whom will you or a record label sell your music, shows and merchandise? One of the big differences between now and 'the old days' is that if a label believed you COULD BE an artist who would draw a big fan base, they would take a chance on developing you, funding your project and releasing your music for sale. Now, not so much, because with the advent of technology and internet marketing you are capable of creating own fanbase without label support. They want to make deals with more proven fan/customer drawing potential. But then you are more valuable when it comes to contract negotiation!
  • Your unique, high level and marketable body of work and talent in the studio and on stage.
You really do need to be remarkable to get a good record deal. You may be a big TV contest winner, but if you are only bringing the fan base from the TV show, your career will be as short-lived as the fickle reality-TV audiences are. AND, you've probably signed a contract with the TV show to hand over a significant portion of your future profits. It's far better to bring to the negotiating table your extraordinary skills as communicator, singer, and performer. It helps if you have good media and musician skills, It is a real value-added deal bonus if you are a great songwriter. Part of the negotiation often includes publishing on your songs. Your style, unique appearance and willingness to connect to your audience is vital. Fans are not just drawn to the songs...they want to fall in love with the artist - and that's what generates income to split (or not!) from records, shows and merchandise.

Next post: Steps to attracting a record label

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1 Comments :

  • At October 27, 2014 at 12:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    After years of being in and around the country music business, I really hate what it seems to have now become. I don't want to talk about the "old days," but if labels are actually wanting artists to bring their own funding, maybe the way it was done back then should be discussed. Anyone who has been in the business for more than a few years have seen "artists" come to town with funding that were never signed to contracts by major labels. Nobody wanted to admit that a person could "buy" a contract, and in fact, that used to be just about the sole domain of the independent labels and publishers, and we all know what the industry thought of them. There was a time when new artists were warned not to spend their own money, and not to give their money to a producer, publisher, or label that promised stardom. Apparently that's all now changed. If the major labels are seeking artists that bring a lot of money to the table, then aren't they doing what they accused the independents of doing just a few years ago? Why was it wrong then, and right now? Why did the industry look down on independent publishers and labels who took money from would be artists, and now find that it is an acceptable practice because the major labels are doing it? Of course, the fact is that the business has changed so much, so quickly, that nobody can actually keep up with what's going on, or figure out how to make a living just making good music. It seems they'd rather have a reality TV show do their screening for them than to actually seek out and develop talent the old fashioned way. When you put it into perspective, ie, making as much money as possible, anyway you can make it, then I suppose it makes sense. I just wish they'd go back to making it about the music. By the way, this isn't sour grapes, it's an honest opinion coming from a person who doesn't mind change, but only when it's for the better. And the recent changes haven't made the music better, all they've done is elevate the scam to a much higher level, while selling music that isn't music, and talent that has to be electronically augmented just to hit the right notes. Positive change I'm good with, but are the changes really positive? Really? E. Don Harpe

     

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