ello and welcome back to the independent music series, Beating the Music Industry, written by yours truly. I'm hoping with this series, I can help people like you and me, find a way into the industry whatever route we decide to take.
In this mini-series, I'll be looking through every aspect of the industry, including major labels, independent labels and going the DIY route. For the most part, the DIY route is my own personal preference and I'd just like to highlight that, I'm not saying it's the best option necessarily, as different options are different for every band.
My research is being conducted by my own experiences, along with help from my bible, The Unsigned Guide. The guide is now out of date and you can now subscribe directly through the website, but it still bears relevance as a lot of things may have changed in the last 10 years, but most things would have stayed the same. Here's to hoping.
So this week I'm looking into 'Record Labels'. Creating the right first impression is a crucial part of the process. Labels tend to get hundreds of thousands emails, music and demos everyday. So what you want to do is stand out from the rest. Demos should be professional, both musically and aesthetically; give that right first impression. A lot of labels will actively welcome you to emailing links to a URL where they can listen to tracks instantly and read current information about your band and music. Some labels even allow you submit your music directly to them online.
More and more bands are taking the DIY route, which says a lot about the industry as a whole, but that's a story for another day. Taking the DIY route has advantages and disadvantages and some financial issues. These need to be taken into consideration along with some research, before committing time and money to this route. If the DIY route is the one for you and you'd like more advice on how to go about it, organisations such as BPI and Musician's Union can provide that advice. You may also wish to look at The Independent Label Scheme from solicitors Dean Marsh & Co., who can advise you on the legal side of setting up your own label.
Profile A&R staff and research the labels they represent. A&R will specialise in certain musical genres, as will the companies they represent. Your manager should be equally trusted in firstly, ensuring your material is heard by the labels that are most likely to want to deal with you and secondly, that those labels also have the funds available to back your releases, both in terms of production and marketing. As preliminary discussions are underway with the recording company, make sure your manager investigates the label's short and medium term intentions with regards to marketing and promoting your releases. Seek legal advice even if negotiations reach this stage.
Research the labels that may have been recently established (either as independent or major subsidiaries). The reason they will have been set-up is to release records with a view to making money. The theory stands that the funds will be available to newly established labels, to develop new signings and so you may ultimately have a greater chance of being signed. You (or your manager) should be at the very least be partly familiar with how record labels and associated organisations operate before you go looking.
In certain circumstances, your representative (with regards to instigating recording contracts) may be a broker or agent - an individual or company that will attempt to seek and negotiate a contract on your behalf. If you approach a broker or are approached, you should be aware in precise terms of the nature of the engagement.
Keep your eyes peeled because next week I'll be taking a look at 'Publishing Companies'.