Master Your Craft: How to get signed by a Record Label?

By: BlakeBenn & Paul D (Edited by Andile Nkosi)

I often get asked “How do I get signed?” And my answer is always the same: “Blow!”. Your hustle needs to be so on point that record label A&R and executives want you in their rooster. Gone are those days when you’d cut a four tracked demo and went knocking door to door at Gallo, Sony, Universal and EMI hunting for a record label. These days, Record Labels are looking for self sufficient, industry ready musos who are already on TV [possibly with a video or two], who are on radio and have strong online presence.
It takes talent, marketability and a good bit of luck to get signed. Even then, you are not guaranteed fame and success. Here are a few tips to getting your act noticed, and get signed, by a record label. So to re-phrase this topic, I’d say this is how you improve your chances of getting signed by an Indie or major record label.
Before we begin, here are a few things you will need to get started:
*      Money
*      Access to a recording studio
*      Good Original Music
*      Photographs
*      A convincing CD sleeve
*      An impressive bio + press kit
*      Manager / Booking agent
Okay…now here are the MUST do’s to improve your chances of being signed:
*       Make good music that radio ready. If you wouldn’t play that song in the Club or on Radio, then don’t put it on your Demo.

*       Create an album/Mixtape/ EP Release strategy. Write down your plan for the next 12 months. It must include the description of your project, your target market, the resources required to produce it, the budget for making it and how you will make your money back + profit once it is released. If you don’t know how to make money from the music you made. Then go to school. Music business is not for you. Alternatively find someone who does, and put their advice on your strategy.

Always on point: Rapper & Producer AB Crazy never compromised on sound quality
NB: If it doesn’t make profit on paper. It won’t make profit in real life.
*       Practice regularly. It isn’t just about sending out packages to record labels, you also need to be well rehearsed for any performance.
*       Save money. Lots of it. There are hard costs associated with making demos and getting noticed. Travelling and printing promotional CDs will make up most of your spending.

*       Be prepared to sweeten the deal. South African media personnel are often underpaid (as much as they love acting rich). So   when they make time for you, ensure its worth their while and that they remember your name next time you call.
South African media personnel are often underpaid (as much as they love acting rich). So   when they make time for you, ensure its worth their while and that they remember your name next time you call.

*       Start performing on shows locally. There’s nothing like a crowd too small. No one knows you, so you need every single avenue to expose your brand.  
*       7Market your shows with other bigger acts on MySpace, ReverbNatiopn, Facebook, Twitter, local music stores, and have everyone bring all their friends. It’s more than just playing a gig. You have to develop a following.
*       Start looking around for an experienced manager to help you get started. An experienced manager will probably not be your best friend, your dad, your guitar teacher but someone who understands the ins and outs of the industry. This person may also be able to help you secure an entertainment attorney when the time comes.
*       Print multiple copies and set some aside for selling at shows. Nothing sucks like getting someone interested in your music and later telling him you will call with a CD. Have it there and there always.
*       Record an amazing sounding demo with a great producer and pay to have a professional sleeve made with your contact information. Featuring a popular name (producer/vocalist) always makes people pay more attention to your project.
*       Image is everything Especially if you want to be noticed by the majors. You want as many things to work in your favor and this includes having an interesting look for your act.

Never selling themslves short: Kwela Tebza has a super image

*       Get professional photos and shoot a video Rather have a low budget video on You Tube than nothing.
*       Make an attractive press kit. It must consist of a photo, your demo (printed) a biography of the act and interesting info about the members, press clippings, photos of live shows.
*       Find the address of record labels and send them a press kit. Only those who fish can catch a meal. 
*       Join SHIPA on It grants you access to the market and help you get paid while you are getting established.
*       Always keep your hopes up. Don’t let anyone put you down; if you hear a negative comment it should courage you to do better and keep on going. Don’t give up - if you know that you’ve got it, then go get it. — Make it happen.
   Read the original article. Click Here


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