Have you ever asked yourself or wondered about how to get signed to a record label? If yes, then this article is for you. Any mainstream or upcoming musician be it a singer, rapper, songwriter, instrumentalist, artist manager or even a band that is ambitious and wants to become a big artiste will probably need the backing of a good record label. A record label can get your songs played on some streaming services like Spotify or even get your songs played on major radio stations across the length and breadth of your country and even worldwide. A record label can also get you a support slot to go on tour with big artistes in the world.
Major labels like Atlantic, Sony, Universal, etc., are signing artists always but don’t make the mistake of thinking artists get signed to record labels based on the quality of their music. Sorry, that’s a grave mistake you are making. Sure, this was so probably in the 80s and 90s when record labels will sign an artist and use their contacts and influence to get your songs played on major radio stations and on major shows and events as well as get your albums sold in major music stores.
The same cannot be said today because the music industry has gone through serious evolution. Radio has now been taken over massively by Spotify Playlist. Record labels now look beyond just the music you are doing. They look at what the artist has got that can be promoted to take the artist and their label to the next level in their career.
Every serious artist understands what music is and knows music is purely business. The Ghanaian and Nigerian music industries have developed so much that people earn a living from the music they do. Take a look at Shatta Wale, Stonebwoy, Wizkid, Davido, Sarkodie, Burna Boy, Jay Z, P Diddy, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Samini etc.
If you have a business mindset about music, then you probably think like a businessman. In every business, we invest to make a profit. So, record labels now look at how profitable you can be before they get you signed to the label and not just the talent you’ve got. When you get signed by a record label, they give you an amount of money (that is the investment). However, you choose to spend it is your sole prerogative. How much you make in this deal is completely based on how attractive and in-demand you are.
In this article, we are going to give you 7 Tips on What Major Record Labels are looking for and how to get them to sign you.
How To Get Signed To A Record Label
READ ALSO: Top 10 Popular Record Labels in Ghana
Create Good Music
The first tip to getting signed by a local or foreign record label is obviously by creating good music or songs. Create songs that are good to the ears and are acceptable. Nobody will waste time and money on “wack” songs. Know who your audiences are and create songs that will suit their preferences.
Work with professional music producers. Choose producers with track records of producing back-to-back hits. If you work with a songwriter, choose the best writer with good lyrics. Always listen to songs from top artists and compare them to yours. Find the weaknesses and work on filling the missing links.
Before you release your songs, send them to people with musical ears to listen and critique. This helps to refine the songs before they are released.
Get Your Music to Different Places
The next tip oh how to get signed to a record label is to get your music to different places where it can be used and get to a wider audience. For a record label to invest money into an artist, they look at how they can get their money back with profit so you need to prove that you are worth investing in by getting your music to various places.
Get your music played in movies, radio adverts, night clubs, TV programmes, video games, YouTube channels, and places where it could be valuable. When applying this strategy, don’t think of being paid initially. Let them use it for free because when your brand grows, you can monetize your music and have a share in the ad revenue where your songs are used. A perfect example is YouTubers using your songs in their videos. Do this to prove to the record label that people really love your music and use them.
Contact as many movie producers, radio and TV presenters, video game developers, or even top YouTubers as you can and tell them you want your song to be featured in their upcoming movies, series, adverts, interviews, games, and videos etc. Don’t give up if your proposal is turned down initially. Keep trying until you succeed. Make sure to leave no stones unturned. Have a plan and be polite in your approach. Keep discussions on the financial benefits out for now. When you gain grounds, these people will contact you themselves for the promo of your songs.
To get signed to a record label successfully, build a portfolio of who is using your music and where they are using your music as well as what they are used for. You can then show it to the record label in the meeting when you are scheduled for one. This creates an impression of how in-demand your songs are and the need for them to invest in you by signing you into their record label.
Create A Strong Fanbase
Another guide on how to get signed to a record label is the need to show to the record label that you have a strong fanbase and you have the ability to build a stronger base. Record labels are looking for artists with a ready-made fanbase.
Are you someone who always have constant interactions with your social media fans? Do people shout your name at shows during performances and interested in when your next song is coming out? These among other questions are what they look out for when they want to sign you.
Create a Facebook Fanpage and post your music and other products there so your fans can easily find them. Even if you’re not releasing music, let your fans hear from you on a regular basis else out of sight will be out of mind for your music and products.
For in-person interactions, physically locate where your fans are and spend time with them. Stay active in your community. Join locally organized shows and events. When you create that bond with your fans, they will really appreciate and they will even do the promotion for you.
They need to know you have the ability to build that fanbase because that where the money will come from.
Create Social Media Content.
With the above tips said, today’s record labels also look at the kind of content you as an artist create on your social media platforms. What you post on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter can either win fans and followers for you or make you lose fans.
Aside from the music, you need to create engaging content that motivates your followers. Give them value for following you. Your fans are following you because they see something good they like about you. Keep sustaining their interest not only through music but powerful posts.
Look at this scenario, someone listens to your songs on Spotify playlist and goes to the about section and clicks on your Instagram link only to see just the same songs they listened posted on the page. Obviously, there is nothing new to get from following you so they won’t follow you. You just lost a fan and potential customer.
Personally, before I follow anyone, I check the kind of posts you create and see if they are educative enough for my brand before I follow you.
Let the record label know that you are not only creative in your songs but you also do creative content on social media that your fans love.
Sell Out Your Shows
You are not going to get signed to a record label without A&R from the label watching you perform live. A&R stands for Artists and Repertoire. It is that department of a record label that is responsible for talent scouting and the artistic and commercial development of the recording artist. It also acts as a liaison between the artist and the record label.
A&R would want to see how you perform live on stage and how the audience react to your performance. They want to see if you connect well with the audience. You have to be that stage rocker whose name will be on the lips of all the audience.
They do so because that is money for them in ticket sales. If your performance doesn’t connect with the audience then it means if you are signed, they can’t make much sales with your stage performances.
As an upcoming artist, watch how top artists perform and how they manage the stage. Watch how they connect with the audience and recreate your style out of it. Be creative. Don’t just copy what someone is doing directly but build on what you have learned because this a key factor in getting signed.
Create A Brand for Yourself
Many artists whether mainstream or upcoming don’t pump enough into their brand but this is very important in your career as an artist. If you want to get signed by a record label then your photos need to be on point, your logos, your choice of colors, your style of dressing should be unique. You should be aesthetic.
A lot of the income that comes to an artist is sponsorships and brand collaborations. So, if you don’t have a brand that another company will like to associate with, then it means you won’t make a lot of money for the label. So, your fashion and brand should be on point.
Imagine a fashion giant like Nike or Adidas wants to use you to advertise their new clothing line releases. Sponsor you with clothing for your stage performances. That’s a huge bank breaker, right? Yes, because this is where the money is.
If your brand is on point, no record label will hesitate to work with you because you will be a good investment. Remember every investor will look for fertile grounds to work. Record labels will only associate with you when they see that you are already successful at what you are doing. Locate a branding and packaging company that can help you in creating your preferred brand. Customize your wardrobe, get a personal portfolio for your website, etc.
You need to do things other artists don’t do and have what they don’t have. How many upcoming artists in Ghana or Nigeria have their own personal websites for promoting their brand?
Create a Merchandise
Digital streaming and playing of shows alone don’t produce a lot of income for artists. Now the sale of albums is almost fading away therefore there is the need to create alternative income sources. This is where brand collaborations and sale of merch come in.
You should be someone who has the ability to sell your merch and also have some marketing skills for plugging those $$$ in sales. This is where the branding we discussed in the last tip comes in. You should be someone who can convert your brand into profitable merchandise that your fans and audience can buy.
With these, record labels can be confident that signing you can be a good investment.
Why do you think Zylofon signed Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy into the same record label even though the two artists were having a serious beef? It is probably because they had all the above-discussed points in place.
I am signing off with this last tip, Get your songs on top streaming services Spotify, Audiomack, Soundcloud, apple music, etc. This is the first place people are going to hear your music.
Having been exposed to what major record labels are looking for in an artist before they sign them, I hope you are going to rewrite your notes and start making the right steps on so you can be signed to any record label soon. Wishing you good luck…
We hope this article has been helpful to you.
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