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So you have your email and you have your tracks prepared and ready, so where the heck do you send this thing? A little research is required, but if you are producing in a certain genre, techno music for example, and then you will no doubt have your favourite labels. As I said before it would be a good idea to create a swipe file where you can record all the information for each label you have sent to.
It’s unusual for a label not to have a website and social media presence. More often than not within the “about page” or the “contact page” there will be information on sending demos and who to contact, but not always. Once you obtain an email address you can then check over your email and send it off. If there is no mention of demos you can try any other contact email but from experience, your chances of this getting listened to are probably reduced even further. It’s worth noting if you get into doing this a lot you will most likely be copying and pasting email templates. A word of warning! Make sure you check the email thoroughly before sending it. I once had an email that ended “I hope you all at Drumcode get a chance to listen to my music”. Not great is it?
From my own experience, certainly in techno, the big labels that are very successful are the least likely to respond and listen to unsolicited demos, even if they say they are accepting. I fully appreciate why this has happened as they must get bombarded with these emails every day and it becomes unmanageable and a thankless task for anyone having to go through them. With my own label, I have had a small taste of what this is like and have sometimes been quite shocked by how little effort people put in. I have had one-line emails such as “please sign my tracks” with MP3 files attached to the email! Take from me this will be deleted without a listen.
Of course, email isn’t the only way to contact labels. I would try contacting the owner via Facebook messenger. This will entirely be down to the person at the label you contact, some might not mind and some might get annoyed so it can be risky. It takes time and you have to build a relationship but could yield results if you go about it in a friendly manner, absolutely no stalking, and don’t just barge in with “please listen to my music”. Overall connecting with people and networking is without a doubt the best way to get to know and increase your chances of getting your music heard. If the opportunity is there this would be my first call with email and Facebook messenger being second on the list. I probably should mention Twitter, and whilst it’s good for perhaps getting your name known it’s too public a platform for sending demos in my opinion.
How to get your music heard by record labels
If you’re in a position where you have released some music and there has been a DJ promo campaign then it’s definitely worth contacting DJs that have left you good feedback. I’m talking about decent comments and not things like “will try, thanks :-)”. If they like your music then they already might be familiar with your name and will be more open to listening to more tracks. This for me has been quite successful so far in terms of getting tracks at least listened to.
Do record labels listen to demos?
How long should you wait after sending the emails? My advice would be at least two weeks. After that, there is no problem sending a casual reminder. I would say after a further two weeks with no response and no listens it’s safe to assume that this labels mailbox has too high a demand and you should write it off and move on.
If you do get a response from a label and it’s a “not for me” it’s worth asking the question if they would consider listening to more and try again. Music is all about taste and it varies from track to track. So just because they didn’t like your first tracks doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t like subsequent tracks you send. Ask them if they would be open to listening to some more and if they say yes try again, this can show determination and has worked for me in the past.
It can be difficult at times to keep this process going for a long period of time and also very unrewarding with the lack of response and being told No. But if you keep doing it your tracks will get better with more practice of finishing music and you will get to know labels that listen again increasing your chances of getting signed.
My Top 10 Tips for sending your demo to record labels
To summarise my article I thought I would provide you with a breakdown of my top 10 tips for sending your demos. There are a vast number of record companies that accept unsolicited demos, so it’s worth trying to find them and see if you can make some progress.
- Quality Music
If you are sending your music to a label then you want to give yourself the absolute best chance. When an A&R person listens it has to be sounding as good as possible. There are a lot of tutorials online and learning materials to improve your mix. You could even consider getting it professionally mastered as many mastering engineers may provide you with additional help and information on how to improve your track.
- Be prepared to be told “NO”
I see this often with demos to my own label. I receive a demo track and it’s not quite for me so it’s a no. Then I never hear from the artist again. The chances of your demo getting listened to are already very slim. The chances of your first track being listened to and signed are substantially lower again. Be persistent and prepared to send on more than one occasion, providing the label is happy for you to do so. At the end of the day, it boils down to the listener’s taste. Just because they don’t like the first track doesn’t mean they won’t like the second.
- Label Research
Research the label you are sending to. Do not mail bomb multiple labels with the same demo it just looks bad and will get deleted immediately. There are many record companies looking for demos so pick a single label and research their website and social media. Make sure they are receiving demos. Send your high-quality finished tracks on private sound cloud links specifically for that label.
- A well-crafted email
Another one of my bugbears. One line emails that read “Here is my track please sign”. Your email has to contain information about you as an artist, what you have achieved and why you want to be signed to the label receiving. It doesn’t and shouldn’t be war and peace but a couple of paragraphs with this information goes a long way.
The internet obviously brings its global audience benefits. But when it comes to networking there is nothing like a good face-to-face chat. I know some labels will not sign artists without meeting them face to face and it’s probably more true of the bigger labels. Get to label nights and go and see DJs that are signed to labels you want to be on. Try and introduce yourself, without seeming like a stalker, and you will find you get a lot further
- Physical Media
This one goes hand in hand with networking. If you can get your music to A&R or label staff directly then you have a much better chance of being remembered. Perhaps preparing a USB stick with your tracks and some contact details would be a great way to hand over your music, or even go old school with a CD.
- Start a label
Not as difficult as you might think but to start a label is a 100% surefire way to get your music released into the world. There are many companies that offer full distribution and music label management such as EPM or Labelworx. If you have the determination and are prepared to put in the work then getting your website, social media and evidence of your first few releases is a good start before approaching such companies to show that you are serious about doing it. Once you have a label up and running it can certainly open more doors and provide more opportunities to reach out to bigger artists and labels and in turn, get your music heard on a bigger platform.
- Start an event or club night
Starting your own event and booking other well-known DJs will give you a chance to network and get your name known. You can then revert to my point six once you can get to meet such people and build a relationship.
- Follow up with promo responses
I mentioned this one in the main article, but if you did start your own label and run successful promo campaigns with your releases it’s well worth trying to get in touch with any DJs that were digging your music. Your name is most likely now known to them and you have proven that you have released music to their taste. Again this could potentially make life easier if you were to send them demos.
- Ensure your music is a good fit
Countless times I have received demos that are miles away from the style of my label, going as far as receiving pop music. Hey, I like a lot of different styles of music, not just electronic but it’s important the music you send fits with the ethos of the label you are sending to. Again this goes back to research on point 3.
I hope you have enjoyed the article on sending demos. If you have any questions or feedback please get in touch.