Approaching Record Labels

I get a lot of emails regarding "record deal" questions ... so I thought I would provide some basic information to help those of you, artists and/or bands, who may be asking (thinking of) the same questions.

Before approaching a record label, it is essential that your live performance and songwriting skills are the best they can be. Most record label executives will not listen to “cover material”, so if you don’t write your own songs you will have to develop relationships with great songwriters to perform and record their material. It is also essential that you have a strong identity and know exactly what kind of image you wish to portray as an artist: Maverick? Pure Country? Edgy? Sexy? Sweet and Demure?

Every record company professional will expect you to complete these three steps:

  • Record a professionally produced CD. Your CD should be the very best you can afford - produced, recorded and mastered in a quality studio. If you have not already chosen a recording studio, you might consider recording in city where the label is located. For instance, if you want to get a deal in Nashville, you should record in a Nashville studio so as to obtain that very distinct “Nashville Sound”. Four songs are sufficient, and they must be original material.
  • Prepare a professional Press Kit, containing a CD, bio and 8 x 10 glossy photographs. Also include any press clippings, positive quotes from Radio DJs, or other fan base information (if available).
  • Schedule a live performance(s) in the city where the label is located (ie. Nashville). Your artist showcase should last 30 to 45 minutes of all original songs. You can use your own band or hire local (Nashville) musicians. You can invite all the record label executives, music publishers, artist managers and booking agents to this showcase. In Nashville, there are many great performance venues to choose from, or you can use one of several private showcase facilities.

I also recommend that you learn the music business. Look for books on the subject and search of resource material on the Internet. If you don't know where to start, then I would highly recommend you buy this book:

All You Need to Know About The Music Business
by Donald S. Passman

The book has been revised and updated for the 21st century ... which is important, especially since the industry is in a constant state of flux.

"Should be required reading for anyone planning or enduring a career in the biz." — Rolling Stone