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Producing a great track is just the first step on the road to success. Sure, you could release it yourself, but if you want to reach the biggest possible audience then linking up with an established label is still your best bet. But how do you get them to listen to your demo in the first place, and how do you persuade them to release it? Kristan J Caryl speaks to a selection of top dance labels to find out the best way to get your tracks heard – and a few tricks which will make label bosses much more likely to release your music.

There’s no doubt that the internet has democratised the world of electronic music. Now anyone with even a passing interest in dance music can download some software and begin crafting their ‘masterpiece’. You needn’t be part of a local crew, you haven’t got to know someone to show you how to do it and you shouldn’t necessarily even have to leave the safety of your own bedroom to start going about making a track and getting it released.

The problem is, you aren’t the only person: it’s a jungle out there, and thousands upon thousands of other people have got the same idea as you. So how do you get that demo heard?

There’s good and bad news. The good news is that the majority of label owners are actually listening to the demos they receive. The bad news is that the exhausting volume of submissions makes it a largely unpleasant experience. With most label chiefs reporting that they receive anywhere in the region of 30 to 50 demos a day, the main challenge is making yourself stick out from the crowd. Not in an ‘Er, does this dude have mental health issues?’ kinda way, obviously, but rather because the demo you send is easily accessible, fit for purpose and not just sent in a scattershot fashion to as many email addresses as you can pilfer from the internet.

Quite simply, research and appropriateness are key: if you wanted to work as a teacher, you wouldn’t send your CV to McDonalds, Urban Outfitters and KPMG, would you? It’s just common sense. Sadly, though, such sense doesn’t seem that common among producers.

It's a jungle out there, and thousands of other people have got the same idea as you.

We’ve spoken to a selection of established label heads to offer some insider info on getting your demos heard and, even more importantly, getting them released.

The golden rules

Jamie Russell of Hypercolour

Jamie Russell of Hypercolour

“I’m aware some people’s understanding of music is not really chin stroker-y, but some of the stuff I get sent is outrageous,” laughs Jamie Russell of Hypercolour, Glass Table, Losing Suki and Space Hardware association. “It’s as if they haven’t even checked what we do. Or they heard Huxley’s ‘Let It Go’, think it’s a big electro track like Afrojack or some shit and send us something that’s so far off the mark it’s unbelievable. I can tell when someone really likes the label and listens to all we do versus someone who’s just checked one or two tracks.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by most label bosses as the number one rule of submitting demos: only send to labels which will be interested in your style of music.

The second biggest rule also crops up across the board, pertaining to method of delivery. “The biggest no-no for me is MP3s attached to emails,” says Andy Daniell, A&R Manager at Defected. “They clog up your inbox and crash your email program. A SoundCloud stream is far preferable as you can check quickly and download if it feels relevant. Also, private links are nicer… Something that puts you off a record is seeing that you’re one of 50 people the track’s been emailed to, or that it’s been available publicly on SoundCloud for nine months and it’s only had 100 plays. That doesn’t inspire confidence!”

Jamie Russell is even more explicit: “Labels like to feel special. If we see something we like it’s easy to go off it if you see it’s been sent to ten other labels as well, because no one really wants to get into a bidding war at this independent level. That’s just a massive fucking turn off, to be honest.”

Communication

So, assuming you’ll only ever contact one well-suited label at a time, there are still many things you can do to stand out from the competition. And many things you certainly must not do, like Facebook stalk your target…

Andy Defected

Defected A&R Manager Andy Daniell

“Stuff has to be sent to the demo email address!” exclaims the sole force behind every part of the Tsuba operation, Kevin Griffiths. “Don’t talk to me on Facebook chat either! Some days you just get randoms firing links at you. ‘Hey bro, here’s my new demo!’ Sigh. I allocate time to listening to demos and I don’t want to get interrupted in the middle of it.”

You must also remember at this stage that this isn’t a personal process. Label staff don’t have time to reply to every single demo they get. Rather than take umbrage, suck up a lack of response and try again next time. It’s brutally simple: if you didn’t hear back, you didn’t make the cut.

Do not pester for feedback,” states Thomas Von Party, ‘A&R Slash Vibe Master’ at Canadian imprint Turbo Recordings. Nobody wants to look like a loser begging for advice on how to improve their rejected track. Which leads directly onto the next issue.

“Being creative about how you present yourself is key,” Von Party continues. “The more you can appear a fully-formed artist, the more likely you’ll be taken seriously. The music is what matters in the end, but if you show signs of talent in representing yourself with an image, video, or with words, that goes a long way.”

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  • burial’s mom

    “if I put this out and he appears on some naff little label that isn’t promoting stuff properly in the meantime, his reputation’s basically ruined already” this smells like”
    This smells like bullshit. What reputation? Are you signing a lawyer or a musician?? Such kind of comments is exactly why I hate ‘underground-cooler-than-life’ type of label people.
    Otherwise good article

  • Mike W.

    I agree with the comment above, although I get what he’s going at, that’s a weak statement. I also want to mention, regardless of how big you think your label might be, if your having issues going through demos it may be time to leave the label behind. Labels receive demos, it’s common sense. I have released with several labels, I personally see working with a label as a team operation. I expect to be treated with respect and to have a positive experience. The last thing I want to deal with in a professional environment is walking on egg shells so I don’t upset the ego of some “wanna be underground smut” who, although relatively new and somewhat successful, feels like their label runs shit. A few good releases does not make up for a snobby attitude towards artists eager to work with you. I do not submit to labels like this, it’s a waste of my time and I don’t want to work with people like that. Their are so many great labels out there with mature, professional, and lovable people behind them that there is no need to submit to these guys. Grow up divas.

  • Attack

    We can’t speak for Dean but it’s interesting that artists and labels apparently don’t see eye to eye on this one.

    Surely everyone agrees that artists have a reputation – a brand, a profile, call it what you will – just like anyone else trying to sell a product or a service? We’ve all been put off companies because they’ve sold bad products, whether that’s a bad meal in a restaurant or an unreliable car. Reputation is important in those cases. Doesn’t the same apply to up-and-coming artists?

    If you’re a label owner who’s investing thousands of pounds in releasing an artist’s music, isn’t it understandable that you’d be frustrated if that artist somehow harmed their image?

  • scott frostie

    @Mike W

    You say: “If you have an issue with sorting through demos each day maybe you should reconsider owning a label…”

    I’m not so sure about this. As a label owner myself we’re completely overwhelmed by demos now, many of which are mailed out to – no joke – 100 labels at a time. Given the income from music labels has bombed, meaning we can’t afford a dedicated A&R guy, it leaves me and my biz partner swamped with often very mediocre music.

    Don’t get me wrong: I’d love my job to involve sifting through a handful of amazingly produced, and carefully targeted recordings every day – we came into this business to put out great music after all – but the democratisation of the process is overflowing the global A&R pool with ever lower quality effluent.

    Please, at the very least. don’t blame the *labels* for that!

  • Mike W.

    Sorry about the double post, it said the first one didn’t go through… So I rewrote it. I apologize. At least it came out somewhat similar to the first..

    I agree with you completely, a label should be selective in who they sign and it is a large investment in the artist they sign. As artist that needs to be respected. An artist who is not putting in their time and effort to market their act may not deserve the time of day. If your not going to put in the effort, why should we. That makes complete sense.

    I also understand labels receive a lot of random junk mail, people who have no interest in their label sending them material that is far from what they are interested in. That is spam and no one likes spam.

    But little things are little things, as far as bios, details, and so on. To be so picky is a little obnoxious. Does the music work for your label, yes or no? If an artist hasn’t presented themself in a professional manor and the music doesn’t work that’s that. Do we really need rules for demo submits?

    As I read my second post realized I messed up, I’m not meaning to talk about these labels from the article specifically, although I do feel some of them have a large ego, and by saying “these labels” that is how it came across. I’ve had to deal with labels though, with a similar attitude but more extreme. It is a really unpleasant experience when labels ignore or worse are rude to an artist over a demo submission. An article like this, I feel, favors the labels a bit. Of course like I said spam is spam, but artist should at least be given some respect rather than spoken of as a chore or an annoyance. Does that make sense?

  • Mike W.

    @scott I understand your point and agree 100%

  • burial’s mom

    Seriously – the whole idea of an artist’s reputation being ‘harmed’ because of a release on a certain label is fundamentally fucked in the ass.
    Music is an expression of love and creativity and so is (or should be) releasing music…and at least at this so called ‘undeground’ level it has to be open minded and untroubled by that kind of tiny-ass politics.

  • Attack

    Mike – we’ve deleted your first comment and just left the second version so the thread makes more sense.

    The article maybe does favour the labels slightly, but the reason for that is very simple – they’re the ones who make the rules.

    If a label decides that it’ll only listen to demos submitted on cassettes in purple envelopes, your only real choice is to accept that or continue looking elsewhere for someone to release your music. The question of whether the rules make any sense or whether they’re fair is an entirely different matter!

  • Mike W.

    @Attack I have a lot of respect for both Jamie and Andy and what they do. I don’t think I thought out what I wanted to communicate properly before I wrote and instead it looks like a mad rant towards these guys. I think “burials mom” has got this covered and I’m only adding unneeded negativity to the post. Would you mind deleting my posts please, it’s only cluttering up the comments section :/

  • burial’s mom

    I’m sorry if my comments seem a bit harsh, but I really have very strong feelings for that ‘reputation’ stuff. It completely messes up artist’s priorities. I’m an artist and if I have to be bothered with this nonsense, I have to stop making music completely.

  • Attack

    Mike, it’s all a good debate! We’d rather not delete posts once other people have replied to them but if you really want them removing email us and we’ll do it for you.

  • Mike

    I understand. I agree with Burials Mom here, and didn’t mean to come across rude in my first post. I apologize. Like I said, I have no issues with any of the labels listed here, although I didn’t agree with Deans statement, but I may be misunderstanding him.

    Like Burial said, I feel there needs to be a balance for artist between the time they put into making music and the time they spend marketing and researching labels. No one enjoys spam, and I can see how someone who is not willing to do the work and put in the time can frustrate a label. And like @Attack wrote, the label is the boss. Period. I respect that. For me, it is in some of the newer, possibly inexperienced, labels that seem to be upsetting the balance, and they seem to have a similar attitude Burial coined “underground-cooler-than-life”. It is equally as frustrating for an artist who honestly loves a label and wants to get involved to be ignored or to feel like a burden. I know I hear a lot of negativity from labels about demos.

    Maybe it would be helpful if there was an article that focused more in depth on what labels are impressed by. This article has several tips, but it often seems articles on this subject have a stronger focus on what annoys labels than sharing examples and information on key factors they look for in new artists. What really counts to a label and shows them that an artist is serious?

    I think it was Jamie or Alex who had an interview once and talked about putting together a proper email for a label where they gave examples and listed several tips. Of course they had to talk about what annoys them but it focused on the positive and stayed informative, “here is what we would like to see”. I really appreciated that, and would love to see more articles that serve almost as tutorials on what labels expect. Its one thing to say “this this and this bothers us, send us cassettes in a purple envelope, good luck” and another to explain those cassettes in purple envelopes that impressed them.

    Thanks for the debate guys! And again, thanks for the article, I wasn’t trying to complain about it, or the information here, just the sometimes frustrating struggle between artists and labels when it comes to demo submits!

  • drisan

    Hi everyone,

    I love to see what Label owners’ and Artists’ point of view is. It makes this whole debate kind of complete with this thread i think!

    I have been djing for over a decade, but only recently started to produce music and it is great to be able to get the opportunity to look inside of it all from different perspectives. and i’m still not ready for sending out demos, but it defo helped me to understand some fundamental ‘rules’ etc….

    from now on some label owners better make sure they have a mini-fridge in their office, if they haven’t had one yet… or i’ll send one …..hahaha 🙂

    but i just mean it’s really great to read articles like this for rookies like me. and i totally understand both Mike’s (as an artist) and Dean’s (as a Label owner AND old timer Artist\Producer\Dj) frustration too…. so Labels please keep Mike’s and Burial Mom’s words in mind for the sake of balance and Artists to take Labels criterion for granted. but for that, Artists needs to know more about the proviso\criterion from even a wider spectrum of music Labels…. “Help me Help you to Help each other”

    …and I agree with Mike on that it would be helpful if there was more article that focuses more in depth on what labels are impressed by. it would be really important because this industrialised music world today is getting quite chaotic as the fast developing technology and the internet gives way too much access to people for being someone who they arent really, and it is seriously damaging and blocking real talents to get heard.

    So please @Attack, throw out there some more stuff like this about the subject for Artists to be more informed on how to apply for that “job vacancy”. i think i’m not the only one who haven’t got much talent on promoting\marketing myself….i’m actually quite clumsy of “selling” myself simply because it isnt my thing at all, and probably, obviously – just like tonnes of other great but unknown artists\producers\musicians\TALENTS who feels it, and who really got the music in them would love to get heard by their deeply respected Artists and Labels.

    Thanks again, for me it was the perfect friday night reading!

  • Citizen

    Quality article – and some interesting discussion here in the comments section.

    I agree with Mikes post (2nd above) that it would be good to see a second part to this article at focuses more on what actually impresses labels in depth. I know that it is likely tobesomewhatdifferent for each label, beyond the standard ”production skills and creativity’ – buti still think there is scope foran article to explore this.

    Questions like: will a label sign a track on its creative merits alone, even if the mix down might need some suggestions for improvement? Should artists submitting demos go to the trouble and expense of getting their tracks professionally mastered before submitting a demo? Or is that a waste of time since the label may have their own preferred mastering house to ensure consistency of sound on the label.

    Things like that. I think there is scope to provide some more valuable insights for aspiring artists. Again, thanks for continuing to provide such quality content n your site – Attack has become one of my favourite music and production resources.

  • T-Tone

    Interesting read. I agree with a lot of Mike and drisan’s points. Sometimes artists and labels probably forget that we’re meant to be on the same side!

  • Mike

    Citizen has a lot of great questions listed there that I would love to light shed on! Nice ones

    +1 drisan and T-Tone, thanks for taking the time to read through my long comments!

    Scott (4th comment from the top), if you happen to stop by this post again, I would love some insight from you on your experiences. It sounds like you’ve been running your label for awhile and as you mentioned you and your partner have to go though tons of “spam” tracks, so what makes a track really catch your attention, and once it catches your attention is their other criteria you look at before signing an artist?

  • Mike

    Made a mistake above, should say “…would love a light shed on”

  • et

    great article, really good lunchtime read (especially the comments). i’ve sent out a couple of demos of late and actually had a fair bit of feedback (for once) however… the feedback isn’t from the labels i sent the demos too! instead it seems that they have been passed on to some third parties. these labels, although interested, want to give away my tracks for free to give me “the best possible publicity.” i didn’t enter this industry to make money, but can’t help but feel like i’m being taken for a bit of a ride. I don’t have a problem with free music, i just want to know that the label (or whoever) will promote my music properly

  • Maggie

    The bottom line is almost none label signs demos that appear into their emails, or inboxes. Just a waste of time…

  • fader

    thanks a lot for this article! 🙂

  • Bob

    Become a journalist, make your contacts, then drop that and become a DJ/Producer. Thats the tried and trusted way!

    Bob!

  • Jordan Searle

    Too much music, too many people!

  • Samirh

    “Something that puts you off a record is seeing that … it’s been available publicly on SoundCloud for nine months and it’s only had 100 plays. That doesn’t inspire confidence!” – This made me so sad. I’m actually quite pleased when a track of mine hits 100 plays. Sending tracks to labels is part of the dream that someone might want to take my music out of my bedroom and into the wider world. I agree with many of the other suggestions from the labels regarding effort, thought and the aptness of what you are sending. But the whole thing about how many plays on Soundcloud you have really gets me down. I have often felt like there’s no point in me sending a link to my Soundcloud because the label will look at my paltry 56 followers and measly play-count (most popular track – 220 plays; been up for almost 2 years now!) It really saddens me to see this fear confirmed by this article. This fear leads to shit like this happening : http://www.5chicago.com/features/april2013/how-to-become-a-fake-soundcloud-superstar/index.html . So much respect for you guys, which is not diminished in any way by this article, and I do understand why this is how things are. It’s sad though. But I’ll keep dreaming, keep making music and keep on patting myself on the back when one of my tracks hits triple figures.

  • Jordan

    Don’t worry Samirh … People will always go with what’s popular as opposed to hearing out the underdogs! Soundcloud is like a snowball that gets bigger with blogs and other media adding to it. This article is a little too bitchy for my liking to be honest it’s like something you’d expect to read in vouge magazine.

    Every dog has his day, especially in a world this fast paced.

  • drisan

    I actually agree with you on that, Samirh! that statement sounds a bit like it is the number of soundcloud plays that determines what is good and what is not….which is NOT true.

  • Sebastian

    @attack / Krystan: Thanks for the article.

    @ Samirh: Absolutely agree with you on that point. This approach of ‘well, he / she doesn’t have a lot of plays, it’s probably crap’ is ridiculous. If I had thousands of followers already I’d hardly have to send demos! By the way [offtopic, sorry], what is your soundcloud link?

  • OneDay

    Nobody is helping out there, they just lying “send us your demo, send us your demo” and then nothing.

  • Samirh

    @ Sebastian

    this is my soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/samirh . “enjoy” (if possible)

  • JieXian

    Actually I like using Youtube more than soundcloud to promote my music. It has better than 128kpbs quality, a wider audience and an unlimited upload limit…’ My soundclouds pretty sad number of plays, as compared to my Youtube. for that matter.

    Anybody has an opinion on someone using Youtube or bandcamp as a “business card” instead of souncloud?

    Thanks

  • Rob

    Hey guys,

    Interesting article, and very interestig points. I especially agree with Mike and would love some light shed on citizen’s question as well.

    Also, Mike, could you / would you please dig that interview up with Russell or wheover it was who talked about what they like to get for demo submissions?

    I have spoken to a manager recently, and people usually say only send mastered versions to labels. However the thing is almost all labels have their “trademark sound” – and it may feel silly to master it because if I’m not sure what label I’m going to be released, how do I know how to make my track sound?

    Anyway, allow me to share a thought on the whole thing…

    I’m a deep house / indie dance artist and so much of a perfectionist that I’ve made 20+ tracks in the past 3 years, and haven’t ever sent a single demo anywhere.

    Now I have a track that I’m just about to send to a few labels, but after reading this article I’m really just confused more than anything else.

    Of course I understand you guys can’t answer to every person who sends you a demo – but then the expectation of being sent exclusive demos to your label sounds silly to me.

    I know I have a pretty strong track now that I also know could easily make it to the charts in it’s category.

    I want to make the most of it – I’d love to get it released on a major label that releases this genre.

    Now please, tell me, what am I supposed to do, send it to a single label, wait for 3 weeks and then send it to another one?

    What about if the track fits the genre and is good but the label boss doesn’t think it fits their sound? They wouldn’t even respond to me, let alone give me a critique on what to change. I wouldn’t expect them to either, they get too any submissions.

    And I’m also okay with having to research labels and making sure my music fits them.

    But if I find 20 labels that my music would be a good fit to, should I be ashamed to send it to all of them at once?

    You know it would be nice to make the most of the track if I finally decide to get it released, but all of this confusing information about reputation and other stuff like that in this article makes me wanna just stay in the closet and make music at home for myself, that I might just put in my own sets.

    All of this kind of makes my stomache cramp.

    It would be nice to get some advice on how successful artists did it when they were just beginners with no proper “profile”.

    I mean I’ve had some gigs at some decent venues, and I have a facebook page with a few likes, and it’d be very nice to get my name out there somehow, and make a first release on a decent sized label – but now I’m not even sure what way to proceed…

    Cheers,

    -R

  • Mike

    Hey Rob,

    Great comments! I’m looking for that article, I should have bookmarked it! It was a few months back and I’m having trouble finding it. Perhaps it wasn’t Alex or Jamie… although I really thought it was. When/if I find it Ill post it!

    Really like this point by the way
    “Of course I understand you guys can’t answer to every person who sends you a demo – but then the expectation of being sent exclusive demos to your label sounds silly to me. ”

    Mike

  • Attack

    Rob – very interesting comment. Is the email address you left a real one? We’ve emailed you.

  • Rob

    Yeah I received the email and answered it as well. 🙂

    Thanks!

  • luke

    @ Attack/ Rob

    Hi guys, i am basically in a very similar situation to Rob, i saved enough money to not work for a year and just make music and i am slowly starting to get to where i want to be, every question Rob asked i was going to ask, did you manage to answer his questions in the emsil?

    kind regards,

    L.

  • Attack

    Hi Luke

    We didn’t answer Rob’s questions by email.

    Those questions are too complex to be easily and quickly answered, but it’s a great discussion. Really interesting to see how this topic still causes issues for both labels and artists.

  • qwert

    Or you just test your music on people that know the style, or djs. You could also just release you own music. Why wait for others to do it?
    They don’t posses any magic you don’t have.

  • James Dax

    Hello all.

    While I agree with many points stated above, there is a difference between agreeing and actively ignoring the lessons learned. It took me three years to get signed to a good label, three years of walking the fine line of promoting myself while at the same time being careful not to spam anyone. I tried Cloudkillers, Facebook ads, multiple forum postings, emailing blogs etc.

    However, I assure you, NOTHING will get more attention to you than word of mouth from somebody who has a large following, i.e. a good label/artist.

    My point is this: it’s better just to research for a few hours in order to find the proper label to send your track to than sending to multiple labels. If your track is good enough (at high standards, musically and technically), there IS a mid-sized label that will take it out there. The hard work is finding it.

    Afterwards, make sure not to piss them off. First impressions are important. What’s also important, and few people will tell you, is this: you have to project confidence and be friendly-direct. Not too direct, not too friendly, but a combination. Long-time label managers will know what it means when the demo e-mail leans too heavily in one direction.

    Oh, and for god’s sake, it’d better be a very good track.

    I know many labels are unfair, and it sucks but really, you either play the game by their rules, or you don’t play at all. 🙂

    James

  • Jonny Blue

    Does anyone have any information about promoting an artist to get a good following? I’m doing my dissertation at uni and am finding it very hard to find people to listen to the track i’ve produced.

    The artist is ‘Quinn Blake’, and I produced his first song ‘Bound To You’.

    Ultimately, I want him to be signed to my own label, but finding that following is so difficult!

    Thanks, Jonny

  • simpleton

    will saul going after joy orbison… A&R skillz or bandwagon jumping?

  • Stefan

    Hi guys,

    finally a discussion on this topic. I found the article very well, thank you attackmagazine for that. But the discussion here is much better for me. Excuse me my English, but I also want to say a few words about this topic and I hope google translator-helps me 🙂
    I know the problem with the labels for about 6 months too. I am an amateur musician and I am not ready to publish my music yet. But a friend of mine, who I invented through his music on soundcloud, is a sound engineer with 20 years experience and for 2 years he makes his own electronic music. Of course I understand that everyone thinks his music is the best. But in my case I’m not talking about my music. Sure I also understand that the labels get so much junk that they have no desire to find the best of it. But it is unfair to the really talented artists. The music that we have makes me really crazy, sounds very professional, and what is most important, this is something new, And this is what I understand, if I say progressive House or techno music. It is very seldom that a music brings me dance at home, and this music makes it. I’m sure, it would be a bomb on the dance floor’s of the best clubs in the world.
    We have tried almost all the labels in Germany to show our music (soundcloud sharing, emails with text and private links and so on). What totally annoyed and disappointed us is, that all of our links are ignored. No single play in soundcloud. I mean, if they listen to it at least few seconds and nothing answered, then would be clear, that they have no interest to our music. The friend of mine has almost given up, but I’m looking for new ways.
    And one thing I do not understand too: the labels say that the artists have to listen carefully to the music from the label and make sure, that the demos suit to her style. And as you listen to some songs on their channels, it looks like all sound the same. Sure, we are not so stupid and do not send electronic music to pop or rock labels. But what do expect the labels? That the artists listen to the music from the label, and copy the same? Where is the creativity. Or they also want, that we still have the recognition, fans, beautiful photos, thousands of clicks on youtube. Then you wonder, I had the whole, why should I send my demos to the label: then I do prefer even a label. So, no matter what we write here, clearly that this is their business, and they make the rules.

    P.S.
    I am 100% agree with the comment from Rob. Rob if you read my comment too, maybe you could write your soundcloud link here. If the labels do not want to help us, then we need to help each other 🙂

  • Ben

    Hey guys!

    Stefan: you have my interest and my attention.

    I promise to listen to your demo.

    If it’s deep- or tech-house send it to label@moredevotion.co.uk
    If it’s electronica or a sub-genre send it to label@boxarecords.co.uk

    Let’s see what you got.

    Other producers who are reading this: feel free to send us demos as well. We’ll listen to every one of them and if you write “attack magazine” in the subject I personally promise to give you proper feedback as well instead of just ignoring you.

    Cheers,

    -Ben

  • Stefan

    Hey guys!

    If you read the comment from Ben, then you should know that we could send him our demos. I have already done it and get very quickly an answer with great tips and feedback. I think these tips would be very helpful for some of you too, that’s way I decided to share these with you. At this point I want to say thank you Ben again for your kind emails and these tips. So here you get the most important parts of the Ben’s email:

    “First off: 
    When you send demos to a label, choose 3 of your strongest tracks and send just them. Although I understand the concept of “let them choose what suits their taste”, It’s not very polite to ask label owners to listen to a bunch of tracks.” (We sent him 14 tracks :))
    Second:
    Your production is consistently in a genre called Progressive Trance. If you want to produce this genre, research beatport and look for labels that release this genre. Then compile a list of 50 of the major artists and take a look at everything they’re doing. And then make the effort and listen carefully to all of the beatport top 100 in the genres Psy-Trance and Trance (that’s how they classify these tracks). 
    Choose the ones you like most and take a look at what’s trending: are those tracks dark or glamorous? What’s the typical sound like? What are melodies like? What tools are they using to build and release suspense? What are some of the typical samples like?
    Then you need to start working on making sure your sound is unique and recognizable, while it also fits the trends that are on Beatport.
    You can’t think of your music as a stand-alone piece of art. You’re making music for DJ-s, and you need to think of it as ‘what kind of mix can I imagine this in’ and ‘how is it going to sound there’? You need to pay close attention and actually make the effort of putting each track in with a company of other tracks – tracks that preferably fit the trends too – and see how it sounds in a mix. Then finetune the sounds and the master. Or the whole tune.”

    In conclusion, I would say, don’t give up, make great music, try to make contacts with other musicians or even label owners (they are mostly nice people, especially Ben:) ) and of course don’t forget to read attack magazine 🙂

    Stefan

  • Dustin

    I know I’m waaaaay late on commenting on this article, but better late than never right?

    I’ve actually read the article before when it was first posted, but decided to read it again since I’m considering sending in a demo to a record label. After reading it a second time (and going through the comments this time), I have to say that its kind of discouraging to even want to send anything to a label with all these so-called ‘rules’ they have. I agree with Mike and burial’s mom, and Samirh, and I’m in a similar situation as Rob. I’ve been working on music for actually 5 or so years, but I’ve been releasing content myself and have gained a somewhat decent following, as I produce deep house and NuDisco (and sometimes downtempo). I’m mainly a producer but I’m also learning how to DJ as well.

    It’s just kinda discouraging of what you have to go through just to submit to a label nowadays, especially to these smaller labels that prefer a specific sound. IMO, searching for a ‘specific sound’ limits a label as far as diversity and content. What if you listen to a dope track but you can’t release it on the label because its not ‘your type of sound’? That’s something that’s never made sense to me, especially since I have been told countless times that I have a unique sound myself. It doesn’t really match with any of the labels out nowadays (or the more older and established labels), and I’ve been searching for a few labels that may take my music…I’ve been searching for over a year now.

    Anyway, it just makes me want to continue to release music on my own terms like I have been doing for the past couple of years. Other than that, great article!

  • Daekiss
  • manualidades de navidad

    Muchas gracias, me apasiona la manera en que publica sus articulos.

    http://tinyurl.com/mnfcakm

  • NUCID

    http://youtu.be/i_tCvPp6TDU If you like Art Rock, thrash the love. ^_^

  • Ben Johnson

    What about sending links to top A&R officials? Like your video you made on YouTube? It prevents the staff at a record label to sign for packages, walk up and down stairs for packages, open and close these packages, take up space and all that. They just have to click the link you send them and PRESTO Your song, their song, any song.

  • Ben Johnson

    Here’s my song link MOTHERLAND JAM
    http://www.unsigned.com/diss_abled

  • james g

    Incredible article, I personally found help with VX Media, they were really helpful and gave me over 1500 top and key industry contacts , 2000 sites for me to promote my music an online exposure pack and even promotion on their network which worked great. Check them out here: http://vxmed.net

  • L O N E R
  • Jeff

    Are all these nice tips for lawyers and business men or… for musicians? I am just disgusted, this is what I am. Here we have a clear explanation on why labels nowadays sign bullshit rather than passionate and TALENTED musicians who are committed to MUSIC only! Shame on you, money is not art and never will be.

  • Teck Nyne

    http://m.soundcloud.com/sideblockrecordings/the-storty-of-billy-1…… ill bring back what hip hop is missing…. seems alot of people have lost touch with the concept of why we all do music… the ones that love it are the people who stand on the sidelines looking at the stars we have today…smh…to those wanting it and working hard deserve a shot… lets bring hip hop back the right way….TeckNyne Side blockRecordings

  • sp69maC69

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sp69madmc69/325460874301520 

    Yo im a swansea female rapper started a music page trying to get known check it outlike my page if ya liked da tracks meney thanks shorty.p

  • sp69madMC69

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sp69madmc69/325460874301520 

    Yo im a swansea female rapper started a music page trying to get known check it outlike my page if ya liked da tracks meney thanks shorty.p

  • Brutus

    Hello everyone!

    Great article and great comments I must say.

    Leaving all politics aside I am here looking for tips. Perhaps all the people reading and posting comments are here for the same reason. I suspect here are more producers then labels. The article is wrote from the label’s perspective and it contains valuable tips.
    I’m a producer and I’ve been working with mainstream-pop music industry all along and I must say that dealing with mainstream labels is sometimes a lot easier than with underground labels. In mainstream situations the concept of “demo” is lost and it’s all cool cause if you want to sell good you have to invest in your product. Professional arrangement, good quality vocals, great mix, perfect mastering will get your track signed and sold.
    In underground scene most producers are stubborn (in a great way) enough to have everything done by themselves, from the production to marketing. But that’s a great thing cause that means the artist-producer can have his/hers own way all the way. Underground labels love artists who have their own unique energy in all the aspects of their art. That’s why shy demo-posters make count in the redundant folder. When I say shy demo-posters I mean artist/producers who don’t know yet the meaning of their art and it is shown in the way the music sounds and how it is presented.
    So I recon that underground labels are more interested in something that shines thru from all corners.
    Well, when you post a demo it not only has to contain good music, but it has to smell like a concept, an idea developed into a full scale revelation that puts the spotlight on the artist. Maybe it is all in the groove, or a vocal line, or a message in the title of the track, either way. The point is: people who receive demos are looking for something like that.
    Understanding that will change the whole reason and way a producer posts a demo, cause first of all you gotta have something to say, to express. That being the essence of art. And if you don’t know what it expresses it can be observed in the way you talk about it in the description of your demo.
    Usually a label will not try out and make experiments on their own expense. Not even labels who publish experimental music. The point in marketing is to find the right place to post a product. Underground labels are themselves like little markets that are visited by a certain type of buyers that expect a certain style and quality of music.
    Now days, in the underground, the job of finding the right market for a product is left in the hands of the producer. Is not bad news really, is good news cause in the underground is not only about making money, is about finding your friends. And once you are connected with your people – sky is the limit!

  • Scott Finnell

    First off, I find the whole industry is a mess. One would think that labels would be clamoring to find new songs and artists, but this whole idea of keeping people out is beyond me. I understand completely that they receive tons of demos that are crap, but there are so many great songs and artists out there that will never be heard, because of this process of getting noticed, following some made up rules on who can get noticed, and then gatekeepers that keep people out. The industry is dying in its current form, and needs a huge makeover to be viable. If your only route to get on the inside is American Idol, that is a very sad statement on the state of the music industry.

    Why can’t I just send a demo, and have someone listen to it, without having to jump through a million made up hoops?

    Muhsin continues on that note: “Looking focussed and dedicated is important. One person we signed had just a select few tracks on SoundCloud; he hadn’t put every demo up, which can be a bit of a turn-off because it means it isn’t special. Anyone and everyone could have heard it. It’s good to know people are serious, that they aren’t just chancers. Our latest signing also had a live set in the works, which shows he isn’t just sat there chancing it, he’s obviously committed. For a small label like us, that’s important.”

    This part of the article was very confusing. Is he saying it is good to have all your demos up on SoundCloud or just the best, and what is the best? Many songwriters/artists, like myself, are not the best judges of their own work. I have put up tracks I think are very good, and they do poorly. Then I put up a track that I had almost thrown out, and it gets all kinds of plays etc.

    Forgive me if I am not making sense. I had only two hours of sleep. I just wish this process of getting noticed was easier than it is. I have come to the conclusion that I should just release my own albums and just do this for the joy of writing music and not making money. In the end, I only really write to touch people and I fucking love making music.
    Cheers everyone and thanks for letting me rant.

  • jim loftus

    I have 17 demos 7 are strong radio ready stuff. but my real goal is to have a major country star pick up the song and I get royalty money. I still have over 40 lyrics some of my best stuff. any recommendations. the 2 love songs are really good. and I have 5 country rockers that are strong. I played the songs through my car stereo and I had people dancing away .

  • jim loftus

    any major stars out there listened I have a number 1 hit in my songs and lyrics.

  • A.T.O(Da_Red_Finger)

    Many artist_hummmmm! Well all I knw is that am a star____soon or late the world will celebrate me! I’M A.T.O (Da_Red_Finger)

  • Juanjo

    Send your demo to Discograficas http://www.enviatudemo.es

  • ANGELA

    I THINK THAT EVERY SPECFIC THING CAN MAKE SOMETHING CAPTURE YOUR WORK.

  • Scott

    wow

  • mitch
  • Gonzo

    I wonder if the label people have any idea just how fake so called soundcloud followings are? Do they not realise you can buy your followers now? I get so many offers to ‘promote ‘ my tracks for a price. The truth is that some people are very good at playing the social media marketing game but does it actually turn into sales and a genuine following? I’d rather spend that precious time getting better as a producer!

    Also, why would a producer who has worked his butt off to produce decent tracks make them private and only send to one label at a time? You really think we have time to risk putting all our eggs in one basket like that? In the vain hope it MIGHT get listened to in several months? How do they expect us to grow a following without our best tracks out there?

  • Francisco Hunte

    Franco (UK)

    Hello all

    I have just read this article now, late I know.

    I myself produce Drum & Bass, and have had people love my dark sound, and I did have a German D&B label follow me. But they stopped due to my lack of internet following and profile. I have sent Demos to some of the UK big labels, and yes no replies, LOL.. I have found the UK dance music scene to be very clicky, and more about who you know, not really about how talented you are, or how deep your sound is.

    Being 41, I grow up with the late 80s rave scene upto present, and when it all started, UK pirate stations, and DJs used to play tracks by any bedroom producer, as it was about the sound of the streets. And many producers back then were young urban kids making music from the heart, and using their frustration and aggression in their music production, instead of the streets.

    Then came the 90s, and it went commercial, which lead to marketed superstar DJs and Producers. This lead to vast amounts of money to be made, hence greed and locking out the competition, such as more talented DJs and Producers, making the hole scene very clicky.

    In the Drum & Bass scene its been the same old DJs and Producers holding the keys to the door. Only letting new talent that is a friend of a friend etc.
    Total BS !

    I personally think any producer would get more exposure in europe, as the europeans don’t give a………. , as long as your music hard and deep.
    Forget the Uk !

    Go and give your music direct to DJs, go clubbing, go warehouse raves etc, let the people listen to your talent, then the same Lables that ignored you will be begging you to sign up with them, so they can make money out of you.

  • Daniel
  • MCTR

    I used to upload tracks to youtube to gain responses and feedback from the public. I found that you will get a lot of hits depending on how the tracks is named; for example ‘Matt Carter 99 days’ had barely any hits (a few hundred) when I renamed it ‘Ibiza House 2011’ all of a sudden I started getting tons of views, some days 10,000 hits, then as soon as 2012 came round it went back to almost zero again. In that time I amassed almost 2 million hits on my video’s.
    Now when I contact labels I tell them I have nearly 2 million hits on my youtube channel and they really like that.
    Agreed, it’s a lengthy process, but the more exposure the better.

  • William Marchesini
  • Panagiotis

    What is the email where I can send my beat?

  • The whole process is rather frustrating…the most difficult part for me is just getting labels to open my emails. I have a large local following and a strong online presence, and many people I trust have told me that my music is “very good,” but the labels that I aim for don’t even press play. I’ll send a track out to 30 labels and the play counter stays at 2.

    Also, the bit about damaging your reputation by not releasing on the “right” labels is kinda bullsh*t. It’s all a game of getting your music out there. It’s like they’re holding it against your for not getting signed to Spinnin’ on your first shot. You have to work your way up, just as in any industry.

  • Melissa

    # Jamie Russell is even more explicit: “Labels like to feel special. If we see something we like it’s easy to go off it if you see it’s been sent to ten other labels as well, because no one really wants to get into a bidding war at this independent level. That’s just a massive fucking turn off, to be honest.” #

    I don´t understand this. Are you saying that an amateur musician, who is looking for a label to release his music, shouldn´t send his demo to various labels? The article implies that your demo is more likely to be not listened to/rejected/thrown to the trash bin, so sending the demo just to one label would seem to be pretty unwise.

    Or am I wrong?

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