Selling your soul to the devil doesn’t always get you a golden fiddle (or a gold record, for that matter). So, then, how does a musician get signed without compromising their artistic integrity? In this post, we’ll explore how to get a record deal while keeping your art intact.
How to Get a Record Deal
The goal of landing a record deal doesn’t have to come at the cost of eternal damnation.
Learning how to get a record deal isn’t a cookie-cutter process. There are many different variables to consider when trying to distribute your art through a record label. In the list below we’ll go over some of the most important aspects of how to get a record deal.
First and foremost, before you ask yourself the question of how to get a record deal, you need to make music.
This might seem like an obvious statement, but let’s hold that note for a bar or two.
If you’re truly an artist, you feel the need and the desire to create. Music isn’t just something you’re interested in, it’s your life. As such, your life should revolve around music, especially your thoughts and actions.
Making music isn’t just as simple as penning a few lines and throwing in a fill here and there. Music should well up from the depths of your being. When it does, your audience will know what you’re sharing is genuine.
Furthermore, making music requires practice. Some of the best musicians in the world aren’t the best because they’re talented. They’re the best because they practice constantly.
If you want to make music your life, fill your life with music.
Perform Your Music Live
Have you ever asked someone what they thought of a concert and received the response, “they sound even better live”?
The statement might seem obvious. “Of course music sounds better live. Have you never been to a concert before?” If only that were true all the time.
The fact of the matter is, some musicians don’t sound better live. Their albums might be beautifully layered and dynamic. But once they get on stage, for whatever reason, it falls flat compared to the studio recording.
Performing music live not only provides a great venue for practice, but it helps develop the skills necessary to become a professional musician. Furthermore, performing live puts you in front of eager ears and gives you an opportunity to build your fan base.
Even the most successful musicians have wondered about how to get a record deal.
Sure, that might have been early in their careers. But don’t forget, that’s where you are, too. Once you start getting your music into the ears of your listeners, whoever they may be (i.e. your mom, your friends, your music teacher), start asking for feedback (from people, not your monitors).
Ask them what they think of the music you’re creating. Ask them for honest opinions. If all you find are the polite answers which only scratch the surface, try asking someone else. If you’re trying to grow as an artist, you need to risk your feelings getting hurt from time to time.
Honest criticism, while not usually fun to hear, can be really helpful, so long as you take it to heart and use the criticism as a basis for growth.
Build Your Audience
Even if you’ve figured out how to get a record deal, it won’t do much good if you don’t have an audience to listen to your music.
Begin taking the steps necessary to build your audience. This can be done in a variety of ways, but most importantly, it requires shameless self-promotion. Your music is great and you’re a great musician, the world just doesn’t know about you yet.
Get involved in your local music scene and play as many shows as you can. After the shows, take the time to mingle with the crowds. Take your time and try getting to know your audience on a personal level.
If you feel comfortable, ask them what they thought of your show. Doing so could create a terrific opportunity for receiving honest feedback from the very music lovers that will help sustain your career once you’ve landed that record deal.
Network With Other Professionals
Local live music thrives within a supportive community.
While you’re out playing your live gigs and getting to know the audience, take the time to get to know other artists, as well.
Are you opening for a well-known local band? Or even better, are you opening for a well-known national act? Don’t let this opportunity for learning pass you by.
Get to know the other artists and exchange contact information. Try to ask them questions and take away whatever insight they might offer. Additionally, connecting with other musicians could open doors for new performances, as well as professional contacts.
Take classes, lessons, workshops, find a mentor!
Do you feel like your music isn’t improving as quickly as you’d like? It might be time to do some studying and learning. How do you learn best? It’s worth exploring a few options for personal and professional growth.
The question of how to get a record deal doesn’t have to sit on the back burner while you do so, either. Furthering your education could be just the thing you need to break through the plateau you’ve found yourself on. Take it to the next level by getting some instruction from an expert.
Continuing your education, though, doesn’t require attending a college or university, though. For example, ask other musicians if they know of any good local resources. Maybe they will connect you with another musician which can show you a thing or two.
Make Your Music Available Publicly
While the importance of performing live can’t be stressed enough, your audience needs to be able to find your music outside the live music scene.
There are a plethora of streaming services available online. Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and YouTube are great places to start.
Publish your music online and then begin sharing it. Create artist pages on the appropriate social media sites, and increase the reach of your shameless self-promotion.
How to get a record deal isn’t always an easy question to answer. How to get a record deal without selling your soul can be an even more difficult question to answer.
These tips don’t get into the specifics of landing a record deal without selling out. Rather, they are meant to offer inspiration and serve as a guide for making your music the best it can be. If you live your life as an artist, it will be more difficult to compromise your integrity.
Are you an aspiring musician in need of exposure? Submit a song of yours for a chance to win in the Indie International Songwriting Contest! New contestants can create a free account to get started.