Getting a record deal in Nashville is a difficult feat. The most talented of musicians or songwriters struggle to shine through in this ultimate town of music makers. Many would-be stars trek to Nashville, all with the aim of striking a record deal to catapult them into the limelight. Most fail to make it. Yet it is not impossible if you have the talent, the determination to never give up and confident networking skills. It also helps to look the complete package.
Move to Nashville, if you don’t already reside in Tennessee. It is virtually impossible to get a record deal by means of correspondence. Just sending a demo tape to a record producer in Nashville will not get you noticed. Record companies do not have the time or the staff to listen to every demo they receive.
Write songs daily. Record music demos. Consider recording a professional demo.
Send song demos to record producers who produce your type of music. Call producer's companies to seek permission to submit your demo, since unsolicited demos may be rejected. Send your demo. Wait to hear for a response. If you do not hear back, send them some more song material. Companies may keep demos of musicians with potential on file but may not act on them unless reminded.
Approach performance rights companies such as BMI, SESAC and ASCAP, as recommended by the Muse's Muse. (See Reference 1) These organizations listen to writers' submissions and can recommend music talent to record producers.
Attend live music events, open mic nights or music auditions. Find information about such events on the Internet or look in the local magazines or newspapers such as Nashville Scene or The Tennessean.
Create your own website where you'll place song snippets, your music biography and your videos. Upload your music videos to YouTube for more exposure.
Network at social music events to meet people in the music industry. Striking up creative relationships or making useful contacts in the music business can help lead to a recording contract. Be prepared. Have a business card and a music demo handy at all times.
Join the Nashville Songwriters Association International. This organization provides recording facilities and workshops and offers support to musicians and songwriters. It is important to workshop new skills, to meet other musicians and to keep motivated.
Play a gig. Get a gig which you know music producers will be likely to attend. Send out e-mails, fliers, mail shots and make phone calls to inform music producers about your gig. If a producer attends, you may be fortunate and get invited along to his office.
Arrive early if invited to meet a record producer. Dress according to the style of the recording artist you believe yourself to be. Be prepared and have a portfolio of songs with you. Know your songs and be prepared to sing.
Consider applying to song contests like USA Network Nashville Star or television reality shows to try to win a record deal.
Do not look desperate for the record deal. Do not become a victim of an exploitative record producer for the price of fame.