Getting a record distribution deal requires that you put yourself and your work out there. Build an audience that appreciates your music and your performances, and you are on your way to a career playing music. Aside from the obvious talent you will need to succeed in the music industry, you must also know where to look for the people and places that can help you advance your career.
Develop original material. Cover bands--those that play only other people's songs--may be great at parties, but you will never attract record executives until you can deliver originality. Rights issues and requests for existing songs present a nightmare for record companies and can cost quite a bit of money to obtain clearance.
Perform live shows. Start out at the local level, but once you have grown comfortable, expand to the surrounding area. No matter where you live in the United States, there is always a regional hot spot that will allow you to find a new audience and grow your music platform. Make sure that when starting out you deliver a healthy mix of covers and new songs. Doing so keeps your audience engaged and open to your original material.
Become familiar with music industry players. Who are your influences? Who distributes the albums you love? Check out a CD or two from your favorite artist and use the Internet to visit official sites of record labels and distributors connected to this music.
To find success networking, author C. Michael Brae suggests three things. Be good to the people at the bottom. A receptionist at a record distributor could be your ticket to a major contact. In addition to this, enroll your band or act in local music competitions. Executives keep close watch on talent competitions and winning one leads to bigger opportunities. Lastly, use social networking sites to stay in touch with your audience and professional contacts.
Cut and send demos to record labels. An artist can't afford to ignore this step, though most do. Producing a professional quality demo sets you apart from the rest of the pack. When you are ready to submit, place a call to the label, not the distributor.
(Labels produce music. Distributors make the music available to the public.)
Ask the receptionist who would be interested in hearing established new artists. Be friendly, respectful and courteous. Information will also be posted on official websites, so make a target list based on the music you like and see whether each site has demo policies in place.
Build an online platform. Author Brae advises you to consult with an information technology professional for the best possible presentation of your site and your music. "Make sure your audience knows where to find you on the web," Brae says. "The more that people follow you, the more likely professionals will take notice."
- The Register: Music Industry Fighting Piracy
- "Music Distribution: Selling Music in the New Entertainment Marketplace"; C. Michael Brae; 2009
Aric Mitchell lives and works out of Fort Smith, Ark. When not writing articles for Demand Studios, he scribes film columns for "Celebrate Arkansas Magazine" and Flickchart.com, and serves as a staff writer for TheRugged.com, a Dallas-based online men's lifestyle magazine.