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It's only the beginning! - By Tone' Stylz
There is a myth that has hung around unsigned artists that goes something like this:
"If only we could get a record deal, everything will be fine", or "We won't have to work as hard when we sign our deal, our label will take care of everything!"
This may or may not be how you are thinking, but Chances are ALL of you have something similar in the back of your minds. However, I would like to discuss briefly what WILL change and what most certainly will NOT when you eventually sign a record deal.
Much of what may change will be determined by whether you sign to a major label or an independent. At present there are two types of products that are getting signed, and this of course could change at any given point.
* Young artists (solo female vocalists ALA Britney, Christina, Destiny's Child or young boy bands ALA Backstreet Boys, Nsync etc.) usually signed to a producer or production company where the producer has strong relationships with labels.
* Adult oriented groups (ALA Dave Mathews band, Nickelback, Lady Gaga) starting out as independent artists and selling in excess of 10,000 - 20,000 units on their own.
So, needless to say record companies are not doing quite so much work these days whipping an artist in shape. They want everything on a plate with little development! (With this in mind, it will be important to determine where you fit into the business today to move ahead.)
So what will change when you get signed?
Well firstly, as a young inexperienced artist, absolutely everything! A major label will set its machine in motion. It will issue a radio edit to its format, have you on a radio promo tour where you travel to each state and have dinner with record reps and do "liners" for radio stations and do in studio interviews. It will all seem new and exciting and if you are successful you will be one in a million.
For the indie artist, very little may change. If you are out there selling your own CD's, widening your fanbase, you are essentially doing what a label would have you do anyway. When you get signed the company will insist that none of this stops anytime soon. They will no doubt hook you up with a national booking agent and of course start putting the radio and pr wheels in motion. The size of the label will determine what kind of tour support they can give you. (A very small label will give you none at all!) Now, if you are selling a good amount of units, you have incredible bargaining power to get a very nice deal and if I was selling in excess of 15 to 20,000 units on my own without a label, I would be extremely careful about the deal I signed as I had essentially done ALL the leg work.
What will not change?
Your income! A horrible reality but one to be very conscious of at this stage. Sure you may get a little advance, some publishing money perhaps. It'll last a while. I would be very careful with it as it may have to last a while! Think of it like this: When you sign a deal you are signing a partnership with a company. They are essentially giving you a little money because they want a piece of what they see as potential income. The financial reward happens when records are sold, and even then the way recoupment is set up it is not always favorable to the artist. The money as a new (successful) artist is, without a doubt, made from "mechanical" royalties. You will most likely never see "artist" royalties unless your first album is hugely successful (as your recoupable debt from unsuccessful albums increases as you continue to make albums with a label). Write as much of each album as you can and take care of administration. (For more info on taking care of your copyrights and publishing read Donald Passman's "All you need to know about the music business").
Certainly when a deal is signed, I think it is safe to assume that as an artist, it is still in your interest to stay well on top of opportunities (and keep the label on top of them too!). Record labels have large rosters and just because you are signed, does not mean that they will have every promotional angle greased on your behalf. The things that will change are the things that are out of your control. A lot of this will be media hype and radio/TV promo. As a new artist you will still want to play out and increase your fanbase, and sell CD's at shows.
I think it is good to assume that the work really begins when a deal goes through. This is not the time to exclusively rest and wait for everything to happen to see where you are on the chart.
The more sensible artists reading this will given up a long time agoe "waiting to be discovered", and quite rightly. It just 'aint gonna happen! It's much more about positioning now. More importantly it is about building a career and this can take 3, 4 or 5 albums before sales really start to kick in even if a label is on board. Be strategic, get a good sense of how you intend to build your career and when a label kicks in there will be very good reason. Most importantly, a career as an artist is very possible. However, It takes a lot of common sense and knowledge. The more you know the better off you will be.
By Tone' Stylz (Music Insider Magazine)
Why was my demo rejected? - By Tone' Stylz
"Getting a deal" has long been the goal of many would-be artists and bands. Most new artists feel that by securing a recording contract with a significant major or independent label, success will be guaranteed. To get this ‘belief system’ up and running, many artists figure all they have to do is send off their music to a label, and a recording contract will come their way shortly.
The following list of ‘10 Reasons Why Demo Are Rejected’ was gathered together after years of listening to comments made by Record Label A&R reps at music industry conferences and workshops; as well as from personal interviews with reps, and from many interviews A&R reps have given to the press.
10 Reasons Why Demos Are Rejected
1. Not enough Contact Information on CD or sleeve (put your name, address, email, and phone number on both)
2. Lack of Originality
(make sure music is not dated and fits in a market for radio, just because you can record, doesn’t mean your music is worth recording)
3. The Music Is Good, But The writing is Bad
(it's very important that this applies to all genres of music)
4. Poorly Recorded Material
(Pay some extra money for a seasoned Producer & Engineer)
5. Best songs are not identified or highltghted on the CD or MP3
(give the folks a break, for demos-send only 2 or 3 songs and highlight the best ones first)
6. Sending Videos In Place Of CD's
(keep it simple in the demo mode, all anyone wants is to check out your songwriting and musicianship)
7. Sending Unsolicited Recordings
(you sent them, but they never asked for them. Establish a relationship with an A&R, manager, publicist or lawyer.)
8. Sending The Wrong Music To The Wrong Label
(you didn’t do your research to find out what labels are even looking for)
9. Musicians Can’t Play Their Instruments Competently
(this is so basic, but you would be astounded at how incompetant most start-up musicians are)
10. The Music Sucks
( this criticism is as old as music itself. you may think your music is the greatest thing since apple pie, but most demo recordings the industry receives are as bad as the first round contestants on American Idol)
Tone' Stylz, Music Business Consultant