5 Things Every Artist Needs To Do To Get Signed
Getting signed today is very different than how we imagine it. The record label expects you to already have a developed fanbase and moderate success before they even consider you as an artist (or in their eyes, an investment).
Record labels are basically cash-holding investors, ready to fund anything that they think is promising. So just like with any investment, they want to make absolutely sure that whatever (or whomever) they invest in well bring back a return and line their pockets for the next artist.
1. Give Yourself a Strategic Advantage in the Music Industry
You don't need to be the best at everything, but you do need to make sure you have a strategic advantage in some area. What does this mean? It means you need to be extremely good at something. One type of advantage could be that you are talented at social media and it comes naturally to you. That means that you have a skill or talent that can help you break through the crowd when it comes to being noticed. Another type of advantage could be singing exceptionally well or being a talented songwriter.
If you take an honest look at yourself and you can't find an area where you have a strategic advantage, then that's a red flag that time and effort needs to be spent in practice and artist development.
2. Grow Your Audience Organically
In the intro paragraph, I mentioned that record labels will not do all the work for you anymore: If you think that a record label is going to come by and swoop you up when you haven't done any hard work on your own, then you can forget it. Record labels need to see a track record from their artists before being signed. Especially when being compared to the many other artists that they are willing to invest in, having an audience is essential.
Just like I said earlier, the best way to get noticed by a label is to make yourself look like the best possible investment that the record label can make. You need to see yourself as a business by growing your audience, interacting with them daily, and rallying them to your cause. If you can't see yourself as a business, then the music business will want nothing to do with you.
Bonus: Don't buy followers
It is easy to tell when someone has purchased face followers on their social media accounts to try and bump their numbers up and appear more impressive. This blunder will backfire every time, and it could even ruin your career. When you purchase followers, this is the real message that you are sending:
- You are not willing to do the hard work.
- You are not connecting with real people.
- You are demonstrating a character trait you are willing to take shortcuts and exploit the "easy-way-out" (which is a trait that nobody will want in a business partner).
3. Don't Record Albums, Instead Film Music Videos
Some people might disagree with this third point, but this is something that I have come to believe truly. I say, don't record album, but instead spend the time money that you would be spending on your album on the best possible single that you can record, and couple it with the best music video that you can create on your budget.
If you have a phone, you have a full production studio in the palm of your hand complete with built-in audio, often 4k video, and an internet connection to share with the entire world. There is no excuse not to create a visual element along with your music and share it on social media. If you are not sharing your music in video form on Instagram, YouTube, Musical.ly, or Facebook, then you are doing something wrong in this digital age.
Creating an album can be down the line when you have a following, but I think of an album as a product. And just like with any other product, the audience and the buyers need to be lined up first before releasing a product. Otherwise, you will be stuck with 500 copies of a CD that no one is interested in.
4. Become Educated on the Music Industry
This one is a little bit of common sense, but it needs to be said more often. If you are going to be entering the jewelry business, then you need to know the business of jewelry sales. if you are going to enter the automobile business, then you better know about selling cars. The same goes for the music business. You need to know how the music business operates and what all the moving parts are. The reason why artists starve is that they know a lot about the art of what they do, but they never take the time to learn the business, and hence cannot turn their art into a successful career.
This advice also comes into importance because the reality is that there is a chance you may never get signed. Unfortunately, that is the actuality for many people. Hopefully, that won't be the case for you, but even if you don't get signed, will you have the business skill set to continue your career in music? Or will you be straight out of luck because you never took it upon yourself to take your career into your own hands and learn the business side of your music? The choice is yours.
5. Perform Your Music in Front of an Audience Weekly
Number 5 is the most important on this list, but at the same time, it is the most widely known. BUT if you do not do this, then everything else on this list will be ruined and you won't have a chance of being signed to a major record label. Performing your music weekly doesn't necessarily mean that you need to be out, playing amplified music every week—there are other ways to perform your music without physically being out of your own home.
Especially if you work a full-time job and you are wondering "how can I find time to perform with my busy work schedule," you can perform for your audience through videos posted online, or through Instagram live. Create a habit of always making a point of getting your music in front of a new group of people constantly.
It also forces you to practice performing. When practicing at home by yourself, that is a different type of practice compared to practicing your performance skills. When practicing on your own, you have the liberty to start and restart at every mistake, but when you have the pressure of people watching, it forces you to push through your mistakes and recover in order to continue the song to its finish—a skill that is hard to develop any other way.
6. BONUS TIP: WATCH THE VIDEO TO SEE WHAT THE BONUS TIP IS