Working with Record Labels and Submitting Music
On the eve of our full magazine launch which includes a spotlight interview with “Blue Amazon’s “Se-Lek Music” label, we caught up with “Lee Softley” for a pre article chat running through some tips and thoughts for new artists working with record labels and submitting music.
Lee – Cheers here’s some of my guides, thoughts and opinions on working with music for record labels in the modern day. If you have ever read any of my previous interviews or articles in this area you will know my opinion is objective. I don’t profess to be an all round music expert and can only comment from my own experiences, but here we go.
Find The Right Home For Your Music
Everybody would love to be on the Hi flying labels tagged amongst respected artists and given instant exposure. My view on this is its all well and good, but you will find it more difficult to get through the door with these labels without some kind of help or push from others. If you find a label that is supportive of what you do and wants to help you grow as an artist, this is often a rare commodity and is worth embracing.
Obviously you need to question what the labels plans are with your music, how professional they are and what thoughts they have on you as an artist beyond just one release. If you don’t have a reference of how they output, promote or the understand the mechanics of what they do, you will need to ask the right questions but do it in a polite manner.
The danger of chasing the big label and even if you are successful can sometimes result in the talented football player scenario, who signs to a big club and sits on the bench for the next year. So have a good think about what it is you want to achieve and speak to the labels about this before signing anything.
Working on Demos or Updating Them To Give To The Label
If you have a label interested in signing your tracks or you have already signed and updating masters for finishing, limit the amount of updates you send to them.
A label doesn’t need to hear every updated version of your track with a slight hi hat tweak or a frequency change that only a dog can hear. If you are sending too many slightly updated versions what tends to happen is the label or A&R listening will get bored or confused about what they are listening to and it can result in taking the shine off your project and potential release.
So try being as definitive as possible or ask someone who’s judgment you trust to take a listen before submitting it again.
Choose Your Sounding Board Carefully
As touched on regarding asking friends or others to listen to your tracks before submitting it to a label. Be careful whom you ask to listen to it, not everyone has an open mind about music and even if it’s great some might be negative or dismissive if they don’t like the style of your track.
Also if you are in the development stages of ideas not everybody will be able to see the bigger picture without it being the glossed over and the almost shinny finished mix. This is something I have experienced many times over the years and I am very careful who opinions I take on-board about music. This can also stretch to label A&R as well, not all label A&R have the ability to see the potential in something from source ideas.
Deadlines and Delivery
If you’re given a deadline from a label to get music finished try as best possible to meet it. Understand the reason you were given a deadline was because the label are making plans and arrangements in the background for your release.
It doesn’t take much for schedules and release plans to get into a mess and it can have a knock on affect of bigger delays, costs and your release being put back. The after affects of this can also take the shine away from your project because nobody likes things dragging on.
As an artist nobody likes to see his or her music just sat there waiting for release and I have been there many times. There’s a balance that needs to be adopted between pushing for things to happen faster and being understanding of why it might be taking longer.
Obviously if its got beyond the joke then its understandable that you will be frustrated and then you can exercise (if you have it in your contract) the right to with draw your music per release commitment.
Nobody wants to go down this road it’s a waste of time and you as an artist just end up with your music coming back to you and you have to start again.
Communicate with the label ask if there is anything that you can help with to help get the project moving along. Overall delays of a few months are not worth kicking up a fuss about, delays beyond 5 or 6 months yes get serious with them.
Having a positive attitude is probably going to count for a good 40 to 50% of what you do or what happens for you. It’s going to make your experience more enjoyable, others you work with more enjoyable and labels / A&R will be keener to help you.
You can be one of the most talented acts, artist, producers out there but if you’re a pain in the backside to deal with that negativity will over ride peoples appreciation of your talent. If you choose to be difficult then you really need to smashing music in the charts and earning others lots of money before they will put up with it.
‘Don’t expect too much to soon, the digital release market is literally consumed beyond belief. It’s very difficult to get sales charting these days and even if you do get in these charts the sales generated to get these positions are not that commendable’
Lots of labels these days struggle to break even and cover their time / costs. Remember lots of the artist and producers that are leading they way right now had to spend years of dedication and building to get here.
Lots of key respected producers have had to drastically drop their remix / producer fees over the years so it’s all about perspective.
When you’re signed to a label and they are releasing your music and promoting you that shouldn’t mean that you stop doing the same. The days of just concentrating on recording music and leaving the label to the rest have long gone in dance music.
It’s a team effort and you all push for the same outcome. Also if you are wiling to push yourself that also earns you respect as an artist with labels and shows you are serious about what you want to achieve.
When you are signing to labels keep in mind that you are signing into their ethos, vision and direction.
Any good label will happily take on-board your ideas and suggestions but remember and especially with dance music most of the time your signing your music to be apart of their brand.
Make it fun and enjoy it as much as possible otherwise what’s the point?