Landing a record contract requires a curious mixture of talent, reputation, networking ability and luck. At the most basic level, your job is to get the label interested in your work. There are no hard-and-fast rules and no silver bullets, but there’s a lot of common sense involved.
You may have dreams of a rise to stardom in which you’re approached by a label rep in a smoky back room, but realistically, the most crucial thing you can do to raise your chances of being signed is to go after the deal yourself.
Modern musicians have advantages in the huge number of independent labels that exist today and unprecedented and instant access to them via the Internet.
However well-made your music is, it’ll never hit the target if you don’t point it towards the right kind of label.
Seek out some of the major vendors for your genre and see if you can find tracks that sit nicely alongside yours. Do they have similar sounds, BPM and overall vibe? There’s no point sending your progressive monster to a Deep House label or your latest EDM banger to a Techno label.
At best they’ll ignore it; at worst you’ll undermine your reputation. More unclassifiable and esoteric material may be harder to find an appropriate label for, but the sheer volume of labels out there will make up for this.
Once you’ve noted down a few appropriate candidates who could be interested, find their websites and look to see if they have an email address to send demos (‘release quality’ demos, naturally).
Finding a named contact is important, too, and a creative Google, LinkedIn or even Facebook search could shed some light on who’s who.
When choosing a label, it’s tempting to think that bigger is better: that the more releases they have, the more established they are. But how successful have those releases been? Track down a label’s releases on sites like Beatport or Traxsource to get an idea of their average highest chart positions.
A label whose three releases have reached the Top 10 is better than a label whose 30 releases haven’t even broken the Top 100, but the former may hold its artists to higher standards that you’ll have to meet.
Important: When submitting your tracks, always include a brief bio (50-100 words is plenty) and don’t send links to AIFF or WAV files – anything larger than a 320kbps MP3 will most likely be ignored. Some people prefer SoundCloud links, so cover the spread by sending both. Two or three tracks should be enough!
Top 10 Techno Record Labels