Now we realize that this is all going to sort of contradict our goals a little, and maybe saying to the greater public that Record labels aren’t that important may deter artists from bothering with us in the future.. So as a disclaimer:
SLINKIEMUSIC IS THE EXCEPTION. WE ARE AMAZING. NOBODY IS AS GOOD AS US… DONT SIGN THAT TRACK TO NINJA TUNE.. WHAT DO THEY KNOW? FUCK ALL….. WE’RE THE BEST.
Right now that’s sorted, I’m going to outline some of the things we have learnt from running a record label and working in the world of music PR.
It used to be that if you had been slaving away for years honing your skills in the studio and you eventually had a few tracks that you thought, right these are sick, im going to send them to a label and the label will sort it and make me famous. Things have changed slightly. Back then you handed out CD’s to DJ’s and did all that stuff, now due to the ease of soundcloud and E-mail, the competition has become vast and fierce and the simple fact of the matter is this – Record labels CAN’T AND DON’T listen to all the tracks they’re sent.. They just don’t.
You might think this has now made life harder for the up and coming musician, but i’ll let you in on a secret. Unless your signing with say XL, Hospital, RAM, R & S etc. (None of whom are likely to sign you unless you’ve had smaller releases before anyway) then all you’re really after, is the record labels bag full of contacts in the press, radio and clubs.
The record label doesn’t make you famous..The Taste-makers do. So what record labels do is take your track and pitch for exclusives in all the right places – Lineofbestfit, Mixmag, XLR8R, Earmilk etc.. That or they hire a publicist to do it for them.
THESE ARE ALL THINGS YOU CAN DO YOURSELF
The best up and coming musicians these days are more than just musicians. The best are also promoters, writers, managers and most importantly, social butterflies. How do you think publicists and record labels have all these contacts in the press? They’re not best mates with everyone from Mixmag to NME, no they might meet the odd blogger out somewhere but generally they find these e-mails online.
BUILD YOUR OWN DATABASE
Linkedin, Twitter, Personal Facebooks, Soundclouds, Blogs – ALL Freelance writers from The Guardian to The Fader have these and if you trawl hard enough you can find personal E-Mail addresses. These are the people with the power at their fingertips, not the record labels… These are the people with thousands of dedicated readers and the online know-how to make the public press play, not the record labels.
Now, I’m not saying don’t ever bother with record labels. At some point in your career, if you’re really talented you will need one. If you ever want to release physical copies for example, labels are much more likely to have the funding and distribution contacts to make that a realization. My advice would be more that, if you send your tracks round to your favorite labels and you have no luck, give it a shot yourself and reach out to the right people. Think of Cyril Hahn. All he did was upload that Destiny’s child bootleg and then boom, He’s playing every festival the following year. The Weeknd gave away almost all his music for free.. Now he’s selling out stadium tours.
Just have a think before signing your music away.. Don’t worry about what cut you’re getting (Because you would be very lucky to make any money anyway). Don’t worry about the amount of likes the label has (Because for not a large sum of money, you can buy as many fans & followers as you want). Ask the label where and who they intend on sending the track to.. Ask them if they are going to try for exclusives anywhere, and what sort of campaign are they going to do in the run up to the release.. See how engaged their fans are on facebook..
Most importantly, ask how YOU can help with the success of the track.
Everyone loves a savvy slinkie