I’d like to write a series of How To style articles on this blog. I wanted to start with a How To on distributing records but it’s a such a big topic that I can’t tackle it yet.
So anyway, how do you get your tracks signed? Well, there’s two pieces of advice here.Number one: send fewer tracks.
So, you’ve been making beats for a while and suddenly your output sounds good. You keep adding these tracks to your private SoundCloud collection and suddenly you’ve six, eight, maybe twenty tracks that you’re proud of!
Surely it’s going to be easy for a label to choose an EP of four tracks with so many options?
No, it’s impossible for the label.
Here’s the advice: you should send just two tracks.
“Two?!” you say, spitting your coffee over your Mac keyboard cover with all the Ableton shortcuts on it. “But I can’t show the breadth of my sound? How can they even think about an EP when I only send two tracks?”
Let me explain. It’s not a question of music or a question of signing an EP… it’s a question of power dynamics.
If you send me two tracks and I like them both then I’ll listen to both a number of times before I even reply to you. What is more, the more I listen, the more I’ll fall in love with them.
If you send me the exact same two tracks at the start of a playlist of ten tracks then I’ll keep on wandering through. I’ll listen to the ideas, I’ll probably end up skipping some of the best parts and I’ll certainly find much more scope to dislike certain things (not my sound; hi-hat 6dB too loud; everyone’s used that sample etc).
You’ll have made all your music available to me and actually you want me coming back to you like Oliver Twist asking, “please Mr SoundCloud producer, can I have some more bangers?”.
Number two: forget the labels.
This should probably have been number one but all of the logic from #1 applies in this scenario too.
Honestly, forget the bloody labels. They takes to ages to decide on your tracks, they take ages to send you a test pressing and they take ages to get your music out.
In the end, probably only a few people will care about it and your life will have changed very little except for a few extra slices of plastic in your Kallax and a few hundred quid in your bank account.
You need to send music to DJs. This is the most important thing.
If Raresh, Tini or whoever else is spinning your tune at gigs then you can take your pick of label to release it. You probably won’t even need to decide because the number of DJs who don’t have a label can now be counted on one hand.
DJs are surprisingly open to listening to demos, particularly compared with labels. You may think of them as “big names” but most who are worth their salt will check some SoundCloud links sent to their inbox.
DJs will be much more open to listening to your music – again, just a couple of tracks to start with! – since you’re not asking them for anything. You’re not asking them to sign your tracks, invest their money and make your dreams come true.
It’s just one music lover sending their music to another.
Ultimately, record labels do the exact same thing but they make it much more complicated.
So if you want to get tracks signed, forget the label and send fewer tracks.