A lot of artists I’ve talked to seem to think there is a profound shroud of mystery around getting signed to a label. As someone who runs a label and knows other people who run their own labels, I can tell you that it’s not a mystery. In fact, it’s pretty straightforward. And there’s a lot you can do about it.
The artist writes great music and the label must, quite simply, work and support it:
• As simple, obvious and annoying as it sounds the recorded music of any artist is huge, legacy building factor. Probably the biggest factor. I don’t know anybody who signs or works anything that they don’t absolutely, 110% love and believe in. There’s no point. Because if I don’t love it, how can give it to tastemakers and expect them to love it? Therefore, the marketing and publicity push won’t be nearly as convincing → radio won’t feel like it’s amazing →DSPs won’t get it → the industry won’t hear about it → and the campaign won’t really make a mark.
The artist is ingrained in a community of musicians and other artists:
• Nothing helps a label more than if an artist has a pre-built community of artists that they can tap into. Whether its for collaborations, touring, marketing, whatever. It’s very telling to have an artist go out and establish themselves within a community of other like-minded and great musicians.
The artist has fans that absolutely adore them:
• Having a pre-existing collection of avid fans that labels can tap into and build upon is a really useful thing for labels. Not only from a data collection point of view, but understanding the artist, where they want be and how to build towards it.
The artist has gone on tour:
• Having a touring history, even if it’s with completely unknown artists, is really helpful to a lot of labels. It gives them faith that you can get all the pieces together to go out on the road and tour a release.
The artists has worked their butt off before the label even arrives:
• Labels aren’t going to break you upon signing with them. They are here to elevate your vision. But they can’t create the vision for you. You must have the vision and they must believe in it, work on it and advance it. It’s a two way street of working together to make something truly great happen.