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Reaching out to labels - what to write ?
Old 30th May 2020
  #1
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aligak's Avatar
Reaching out to labels - what to write ?

Hello dear slutz! I recently finished a full length album. It has been professionally mastered with artwork done by a pro as well. It sounds and looks great (of course I'm biased). In other words, everything is ready for a label to pick it up and release it as it is.

So why do I need a label? Well... thus far I haven't been able to get far self-releasing on my won label so looking to get picked up by a small to medium size established underground electronic label. However, I have a few questions:

What kind of initial letter / email should I write to a label? What kind of info should it have and what should i NOT put in there? I haven't played all over the world or anything like that. I still have a very small social media presence with my label (only Instagram).

I have setup a private Soundcloud link of the entire album. Someone told me to make it downloadable. I don't feel comfortable with that. I understand some DJs would want to test music at a club, but my tracks are not club tracks. Is it necessary to make it downloadable?

Lastly, how many labels should one usually send to? I understand the label should fit with your music and all, but some have said to send to one label at a time. If I want to send to 10 labels and wait 2-3 weeks between each, it would take 4-6 months if I don't get picked up by any. Is it really that much of a faux pas to send to 5 or 10 or so labels at a time and wait a few weeks in between?

Or... are we at a point now where there really aren't any rules anymore and one should just send to however many labels one feels confident about in whatever way and wait (or not) however long and if a label likes the album / tracks, they won't give 2 sh*ts about how many plays your private link got?

EDIT:
I appreciate some of the advice I've received so far, but to be honest it's all very basic advice I already know. I asked very specific questions. I already know I should target labels that have music most similar to what I make, etc. I'm actually a bit ahead of the game in some ways. I already have my own label for which I have 15 releases (both LPs and EPs) I've made over the last 15 years. My label is already on Instagram and Soundcloud. My various aliases (through my own label) are already on my Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Spotify, Beatport, and Apple Music. Fyi, I'm not involving a lawyer as someone has suggested - I can't even afford rent the past few months let alone afford a lawyer. I can have my brother in law who is a financial auditor look at a contract if need be. I'm not making big money pop music. I'm not making music for money either. I just want my music to be heard by more people through a more established label than my own so I can gain more exposure and get booked on international gigs as opposed to just local shows I've been doing. Hope this clears up my questions. Thanks everyone.

Last edited by aligak; 30th May 2020 at 07:26 AM..
Old 30th May 2020
  #2
Lives for gear
 
xanderbeanz's Avatar
I’ve no idea about any of this but good luck.
Old 30th May 2020
  #3
Lives for gear
 

I think you should go after labels you are a fan of, are familiar with, and that are a good match for your music. Get on bandcamp and soundcloud (bandcamp is better) and see what labels are releasing music similar to yours and write to them. You should have your music streamable (even if on a private site) so they can easily listen. Good luck. And if there is a contract have a lawyer look at it. You could also write bandcamp and see if u can release on there yourself, from what I gather they are good people.
Old 30th May 2020
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by sds1fs1r View Post
I think you should go after labels you are a fan of, are familiar with, and that are a good match for your music. Get on bandcamp and soundcloud (bandcamp is better) and see what labels are releasing music similar to yours and write to them. You should have your music streamable (even if on a private site) so they can easily listen. Good luck. And if there is a contract have a lawyer look at it. You could also write bandcamp and see if u can release on there yourself, from what I gather they are good people.
I’m from the label side. This is good advice. And don’t worry about the artwork. A label will have their own aesthetic. But what was said here about findings labels that you like is key. Then you just have to hope you’ll find someone that hears and takes the time to listen. Honestly these days for me, with my producer hat on, sometimes it’s good to work with a label and sometimes it’s good to self release. If you get enough sales on Bandcamp for example you can press your own record, find your friends that are similar to you and build your own thing.
Old 30th May 2020
  #5
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aligak's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by sds1fs1r View Post
I think you should go after labels you are a fan of, are familiar with, and that are a good match for your music. Get on bandcamp and soundcloud (bandcamp is better) and see what labels are releasing music similar to yours and write to them. You should have your music streamable (even if on a private site) so they can easily listen. Good luck. And if there is a contract have a lawyer look at it. You could also write bandcamp and see if u can release on there yourself, from what I gather they are good people.
Thanks but I'm a bit ahead of the game here. I already have my own label for which I have 15 releases (both LPs and Eps). My label is on Instagram and Soundcloud. My various aliases (through my own label) are already on my Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Spotify, Beatport, and Apple Music. I'm not involving a lawyer. I can't even afford rent the past few months let alone afford a lawyer. I'm not making big money pop music. I just want my music to be heard by more people through a more established label than my own.
Old 30th May 2020
  #6
Lives for gear
 

Well, I still think you should find labels that are a good match for your music, become somewhat familiar with them, and then write to them. I think you should mention your experience and what you hope to gain from working with them, and offer links to your music. Some may bite, some may not, but at least you know the ones that show interest are on the same wavelength as you. Lastly, I think your tone should be professional yet friendly, and you should offer some clue as to why you want to work with them and what they might gain by working with you.

What kind of music do you release? Do u want to include your social media links here? These days I buy most of my new music from bandcamp, and listen to soundcloud some, and still buy a small amount of CDs from older artists I like.
Old 30th May 2020
  #7
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by aligak View Post
What kind of initial letter / email should I write to a label? What kind of info should it have and what should i NOT put in there?
Make it brief with any highlights/achievements of your music career thus far, or a little background on yourself if there aren't many highlights. The label wants to know that you fit in with their world. Medium size labels probably get tons of messages so don't want to know that you learned Spanish guitar when you were 7

Quote:
Originally Posted by aligak View Post
Is it necessary to make it downloadable?
No. Just make it in a format that someone receiving the message can listen to easily and with zero fuss.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aligak View Post
Lastly, how many labels should one usually send to?
Send it to the ones who you really want to release it first. If they listen (that's a big 'if') and your music is great they will sign it. I have had this happen to me and got a vinyl release from sending a private demo on soundcloud.

If you're unknown it's unlikely they'll all be scrambling to sign you, so probably take what you can get.

A final thing. I hear a few people say 'I sent this album/EP to a label'. Electronic labels generally like to compile their own releases from your tracks. Don't get precious about keeping your tracks together - the label may only want one track for a various artists release or may want to make an EP from your album. Just send your absolute best stuff.
Old 31st May 2020
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by aligak View Post
I just want my music to be heard by more people through a more established label than my own so I can gain more exposure and get booked on international gigs as opposed to just local shows I've been doing.
I think you might have this a bit backward in the modern world. My experience has been that what labels and promoters really want isn't your music, it's your audience.

What I mean by that is they care a heck of a lot more about how many people you can get to pay to come to one of your performances, how many subscribers you have on YouTube, how many people follow you on Facebook, how many folks log on for your live streams and so on (your 'reach' and 'brand recognition') than they do about how much music you have or whether it is immaculately produced. What they really want to know is how many 'dedicated followers' you have - those that will rush to spend real money on things you do.

So, when writing to a London label for example, you might want to highlight and prove to them that you have a lot of London area sales and followers. You need to convince them that you have a sufficient audience there who want to spend money on your stuff.

Social media analytics and keeping track of where you send merchandise can help with the data you need for this. Something to think about that might change your approach.

On current stats, one of the bands I'm in should be touring France ... but that seems unlikely just now ....
Old 31st May 2020
  #9
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shreddoggie's Avatar
Good advice on writing letters:
Old 31st May 2020
  #10
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Jeff Hayat's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by aligak View Post
EDIT:
I appreciate some of the advice I've received so far, but to be honest it's all very basic advice I already know.
Eh, what'd you expect?
Old 31st May 2020
  #11
Gear Addict
OP is capping so hard. For someone who has 15 years of experience and 15 releases from their own label, they need to turn to Gearslutz to ask about how to reach out to indie and mid-level labels?

This topic gets asked on reddit daily. Giyf
Old 31st May 2020
  #12
Lives for gear
 
NEXUS-6's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by shreddoggie View Post
Good advice on writing letters:
I use to love watching that show back in the day!

To the OP I would be honest and humble

Dear such and such label,

I already have my own label for which I have 15 releases (both LPs and EPs) I've made over the last 15 years. My label is already on Instagram and Soundcloud. My various aliases (through my own label) are already on my Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Spotify, Beatport, and Apple Music I'm not making music for money. I just want my music to be heard by more people through a more established label than my own so I can gain more exposure and get booked on international gigs as opposed to just local shows I've been doing.

Thank you
aligak
Old 31st May 2020
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Ben F's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ambiguous signal View Post
I think you might have this a bit backward in the modern world. My experience has been that what labels and promoters really want isn't your music, it's your audience.

What I mean by that is they care a heck of a lot more about how many people you can get to pay to come to one of your performances, how many subscribers you have on YouTube, how many people follow you on Facebook, how many folks log on for your live streams and so on (your 'reach' and 'brand recognition') than they do about how much music you have or whether it is immaculately produced. What they really want to know is how many 'dedicated followers' you have - those that will rush to spend real money on things you do.
A label will be more interested in your social media following as this is less work they have to do to promote you. If you have a big following, and people enjoy your music, they will be contacting you. Like it or not that is the reality.

If you all ready have a lablel then wouldn't you just need distribution?
Old 31st May 2020
  #14
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
Distribution feels a bit more organismic, less risky, etc.

Also, I’d be looking at other ways of creating a following. Start a YouTube channel, etc.
Old 31st May 2020
  #15
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ambiguous signal View Post
I think you might have this a bit backward in the modern world. My experience has been that what labels and promoters really want isn't your music, it's your audience.

What I mean by that is they care a heck of a lot more about how many people you can get to pay to come to one of your performances, how many subscribers you have on YouTube, how many people follow you on Facebook, how many folks log on for your live streams and so on (your 'reach' and 'brand recognition') than they do about how much music you have or whether it is immaculately produced. What they really want to know is how many 'dedicated followers' you have - those that will rush to spend real money on things you do.

So, when writing to a London label for example, you might want to highlight and prove to them that you have a lot of London area sales and followers. You need to convince them that you have a sufficient audience there who want to spend money on your stuff.

Social media analytics and keeping track of where you send merchandise can help with the data you need for this. Something to think about that might change your approach.

On current stats, one of the bands I'm in should be touring France ... but that seems unlikely just now ....
Hear this sort of stuff a lot sadly.

Just to counterbalance this, there is still a portion of underground electronic music community where this isn't the case. Some people are still genuinely doing it for the love of music. This seems to be the case among labels doing fairly limited vinyl releases that I've worked with.
Old 31st May 2020
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Keep it short and polite with 0 bullcrap.
Let your music speak for itself.
It is their job to get you if they are interested.
Old 31st May 2020
  #17
Lives for gear
 

"Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."
- Beethoven

Also, if you send them your whole album at once, then what are you gonna send them next week, and the week after that, and so on, until they respond?
Old 31st May 2020
  #18
Have a live show.
Get people to go to them. Play wherever and whenever you can. Follow other artists on label and open up for them if they tour. Build relationships and collab. Collab, collab and network. But still do your own thing.
Doing the street hustle and bringing people in is what signed artists do. Do that and appear on enough bills and produce some nice shzt word gets around.
The label will come to YOU.
Old 31st May 2020
  #19
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MixedSignals View Post
Have a live show.
Get people to go to them. Play wherever and whenever you can. Follow other artists on label and open up for them if they tour. Build relationships and collab. Collab, collab and network. But still do your own thing.
Doing the street hustle and bringing people in is what signed artists do. Do that and appear on enough bills and produce some nice shzt word gets around.
The label will come to YOU.
Yeah, this is definitely the truth. From my experience too.

Of course it’s sad that it isn’t just about the talent...I really struggled with all that promotional stuff even though I forced myself to do it (with extreme social anxiety/autism/etc)

But the unfairness of a lack of neurodiversity in music (though this is improving) is not the order of the day.

What I can offer is this, do some shows, make some videos, find people who like your stuff. Sooner or later you’ll find someone who likes your stuff and will be on the next rung of the ladder to you, allowing you to step up with them, then it’s your job to pay if forward, and help someone else.

By this point I know a few people who can help me, but I’m deciding exactly what route to take.
Old 31st May 2020
  #20
Lives for gear
 
base615's Avatar
Good advice above. Also consider a threat of physical violence if they don't release it.
Old 31st May 2020
  #21
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by aligak View Post
Hello dear slutz! I recently finished a full length album. It has been professionally mastered with artwork done by a pro as well. It sounds and looks great (of course I'm biased). In other words, everything is ready for a label to pick it up and release it as it is.

So why do I need a label? Well... thus far I haven't been able to get far self-releasing on my won label so looking to get picked up by a small to medium size established underground electronic label. However, I have a few questions:

What kind of initial letter / email should I write to a label? What kind of info should it have and what should i NOT put in there? I haven't played all over the world or anything like that. I still have a very small social media presence with my label (only Instagram).

I have setup a private Soundcloud link of the entire album. Someone told me to make it downloadable. I don't feel comfortable with that. I understand some DJs would want to test music at a club, but my tracks are not club tracks. Is it necessary to make it downloadable?

Lastly, how many labels should one usually send to? I understand the label should fit with your music and all, but some have said to send to one label at a time. If I want to send to 10 labels and wait 2-3 weeks between each, it would take 4-6 months if I don't get picked up by any. Is it really that much of a faux pas to send to 5 or 10 or so labels at a time and wait a few weeks in between?

Or... are we at a point now where there really aren't any rules anymore and one should just send to however many labels one feels confident about in whatever way and wait (or not) however long and if a label likes the album / tracks, they won't give 2 sh*ts about how many plays your private link got?

EDIT:
I appreciate some of the advice I've received so far, but to be honest it's all very basic advice I already know. I asked very specific questions. I already know I should target labels that have music most similar to what I make, etc. I'm actually a bit ahead of the game in some ways. I already have my own label for which I have 15 releases (both LPs and EPs) I've made over the last 15 years. My label is already on Instagram and Soundcloud. My various aliases (through my own label) are already on my Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Spotify, Beatport, and Apple Music. Fyi, I'm not involving a lawyer as someone has suggested - I can't even afford rent the past few months let alone afford a lawyer. I can have my brother in law who is a financial auditor look at a contract if need be. I'm not making big money pop music. I'm not making music for money either. I just want my music to be heard by more people through a more established label than my own so I can gain more exposure and get booked on international gigs as opposed to just local shows I've been doing. Hope this clears up my questions. Thanks everyone.

i think you will have no problem getting "picked up"

the way things work nowadays is the "throw $h!t at the wall (vitualiterally)and see what sticks" mentality

as it costs nothing. and if they get a few clicks with a few adverts on it's a few new halfpence in their/your favour


do some research. what do you want the label to do?
the balls in your court in this current climate. you choose the label not the other way around

it sounds like you want PR, marketing & networking?
as the albums finished, so you don't need a deal on a labels studiotime discount. as the product is complete.

find a label that's good at doing what you need.

then in your email say what you want. and what you want from them.
then start negotiating.

i know this may seem like common sence.
but you need to strip back to basics and not get too confuzzled with the pedanticness?

the kind of pedanticness like buying something and thinking you got a good deal because you got a free pen marketing trick.
Old 1st June 2020
  #22
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post
Also, I’d be looking at other ways of creating a following. Start a YouTube channel, etc.
Thats the part of the problem, many of us does understand youtube channels, instagram feeds and facebook is nothing but temporary things, and we would rather focus something which has much longer life
Old 1st June 2020
  #23
Lives for gear
 
jbuonacc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludar View Post
Thats the part of the problem, many of us does understand youtube channels, instagram feeds and facebook is nothing but temporary things, and we would rather focus something which has much longer life
like what? some "record label"? we've seen countless examples of youtube channels doing far more for exposure than any label could ever possibly do for anyone.
Old 1st June 2020
  #24
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbuonacc View Post
like what? some "record label"? we've seen countless examples of youtube channels doing far more for exposure than any label could ever possibly do for anyone.
exposure is temporary, next generations will never know your youtube counts
Old 1st June 2020
  #25
TJT
Lives for gear
I would say: "I'm a huge fan of your label. I'm hoping you might like my music." And then personalize it by talking about your favorite artist on the label.

I, personally, would send a link to the best track first. Sort of as a "single."

Then, I would say, "you can listen to an album's worth of material here: <link >"

Because, a label might like your single (best track), but might want more control over what you would release as an album.
Old 1st June 2020
  #26
Lives for gear
 
jbuonacc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludar View Post
exposure is temporary, next generations will never know your youtube counts
bull****... you're ignoring the fact that the only reason that people were able to build a following and reach so many fans was thanks to their youtube channel. if done right, a person would have no use for a label at all. things aren't what they were 10-20 years ago. what "next generation" is going to know about the OP thanks to some label anyway? what's the best case scenario for them?
Old 1st June 2020
  #27
Lives for gear
 
guyaguy's Avatar
 

Dear Label Owner,

I love you. I would like to pledge my allegiance and soul to you. Check out my soundcloud. Go Rangers!

Your Pal,

aligak
Old 1st June 2020
  #28
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbuonacc View Post
bull****... you're ignoring the fact that the only reason that people were able to build a following and reach so many fans was thanks to their youtube channel. if done right, a person would have no use for a label at all. things aren't what they were 10-20 years ago. what "next generation" is going to know about the OP thanks to some label anyway? what's the best case scenario for them?
Youtube is nothing but next mp3 com or myspace
Old 1st June 2020
  #29
TJT
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbuonacc View Post
bull****... you're ignoring the fact that the only reason that people were able to build a following and reach so many fans was thanks to their youtube channel. if done right, a person would have no use for a label at all. things aren't what they were 10-20 years ago. what "next generation" is going to know about the OP thanks to some label anyway? what's the best case scenario for them?
1. Name some popular-ish artists that are not on a label and didn't start out on a label.
2. What percentage of artists that are at least somewhat well known are not on a label?

Serious questions.
Old 1st June 2020
  #30
Lives for gear
 
jbuonacc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludar View Post
Youtube is nothing but next mp3 com or myspace
f'ing ridiculous.

try doing this (and reaching as many people) on mp3.com or myspace:







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