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Ask Hugh Your Own Question
Composer, Producer and Performer
20 years experience in performing, studio sessions, producing, composing, entertainment management.
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How do I get my music reconized by a major or independant record
How do I get my music reconized by a major or independant record labor?
5 years ago.
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replied 5 years ago.
Relist: No answer yet.
replied 5 years ago.
Hello, thanks for your question. Sorry that you had to relist this. But, I can help you out. First, just so you know, I've been in the music business for over 20 years, as both a performer, producer and composer and on the business end of things, as an artist manager, promoter and publicist. I've interacted with both indie and major labels. I say this up front, so you can feel confident that I know what I'm talking about!
Also, I'm assuming you mean "label" instead of labor. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Let's start with a major label. I know plenty of people who work or have worked on major labels. The process has changed dramatically through the years. At one time (30-40 years ago) you could submit a demo and stand a chance of getting it heard. That's no longer the case. Never send an unsolicited demo. It's a waste of time.
There was a time when profit margins were larger. This was when labels "developed" bands, or from a label standpoint, dumped alot of cash to promote records from bands who didn't truly break out until their third album or so. Bands like Bon Jovi, KISS, Bruce Springsteen all fit into this mold. Majors no longer play that game anymore. So, bands getting signed solely on that "gut" feeling as they used to doesn't really happen like it used to. Nowadays, record labels are part of huge conglomerates ran by people who know how to sell widgets, but little knowledge of making records (CD's, digital recordings whatever). As say this is a blanket statement, as there are exceptions (LaFace Records-when they were an indie, etc.) but for the most part, it's an unfortunate scenario.
I say all this, because it's the climate of the record industry. Getting signed to a label today takes 2 things: Demand and money. Notice how I didn't say talent! Of course, talent is a subjective statement.
There are of course, is still the avenue of knowing someone within. That still holds weight, but you have to know someone on the inside who has signing authority.
Getting the ear of a major label is about demand for you as an artist and/or songs. If you are a band, that means getting out there, shaking things up, building a following, writing great songs, release albums/songs on your own and build it from there. If you are creating a stir, trust me...A&R Departments will take notice. From a label standpoint, if you can sell 10,000 to 20,000 copies of your own record by yourself, then you are probably worthy of being signed to a major (My question though, is if you are that successful on your own, why do it? You will probably make less money on a major).
If you are, say a younger solo artist, that can be a different scenario. Justin Bieber did it with YouTube and caught the ear of hip hop manager Scooter Braun. Braun introduced Bieber to Usher, and the rest was history. Thing is, Bieber had massive demand. He created quite a commotion on YouTube! There are many out there who specialize in developing child stars. It's a lucrative market if one can catch on. The subject of artist development is vast and there are many ways to go about it. Whether you want to go the "formula" direction or something more unique.
So your objectives should be outlined first. Focus on the artist or the music? There is a difference. If your focus is more on the music, then your goal should be to hone your writing skills to the best of your ability, perform as much as possible and record/distribute your material. If it is the artist, then your focus is more about "branding" your image. Let's face it. Justin Bieber is about branding an image. Yes, he might have a catchy song here and there, but he is a teen idol. It's his image. And the formula holds true from Donny Osmond to now. In my opinion, to be successful in this day, you really need to focus on both.
So, there really is no "right" answer of how to get the attention of a major label. I always tell artists that I coach, to let them find you. Focus in on what you do best, XXXXX XXXXX your career. If you are that good and create a strong demand, then they will find you. The thing you can't do, is just walk into the offices of a record label and ask for a meeting. That just won't happen. It's a very strategic situation. You have to network and sooner or later, you will start to connect with people who know other people on the inside.
Now, for indie labels. This is a broad area. Indie labels come in many variations. Some have major distribution. I look at these labels as majors. Because really, what defines the strength of a label, is their distribution arm. From the other side of the spectrum, an indie may be operated out of someone's college dorm room. That is ok, if the indie is truly running their business and not just signing acts to piggy back on the efforts of the artist, to get royalties. It's a case by case scenario.
True indies, don't have major distribution, but they at least a distribution arm. And really, this is changing as many people that have previously worked for majors are jumping out and forming their own companies (and taking their connections with them). So, it's difficult to really pinpoint what an indie really is.
But, for the most part, indies are easier to partner with. But, they still are looking for artists that they can get a return on. Remember, their budgets are smaller and they aren't just going to sign anyone.
You can try and setup meetings with various indies, but you really need to ensure that you have all the promotion aspects taken care of. Demo or CD, videos of the live show is always a plus, promo shots, a great looking website and a presence on Facebook, MySpace, even Twitter. They will want to know what your following is, how many CD's, digital downloads you are selling etc. They want to know that you are actively promoting what you do. Very few indie labels are going to pick up an unknown just starting out, unless there is some major demand (such as what I spoke of in Bieber's case).
Signing with a label isn't always the best move in the beginning. Many labels these days are taking a chunk of everything you do. Whereas it used to be just royalties on records sold (I use records as a term for all recordings), they now take a percentage of all things...merchandise, performance, publishing etc. (known as 360 deals). The question should always be..."how is this going to move my career forward?" If it does, than go for it...but if a label is taking money from places where they aren't actively making a difference, that doesn't make sense. You have to weigh the various factors to define if a deal makes sense.
I advise musicians to build their own team. Polish the live show, write great songs, record and self-distribute. Take the steps to recruit people to help in areas like promotion, publicity and ultimately, a booking agent. Manager's are also a possibility as well. You don't have to be signed to have a manager. My point is, you can do a great deal without a label and make more money. Major labels aren't for everyone...and that being said, only a 3% or so of any major act on any label is successful.
There are some great websites out there that can help out in what you are doing. For instance,
is a service where you can upload your songs, make a profile and they can match your songs with industry professionals. There is a fee for many of the opportunities, but some are free. Artists can actually submit their songs to major record labels, publishers and managers. It's legit, but remember, the entertainment is highly competitive. That still doesn't change
Attachments are only available to registered users.
Other services include
who are a complete artist services company who book, manage the whole 9 yards.
Check out my post on
How to Get A Record Contract
If you have anymore questions, please don't hesitate to ask. I hope you found this informative. I'm an artist coach, so I'm really big on advocating for the artist.
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