How do I get a record deal?
How do I get my band signed?
It was 1996 or 1997 and I was on a panel at the Burlington Music Conference sitting next to Trey Anastasio from Phish and several other musicians and music executives talking about the music business. Several of these questions were asked and we answered to the best of our ability.
It is now 2009 and after all that has changed in the music business I am still confronted with the same exact questions- and I’m not alone!
The Local Search volume for “Get a Record Deal” in Google for the month of July 2009 according to Google AdWords was 14,800. The Local search volume in the same month for:
“get better shows”
“license my music”
“get my music heard”
“How to book a tour”
“how to get more fans”
was (drumroll) “Not enough data” Meaning these are not popular topics to search for.
People, we are asking the wrong questions. I have said it before and I will say it again the music business is much more about M&A (Mergers & Acquisitions) than it is A&R (Artists & Repertoire). This means that labels know that the votes of music consumers mean more than any single executive’s opinion.
I’m not saying it doesn’t happen that people get signed off a random demo sent to an A&R executive (it still happens but is more and more rare), I’m not saying you shouldn’t reach out to music industry people and get feedback from them but what I am saying is that you should never stop improving your music and your products and building a fan base on your own. You have to start thinking of yourself, your band and your brand as a start-up company. It is much easier to raise money from a Venture Capitalist or an Angel when you have a business that is making money and demonstrating growth rather than a blueprint of something that might work.
It isn’t easy but it can be done… People are building their music brands right now. Find out who they are and learn from them… And if you do it right you might be able to tell a label, “thanks, but no thanks”…