Nowadays anyone with a laptop can upload a track to the internet and send out a mass email to the record label A&R’s.
Easy right? 1 in 500 might even get lucky! But it’s not likely. To be honest, many labels won’t even listen to unsolicited demos. So how do you go about gaining the attention of an A&R? Well, Pete Griffiths from the Toolroom Academy has some pointers for you guys and we’d love to share them with you!
For starters Pete says, “I think the best way is to stand out from the crowd and create the most appealing package that you possibly can. Showcase your strengths not only in your music but in your marketability. I’ve compiled some quick tips to help you along the way.”
Here are 5 tips straight from the man himself!
1. Commit yourself.
Most people have a strong desire to be successful, but overnight success is a very rare thing. Dedicate yourself to learning and perfecting your craft, learn from your peers, listen to advice, and when you think you’ve finished something take a break and go back to it again. Most people face disappointment, re-invention, then success.
2. Build your own base.
You need to be pro-active, which doesn’t just include being on every social media platform known to man… in reality there are several key ingredients beyond being a good marketer. A&R’s are ideally looking for someone who knows the industry and has already made some connections, but you need to dig deeper. This isn’t against new and undiscovered talent, a good A&R will always follow his heart if he hears something he loves, but in the current market with an ever-increasing number of new producers coming through you need to try and stand out from the crowd, 2018 doesn’t favour the old model whereby the manager handles every aspect of your life as an artist.
3. Put your best work forward.
Unless you’re Adele, you shouldn’t have any business releasing all of the tracks you write, let alone releasing them all at the same time. It takes one strong record to get yourself noticed. Don’t fall into the trap of releasing your music because it’s finished. Less is more. When you think you’ve finished a track, take a break from it, let your close friends & family listen, and listen to what they have to say, you don’t have to take it on board but a fresh pair of ears hearing your work for the first time may point out something obvious you’ve missed after hearing the track over and over. Also look into getting your track mastered before you send it to an A&R, mastering isn’t as expensive as it used to be, and could really enhance your track, alternatively look at some all-round pre-set options on a good mastering plug in, but remember it’s not just about making it loud!
4. Relationships are key.
Your most important asset is your network, not your virtual one, your real one. When opportunities come, it’s always a real person knocking… and answering. Make sure you take care when nurturing the important people around you, it’s sometimes easy to burn bridges in such a competitive industry, but it’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make as an artist, treat it more like one big family rather than competition, work together with other artists, learn from them. It’s likely you’ll be working with and seeing these same people on your journey in years to come!
Building the right team of people around you can be an indispensable asset, especially when it comes to people who are as passionate about your music as you are. Make it your job to find someone who’s going to set concrete benchmarks for your career and knows how to utilise his or her connections. While contracts aren’t set in stone forever, they can be tedious to get out of.
5. The Personal Approach
When approaching a label for the first time with a new demo you should remember a few key things; do your research, get to know the label (if you don’t already) What other artists release on there? Will your music fit the label’s style? Do you know where they are based, if they have staff working for them etc. It’s good to know these things as this is a family you are looking to join and having a connection can really help. In your email include a few words about why the track will fit in with where the label is musically, that goes a long way. It shows you know the sound of the label, and as an A&R it makes them feel this demo has been personally sent to them. Also, if they do events, why not introduce yourself face to face, hand over a USB (if you know what the A&R or label staff look like) look to strike up some conversation about what they are doing. There’s a balance between pestering people and going out of your way to make yourself heard, but just follow your gut instinct and never give up!
A career minded DJ/producer will never rest on their laurels and must keep reinventing themselves and putting their all in over time. It’s wise to start out small and grow step by step. Having a good base is the key, not the amount of your first advance. Remember always to be proactive and ready. Although there are always exceptions, try putting yourself in the A&R’s role. If you work hard on covering the above rules, then you will be well on your way to achieving your much desired career goals.