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How do n00bs deal with labels / distributors / online stores?

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So I think I pretty much have production theory covered, but am COMPLETELY n00bular when it comes to dealing with industry people. Promoters, DJs, and venue owners I can handle, but how does one approach a record label or even start their own? Is being signed to record labels as relevant today as when vinyl was king? I'm specifically talking about the dance genres, I suppose. With places like Beatport now, is it easier to simply create your own label and deal with them direct? If so, how does one do that?

I remember sending a track to a label once a few years back and in retrospect I realise the tune was of a terrible production standard, but they were quite helpful and supportive and, importantly, constructive. I think I was lucky they even wrote back to me because I think it would have been easier to just ignore me. I'm sure a lot of labels would have. Still, it was terrifying to do because I just didn't have any idea of how record labels really work or what one is supposed to do or say. I still don't, really. So that's what this thread is for. I'd like every signed 'Punk in here, and anyone who runs a label or is involved with music sales and/or distribution, to share the love with your fellow 'Punks :D

Producing quality tunes is only half the battle. Once you've got 'em, what do you do with 'em? I'm especially interested in hearing blow by blow accounts from people who have dealt with Beatport or any of the major online stores, as I think that as time goes on this will be more and more relevant. Please be as detailed and specific as possible about the process.

Cheers!

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I haven't dealt with beatport the label sorts all the online distro and mastering out for me

they put the tunes on beatport , juno and all those other sites, if you google "acid australis" you'll see how many sites they have to deal with..

as for dealing with labels, basically I had my myspace page, I kept adding more and more acid acts and record labels that put out acid tunes as well as lots of other people, I have a blog where I post all my tunes, I send a targeted group of acts and labels messages about when I have a new track or a new something, or just chat about what they are doing.

Over the course of this time I got an email from a label one of the acid producers I was in contact with and they said they wanted to sign some of my tunes, I render out 24/48s aif for them and email them the tunes they like and they deal with it all from there.

I think the key is to target a number of labels you would like your tunes on and send them the best tunes you have at the time, make a 4 track ep, host the mp3's somewhere ID tag the tracks, ep artwork could help, and send it out.

then I guess the next stage is to get people talking about your tunes and playing them out, so maybe now I should focus on dj's, and magazines and raise awareness of the tunes I have made.

Ive only got 1 ep out so this bit will have to wait until I have a decent body of quality work to promote.

I'd still love to get released on vinyl by a label that carries some of my favourite acts, and for that my tunes have to keep improving. I think it is good to have a goal of some kind to work to, such as vinyl release on label x, and work out a strategy to do that..

who do you want to know about your tunes?

who do you want to sign your tunes?

make tunes to the best of your ability, get feedback on them, improve them, rinse repeat

make a tune pack

send it out to the people you identified

get there feedback

repeat

the things I'd like to know about are

how do you get people to play your tunes?

how do you get more people aware of what you're doing?

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I've had a patchy set of experiences I learnt a lot from, some of which may help. Others will have a lot to say about web labels etc, my take on it is the 'personal contact' approach...

I'd say most of my signings have been through people I've known and worked with personally, but often indirectly. I've been lucky to work with a lot of different people, in a range of different roles. Each role has led to different projects...

My work in the 90's and early 2000's with the team from Wetmusik, as a tech support guy, Mac tutor, drummer at the live shows, etc led to three tracks being included on their own CD releases, and remixes for Groove Armada through Zomba records. How did we get to Zomba? Simon Digby went to school with the A&R guy. Who you know and all that...

The same Wetmusik connections led me to work for over a year with Eric Powell of Bush Records. I first cut up a continuous mix of a compilation he released on his House label Boo. He was impressed enough with my mixing and editing chops to invite me start working on tunes. So whilst not actually released on Bush, I did contribute loops, recorded vocals for him, programmed basses and keys, etc. Kinda better coz it was paid at an hourly rate ;)

My remix work for the 2004 Olympics in Athens was through the composer Burkhard Dallwitz, who hired me regularly for tech support work, and in conversation one day discovered I wrote electronic music. He simply didn't know anyone else writing electronica and just called me coz he had my number!

Remixes for Philip Glass came through the same guy. Burkhard wrote the music for The Truman Show and Philip was assistant composer. I did a track anyway, sent it to Burkhard for the "is this good enough to send to the US?" approval, got his blessing along with the email address of Philip's publisher. Emailed the publisher, got forwarded to the head of Philip's own label. He replies, miracuously "we're putting together a remix compilation now, yes send it over we need more material". Just amazing timing, along with the generosity of Burkhard allowing me to drop his name and use him as a 'reference'.

More recently the couple of remixes released on Smash Bang like Beef Chief, and the Lychee Martini material, has come from a 10 year friendship with Ehsan, sharing tunes, playing gigs, casual co-writing sessions at home.

I've also cold-called a couple of labels, asking if they will accept a demo, and if so, what is their preferred delivery and format? One label just said no way, another said no but did like the mixes and recording quality, so I was hired for a while to record and make loops for their artists. These included RnB singer Dan Merriweather and Hip Hop guy MC Phrase.

What's my point though?

First, look around the people you already know. There are several contributors here and at itm who run little indie web-labels. Seek them out, go to their myspace pages, add them, message them (or go their own website), "hey, see you round the forums, mind if I send you some links to tunes?". Simple, polite questions will get simple, polite responses whether they are yes or no ;)

Second, if you can spend time collaborating or working for other artists, you never know where those paths will take you. The more people you invest time, a good work ethic and pleasant attitude with, the more likely you will be invited to release (and work on others' releases too). It's a slow and organic process, but with the right people, you will get signed eventually. And often those projects are the most satisfying  :)

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