Artist Survival Rules Part 1

ARTIST SURVIVAL RULES (before signing a record deal)

So you want to have your music released as wide as possible, maybe you’re even dreaming about to be a rock star ? If you have made that decision and you are sitting on a hot demo or even a self-produced album (not adviseable), than the following hints and tips might be helpful for you.

First of all let me explain why a selfproduced album is not a good choice. By approaching a record company (big and small) you usually have to deal with the A&R department (Artist & Repertoire) or, if it’s a smaller one, with the owner acting as A&R. The function of any A&R is to find bands/music with a sales potential . Compare selfproduced music at best with a rough diamond which needs to be shaped in a way that it exposes it’s real potential. How do you know wether there is potential ? By constantly doing your market research about what sells or doesn’t and acting accordingly. Of course there are still different measures to evaluate the market. Some A&R guys like the bandwagon game or the slogan „the trend is your friend“, they sign everything with a style as long as this style is „hot“ – that’s why new trends quickly get killed , the market is oversaturated. Remember „Metal Core“. Other A+R guys, the more visionary ones, go for a substyle which has been on a downslope for a while and expect an upswing in the very next future.

And than there are these very few A+R types who look out for something fresh and new. Of course there are plenty more considerations possible. Think hard – why would any one of these different A+R guys be interested to pick your selfproduced album ? For each of these A&R decision makers its the same reasons not to greenlight you:


  • production quality & songwriting,
  • the packaging which needs to reflect marketing and promotion needs and
  • the question of image and identy incl. the name issue.

It’s virtually impossible for an unsigned band to do it right in light of the three above essentials. So don’t waste your time and money on such a project. Instead concentrate on your 3 best songs and produce a DEMO with them. But how do you know how to select the right songs ? Quite simple: see your audience reactions.

Okay you now have spent € 2000,- on this demo effort and you got your 3 songs down on CD , you also got a good band shot (action please !) in b/w and a half page bio with a mission statement – and you didn’t waste your good money on a cover ! So you think the next logical step is to approach a selected bunch of labels. Again wrong ! The next step is to build up an internet profile by using your freshly produced material. Get 1000+ real friends at Face Book, build your own homepage with deeper content so that the FaceBook friends will find their way there, produce regular streams of interactive content, build a community and a digital fanclub. Maybe after a year of hard work you got everything lined up and you are ready to approach the labels. But didn’t you miss anything ? Hey – where are the live shows ? Did you forget to build a live buzz too ? Where are your 20 regional shows of last year ? You see step 1 (demo), step 2 (internet presence), Step 3 live shows they go all hand in hand at the same time.

And believe me – the labels are a hard nut to crack. They want happening bands, no unproven „talent“. Within the last 10 years the effort to get signed has increased fourfold.

So please consider ! Did you do the job as described above. Or do you want to waste your and the A+R departments time because you live in a dream world ?
And a last tip here might be in order: never ever sent anything to anybody within the music industry without an introduction by a friend, a super-fan, a journalist or anybody else „connected“.The chance of being noticed is almost nil if you pull up a mailing list
of labels you have heard about. Being successful in the music world is also about networking !
But you might not have to even approach any label when you do things right as described above – they might come to you, simply because the buzz created is so strong that it get’s „their“ attention.


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