Record Label Information
PR presents five rules every unsigned artist should follow.
5) Don’t concentrate on getting signed
Our first bit of advice comes at the bottom of our list, but it’s still massively important for any aspiring artist. Don’t get us wrong, having a major record label, publishing company or management agency behind you can give you a huge budget and industry experience, but it doesn’t always mean instant success. If a major label doesn’t feel you’re ready to market on a mass scale they may still sign you, but there is a huge possibility of being ‘shelved’ whilst they focus on releasing music by more developed acts on their roster. The best thing you can do as an unsigned artist is concentrate on making the music YOU want to make whilst developing your career as best as your budget and time will allow you to. In this day and age A&Rs are looking for the complete package, and taking the time to build a catalogue of releases, grow a small fan base and develop your sound means you’ll have much more bargaining power when it comes to negotiating with a label. And remember, becoming a successful artist doesn’t always require the help of a major label – with enough hard work, self-belief and talent it is possible to make a living independently.
4) Find your selling point
From the moment you release a single, video, mixtape or album you become a product, regardless of what genre of music you make. Every successful artist has a selling point – something which makes people buy into their sound, their personality and their message. Usually a large part of an A&Rs role is to create a selling point for their artist, but there is nothing stopping you from creating this from day one. What makes you stand out from the crowd? What would make people buy into you? What is your target market? You may have heard these questions a million times before, but it’s vitally important that you consider them carefully. Have a look at other successful artists and figure out what makes people like them, and then work out what you have at your disposal to do the same.
3) Release, tour and promote yourself
This may sound pretty obvious, but a lot of unsigned artists either neglect these avenues or aren’t doing them right. Let’s start off with releasing music. In our opinion, before you have a visible fan base which actively follows your career you should focus on winning new fans and establishing one. Again, in our opinion, the best way to do this is by releasing music videos. If someone’s never heard your music before, it’s unrealistic to expect them to download your mixtape / EP / street album (even if it is free). Music videos give people a chance to check your sound out, discover your personality and (subconsciously) decide whether they want to buy into you. And don’t cut corners with the video – having a good visual is just as important as the song you’re promoting.
Now let’s talk about touring. You don’t need to jump on every open mic night you see advertised, but having a presence on the gigging circuit should be a big priority for any up and coming artist. Performing at a good gig is arguably the easiest way to win new fans – where else do you get the opportunity to showcase your music to 200 – 300+ people for free? Travelling to and from gigs can require a considerable amount of money, time and effort, and at first you’ll be lucky to get paid travel expenses, but once you’ve built up a reputation as a good performer and start pulling in crowds touring can be a huge avenue for generating money.
And finally, there’s promotion. Almost every successful music artist will have hired a PR company at some point in their career; simply because good PR companies and radio pluggers have the experience and contacts to get your music heard by the right people. BUT, because they have these contacts and knowledge of the industry, you should expect to pay a considerable amount to secure their services . If you don’t have a budget for promotion, however, a little bit of research and networking can go a long way. Find out the contact details for blogs, websites, DJs and magazines who support the sort of music you make, and then get in touch and kindly request that they listen to one of your songs (always include a little bit of key information about yourself, but avoid sending them three pages of your life story). Remember – these people are usually extremely busy and chances are that if they’re not instantly impressed by your sound they probably won’t get back to you. Despite this, it’s important to remain polite with these people at all times. Just because they don’t like one song you’ve sent them, doesn’t mean they won’t like anything else you send their way, and if you’ve managed to make these people aware of who you are you’ve already won half of the battle.
2) Make yourself visible online
This is probably the simplest piece of advice we give to unsigned artists, yet it’s one of the most important. If someone comes across your song on a blog / TV / radio station, chances are the first thing they’ll do to find out more about you is search for you online. Having an official website is always good, but having dedicated accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and YouTube is just as important. Make sure all of your online locations include relevant information about yourself, contact details and links to more of your music, and ALWAYS keep your pages updated. If you haven’t posted anything on Facebook for a week, why would someone bother ‘liking’ your page to stay up to date with you?
1) Stay consistent and have you got a plan
You can release music, promote it and tour for years but without a proper plan, you’re stuffed. Set goals for yourself, know what you want to achieve and then work out how you’re going to do it. Then once you’ve accomplished that goal, set a new one and start the process again. Becoming a successful music artist takes hard work, vision, thick skin and an unrelenting desire to make things happen. Stay consistent, accept criticism (good and bad) and do everything in your power to get in front of people’s eyes and ears. Good luck!