Do I need a Record Deal?

I often get asked this question in one form or another. “I want to get signed how do I do it?”, “What is a Record Deal” and the title of the article “Do I need a Record Deal?”

The answer is not a straightforward one size fits all. It depends what you want to achieve from your music career and this is something you really need to start thinking about before you start any journey. There are three types of emerging musicians:


A hobbyist who has disposable income and just wants to make something they are proud of and can show their friends and family  

Semi Pro / Independent

Somebody who makes a living from their music and requires services to make it possible

Looking to get signed

Somebody who needs to accelerate the quality of their product and get the statistics they need to get the attention of a record label

The truth is the old days of artist development budgets and giving somebody a shot because they have a ‘great voice’, ‘Potential’ or an A&R can see some ‘je ne sais quoi’ are long over. Now A&R and record label execs make decisions based on hard data. They want to see you have an organic fan reach, are generating revenue and have the ability to increase this with their monetary investment and connections.

This means that it is no longer about securing a recording deal but securing a recording deal on favourable terms

Indie Marketplace advice

It is important that you see your Artist brand as a Business. If you were a business you would not do things haphazardly. You would hire a graphic designer to create a logo, produce marketing materials like physical flyers, business cards and Social Media Banners / Social media Graphics. You would budget to reach new customers, meeting them in person and buying cups of coffee. Your meetings and coffee are hitting the ground with showcases and Open Mic nights, first, you drive the immediate audience to consume your music by making it as simple as possible to consume. Directing them to a key social media account where they find your links, not cat videos and your latest meal or preferably a simple website that contains an EPK and links to your latest releases on streaming platforms and Videos (Do you have a website? We have someone who can help you with that).

Then you need to capture that moment with video footage If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it does it make a noise? If you do not capture your journey and use it for content and social proof you are missing a trick and not working smart. You also have to consider the quality of the video footage you have, shaky footage with bad audio from your friends’ phone is not going to cut it. In fact, it will have a negative impact, you should be looking to hire a videographer with a proven track record.

With your live appearances and social media content being posted to the world you should be able to get a respectable number of followers and views/streams. Now it is time to take it to the next level. You should look at hiring a PR consultant, these people or companies may help you with different areas, some of these are as follows:

  • Social Media
  • Print Media
  • Online Media
  • Radio Promotion
  • Streaming Promotion
  • Street teams (On the street promotion)

At this point, you are moving from level 1 the amateur into level 2 the Semi-Pro / Independent stage of your career. Now, this is where the real work begins at this point you will be able to grow your small business and hopefully scale. You will look at what strategies are working and amplify them. Also at this point, you will be able to start approaching Record Labels, Publishers and Distributors on more favourable terms.

Again if we use the business analogy and never forget as a musician you are a business, in the words of Jay Z “I’m not a businessman, I’m a Business, man!” these conversations with Record Labels, Publishers and Distributors are to help you bring your product from a loved Niche or geographically limited product to the mass public. I always say think if you had a great drink recipe, you can prove people like it and are willing to buy it. You can raise the funds to produce it to a certain level and you could live well from this product but if you want to be in every supermarket, restaurant and anywhere else one might buy a beverage you may want to partner with CocaCola!

Somebody once told me it can take 10 years to become an overnight success. Music is not a get rich quick scheme you need to stay the course believe in yourself and constantly look to improve.

May 1, 2019