How to use Social Media as a DJ or an Artist Part 3 - Approaching Record Labels

Right now, a musical fairytale is happening in the digital age of electronic music. In February, Duke Dumont combined with singer-songwriter A*M*E to reach the Top 10 of the UK charts, Hot Natured enjoyed commercial success with track Benediction (No.9) as well as reaching number 44 in the UK album charts with their debut album 'Different Sides of the Sun', Ben Pearce's 'What I Might Do' reached number 25 and Ben Westbeech aka Breech caught the attention of Atlantic Records in July with 'Jack'. The latest to undergo a chart-friendly make over is Morgan Giest aka Storm Queen with 'Look Right Through', a track originally popular on the underground scene in 2010. After two remix packages, MK has re-worked his previous two remixes (Don't Talk To Me Dub & Morning Vocal Mix) to create a finger-snapping house record with a chorus that has lodged it self inside the brain of all music lovers. Despite out-selling Eminem by over 9,500 copies, Defected Records and MK's glory days at the top only lasted one week before another musical fairytale began. Martin Garrix real name Martijn Garritsen, hit number one spot with his track 'Animals' beating British pop star Lily Allen to number one spot. social media partIII Electronic music of all genres continues to take over charts all over the world and it does not look like it's slowing down anytime soon. British duo Disclosure are well on their way to becoming the next Groove Armada or Basement Jaxx and it's looking like 'EDM's' honeymoon in America is extending it's self until at least next March. Agents, A&R's and label managers around the world are licking their lips and on the look out for the next up and coming act or DJ that can be turned into the next marketable product. The secret to signing with any musical mind is, of course, to spend time making good music, knowing that eventually someone will hear it and enjoy it. But the process of getting a track to the right people at the right time is somewhat of a unknown science, and a little finesse and thought goes along way. Now, here's where we are here to help. In Part III of our on going series, we are going to expand on what we spoke about in Part II and give you some tips on how to make yourself and your music desirable to agencies and record labels and how you go about approaching them in a unique and friendly way. We have come up with a few tips ourselves and expanded our knowledge by speaking to people within the industry who know one or two things about music. The first person who we reached out too was Damion Pell, co-owner of Bootleg Social Records, founder of music website 'This Is Progressive' and director of 'Mixology', a party you can find at Ministry of Sound, London. Here's what he had to say:
“Make sure you research our label, what parties we do and who we work with before sending us a demo. Think of it as a kind of job application, you wouldn’t just send out a CV for everything, take your time, craft a personal email, get to know us or even attend one of our parties. We like to put a lot of effort into our artists, only if they are willing to do the same with our label. We only want people who are as dedicated and passionate as we are." "Try to have your own style, copying a trend of today is pointless, a forward thinking label is always looking for the next big sound. Surround yourself with positive, talented producers and don’t be afraid to widen your scope of musical understanding, some of the best music produced takes from many genres” “Always remember, you must invest in yourself before a label will invest in you”
After those wise words from Damion, we continued on our quest and reached out to two of Ibiza's most influential figures. Mark Netto who earlier this year set up the IBZ Entertainment agency in Ibiza alongside long time associate Danny Whittle is one of the founders of the International Music Summit (IMS) and long time Pacha Ibiza resident Graham Sahara of Seamless Recordings.
“As to be expected, the single most important thing when trying to sign a record is the quality of the music you are selling. It is also important to identify with which label your track would fit best and then to approach them with tenacity and sincerity." - Mark Netto (International Music Summit / IBZ Entertainment)
"When looking for new music for the label, we look for music that will obviously be a fit with what we release. As we put out a lot of compilations during the year, we look for tracks that will fit into the mix for those compilations. For the deep house and house compilations we look for tracks that will fit the sound and also fit into my club sets at Pacha. If i'm not playing the tracks we sign, how can I expect other people to spend their money on buying them.
When people are sending in demos, it is wise that people research the labels they are sending them to. Check whether it would fit in a mix with the rest of the tracks a label releases. Its all well and good doing a new track, and then rushing straight to the email and sending it straight away to a label, but its best to try the track out in a mix. It will ensure the sound quality and the style fits what you are looking for. After listening to something over and over in the studio, the brain gets a little immune to the levels and effects etc. So putting the new track into a mix and seeing how it flows with the other tracks you are playing in the mix will give you good idea as to its quality and also to the labels to send it to. If it doesn't sound right in the mix with other tracks you are playing, change it before sending it. The label will probably only have time to listen once, so give yourself the best opportunity by sending something finished. Also by comparing it to other track in the mix, you know what labels they are released on and so it gives you a good idea as to who to start off by sending it to. - Graham Sahara (Pacha Ibiza & Seamless Recordings)
How to approach record labels Going into more depth, Graham went on to talking about adding a personal approach so the label can get a feel of who you are.
When sending a demo give a bit of background to yourself. Where you play, what gigs you are doing etc. Also if the label are doing parties near you go there. Get to know the people who run the label. They are far more inclined to listen to something if they know who you are. Also dont send the track off to a about 30 labels at the same time. Send a Soundcloud link to an individual email to each label so they feel a bit special rather than blanket emailing lots at the same time.
In this game its all about getting to know people. If you go out and get to know people, people wont knock at your door asking you to play at their night, but if you are at the bar talking to them they might as you to play."
Finally, with it easier than ever to start up your own label our tip is to be careful. Signing with a record label used to mean you had made it, it's not so simple anymore. Despite the boom in electronic music, sales are still down and with so many labels and so much new music coming out at once, your music may not get the sales you expect. However, there is a positive to this, with the the help of the internet and sites like Beatport and Soundcloud, once your music is released it will be available for ever and not just in selected record shops. Concentrate on growing as an artist and making good music and who knows where your sounds will be heard and who they will be heard by.