Getting heard, noticed and gaining traction in the music industry has to be one of the hardest things anyone can try to achieve, especially if you are an independent artist, songwriter, composer or band.
We live in a world that’s engulfed in music. Everywhere you turn you are presented with background music from films, television and advertising – all tailored to various people’s emotions and styles. From eye-popping candy chart hits to authentic legacy songs from eras gone by, you simply can’t avoid music in the fast-paced modern world we live in.
We were recently asked by one of our Music Industry Community members on how best to approach this topic. So when is it the right time and best way to approach people with your music?
Everyone knows that professional A&R at record labels, music publishers and music supervisors get bombarded with music, day in, day out. So how do you cut through and get heard? We’ve turned to our CEO Jon Skinner who shares his own experiences on the topic, having been on both sides of the fence as an indie producer/writer and running his own successful record label and music publishing company during the 90’s.
“It can be a frustrating process when sending out your music and approaching A&R, and not hear anything back.”
Jon explains that over years, you should be aiming to build up a network of professionals and relationships in the industry that you can tap into when you have music and songs ready to present. This can be your clear route to a release being cut by an established artist or being signed if you’re an artist yourself. But what if you are new to the game, have no experience or very few contacts? What are your options?
Some record labels and publishing companies will accept unsolicited material and others don’t, so check on their websites and do your research first. But, let’s explore first when is it the right time to make these approaches.
First of all, is your music ready to send to people? Well, you hopefully should know if your song and/or production is good enough, but it’s always best to get constructive feedback from a trusted source, so here’s my first tip.
If you have a song and don’t perform as a recording artist, it’s still best to get a demo recording created. Ensure you get a half-decent home recording set up. There is no excuse these days, as recording equipment is so affordable, even if you just get the basics together, it should be a fundamental part of your writing process.
You should connect locally to other songwriters, musicians and producers but also highly recommend you reach out to other like-minded professionals and creators online, such as through our global music industry community that we have amassed over the years, as working internationally can offer many benefits and just working locally can be very restrictive. These days, it doesn’t matter where you live, you can remotely work online and share your files with other collaborators. We’ve created tools to help people project manage their file storage in the cloud and collaborate once you make a connection through our plaform.
Some of your collaborations will work and some may not. It’s a learning curve for sure. but co-writing is essential to your development as a songwriter/producer and creative. Not only does it provide you with inspiration, it acts a natural way of learning and improving your craft and a safe house to receive critique and feedback. Learn more about the benefits of collaborating and get some top tips in our guide to music collaboration.
Once you feel you have a song worthy of performance the best way to get unbiased feedback is asking someone to learn it and perform/record it for you. Singing the song yourself isn’t a must-do, but it’s a good idea for you to hear it in the context of the music and if the song flows correctly with the music or whether you need to adapt a melody, lyric or chord structure.
Having someone professional perform your song can make a huge difference to how it’s heard and received by an A&R professional. It kind of goes without saying, but if you think you have a great song, then invest time and even money in getting someone with an amazing voice to perform it.
There are thousands of people whose songs and music never see the light of day, which is a crying shame. It’s mainly because they either, don’t have the motivation or know-how or connections to take it to the next level. It’s through meaningful connections matched to your goals, that can be the key difference between getting a deal, release or placement or not.
Luckily for you, here at Music Gateway, we’ve created a way for you to submit your music directly to record labels, publishers, booking agents and much more! Check it out here:
It depends on your goal, a stripped back piano or acoustic vibe is good clean and simple way of presenting a song, so the person is focusing on the lyric, melody and feeling of the song, rather than the polished production. If you are looking to place a song with an established artist or to say, the asian market, then you would normally need to record and produce something professional and pretty close to a finished production, ready to release and for the vocal to be replaced by the artist you are placing the song with.
In my opinion, not much has changed in respect of the writing process, there’s more opportunity than ever to connect to the right people in the business to make things happen. The internet provides a wealth of understanding about writing and the process, so get reading! Sites such as ourselves at Music Gateway helps level this playing field by funneling talent though to those with a need EG the A&R professionals at Labels & Publishers.
Yes there is, but and it’s a big one! Getting sync licensing placements in TV, Film, Games and Adverts is very hard work and super competitive. Trying to build relations yourself is very time consuming and expensive, but you do have options:
Build a network and personal relationships with the media buyers and Music Supervisors and when pitching your music, there’s some golden rules around how best to do that. We’ve written a whole article on how to contact music supervisors but below are some tips:
Don’t send dropbox folders or attach MP3 files to emails and from our feedback directly with music supervisors & A&R, it’s not recommended that you use Soundcloud, Spotify or YouTube links either. We actually developed a playlist tool that is matched to the needs of a Music Supervisor and A&R professional, and you can learn more out the features here.
Get representation for your music. This would either be an artist manager, record label, publisher or there’s what’s called a Sync Agent, which is something we do at MG.
This all depends on your goal. The key ones are record labels and music publishing A&Rs, artist management, heads of music and music supervisors, but you must do your research and if you are going to approach anyone, must sure you do it professionally with the right tools and add the right metadata to your music.
Why do you need a publisher, label or manager? Most companies will normally look at the level of traction you have gaining yourself, how many sync placements you have or songs you have got credit on as a writer.
You should actually be focusing all your efforts on developing your skills and writing craft, so don’t waste time pitching your songs or music, unless it’s ready.
Final Tip: By co-writing with other people that are managed, published or signed to a label will naturally create an environment for you to be introduced to those professionals, this is another great reason why collaborating and co-writing is essential to anyone’s career path and development.
These days you can self release music with ease through various distribution companies online. So if you truly want to go from the studio to the A&R professional, focus on your craft first, get that song and production the best it can be and always go down the indie DIY route if you can’t get response from your approaches or feedback from the professionals.
We hope you enjoyed the read and take our advice on board. It comes from a place of hands-on experience. Please let us know in the comments below if you have any tips you’d like to share or any questions. We wish you all the best in achieving your goals.
If you are interesting in becoming part of our global community, we would love to have you on board, you can join us for free!