This is a step-by-step guide on how to sign to a major label.
Artist Branding & Vision
Without a strong brand and vision behind your artist project, it will be hard to make a long term career out of your artist project. Besides good music, people want to know who the artist is behind the music.
The more the listener can tell about you as an artist and person, the more likely people are to spread your brand.
Think about what you would like to represent. For example, if you want your artist project to be projected as a ‘mysterious’ brand, make sure that your image and persona shows that you are ‘mysterious’.
This can be done by:
- the way you talk to fans
- the captions you write under your Instagram posts
- your visual presence (logo and image)
This all needs to represent who you want to be. Tip – find some artists that you like, and see if you can describe their brand and vision, and try to define what they represent.
Build Your Network
Once you have your music and a brand & vision, it’s time to show the world. What is the best way to do that?
Building up a network is important. Try to connect with other artists in your niche, as well as with influencers, curators and record label owners that could possibly help to grow you as an artist.
Don’t expect a label to sign you instantly. You will have to invest in your artist brand. It’s unlikely that influencers will post you for free, and playlist curators typically ask for a fee for them to place you in their playlists.
It’s not always the case that you have to pay for playlist placement by independent curators. Try to find as many independent record labels in your niche, and study what type of music they release. When connecting with people, try to offer something in return. Try not to sound desperate and try to connect in a professional manner.
When release day comes around, what’s the best way to release your music?
Independent releasing is easiest. It doesn’t always sound ideal, but it is. By self releasing you have full control, and there’s simple distribution services like Distrokid that can get your music on all platforms.
Although you might be eager to sign to a (major) label directly, in reality that’s not how it works. Most labels want to see hype around an artist before signing them.
Once you start releasing, try and stay as active as possible by releasing music every 8 weeks or so. When independently releasing music, try to spread it amongst friends and with people that are most likely interested in it.
Did you know that Spotify has a great algorithm system?
If Spotify’s system sees that the listeners (even it’s only 50 listeners) like the song and play it until the end, then Spotify will reward that by putting the song in lists like ‘Discover Weekly’ and ‘Release Radar’, which will help organically grow the song, for free!
Never buy fake streams!
Here’s some tips and tricks on spotting a fake Spotify playlist: How to Spot a Fake Spotify Playlist – You Grow (yougrowpromo.com)
We strongly advise not to buy fake streams. It will show on your profile because it’s easy to find out, and more importantly, it will kill the algorithm for the song.
It’s also likely that a label won’t want to work with an artist that has bought fake streams because of the reasons above.
So after the first step of self releasing, you have ideally built some hype and established your brand, and it’s possible that you could release some music on some independent labels.
This is a good step for if you think that you are ready to sign to a major label like Sony, Universal or Warner. A&R’s from these labels will not just look at your discography and branding, they also check if you have an active fanbase. They don’t want to see just numbers (streams / views), they also want to see lots of interaction with fans. For major labels it is great to see if you built your own fan base, and it will give them much more trust to work with you and to eventually invest into your project.
Spotify, TikTok, YouTube so on all have their pros and cons. Spotify is great to make some money from streaming revenue, but you are not able to talk with the listeners.
YouTube you can interact with your fans and people can comment on your uploads. Once people comment, you can interact with them which quickly results in turning someone that comments into a fan.
It can be hard to get traction on your YouTube content. We recommend that you upload all your releases on your own channel, and there are also curation channels that might want to upload your song on their channel, but that typically brings the fans to them, rather than to you as an artist. We know that it isn’t easy to get comments and traffic on your YouTube uploads, and this is why we created an affordable service which can help gain some traction.
Once you think you have the following, you are ready to reach out to major labels:
- A good branding + vision
- Active social media page (at least Instagram) -> try to post 2 times or more per week
- Self releases
- 1 / a few releases on independent record labels
- You built a fan base you can interact with.
But how do you pitch to a major label?
Before you pitch, be sure to know which label is the best match for your music.
Try to find the A&R persons from the specific label, you can often find them by searching on Google or LinkedIn. Search terms as simple as ‘Sony Music A&R’ should do the trick.
Once you’ve found the relevant contact, shoot them an email. The screenshot below shows some advice and examples of how to approach an A&R department.
We hope that this helps, and feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions. Want to learn more of what we do at YouGrow? Click the link: