If you’re a singer or musician just starting out, you may be wondering about the best way of approaching A&R. And how do you send an email to a record label?
Learn how to reach out to a record label more effectively. This includes getting better at letter writing, understanding the industry, making emails personal, being savvy with your timing, finding out who’s who and having a top-quality press kit ready to go.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to give yourself the very best chance of making successful contact.
How to reach out to a record label
It’s a given that most artists out there want to be signed by a record label. Before you think about approaching a record label, here are some helpful insider tips and tricks to help you get ahead of the pack and show you the easiest way to get signed to a record label. It also now includes tips on how to email a record label to hopefully increase your chances of being responded to, plus how to send music to record labels.
When you are ready to consider approaching a record label to get signed, at first it can be quite daunting. So before you go gung-ho sending emails and making phone calls, read the rest of the article to discover the things you need to know.
How do you reach out to a record label?
Make sure you’re prepared. Before you send your music out, it’s important that you know that you are ready for this step. How will I know if I’m ready? When you are at gigs, see what songs the fans and people in the audience most respond to.
Do you have some gigs lined up around the area that the record label is based? Reach out at a time that coincides with them and invite A&R to come down. This gives them a chance to check you out in the flesh as opposed to relying on your demo. Make sure the show is accessible, so the record label has a genuine chance of seeing you before they forget about you.
A record label is unlikely to invest unless they see you working as a sustainable music business model that they can make money from. Are you playing enough gigs, selling merchandise and streaming sufficient music online to be a full-time artist? Are you or capable of making a sustainable living from music?
How do I contact a record label?
Begin by building relationships with other people in the industry. This will always work in your favour, as long as you stay true to yourself you’re not selling yourself out. You are simply making the right connections for the future. It’s better to contact someone you already have a connection with. Here are some ways to network:
- Enter competitions
- Gig at open mic nights
- Go to industry events
- Make friends with other musicians – they may introduce you
And remember, first impressions are everything, from the way you talk on the phone to the way you word your email. All of it has to be well thought out and polished. Always be on your A-game. Keep up to date with email messages and phone calls and always try to be as professional as possible, no matter how daunting it may seem at first. The more you get used to contacting industry professionals the more you will begin to hear back from them.
How do you send an email to a record label?
The timing of when you send an email to a record label is very important. Don’t send it over a holiday or at the weekend. Monday morning will be when an email inbox is at its fullest, so chances are most emails will be skimmed over and discarded just to get through them. Wait until later in the week, maybe a Wednesday afternoon once things have calmed down.
Maybe try sending the email when you have good news to report. If you have an EP launch approaching or a slot supporting a well-known singer, it gives your email some clout and will make it of more interest to the recipient of the email. Make sure all of your social media, and artist website is up-to-date. The label will likely check out your channels if they’re interested.
Can you email record labels?
Yes – writing an email to a record label will sometimes be your only option. Label managers are notoriously hard to get hold of, so an effective email outreach strategy could be your way in.
It helps if you have an EPK (Electronic Press Kit). It will make record executive sit up and take note of who you are even before they have listened to any of your music. They have replaced the traditional press kits in the sense that everything is now done electronically. There are many free programs out there whereby, as a musician, you can create your own free EPK. The EPK should include; a biography, news about gigs and tours, details of new releases, marketing information and information of any other artists that you’ve supported.
How to write an email to a record label
Include a brief bio that is engaging and interesting. It should give a snapshot of you, your music and your achievements. Aim for a total of three paragraphs that capture your sound on paper. Throw in some quotes from fans or reviewers. If people have been saying you’re a great singer, but something in there to back up this belief in yourself. Don’t make it too long. Labels get so many submission. It needs to be exciting and punchy. What is your USP? Make sure it comes across clearly.
Try not to be over the top, but saying how much you like and appreciate the work of a label could really go a long way to getting you signed. Flattery may work in your favour, but don’t overdo it. You’ll also need to include a cracking demo with a great hook.
Record labels that accept demos
Before you send your music to a record label make sure that you’ve done the appropriate research. Firstly, you should check the label website to see whether they accept demos at all. Depending on where you are in your music career, it’s a good idea to consider the smaller, independent record labels, who are more likely to sign someone with less experience.
Then you can start thinking about what songs you would like to send the labels. Remember, each label is different from the next so you may want to adapt your game plan slightly when approaching different labels.
You can begin by doing the appropriate amount of research, go on google and check out the other artists that the label has signed, listen to their music so you know what the label is after. Start by following the label on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook so that if they do search for you then you are already on their radar.
Submit music to A&R
Record labels get inundated with demos and press releases by singers. Try and find out the name of the person who is the label’s A&R. It goes a long way to getting them to read the email you send. An anonymous ‘hi there’ will not draw their attention – they’ll just assume you’ve sent a generic email sent to multiple people at once.
Be relevant to the label. Are you a soulful singer like Adele or are you more pop-orientated like Harry Styles? When approaching A&R, it is of utmost importance that you share the same style of music as the other artists that are represented by the label.
If you’re a pop singer, sending a demo to a heavy metal label won’t make any sense. You need to be sure that the style you are going for is the direction you want to go. Therefore, you need to affiliate yourself with the label and style of music they represent.
Record label demo submission
Make sure your demo is of high quality. Consider recording your song during a proper session at a studio to make sure your tracks are polished, mixed well, and either mastered or ready for mastering. The writing needs to be of a high standard or will the and the lyrics need to make sense to whoever is listening. You also need to have a strong vocal performance that shows off your voice.
Get feedback before you send your demo, Is the songwriting of a high standard or will the lyrics make no sense to whoever is listening? Is it your best vocal performance or was it your first take and that will do? Ask your friends and family for honest feedback. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so you need to send your best work.
Think about including some artwork on your demo, this shows the label that you have really thought about every possible aspect and they will be more likely to give your music a listen.
Along with the demo, you will need to contextualise your work, as it is important for the record company to know what your influences are and how you would fit in as an artist. Keep all communication brief and straight to the point, and don’t forget to follow up any demo submissions with an email.
Before you submit music to record labels
Perfect your live performance. It could be you don’t hear back from the record label. But a record executive might decide to make a surprise trip to your gig. So you’ll need to be putting on an absolutely brilliant live show. They’re seeking someone who is confident on stage, who knows their instrument, whether it be on an electronic guitar or your own voice. You will need to have a commanding presence but also be easily accessible to your fans. The label is there to represent you and to make sure you grow creatively as an artist. You need to make sure that you are unique and that you stand out from all the other artists that are in the same genre as yourself.
How do record labels find artists?
Prepare to be persistent. If you have a catchy track that gets people singing and bobbing their heads, then this is easily something that could be picked up by a label. A large number of followers on social media, many thousands of streams and a viral music video will all help you to be found.
How many songs should you send to a record label?
Two or three songs are the usual amount that artists are required to send to labels, but make sure these are your best tunes. Send the songs that you have really put your heart and soul into and hopefully the record label will see the passion involved and want to sign you.
Is it hard to get signed to a record label?
Labels get too many emails from artists hoping to get signed. Be prepared for the reality that you may not hear back. Some may argue building up your own record sales, social media reach and higher profile gigs to network at will be more fruitful. Plus you’ll be getting a return from any sales.
Have you reached out to a record label before? Do you have any tips on how to write an eye-catching email? Let us know in the comments below.