Contacting Labels - Do's & Don'ts

Process Of Contacting Labels - Do's & Don'ts

Contacting labels is one of the most frequently discussed topics among artists in the industry. Every day hundreds of thousands of artists are sending demos to labels across the world in hope that their newly finished track will be signed. However, what majority of artists fail to realize is that sending a demo to a label is essentially the same as applying for a job. You have to be professional and personable when sending your demos. There are a number of steps to take when you go about contacting labels. This article will take you step by step so you will be ready to send off the perfect demo submission. We will also address some of the most recent and repetitive questions we see on a daily basis, such as: How do I find the labels?; How do I go about contacting them; What information do I provide? Can I send WIP? As you continue to read through you will grasp on how to better your demo submissions as well as the Dos and Don'ts when it comes to submitting a demo.

Research The Label

Let's begin. So you have finished your new track that you have spent countless hours on and you want to release it on a label. Assuming you have it mixed and mastered to the best of your ability, you are now ready to start shopping for labels. Maybe you know what label you're wanting to send to, or you may want to send to a handful. Whatever you so desire is totally fine. Before you do anything, it is essential that you do your research. We cannot stress this enough. There is nothing more embarrassing than sending the wrong genre, format, a broken link, etc, to the label. Most labels will not give you a second chance. So make your demo submission count. 

Most labels can be easily found through a simple google search or blog site. You may need to spend a few hours researching different labels and gaining as much knowledge you can before submitting as you want to make sure you are finding the right home for your track. Below are some steps that we have found helped us tremendously when researching labels. **Please make sure to send your demo to the correct email or using the correct form. Also, make sure to send the correct file type or link!**

Step 1: Research labels with keywords such as "EDM labels" "demo submission labels" or "Top EDM labels" on any search engine. Go to Beatport.com and try searching the top 100 charts. You will have access to tons of different labels. You can then type them into social media platforms to find out more information. 

Step 2: Learn about their company: how they operate, their release schedules, owners, A&R's, genres they release, artist roster, management agencies, videos, contact information and anything else you may find useful. 

Step 3: Make sure you know what genres they accept. If you were only going to follow one rule, please make sure you send the label the right genre. There is nothing more annoying than receiving a demo for your label that is a genre you don’t accept. Please DO NOT do this. If it is a dubstep label, submit dubstep, etc etc. 

Step 4: Find their contact information and where they accept demos. Some labels only have one email for everything but some have separate (Inquiries, and demos). Major labels tend to have specific submission forms that you need to fill out in order to submit. 

Step 5: Make sure you know what type of file they want to receive. If they ask for only a private streaming link, then only send them a private streaming link. 90% of labels tend to want streaming links. Stay away from.WAV, Mp3's, AIFF, Bootlegs, Mashups, physical copies, unless it is specified. 

Some labels will have very little information available. If this is the case, chances are they are not well established and/or do not accept unsolicited demos from the general public. A professionally managed label will have, at a bare minimum, a contact email. You may have to check out a few of the labels’ social media accounts to find the information you are looking for! Remember, spending a few hours researching labels every day or week is worth it. You may come across certain labels you never knew existed! 

Submitting Your Demo 

Congratulations! You have found the label(s) you want to submit to. You did all the steps mentioned above and everything went smoothly. You have all of the information you need and are now sitting blankly at your computer wondering how to write a proper demo email. Over the years and our countless personal experiences with labels, we have finally created a somewhat cookie cutter template email that works for every submission. It doesn’t guarantee you a signing but it definitely enhances your chances of a response. If you follow the step by step process below, you will have a very high chance of being noticed and receiving a reply. Remember, every label is different and some will only reply if you are accepted. It’s better to be professional each and every time so you stand out from the plethora of demo submissions. 

Step 1: Address the label by company name, or if you know the name of the owner/A&R then you may use their name. 

Step 2: Be personable. It's always nice to say something about their label to acknowledge you know a bit about them. Keep this brief.

Step 3: Do NOT mass email. For the love of God, please do not mass email labels. There is no quicker way to be rejected and in some cases blacklisted from the label. This is one of the worst things you could do when sending a demo. Only send to one label at a time. This is crucial. We don’t care if you have three emails or six thousand emails to write, do one at a time. 

Step 4: Make sure your file, whether it be a streaming link or mp3, works. You may only have one shot, so make sure the actual track you're sending is up and running.

Step 5: Tell the label a little about yourself: age, location, genres you produce, etc. Each label is different. Some may want to know about you, and some may just want a quick "Hello" and "Thank you".

Step 6: Proofread everything. Make sure everything is well written and easy to understand. You don't want spelling mistakes or unclear sentences when your potential job is on the line. Always tell yourself that you are applying for a position at a big company. You need to be professional and come across as a value to the company to better your chances. 

Step 7: Sign off with a thank you and statement of appreciation for them taking the time to consider your demo. This is a nice polite and professional way to end your submission. 

Step 8: Send. 

Be Patient

You have finished researching your label(s) and have sent your track out to the ones that best suit your needs. Now what? The answer to that is Patience. Being patient can be tough, especially when you are anxious to hear what the answer is from the labels you sent out to. This is now just a waiting game. It may take as long as 2 – 4 weeks for a response. Sometimes longer. It all depends on the label and other factors (vacations, demo volume, holidays, meetings, time away from the office etc) Most labels will tell you how long it takes for an average reply and some will not. Also, labels will usually tell you if they typically reply to all of their demos or just the ones that are accepted. Personally, we find that two weeks is a fair amount of time to wait before making a decision to go somewhere else.

It is important not to spam. Once you send the demo, sit patiently. If you start sending message after message, the label will more than likely ignore you and not give you a chance again. Refrain from spam and irritating messages. Labels don’t have time to sift through unwanted messages and spam. You will be blocked. Simple as that.


Receiving an Answer

 
Receiving a reply is the equivalent of a College or University acceptance letter. It is intimidating and can end up as either a rewarding or negative experience. You have sat there in agony for the last three weeks waiting for an answer. You open your email to see that you have received a response regarding your submission. You open and see: Congratulations, we have received your demo submission and would love to sign it! (or whatever the message) At this point, you are more than likely beyond thrilled and excited. Who wouldn’t be?. Your adrenaline is pumping and you have decided that this is the label you want to go with. STOP RIGHT THERE. Make sure that this is 100% the label you want to sign your track over to. I always tell myself and artists to never make decisions when you are overly happy and/or mad. You don’t think clearly. Your judgment is clouded. Take a few minutes, breath, look at the label once more, and then decide if it's right for you. If you're happy with both the label and the contract then, by all means, go for it. Just please do not jump into anything without total clarity. You do not want to end up being scammed, or ripped off. There is nothing worse than legally signing a track over to a company that you aren't 100% satisfied with. Please, take your time in deciding.


Wrap Up


You have officially decided on the label and have signed your track over. Congratulations! You now are going to be (hopefully) on every major online store worldwide! You will want to maintain an ongoing relationship with the label and make sure to keep updated on your track and what's happening. Always be in the loop, without being an annoyance. Hopefully, the label you chose is open to communication and helps grow you as an artist!

 If you are still reading this, we applaud you. We know this is a lot to read over, but trust us, it is for your own benefit. Everything you have read will help you in one way or another. Submitting a demo can be tricky, especially if it’s brand new to you. We hope that by following the steps above you will feel more comfortable when submitting a demo. Now take what you have learned here today and put it to good use! Good Luck!

The Drunken Coconut

Ryan Thompson