Working with a record label can be advantageous to artists at all stages in their careers. But before you get a contract or signed to a record label, you need to get your music heard by them. To do this, you need to send your music to their A&Rs. We cover why artists sign to record labels, what an A&R is, how to submit music to a record label, and what you should be sending to labels. Want more tips like this? Check out all of our free artist resources for recording artists, musicians, and agencies that work with them. Looking to hire a team to pitch your music to record labels? Read more about our artist management services.
Why do artists sign to a record label?
Decades ago, labels were a requirement for artists who wanted to get their music out into the world; but that is no longer the case. Artists can record, engineer, distribute, and market themselves. So why should a recording artist or musician sign to or work with a label? Record labels have resources, connections, and funding to help accelerate the growth of an artist’s career or extend the reach of their music.
How do record labels work with artists?
In today’s music industry, many record labels stray from building artists from the ground up, instead treating artists and their music as an investment, working with those who they see profit from. This results in fewer 360 deals and more distribution, publishing, and licensing agreements.
What is an A&R at a record label?
Before you worry about the options record labels may offer you, you first must get your music to the people at record labels who make decisions on which artists to invest in—the A&Rs. A&R means Artist and Repertoire and they are responsible for talent scouting at record labels.
How do you send your music to record labels?
To work with a record label, you have to send your music to their A&Rs. There are a few ways to send music to A&Rs at record labels.
- Research A&Rs at record labels’ emails and contact them. This is the best way to reach major record labels that aren’t fielding submissions other ways.
- Research who the A&Rs are at the record labels you want to work with.
- Send the A&Rs a personal and professional email pitch.
- Follow up in 3-4 weeks if you do not hear back, but do not spam the A&R.
- Submit music to record labels through services they partner with. Record labels will partner with services such as SubmitHub to get submissions. They do this to streamline the process for themselves and ensure that only people who really want to work with them send demos. However, these services rarely allow you to pitch to major record labels, and when they do, the opportunities are oftentimes competitive and limited.
- Submit a demo on the record label’s website. Some record labels, such as Cleopatra Records, have a form on their website where you can send them music.
- Work with a company that will pitch your music to record labels and their A&Rs such as DCR. If you’re looking to submit your music to record labels, check out our artist management services.
What should you include when you submit music to record labels?
To get the best engagement from your pitches, you should be including the following when you submit to labels and A&Rs.
- A professionally written artist bio
- A strong bio will attract an A&R to check you out more. A poorly written bio can make it so your music is skipped even if you are a perfect fit for them.
- Your most popular song
- This will show how much money the record label could make off you. You are selling yourself as a brand partner and they want to know how strong your brand is already.
- Your strongest song
- This will show the record label your potential as an artist. This is less important than your most popular song since many record labels in today’s age care more about the money they can make than how good the artist is. Plus, what one person thinks is good, another person might not like.
- Your songest unreleased songs
- These are the songs you want the record label to distribute, publish, or license. Your unreleased music is the product you are selling to the A&R. They don’t want to have to hope that your future material is as good as what you’ve already released.
- Links to your music on streaming platforms and how many streams and listeners you have on those platforms
- Labels care about numbers. If you have a large amount of monthly listeners on Spotify, songs with millions of streams, or trending songs on Apple Music or iTunes, you need to tell record labels. This is something they want to hear.
- Links to your social media accounts, follower count, and viral content
- Labels want somebody that fans are passionate about, and the easiest way to see how strong a fanbase is is by seeing how active they are on social media. If you’ve gone viral on TikTok, labels might want you—even if the streaming numbers aren’t there yet.
- Your Electronic Press Kit (EPK)
- Your Electronic Press Kit, or EPK, is your resume as an artist. It should include a bio, statistics on your success such as streaming numbers and follower count, previous press and reviews of your music, photos and videos of you performing live, and how to contact you.
- Your website
- Have a website? Don’t forget to send it.
Navigate the music industry with confidence.
Looking for an industry partner to help you pitch your music to record labels, radio stations, venues and booking agents, film and TV studios, music libraries and sync licensing companies, and other industry stakeholders? Check out our artist management services. Want more resources like this guide? View all of our blog articles for artists and agencies.