slogging through the process of sending demos

You've worked hard on your music spending hours to turn those loops into carefully mixed, fully arranged pieces of music. Now what?

Self release or get signed.

You can self release but without an audience you likely won't move many units.  Or you can get signed with hopes that label exposure gains you some sales and fans.

There's pros and cons to each, this post is about sending demos to labels.

I'm not going to rehash the obvious (like bulk mailing an MP3 to many labels at the same time) so here are some tips for you.

Send music that fits the label - easier said than done.  What a label has released currently may not be where they are headed sonically.  What you think is a fit may not always be the case.  Don't get miffed if you get feedback along the lines of "thanks but the music is not the sound we are looking for."

Take that as a positive sign that someone listened and took time to write you back.  You know who wrote me that? Either Igor or Dan from Pig and Dan.  I sent a demo to their label Elevate and got that feedback.  I thought it was great to even get a response.  The lesson is that people actually do listen, so when you send stuff it's not just sent off into the abyss.

Couple things to make the process more efficient.

Use Gmail and this free tool to track opens.  This is to help you know that your demo email is getting opened.

Use sites like Labels Base, Soundcloud, and Facebook to get record label demo contact emails. Once you find them, pay attention to their instructions.

Most are something along the lines of - don't send MP3, soundcloud is still the most preferred medium.  Use a private share link.  Another benefit of soundcloud is you can see your track stats.  If you're demo is getting plays, chances are it's from people you're sending to.

Personalize the subject and message.

These are common practices that help your email get opened and read.  Sell the open, then the click to listen.

I'd suggest Landr for demo purposes, some labels will take care of mastering, so no sense paying for it if you don't have to.  So far my stats are 17 emails sent and 2 replies. That's great if you ask me.  1-3% is a common response rate.  Once you get 1 email down pat, it's pretty much copy/paste from there.

Want to know another hidden benefit?

It really helps you dig.  Kinda like digging in the crates. You have to hunt and peck for labels you think will work. It really helps you define your sound.  Also most labels also have a promo email address easily found when looking for demo contacts.  It helps to build a list of promo's for yourself as well.

Another way to find labels is to look at other artists I like and see what the labels they've released on.  I'll be doing more of this.

Should you produce with certain labels in mind?

Another thing I'm thinking about is that when you DJ there's definitely an element of playing for the crowd.  Not every track you pick is 100% to your liking, you have to play to the crowd a bit.

To that note, getting tracks signed is probably similar.  You may have to produce for the crowd.  It's ironic, but music these days is pretty much all contained in these perfect little boxes.  Like going into a neighborhood of cookie cutter houses.

While DJ's pride themselves on breaking tracks and their selection skills, many many jocks today stick to a very tightly focused sound.  And it's the same for labels.  To a degree it makes sense.  A label can't be everything to everyone - my point is that these days it seems things have gone too far the other way.  Due to 1-2 hour festival sets, there's not much room for experimentation -- this has translated to labels.

Anyhow this video from Budi Voight also has some good pointers.

Remember, you're just 1 track away.

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