The one thing an artist needs before record labels would become interested

On numerous occasions, I have written about the dangers of the Major Labels to the indie artist. You can an article HERE. But if you still insist that the success in music business means getting signed by Major label (IT DOES NOT!) then let me shine a light on the one thing an artist needs before record labels would become interested.

You need real fans

Ironically, the most important thing you need is also the same thing that most artists expect the Major Labels to help them with. You might have guessed it, a fanbase. The days of labels plugging an unknown artist and making them famous are long gone. No record label wants to take the risk anymore. They want an artist who already shows some serious signs of success. You see, they are a business after all. They need to minimise risk.

Do the groundwork

If you have 50000 Facebook followers who actively engage with your content and you fill venues regularly, it makes sense for the record label to sign you. But if you only have few thousand followers, and no engagement, it would be a massive risk for the record label to sign you. You need to do the groundwork yourself first. You need to show them you are worth their investment.

The Business side of the music

I only pulled the Facebook metrics here as an example. They will look at a lot more. YouTube views, Spotify and Apple music plays, Instagram engagement. And what these numbers also indicate is that you understand the business. You see if you just want to play music, join a covers band in your local bar. But if you really want to make it, you need to get good at the business side of the music.

The biggest failure I see, after giving up, is believing that things still are the same way they used to be in the music business. Everything about this music has changed. The record labels have been forced to change their business model, and you need to adjust to this.

Is it worth it?

Once you accept this and start building a real fanbase, the question remains, what do you need the label for? If your music is something that really fits the mainstream, there is an argument to say that a major label can maximise your potential. But just keep in mind, the cut you get from the album sales and streaming is considerably smaller than what you would get as an independent artist. You need to sell a lot more music to turn it more profitable. It is very common for major label artist to make only 5% of the actual album sales, and that is after they have paid back the advances. Most of us never will, and we stand a much better chance of making a career in music by staying independent.

Further reading

There is a great article by Stephen Gordon in the Digital Music News about how record label contracts actually work. If getting signed by the major label is something you dream about, I highly recommend you read the article HERE.

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