How to Get a Recording Label: A Comprehensive Guide for Aspiring Musicians

Official SendBeatsTo Blog. Dive into the heart of the music industry with insights, tutorials, and inspiration for artists, producers, and everyone in between. Discover the latest industry trends, hone your craft with production tutorials, and connect with talented creators through exclusive interviews.

Glasgow, Scotland



Breaking into the music industry and getting noticed by a recording label is a dream for many aspiring musicians. The journey involves understanding the complexities of music production and finding the right platform to showcase your talent. Giants in the industry like Universal Music and Sony Music, along with numerous independent labels, are always on the lookout for fresh talent that can bring something new to the table.

To stand out and grab the attention of these labels, you must hone your craft, create exceptional music, and leverage every possible avenue to get your sound heard. Whether you aim for the stars with major labels or prefer the close-knit community of independent labels, understanding the nuances of each and how they can cater to your musical journey is crucial. This guide aims to navigate you through the intricate process of getting signed, from crafting your unique sound to effectively presenting your music to the right people.

Understanding the Basics of Record Labels

Record labels play a pivotal role in the music industry, serving as the bridge between artists and the wider audience. They are divided into two main categories: major labels like Universal Music and Sony Music, which have access to vast resources and networks, and independent labels, which offer a more personalized approach to their artists. Each has its own set of advantages and caters to different types of artists and music genres.

What Is a Record Deal, and Do You Really Need One?

A record deal is often seen as the elusive record of success in the music industry. It's an agreement between an artist and a music label where the label offers financial and promotional support in exchange for a portion of the music's profits. However, landing a deal is not the only path to success. With the rise of digital platforms, many artists now choose to release their music independently.

Before chasing after a record deal, it's essential to consider whether it aligns with your career goals. Some artists thrive under the autonomy of releasing their music to a record label's vast audience, while others prefer the creative freedom and control that comes with going independent. Understanding what you want out of your music career can help guide your decision on pursuing a record deal.

The Differences Between Major Labels and Indie Labels

Major labels and independent labels differ significantly in their operations and offerings. Major labels, with their extensive resources, can offer significant exposure and marketing muscle, crucial for artists looking to break into mainstream success. These labels have the financial backing to support large-scale promotions and tours, which can be incredibly beneficial for artists.

On the other hand, independent labels offer a more personalized approach, often focusing on artistic integrity and close relationships between the label and the artist. These labels might not have the same level of resources as the majors, but they provide a greater level of creative freedom and often, a higher royalty rate. The choice between a major and an independent label depends on what aspects of your career you prioritize.

Advantages of Being Signed by a Major Record Label

Being signed by a major record label comes with a host of benefits. These record companies have the financial power and industry connections to amplify your music on a global scale, providing opportunities for extensive tours, high-budget music videos, and exposure to a vast audience. Furthermore, they have teams dedicated to marketing, distribution, and legal matters, allowing artists to focus on their music. However, it's worth noting that competition is fierce, and the expectations are high when signed to a major label.

Why Choosing an Independent Record Might Be Better for You

Choosing to work with independent labels can offer a different set of advantages, particularly for artists valuing creative control and a more intimate working relationship. Indie labels are known for their hands-on approach, offering a greater say in the creative process and often a more equitable share of the profits. While they may not have the same level of resources as major labels, indie labels can provide a nurturing environment that allows for more experimental and niche music to flourish.

Crafting Your Path to Getting Signed

Getting signed by a record label, whether it's a major powerhouse or an independent label, requires meticulous planning and dedication. Your journey should start with identifying your unique sound, creating high-quality music, and building a strong artist profile. Understanding the landscape of the music industry and tailoring your approach to align with the expectations of record labels can significantly increase your chances of success.

Identifying Your Unique Sound

Discovering and refining your unique sound is the first step in the process of landing a record deal. This involves deep self-exploration and an understanding of where your music fits within the current market. Your sound should not only reflect your musical influences and personal experiences but also resonate with your target audience.

Consistency in your musical style helps in building a recognizable brand, which is crucial for standing out in a saturated market. While it's important to be adaptable, maintaining a core identity is key in the process of landing a record deal. This identity becomes your musical signature that labels and listeners will associate with your name.

Creating a High-Quality Demo or Album

In today's digital age, the quality of your music production can't be compromised. With platforms like Apple Music and other streaming platforms readily accessible, your music is competing on a global stage. High-quality recordings reflect your professionalism and dedication to your craft, which are qualities that labels look for in artists.

Investing time and resources into creating a polished demo or album is essential. This not only showcases your talent but also your commitment to producing work that stands out. Streaming platforms enable artists to reach wide audiences, making it imperative that your submissions to labels represent the best of your abilities.

Focus on Quality Over Quantity

In the pursuit of a record deal, the quality of your music should always take precedence over quantity. Success stories like Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran highlight the importance of focusing on creating meaningful and impactful music. With access to powerful computers and the internet, artists can produce and share their music online, reaching potential online fans worldwide. However, it's the quality of these tracks, not the volume, that ultimately captivates audiences and catches the attention of record labels. Crafting a few outstanding demo tapes can be far more effective than releasing a multitude of unfinished or poorly produced tracks.

Getting Feedback from Trusted Sources in the Music Industry

Feedback from music industry connections can provide invaluable insights into how your music is perceived and where it can be improved. Building relationships with artists and labels who share your vision can open doors to collaborative opportunities and mentorship. Their experiences and advice can guide you in refining your sound, improving your production quality, and navigating the complexities of the industry. This kind of support is crucial for any artist looking to make a mark in the music business.

Building Your Artist Profile

Creating a strong artist profile is about more than just your music; it encompasses your brand, your interaction with fans, and how you present yourself online and in person. As an independent musician in the music business, it's essential to communicate your story and connect with your audience on a personal level. This forms the foundation of your brand and plays a significant role in attracting both music industry professionals and record labels interested in your genre and style.

Establishing a Solid Fanbase

Building a loyal fanbase is a critical step in catching the attention of music labels. Music industry professionals look for artists who not only create great music but also have the ability to engage and grow their fanbase. Demonstrating that you can attract and retain a following shows labels that there's a market for your music, making you a more appealing investment.

Utilizing Social Media for Music Promotion

Social media platforms offer a powerful tool for musicians to share their music, connect with fans, and build their brand. By regularly posting engaging content and updates about your music journey, you can create a community of dedicated music lovers who are eager to support your career. Platforms like Instagram, X (Twitter), and TikTok allow you to reach a vast audience, showcase your personality, and keep fans updated on new releases and upcoming shows.

Interacting with your followers and participating in music-related discussions can also increase your visibility and attract new fans. Social media not only helps in promoting your music but also in creating a meaningful relationship with your audience, which is invaluable for building a solid fanbase.

Why Having a Website and EPK is Crucial

Having a professional website and an Electronic Press Kit (EPK) is crucial for making a strong impression on record labels and music industry professionals. Your website serves as the central hub for everything about your music career, offering an in-depth look at your work, bio, tour dates, and contact information. An EPK, on the other hand, is a digital resume that provides a concise overview of your music, achievements, high-quality photos, and press materials.

Both are essential tools for promoting your music and providing an easy way for labels and promoters to find and learn about you. They reflect your professionalism and seriousness about your music career, making it easier for industry professionals to consider you for opportunities. A well-designed website and comprehensive EPK can set you apart from the competition and increase your chances of getting signed.

Performing Live as Much as Possible

Building a successful professional career in music often hinges on your ability to perform live. These performances not only help in honing your craft but also in gaining invaluable exposure. Each live show is an opportunity to connect with your audience, showcase your unique sound, and create memorable experiences that fans can share. It's these moments that can turn casual listeners into lifelong fans.

Moreover, live performances can attract the attention of music industry connections, including potential record labels. The energy of a live performance is difficult to replicate in recordings and can significantly differentiate you from other artists. By performing live as often as possible, you're not just building your fanbase but also demonstrating your commitment and versatility to potential labels.

Networking with Industry Professionals

Networking with industry professionals is crucial in navigating the music business. It’s all about making the right music industry connections with artists and labels who can potentially open doors for your career. Attending music conferences, workshops, and industry meet-ups can provide you with opportunities to connect with people who have the power to take your career to the next level. Remember, the music industry thrives on relationships, and your network can be just as important as your talent.

Why Real-Life Connections Matter

In the digital age, real-life connections still hold immense value. Meeting someone face-to-face can establish a stronger bond than online interactions alone. These personal connections can lead to more meaningful opportunities, mentorships, and collaborations that can propel your career forward. Whether it’s a chance meeting with a label exec at a gig or a formal introduction at an industry event, these real-life interactions can leave lasting impressions that benefit your career in the long run.

Leveraging Online Platforms to Forge New Connections

Online platforms have revolutionized the way artists connect with the music industry. Social media, music forums, and digital networking events offer unique opportunities to make connections from the comfort of your home. By engaging with industry professionals and fellow musicians online, you can expand your network beyond local scenes to a global audience. These digital connections can lead to collaborations, performance opportunities, and even catch the eye of record labels interested in your sound.

The Submission Process to Record Labels

When you’re ready to take the next step in your music career, submitting your work to record labels becomes essential. This process involves more than just sending your music; it's about understanding the music business landscape and tailoring your submissions to fit the specific label’s genre and style preferences. Proper research, a well-crafted pitch, and professionalism in your approach can significantly increase your chances of getting noticed. Remember, every submission is a step closer to achieving your dream of getting signed to a record label.

Researching Labels That Fit Your Music Genre

Finding the right record label for your music starts with thorough research. It's important to target labels that align with your genre, whether it’s electronic music, hip hop, or any other style. Understanding a label’s track record, the artists they are currently interested in signing, and their overall style can help you tailor your submission to meet their preferences. This alignment between your music and the label’s focus is crucial for a successful partnership.

Additionally, consider the size of the label and their distribution capabilities. Some labels specialize in niche markets and can offer more personalized support, while major labels have wider reach but might be more competitive. Deciding where your music fits best is a strategic choice that can impact your professional career long-term.

Finding the Right Contacts at Record Labels

Once you’ve identified labels that resonate with your music career goals, the next step is to find the right contacts. It’s essential to direct your submissions to individuals who are responsible for signing artists or managing A&R (Artists and Repertoire) within the label. Personalized approaches show that you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested in forming a partnership. Moreover, adhering to submission guidelines demonstrates professionalism and respect for the label’s process, making a positive first impression.

Knowing How to Submit Your Music Correctly

Correctly submitting your music to labels is a critical step in getting noticed. If you’re a hip hop artist, ensure that the labels you target are interested in hip hop, and vice versa for other genres. Tailoring your submission to fit the label’s preferred submission guidelines is key. This includes sending your best tracks, a concise and compelling bio, and any other materials the label requests. Make sure to highlight what makes your music unique and why you believe there’s a fit with their label.

Remember, follow-up is part of the process but should be done respectfully. If a label has specified no follow-ups, honor that request. For others, a polite check-in after a few weeks can show your eagerness without being pushy. In the end, persistence and professionalism often make the difference in getting your music heard.

Beyond the Music: What Else You Need to Know

Securing a record deal involves more than just your musical talent; understanding the business side is equally important. This includes recognizing the elusive record deals' value and knowing how to navigate the complex landscape of contracts, rights, and publishing. Educating yourself on these topics can empower you to make informed decisions that protect your interests and ensure a fair agreement with a label.

Additionally, building a strong online presence and learning to negotiate more favorable terms can enhance your attractiveness to labels. A well-rounded artist who understands the music business, markets themselves effectively, and can negotiate effectively is a more appealing prospect for any label.

Secure Funding While Retaining Ownership of Your Masters

Funding your music projects while retaining ownership of your masters is a critical aspect of a sustainable music career. Exploring different funding options, such as grants, crowdfunding, or partnerships, can provide the financial support you need without compromising your rights. Owning your masters gives you control over your music and its earnings, a crucial factor in today’s rapidly changing music industry.

It’s also important to understand the value of your work and to negotiate contracts that reflect this. Seeking legal advice before signing any agreements can help ensure that you retain as much control over your music as possible, allowing you to benefit from your success in the long run.

Navigating Expectations vs. Reality in the Music Business

The music industry can be incredibly rewarding, but it's also filled with challenges. Managing your expectations by setting realistic goals and understanding the industry's highs and lows is essential. An online presence can significantly impact your career, offering a platform to showcase your work and connect with fans. However, success rarely happens overnight, and persistence is key.

Additionally, learning to negotiate more favorable terms in contracts and deals can set the foundation for a successful career. Being knowledgeable about the business aspects of music, from music publishing to rights management, can help you navigate the industry more effectively and make decisions that benefit your long-term success.

Next Steps After Submitting Your Music

After submitting your music to labels, focusing on maintaining your artistic vision and continuing to develop your style of music is crucial. This period is an opportunity to refine your craft, build your fanbase, and explore new creative directions. Whether you receive immediate interest or not, the key is to keep moving forward, using every experience as a stepping stone in your music journey.

How to Follow Up Without Being Pushy

Following up with labels after submitting your music is a delicate balance. A gentle reminder about your submission can keep you on the radar without coming across as pushy. Be courteous in your communication, expressing your genuine interest in the label and how you believe your music aligns with their brand. Waiting a few weeks before reaching out shows respect for their review process while keeping your name in the conversation.

Timing and tone are everything. If a label provides specific guidelines for follow-up, adhere to them meticulously. Your professionalism in this phase can leave a lasting impression, demonstrating your respect for the label’s process and your earnestness in seeking a partnership.

Keeping the Momentum Going Regardless of the Outcome

Regardless of whether labels respond positively, continue to push your music forward. Platforms like Apple Music offer opportunities to reach new audiences while maintaining your presence. Remember, artists like Justin Bieber were discovered through consistent effort and exposure. Keep performing, releasing new music, and engaging with your fans.

Engaging with label execs who have shown interest, even if they haven’t offered a deal, can provide valuable feedback and guidance. This ongoing interaction can lead to opportunities down the line, as the music industry is always evolving. Your persistence and dedication to your craft can make all the difference in your career's trajectory.

Embracing the Journey to Getting Signed

The journey to getting signed to a record label is filled with challenges and opportunities. It requires patience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from every experience. By staying true to your artistic vision, continuously improving your craft, and understanding the music business, you can navigate the path to success. Remember, every artist’s journey is unique, and embracing your own path is crucial to achieving your goals in the music industry.

The Importance of Patience and Persistence in the Music Industry

Patience and persistence are like keys that unlock doors in the music world. It might take a long time before you see success. This journey is not just about making great music but also about waiting for the right moment and the right people to notice your talent. Never give up, even when things seem slow.

Remember, every famous artist was once unknown. They had to keep working on their craft and didn't let setbacks stop them. Your dedication to your music and willingness to keep going, no matter what, will eventually lead to opportunities. It's all about not giving up, even when it feels like you're getting nowhere.

Learning from Rejection and Building Resilience

Rejection is a part of the music industry that everyone faces. But instead of letting it bring you down, use it as a tool to grow stronger. Every "no" you get is a chance to learn something new about your music or about how the industry works. It's how you get better.

Building resilience means not taking rejection personally. Understand that it's not about you, but rather about finding the right fit for your music. Each rejection brings you one step closer to the right label that will appreciate your sound. Keep improving and pushing forward, because persistence pays off.

Final Note: The Road to a Recording Label

The journey to getting signed by a record label is filled with highs and lows. It requires hard work, patience, and a belief in your music. Remember, your unique sound is what will eventually set you apart from others. Stay true to who you are as an artist, and don't compromise your vision for quick success.

Keep refining your craft, building your fan base, and making connections in the industry. The road to a recording label might be long, but it's worth it for the chance to share your music with the world. Stay focused on your goals, and don't lose sight of why you started making music in the first place.

Why Staying True to Your Artistic Vision Matters

Staying true to your artistic vision is crucial in the music industry. It's easy to get tempted to change your sound to fit what's currently popular, but that can lead to losing what makes your music special. Remember, Atlantic Records and other labels look for artists who have a unique voice and style. They want someone who stands out.

Your artistic vision is what will eventually attract the right, albeit elusive, record deal. It's what enables artists to release their music in a way that's authentic to them. This authenticity is what connects with listeners and creates lasting careers. So, focus on developing your unique sound and being honest in your music.

Continuously Improving and Adapting to the Evolving Music Landscape

The music industry is always changing, and so should you. Artists like Calvin Harris and David Guetta have stayed relevant by evolving their sound and keeping up with industry standards. This means continuously working to improve your music, understanding how to promote your music, and even investing money into your career wisely.

Learning how to mix and master your tracks, create engaging music videos, and navigate legal issues are all part of adapting. With platforms like Spotify making it easier for artists to share their music, it's important to stay informed and use these tools effectively. Remember, selling your music and getting signed to your label requires understanding how to send your music to the right people in the right way. Always look for ways to grow and adapt to ensure your music stays fresh and appealing.


  • guide
  • artists
  • music industry