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Demos For Record Labels

Demos For Record Labels  

8 members have voted

  1. 1. Have You Ever Sent A Demo To A Record Label?

    • Yes
      4
    • No, But I Might Do So In The Future
      1
    • No, And I Probably Never Will
      3
  2. 2. Did You Ever Hear Back From Them?

    • Yes, They Turned Me Down
      0
    • Yes, I Got Signed
      2
    • No, I Never Heard Back From Them
      2
    • I Answered No To Question 1
      4
  3. 3. Is The Process Of Sending Demos To Record Labels Outdated?

    • Yes, It Has Been For A Long Time
      6
    • Yes, But Only Recently So
      1
    • No, It Is Still Worth A Try
      1


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I am mercifully spared the burden of creativity. I do have a couple of good friends who like to fiddle with sound. They have recently been speaking of sending demos to record labels. I fear that in the 2010s, such endeavours are somewhat anachronistic and a guaranteed ticket to the town of disappointment. Should I tell them this, or am I perhaps incorrect in my assessment? Is it better to just enjoy music as a hobby in this day and age? Has anyone here ever sent demos to record labels? What happened, did you hear back from any of them? Was it worth it or did it just feel like a waste of time? And those of you who have not gone down this route, is there any particular reason why? I hope you enjoyed that assortment of question marks.

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In all honesty, I have never met a band on a label who got there by submitting a demo.

 

Especially these days, the labels you're most likely to get noticed by and signed to are small indie labels that mainly stick to putting out stuff from people they know personally. The best way to get on a label and get someone to put your shit out is just to CONSTANTLY play and make connections. Cold-calling labels with demos is a severely outdated process, and is maybe even detrimental to you when all things are considered.

 

Just speaking from my own experiences, all of the labels and other opportunities I've been involved with have come solely from meeting people at gigs or festivals and things of that sort and developing a relationship with them. Really the only way to do things in this day and age is to take charge yourself, put things out DIY, don't expect anything or feel entitled to anything and just keep meeting and connecting with likeminded people. 

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I submitted a demo to a label and got signed on the back of it, but the label was so small and honestly more hassle than it was worth, I think unless you're going for a bigger label, which you won't get by submitting a demo alone, it's basically the same as releasing stuff yourself, except you lose a certain amount of control over both the manner of its release, and the ownership of the music itself. Obviously it depends on the terms of the contract but I legally don't own the recordings of my songs that made that album, which is annoying.

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This was a few years ago. Thing is the label had, up until that point, only existed to release the music the guys who owned it were making, whether solo or in a band they were in together. I was their first external signing, and around the time they drew up the contract, one of them had recently watched a documentary on Rough Trade and I think that's how they did it. Thing is I was pretty naive, and unemployed, at the time and figured label = success, but it doesn't really mean anything if it's not a label that people know about, or a label with the resources to really make a big push. They were nice guys, though, like it's not like they were malicious and I'm sure I COULD do anything I wanted with those recordings, it's just that they technically don't belong to me.

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I don't really see the point of indie labels in this day and age. The benefit of an indie label in the past was that you could get your music out there without having to sacrifice so many of your rights as an artist, the trade-off was that there wouldn't be that much money in it and your music wouldn't be very heavily promoted.

 

The web now allows anyone to do what an indie label used to do, to get your music out there without sacrificing your rights, with all of the downsides of the web being the same as that of indie labels, lack of money and marketing. If you want people to know about your music and you want to make a decent living from it, major labels are still the way to go, you just have to be willing to let go of your artistic integrity for a few years.

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Yeah I agree, sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud are just way better than any starting label can hope to be. If you want to release vinyl, there's plenty of services that can do that. The problem with releasing music off your own back in this day and age is that it is so easy it's hard to make a mark, so a career in music if anything has gotten harder, but if you're just doing it for the love of doing it without any hope of a career, then there couldn't be a better time.

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That is the uncomfortable reality of the age of the web, it has resulted in major labels being the only way to make a mark. If The Smiths were starting out now, they would have to sign to a label like Parlophone to have any chance of achieving the success that they had with Rough Trade in the 1980s. It used to be touring that kept bands out of the studio, now it's the day job in Tesco or Walmart.

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Well I know guys who have been successful musicians, I mean obviously not pop stars, but at least have a following in the indie scene and are able to make a living out of it, but these are guys who have been at it ever since they were in school. If you're not willing to give it 100% and deal with years of struggle then you're not going to make it.

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If you look more closely into the lives of people who claim to make a living from music without the backing of a label, you often find that they engage in a fair amount of non-musical odd jobs and temping work on the side, they keep it a secret for reasons of pride, and who can blame them. Some of them, in fact rather a lot of them nowadays, are trust fund kids as well, they don't tend to talk too loudly about that either.

 

Generally speaking, it is borderline impossible to make a living from music off your own back nowadays, there is always more to it behind the scenes, whether it be less glamorous sources of income on the side, clandestine inheritance money or tax fiddling.

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I never said anything about your friends; it might have worked out nicely for your friends (you didn't say that they were your friends, by the way) but in general it doesn't work out all that well. You have to distinguish between specific cases and the general status quo.

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I feel like indie labels still do make sense in the context of a "scene" though like I've seen people who started out going to punk shows here in ATL and then they just kinda hooked up with people in the scene and started new bands and they're all kinda on the same group of labels putting stuff out on vinyl/tape/cd and build up a following in all the scenes around the country blah blah

And that's just about playing shows and building connections with the people who release the music and like your sound, and a lot of those shows are booked by having a connection, etc.

 

But it just depends if you live near a place with a scene whose music you identify with, which may not be the case for everyone here/your friends

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