#1
My band has recorded a demo CD, and we're starting to pick up quite a following in NYC. We've been playing shows since December, and bookers/promoters are starting to suggest we headline shows (as opposed to opening like we have been). Now that we're becoming comfortable building a fan base and getting shows, we want to take the next step and record a 7". Problem is, this costs money, and we are all working class punx with no cash.

I really want to send our demo out to some record labels (ranging from major Fat Wreck-types to indie/local punk labels) and see if they'll help us out. My problem is, I don't know exactly what I should send in to them aside from our demo CD. Should I include a letter with a brief bio and an explanation that we want some money from them for our first 7"? Or should I just create a little promotional package/press kit and let them decide whether or not they like us, and what they want to offer us? I want a checklist and a form letter I can draw inspiration from, so I don't f#$k this up!

Please chime in if you have had positive experiences getting record labels to back your band. I really believe in our music, and we've been getting so much positive feedback from the NYC punk scene, I truly feel like if I present us the right way, we could get some help to take our band to the next level. Thanks in advance for any advice you have to offer!
Last edited by HeartSick at Mar 30, 2012,
#2
If you do your research, you'll find that most record labels don't accept unsolicited demos. What does this mean? It means if you just mail your demo to a record label, they'll put it in the trash.

Additionally, you first have to prove that you can make money as a band before expecting others to invest in you. You won't just be opening shows, you'll be running your shows, making cash from the door sales. Doesn't sound like you're quite there yet.

There are companies that can help you out, TAXI http://www.taxi.com/ would be an obvious one. Send them a song, pay them cash, they'll professionally review it, and decide whether it's submittable to record labels. If they think it is, they'll pass it on. If they don't, they won't.

And I can garuntee that if all you have are "demos" (ie. not professional recordings), they won't go further.

If you're serious about the band, put your "working class" cash together and invest some cash in it. At the very worst you'll have something nice to remember the band by.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#3
Like Alan said all the major labels don't accept CD submissions. Some smaller indie labels will accept submissions, but obviously they get many submissions, and because they are a smaller label you can't expect them to give you a large cash backing.

If you are going to try and shop your band around to record labels, the biggest thing, really the only thing they care about is if you can make them money. The don't care how good of musicians you are, it's all about the numbers. This means having a facebook with a large amount of likes, a mypsace with thousands of plays, consistently bringing in a very large crowd at your gigs. You need to prove to them that you are a good investment. If you have the numbers then yes they may consider you. Lables don't want to gamble and hope that your band will grow, they want a polished band on the rise that they can hop on the bandwagon with and push you over the edge. Do not ask for money, get a press kit with Bio, CD, Pictures, links to your website, facebook, reverbnation etc.
#4
Listen, just trust me. We're ready to send this to labels, and we're sending it to labels that have submission guidelines on their website, or even put "SEND US YOUR DEMOS!" in their ads in MRR (where we've been reviewed).

I just don't know what to stick in that envelope besides the (awesomely-packaged) CD. That's what I'm asking for advice on. Nothing else. Just what bands with experience recommend sending to labels.

Thanks.
Last edited by HeartSick at Mar 30, 2012,
#5
You understand almost any label you inevitably get signed to nowdays isn't going to do much of anything for you, except maybe front you (not give) money for record a full length that they approve of in length and content.
#6
Quote by HeartSick
Listen, just trust me. We're ready to send this to labels, and we're sending it to labels that have submission guidelines on their website, or even put "SEND US YOUR DEMOS!" in their ads in MRR (where we've been reviewed).

I just don't know what to stick in that envelope besides the (awesomely-packaged) CD. That's what I'm asking for advice on. Nothing else. Just what bands with experience recommend sending to labels.

Thanks.

If you think you are ready then that's great, but I'm just saying don't expect tons of labels to be fighting to sign you. Even if they do have submission guidelines there are tons of bands sending stuff in. Like I said before you are selling your band to them, put everything in there, make it professional. You are trying to convince them to invest in you. Maybe even try making a sample pack showing it to a few people and get some feedback before you send the real one in.

Quote by chronowarp
You understand almost any label you inevitably get signed to nowdays isn't going to do much of anything for you, except maybe front you (not give) money for record a full length that they approve of in length and content.


You do know that no label gives a band money right? All labels front money and they expect every dollar back. Bands make money because they're CD sells enough to cover this advance and then enough to pay the band through royalties. Even if the CD is a flop the band still has to pay back that money, even if it takes several years.
#7
Quote by chronowarp
You understand almost any label you inevitably get signed to nowdays isn't going to do much of anything for you, except maybe front you (not give) money for record a full length that they approve of in length and content.


I understand that labels do not GIVE you the money. I know how that works.

Labels like Psychic Volt, Kiss of Death, Team Science, Alternative Tentacles and Adeline have all put out 7"s the past few years. There are hundreds more out there.
#8
Quote by TNA
Like I said before you are selling your band to them, put everything in there, make it professional. You are trying to convince them to invest in you. Maybe even try making a sample pack showing it to a few people and get some feedback before you send the real one in.


Alright, now we're getting somewhere! TNA, are you hinting you might answer my initial question?

The question on the table- THE ONLY QUESTION I NEED AN ANSWER TO- is what do you recommend putting in the envelope I send to the record label?

Please just answer my question. Thanks.
#9
Quote by HeartSick

The question on the table- THE ONLY QUESTION I NEED AN ANSWER TO- is what do you recommend putting in the envelope I send to the record label


Your demo and proof of how much money you're making already.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#10
Quote by AlanHB
Your demo and proof of how much money you're making already.


Your basically sending in a press kit.

These "labels" have never heard of you before, give them a band bio, a group picture, individual pictures with VERY short band member bios. Then have some press clips or quotes from any magazines you'v been reviewed in or ask venue owners, bookers, etc to give them you a few words, they can attest to how many people your bringing to gigs. It helps if they're a prominent person in the scene, more credibility that way. List accomplishments, if you've won a BotB contest or played at a prominent event.

And of course send in a demo.

Keep everything short and to the point. Everything should fit on a standard sheet of paper, and make it look interesting, but not distracting from the info your trying to convey.


From the sounds of it though, I would wait a few more months, maybe till the end of the summer before summiting anything. Go ahead and get those head lining gigs, play a lot more shows, and build up your base so much more. It never hurts to wait, but if you jump in too soon, it can bite you in the ass.
#11
Quote by HeartSick
Alright, now we're getting somewhere! TNA, are you hinting you might answer my initial question?

The question on the table- THE ONLY QUESTION I NEED AN ANSWER TO- is what do you recommend putting in the envelope I send to the record label?

Please just answer my question. Thanks.

Did you read my first post???
Do not ask for money, get a press kit with Bio, CD, Pictures, links to your website, facebook, reverbnation etc.
Don't be an A**hole when people are trying to help you.
#12
You were the one being an unhelpful a-hole. Your entire post was just blabbing on about things I already know and wasn't asking about. At the very end you threw in a vague sentence that didn't answer my question.

Next time if you don't know, and can't help, just keep your mouth shut instead of being an obnoxious blowhard.
#13
Quote by TNA
If you think you are ready then that's great, but I'm just saying don't expect tons of labels to be fighting to sign you. Even if they do have submission guidelines there are tons of bands sending stuff in. Like I said before you are selling your band to them, put everything in there, make it professional. You are trying to convince them to invest in you. Maybe even try making a sample pack showing it to a few people and get some feedback before you send the real one in.



You do know that no label gives a band money right? All labels front money and they expect every dollar back. Bands make money because they're CD sells enough to cover this advance and then enough to pay the band through royalties. Even if the CD is a flop the band still has to pay back that money, even if it takes several years.

Isn't that what I just said?
#14
Quote by HeartSick
You were the one being an unhelpful a-hole. Your entire post was just blabbing on about things I already know and wasn't asking about. At the very end you threw in a vague sentence that didn't answer my question.

Next time if you don't know, and can't help, just keep your mouth shut instead of being an obnoxious blowhard.

Really dude? Really? You came on here and asked for people's experiences with labels. You don't like what I wrote then just ignore it. Everything I wrote was relevant to what labels are looking for, and therefore what you should be sending them. I stand by everything I wrote. What do you think you should send to a label? It's not rocket science. Bio, CD, pics. There's no magic fairy dust I forgot to mention. Like I really thought to myself, "I'll come one here and write a bunch of stuff just to F**ck with this guy." Ya you caught me.

Here's some advice, try being a little courteous to your fellow musicians. You can take a s***t in an envelope and send it to them for all I care. With an attitude like yours no label is going to want to deal with you.
Last edited by TNA at Mar 31, 2012,
#15
If possible I'd let someone else in the band do the talking. If a small thing like this thread is going to get you agitated, you mayn't be able to accept criticism from recod labels too.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#16
The likelyhood of him truly being agitated over an internet forum is unlikely. However, this forum does have a habit of not answering initial questions and instead filing in blanks where they see fit and becoming upest when it's pointed out.
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#17
Quote by HeartSick
You were the one being an unhelpful a-hole. Your entire post was just blabbing on about things I already know and wasn't asking about. At the very end you threw in a vague sentence that didn't answer my question.

Next time if you don't know, and can't help, just keep your mouth shut instead of being an obnoxious blowhard.


All he was trying to do is help. Even if he didn't, he took the time. Don't be an ungrateful A-Hole that many "musicians" become when they think they are about to go somewhere.
There's room for all of God's creatures; Right next to the mashed potatoes.
#18
Bio: No longer than a single page with a readable font size. The bio should outline your achievements and make the recipient want to listen to your demo. Leave out how the band formed, unless it is really an interesting story. Leave out who your influences are unless it really matters. Leave out all the no-name clubs you've played at that don't hold more than 250 people. Include a description of what you sound like, your goals, and how far along you are on that journey towards achieving them. (ie. your achievements) Include information that makes it clear how successful your band is on your own. This will convince them that the label's investment in your product is a horse they're going to be confident to bet on. Include how many CD's you've sold, how many digital downloads you've sold, information about tour successes, etc.

Additionally, you may include a second sheet of press that your band has gotten - reviews, articles, quotes from other well-established artists, etc.

Include an audio CD that represents something that is as close to "store ready" as possible. You don't want to serve a cake that is half-baked. You don't want them to have to use their imagination to fill in the gaps. You don't want to leave anything open to question. You need to show them the goods.

Include a photo of your band. 8x10 glossy black and white, usually.

That's it for a standard package.

For submission to a label, I would include a cover letter.

In all cases, be sure that your writing is grammatically correct and is free of spelling mistakes. Be business like.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#19
"Squalor formed when Rick, Dave and Keith met in high school. After jamming in Rick's basement for two years without a bass player, they finally hooked up with Smith and the band was complete. With influences that include Zeppelin, Nirvana, and Black Sabbath as key influences, their guitar sound is a mix of classic rock and grunge. Squalor played Joe's Diner, Mary's Roadhouse, and even Walter's Open Stage a few times. The highlight of their career so far was the time they were asked to open for a friend of one of the guys from Puddle of Mud. They have recorded a demo and hope to soon have enough songs to complete a full length album."

OR

ShaZam are the hottest touring band on the Atlantic seaboard. Selling out clubs from NYC to Tampa over their last two tours, they have headlined countless shows of their own and have been asked to open for The Killers and Grammy-winning alt-rockers, The Arcade Fire. Despite only playing a side-stage on the Warped Tour, their crowd was as big and as boisterous as the recording act on the main stage. As a result of that performance alone, they sold 250 CD's in one hour. With over 200 000 plays on Reverb Nation and sales of their first album reaching well over 15 000 units and downloads, ShaZam are poised to bring their brand of noise-rock to an international audience with their new second album. The Charlotte Herald described their show at Club Revolver as 'a blistering adventure that insisted on taking hostage every one of the packed house of 550 attendees. They were as vital as Soundgarden and as jagged as Henry Rollins. Wow!!' "

Which one would you sign?

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#20
Quote by axemanchris
" The highlight of their career so far was the time they were asked to open for a friend of one of the guys from Puddle of Mud"



And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#21
^^ I think I've actually read that (the first version) on more than a couple FB pages.
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
Last edited by Hydra150 at Apr 1, 2012,
#22
My friend who worked at a small label said bands tried everything, and i mean everything, like sending in a six pack with their demo to get them to listen to it all the way to sending their demo and bio in a corn flakes box.

The one that they did sign (well front to record an ep) send in their demo on a tape, yes a tape, and it was soo unusual that they listened to it and got the band in cause they liked it, but on getting the songs properly recorded they found that the songs didnt hold the same
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#23
Oh man Chris, thank you so much. Honestly, that was exactly what I needed, and I really appreciate you taking the time to not only list everything, but show a "Do and Don't" sorta sample. I feel way more confident about what I'm going to put together now.

Thanks again man!
#24
Quote by Hydra150
^^ I think I've actually read that (the first version) on more than a couple FB pages.


Like, 90% of them, probably.



CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.