A few months ago, I read
a study serviced by Digital Music News** that came to the conclusion that 75%
of Independent Artists look for a label deal (with Sony being the label of
choice). For some reason, this surprised me. Not because I thought signing to a
label was a bad thing, but because of the high number of people who would
choose to be signed if they could. It got me thinking, what were these
un-signed artists doing to stand out so they could be one of "the chosen"?
What this meant to me is that it would make a lot of sense for artists at any stage of their career to make sure their presentation is desirable to a label. If you put in the work, and still didn't get signed, the added bonus is that you'd be a fully functioning, and by a different measure, a successful entity. In other words, it is totally worth it.
Using this study as a guide, I will assume that a good many readers would ultimately like to be with a label. What do you need to do to get a label to take notice of you? It isn't without a touch of irony that it's usually the artists with the strongest DYI models that end up attracting label interest. These are the artists that could actually function if they decided against signing. Why? They already have all the tools for success, something that labels love to see.
The first thing you need is your own website - not www.myspace.com/mybandrules - your OWN website, that you have complete control and ownership of. This is your "home" on the web, and everything should be derived from there. It's important to keep up on social networking, but make sure that you keep your website current - that's yours, it belongs to you, and whatever is there you can take with you.
It's important that you stay CONSISTENT. The audience you hope to find quickly decides if you're not being true to your followers. Grow your Facebook audience by staying dependable. People love to be part of a group, and love to support what's special about the group. If you change what you're about every month, no one will stick around to see what's next. In being true to your audience, you will be rewarded by more people talking about what you're doing and telling their friends about it.
Figure out what your fans respond to, and keep doing it. Maybe a lot of them dig Twitter but aren't in to Foursquare so much. Embrace what they respond to and engage them in what they enjoy the most. Perhaps the people who like your music love watching live videos you post on YouTube much better than Blogs you post. If people who come to your site really get in to putting money in the "tip jar" you set up for when you post new music, keep doing it. Pay attention to what people respond strongly to. Section 101 just launched a site for Kina Grannis, an incredible artist who is a perfect example of this. Through her hard work, Kina has become one of the most subscribed to artists on YouTube. Her videos have been viewed over 60 million times and she makes sure to post a new video once a month, ensuring her fans come back for more and share what they see. Between Twitter and Facebook, Kina has over 160, 000 followers checking in on her daily.
While I won't deny this is hard work, especially with so many social media outlets you have to keep updated and fresh, the pay off is very strong. Building a loyal audience will allow you to do what you love the most! The road to the label deal may seem overwhelming at first, but there are so many more avenues for musicians to be HEARD than there ever was. Making smart, consistent choices can set you up for an exciting and fun ride, one that could have you driving right up to a major label deal in the future or you may surprise yourself and be happy - and successful - doing it yourself.
**Study provided by Digital Music News: http://bit.ly/jVK43O