How To Get A Record Deal Without Selling Your Soul

Back In The Day

Once upon a time nearly every recording artist was trying to figure out how to get a record deal so they could finally HOW_TO_GET_A_RECORD_DEAL“MAKE IT”. Their strategy was often to get really good at their craft, scrape up enough money for a demo and then get it in front of an A&R of a record label that would hopefully sign them.

Now once upon a time this approach made sense because it took a lot of money to fund a recording project and properly promote it, money that people normally didn’t have. The downside to this was that most artists had very little music business knowledge and leverage as they placed themselves at the complete mercy of major corporations.

For example the sensational female Hip Hop group TLC sold over 65 million records worldwide and is recognized as the second best selling female group of all time right behind Spice Girls. At the height of their careers they only brought home about $15,000 a piece per year and shortly after had to file bankruptcy.

Taking Responsibility

I believe Ariel Hyatt from Cyber PR Music said it best. “Thinking that mainstream media will save you, discover you or put you on the map and make your career is a misguided conception“.

Ariel_Hyatt_mainstream_media_quoteThe take away from all of this is that you can’t rely on anyone one else to discover and establish a long stable career for you. It’s the artists responsibility to understand the music business well enough to protect themselves from getting into shady business agreements.

Creating Leverage

With the rise of digital media record labels have become very reluctant about signing artists. In fact it has become common for artists to receive a recording contract for only 1 song. These days record labels aren’t really interested in developing new artists but rather prefer for artists to already be somewhat established.

These days we have this incredibly powerful tool called the Internet and it has enabled artists to cultivate their own fan base worldwide. The way we consume media has also changed with on demand streaming companies like YouTube and Netflix. The bottom line is mainstream media isn’t as dominant as it once was and Record Labels have been taking notice.

The Major Advantages

If you focus on growing your own following via the Internet you will have a major advantage for several reasons. Probably the biggest advantage is having complete control over your own income and creative control over your music. Secondly if you were to get into negotiations with a record company you would have more negotiating power as you can use the platform that you’ve created as leverage to get a fair deal.

The biggest thing most A&R’s are impressed with isn’t how many twitter followers or YouTube subscribers and video fanbaseviews you have because that can be faked and doesn’t necessarily translate into potential sales. However if you can show them a significant amount of downloads “even if it’s free give aways such as a mix-tape” for a site like Datpiff it will work in you favor for convincing them to make a deal with you.

Weighing Your Options

At the end of the day you have to weigh all of your options. If you are able to create a significant following on the Internet is it worth signing a record deal and loosing revenue percentages? It all boils down to what each party is bringing to the table. If a record label is able to guarantee you things that will take your career to new heights without you having to sell your soul with a slave contract then that might be a viable option. If not then you may want to continue focusing on growing your career independently without any financial or creative limitations.

If you found this article helpful or have a question I would love to hear from you! Please drop your 2 cents in the comments section below and I will get right back to you.

  • Cole Mize, thanks for the tips and all the guidance…I wish nothing but the best for you!
    P.S. I think you should compile all this info on this site into a book. Just some food for thought and some extra $.

    • My pleasure! Always glad to help out! Wishing you nothing but the best as well! And I am going to do something similar to what you suggested with compiling information into books or video courses for sale. Thanks for the suggestion and keep up the hard work bro! 🙂

  • ill just sell my soul to them fuck it as long as i can write the truth in my lyrics and get money fame bitches weed and be the face of rap ill be satisfied and if they dont offer all of that i take my own path it sounds ignorant but I am being straight forward and understandable

    • I understand where you’re coming from Sheetz but here’s just a little wisdom for you. All the things that you mentioned are only temporary and therefore will never ultimately satisfy you. You may not understand this next bit of wisdom.. most don’t until they have children but one of the secrets of living a rich and purpose filled life is when you live for something greater than yourself. Take it from someone who’s already done it..just listen to Eminem – It’s okay Then to Eminem – Rock Bottom then to Eminem Say Goodbye To Hollywood and lastly Eminem My Darling

      I wish you the best on your musical journey and I hope this gives you a few things to consider. Much love! – Cole Mize

    • I’m glad this article was helpful for you Lazerrick! Thanks for reading and commenting! I’m wishing you the best on your musical journey! 🙂 – Cole Mize

  • Solid advice makes a lot of sense to be your own steering wheel to a successful career without having a string around your neck with a collar that says someone else project Its the buisness that is important not the ? only thanks for the inspiration and key points of being a self boss in the buisness world

  • I am a recording artist my name is sugar well I have established a great following on my social media and they seem to love me and my music, although the music I put out is low quality and my videos are low budget they still love me or at least pretend to, my only issue with being independent is that the notice I need is not there people don’t really believe in you or support you at all my music has low downloads and streams on iTunes and Amazon Spotify no matter what I put out I have little money and no support and three babies to take care of alone so that 360 deal seems so tempting when you live a life of constant struggle like me and lack I literally have to be afraid that every month I will be put out my home with my babies or that my utilities will get shut off again in the winter or that I won’t be able to feed my babies half the time I’m starting to believe that the only thing that can save me is the 360 deal minus the soul selling it is tempting for a struggling artist like me who just wants a solid foundation to leave behind for my babies so they no longer have to know lack and never having enough, so although you want your creative control and to keep all your money and own your own masters and all that getting where you need or want to be alone with no support seems un obtainable without signing that 360, I’m just saying. Cause all I need is just one break just one

    • im a female artist well not world wide not even a lil bit and ive tried to sell my soul but it did not worka and i just put my trust in god for what it gets me no were

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