- Write some songs
- Establish yourself locally by playing live
- Get with a good studio and record a kick-ass demo
- Shop that demo to as many radio stations and record labels as humanly possible
- Hope to get signed
Shocking? Not so much. If you were a band or artist in the 1960's one of your biggest challenges would be to get your music recorded. It was expensive, and the studio's were very picky especially if they had a reputation to maintain. If you weren't up to par musically, it didn't matter how much money you had they studio would not give you the time of day. It was simply not worth their time. Lets get back to 2008...
Every 15 year old with a part time job and a dream has a computer, sound card, condenser microphone, and some recording software. There is no longer a need for skill; simply load up some plug-ins and choose your favorite preset, and if you're having problems all you have to do is visit YouTube and type in "name of recording software" tutorials to get a one on one lesson. So long to the days of acoustically treated control rooms, sound floors with a sunlight ceiling, and a Studer 2 inch sitting in the corner waiting for the final dump.
So where am I going with this?
Because the act of getting your music recorded is now a self-taught art amongst bedroom studio aficionados, the competition is stiff which means the amount of aspiring artists in your local town and city are 1 in every 5. Everybody is trying to be a rockstar, get signed, or be the next Kanye West. Every other kid on your block has an album out, with a myspace page, and a mailing list. This is presenting a major challenge to the record labels (aside from physical sales vs digital) which has put them in a position where their main concern is to capitalize, but not oversaturate - and that can be quite the task. There once was a time where a record label would consider signing an artist to a development deal because they saw "potential". In the information age music industry you are looking at a 1 song digital download/ringtone deal - if your song does well, they might consider allowing you more of their time and money.
If you are fixed on getting signed and living your rockstar dreams I have two pieces of advice for you; Build a strong online fanbase via myspace, facebook, etc.. And target indie labels with major distribution. An independent label will allow you to grow, build your fanbase, get a website up, and even help you shop your album to a major label if you've got that "hit" everybody is looking for.
If you're a composer or producer of music, you have a nice alternative which is to compile your catalog of original music and shop around for a publishing deal (which is much easier compared to getting signed). For those of you who aren't clear on what exactly a publishing deal is, it is pretty much agreeing into relations with a company who will get your music placed in commercials, movies, video games on a contract basis. Imagine spending two hours making some lo-fi mood music and getting a $10,000 cheque for licensing it to a major cell phone company 3 months later so they can use it as background music for their fall advertising campaign.
So go ahead and get signed, chase that dream of yachts, bling bling, and parties at the Playboy Mansion. For those of you who are a little more realistic, stay tuned over the next little while as I will be going into further detail on getting signed to an independent record label, and music publishing for profit.