Tag Archive for: labels

Getting signed to a label

One of the things I notice most from the artists I hang out with is how obsessed they can be about getting signed to a label.

But one of the main reasons people fail is that they’re doing it wrong.

You probably already know how to send in a demo, but do you know how to pick a label? Just like when picking a reference track, you need to find all possible references of the label you want to work with. You need to do your homework.

Don’t get me wrong. Even when I make a new track, there’s always that little voice at the back of my head saying, “Oh, this might fit this or that label.” And if I’ve been contacted recently, then I might if you're having trouble getting signed to a label, you could be targeting the wrong peoplealready have a lead, which makes it easier. Admittedly, at my stage I have a lot of contacts and receive a lot requests, plus I run my own record label, so the question of where to publish my music isn’t as much of an issue. But still, sometimes it is.

If your approach isn’t succeeding in getting you signed, it could be that you’re poorly targeting the labels you’re submitting to. In other words, labels don’t always sign artists for their music only.

They make decisions based on a number of considerations.

Does your approach match how they think? Getting to an A&R (the “artists and repertoire” division of labels) is not easy. You need to find who picks the label’s music so you can submit your music to them. Forget writing to random email addresses or messaging Soundcloud profiles. Trust me, it doesn’t work this way. Instead, try reaching out to an artist who’s already on board to find the right contact. If you can meet them in person, it’s always the best thing to do.

Do you share the same networks? Are you friends with artists on the label? Are you following the same artists on Soundcloud? Is the A&R friends with some of your friends on Facebook? Being socially close to them can really help.

Does your profile answer a need? This one is crucial. Each label has its own ways of doing things and is carefully building up its catalogue just like a DJ prepares their set for a gig. If you’re a DJ, you know that you want certain tracks in your set. You’re avidly searching for a specific sound or rhythm, or a particular song structure, mood, or tone. A label owner has musical needs too. They usually follow trends partly, but they also flow from past influences. It helps to refer to the label’s past releases, but it’s even better if you’re up on what they’re into now. This can be a game-changer.


One of the biggest challenges is to find the perfect match between an artist and a record label The biggest challenge nowadays is to find the perfect match between a label and an artist. Exactly like love, there’s a perfect match for you out there, but how to find it is something that technology has yet to achieve. So, how do you find your label?

Well, first let’s examine a little scenario to give us some context. Let’s say you finished a track based on a reference track by X artist. That reference track is your biggest lead for whom to send it to. But if you’re not yet well known or have very few releases to your name, then sending it to the best or biggest label out there — even if your reference track is released with them — is a very bad idea. Not only are huge labels swamped with demo submissions, but they’re also super picky. The fact is that your reference track likely had to follow a winding road to get that label. So let’s investigate.


Finding your label match takes time, patience, and lots of research. Here are a few cues of where to start.

Soundcloud. The holy grail of every possible kind of music, from unreleased to released, and featuring every possible label out there. Have a close look at your potential labels, and check out who they follow and who follows them. Dig, dig, and keep on digging. Give attention to who leaves comments. Those guys can be really useful because they might like various labels/artists you’re investigating.

DJ sets. Listen to DJ sets to find who plays music like yours. Get the track lists to find out what they play, find what other tracks DJs like to mix those with, and then investigate the artists similar to you and see what labels they’re on. Mixcloud also provides tracklists for DJ sets.

Beatport is a great tool for researching music and labels


Charts. Once you have a track list, go on Beatport to find charts and recommendations. You can find a bunch of labels there, so check out their back catalogues and investigate some more.




Discogs. Browse the discographies and look at past releases. When you select one, Discogs will offer you album suggestions, which in turn can point you to more labels. You can really dig deep that way.

Discogs is another way to discover new music and record labels

Spotify also offers new music recommendations, which will help you find new labels to submit toSpotify. This is another way to find new music. When you select an artist, it will give you suggestions. Note how whenever you swap from one to another, the algorithms will formulate new recommendations.


Think away, do your homework, and plan carefully before submitting your demos. Our label gets so many demos that we can allow ourselves to be very picky, and it’s the same for many of them out there. It’s about much more than presentation at this point — it’s about being spot on with who you target, and then selling yourself with a push from someone they know and respect. You’ll have a much harder time if you try to go it alone.

SEE ALSO : Besides music, labels are searching for these traits 

Making the Choice To Be Exclusive to a Label

You might have heard of record labels asking for exclusivity, or maybe you’ve at least heard the term mentioned in one way or another. But what does it entail exactly, and how should you approach the decision if you’re ever faced with such an offer?

In another post, I shared a personal story of mine where I had the chance to commit to a huge label and bring my career to the next level — but I refused. It’s the kind of moment that doesn’t happen many times, but when it comes, it calls for careful reflection before making a decision. In my case, it was hard to seek advice from friends, as not many of them had been in the same situation before. I followed my gut feeling, and opted to follow my dreams without considering the possible outcomes.

All and all, there are a few questions to consider:

    • Where do I see myself in 5 years, musically speaking?
    • How can this exclusivity arrangement help me reach that goal?


So that should pretty much form the basis of your reflections.

While it’s hard to imagine ourselves down the road or even to give ourselves a reality check on how achievable our goals are, it is still quite essential to develop a vision of where we want to go. There will be certain things you have in mind, and if you have a firm idea of your goals, it will make it easier to decide whether you should commit to being exclusive to a label or not.

For the DJ and producer, the label you're exclusive to should cover a lot of ground The DJ and producer

Being one doesn’t exclude the other, and while you can do both individually, the winning combination is to do at least some of both. This way you can create a great release, for example, and you’ll be able to tour to promote it, which then brings you more requests for new releases, and then more gigs, and so on. The wheel spins organically. In this case, if you commit to a label, you will need this label to cover a lot of ground for you because there will be a lot of opportunity.


The entrepreneurLabel exclusivity might not work well for the entrepreneur

You want a label, you want to do a bit of everything, and you want to be in control because you like things done your way. This is pretty much a scenario that many people see themselves in, but if you’re not an entrepreneur, it is a difficult road to choose. More power brings more responsibilities, but also all the freedom to express yourself. In this case, exclusivity doesn’t work well for you.

The studio artist

This means that you prefer producing to DJing, and that you’re not so interested in heading out to the clubs to tour. This is a tricky road. Exclusivity can be interesting to you because you will have a platform for your releases, and you can still use aliases to release elsewhere. But to make this worthwhile, your flagship label will have to be a major outlet.

Being exclusive to a music label can work well for some artists/producersBeing dedicated to a label

Some artists want to be with a label and plan all their projects around it. They will be okay not creating many releases, will want to tour using the team’s contacts, and they’ll feel comfortable with everything the label does. The great thing about this is that you’re part of the label’s brand. This can make your own image and sound more powerful in a way, because you’ll be part of a collective of artists who you admire, and who will shape the label’s identity. If you produce a bit less, this outcome might be well suited for you.


SEE ALSO :  Are online communities replacing labels?

The Day I Refused Exclusivity to a Label

I don’t always talk about things that happened in my “career.” Since this is a blog though, I thought it would be fun and instructive to share some of the different decisions I had to face, and the consequences of each of them. I have a bunch of fun stories going back to 1998, and some might interest you.

If you haven’t read my bio, I can tell you that I early on took out the standard line all artists have, where they say they’ve been into music from an early age. Instead, I will point you to 1998, to the year where I created my alias, Pheek. What really ignited the project was a performance by Richie Hawtin, who made a rare live show (back then) as Plastikman/Concept:96. It was amazing!

That inspiration was critical in my development. It took me 5 years to figure out where I wanted to go and for me to feel confident enough to send a demo to Rich, which I finally did around 2003. He loved it, and he asked me for more music for a release. What followed was one of the most creative moments of my life: I made and sent him 5 CDs full of music over a span of 2 years. He finally picked one track, “Le Plan B,” which was released on the first Minimize to Maximize compilation, on Minus.

That was a big deal for me. Well, not just for me, but for everyone in the netlabel scene. You see, in 2005, there was no Beatport, selling MP3s was a bit of a weird concept, and people releasing on netlabels were seen as outsiders, even nerds. It was one of the first times that one of the guys from the community graduated to a big label like Hawtin’s Minus. Almost at the same time, there were other artists that followed, and netlabels became more and more recognized as a source for quality music.

I wanted to stay a free artist so I could pursue my own label Archipel, which I launched in 2004.I had my own label, Archipel, that I had founded in 2004 and that I wanted to pursue. There was no doubt that a release on Minus could only mean a great push for my personal projects. I started touring more, and soon there came a big milestone for my career that I still think about often. The guys at Minus offered me exclusivity, meaning that Pheek could only appear on their label, which would have given a huge boost to my career.

I refused. Yeah, you read right. I said,


“No, I don’t think I can see myself being exclusive, but maybe under another alias?”


To be honest, when I think of that day every now and then, I wonder what would have happened if I’d said yes. It was around that time that Minus was exclusively signing big names like Barem, Gaiser, Troy Pierce, Heartthrob and others. If I’d said yes, I think I could have pretty much become someone else entirely than the person I am today. But in a way, I have no regrets.

One thing to keep in mind is that it’s hard to achieve alone or with friends what an established label and group can do for you. You can build from scratch, but it will take a long time to get things to the same level. I released for labels like Sushitech and Leftroom in their early days, and I watched them grow as they became what they are now. I’m proud do say that I was a part of it at their beginnings.

If I decided to work with other labels, it was because I was producing a lot of tracks and felt like I wanted to tap into different networks and reach out to people I liked, even if that was the more difficult path.

There are two types of artists out there:

  • The ones who want to work with you for the long term. Those are the ones you connect with intellectually, and you love each other’s musical output. The connection is real and both parties feel it.
  • Then there are others who you only want to work with in the short term. Both labels and artists can qualify. Unless there’s drama, if the arrangement ends organically, then it had to be this way.


The reason labels want exclusivity is to get a return on their investment (ROI) by farming their own artists. The constantly changing branding is risky and tiring for labels. If the sound constantly changes, it can be an irritant for fans too.

I hope this helps you understand the complexities of label exclusivity from another perspective.



How Will A Music Label Find Me?

This blog post will focus on one of the anxieties that every new music producer gets in this turbulent and busy world, which is: how to reach a music label aside from sending in demos.

Can your music make it to the ears of a label owner?

Following one of my most popular posts on how to send demos, this post will focus on the opposite approach, which is to slowly get labels to come to you instead of hunting them down. Call it reverse psychology if you want, but it could also be called the art of letting go. As Einstein said,

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

To understand how a label works and to help you prepare your strategy, perhaps I can share my own experience first. Here are some pointers:

Being a label owner is a bit like being a talent scout in sports. You have a routine of listening to music from within your own circle and of checking your preferred sources like charts and podcasts, as well as finding music through friends of label artists. Then there are moments where you’re a bit freer or more curious, and you’ll dig through SoundCloud for a few hours. I found some pretty incredible artists on SoundCloud and I find that it’s easier than ever to find unknown artists — raw talent. But while it’s easier and more exciting than ever to find unsigned artists, it’s also overwhelming.

The label owner and yourself face the same issue: how can you connect to each other to form a perfect match?

Maybe you don’t realize this, but you might not yet know which label will be your main career companion. It’s a bit like finding true love; it’s out there, but it needs the right timing to happen.

As the label grows, the owner tends to want to sign friends of the label’s artists and artists related to those that have already been signed.


Mainly because, in my case, I want to deal with people I feel are great to work with. Also, because while the music label is defining its sound, I want to keep some sort of logical progression from release to release. I won’t sign in a rush, or sign a track that sounds crazy good without knowing who I will be dealing with. Difficult and finicky personas are my pet peeve, and I will try to stay far away from them.

Running multiple projects can become messy with difficult people.

Dealing with contracts and such is so annoying, and I’d As an electronic music producer, networks and networking are extremely important for helping a record label labels find YOUprefer doing it with someone who clicks with me. I trust my friends more than Facebook or a polite exchange over email.

So what does that tell you? How do music labels get to you if they want to sign you?

Stop worrying about labels, and instead work on your network. Spend more time connecting with artists who inspire you. Befriend newer artists who also struggle. That struggling artist or that other dude you met can eventually be helpful at some point.

Some inspiration to meet people:

  • Soundcloud: Follow artists that inspire you. Comment on their tracks and go listen to people who also love the tracks.
  • Soundcloud groups: There are nice communities out there that you can join and where you can post your new ideas. Some music label owners are also there sometimes.
  • Facebook groups: If you search a bit, you’ll find many groups you can join. People will discuss topics or share a new find. There’s always something to read.
  • Google Hangouts: A bit like Facebook but one great feature is to have group video calls. Then you can talk all together. Quite fun.

The music label that needs to work with you will find you at the right moment, when they need to. It demands a certain faith in the process, but while waiting, go back to learning sound design and making new friends.

Use Mastered Tracks To Submit A Great Demo

This post will cover some essentials on how to submit a music demo to a label you want to join.

How to send a demo to your favourite record label

If you’re a music producer and have been making a few tracks, perhaps you thought it would be a great idea now to submit a music demo to a label. I mean, that’s pretty much what we all dream of as musicians, which is to be part of a community of artists we appreciate and to be appreciated in return. That sense of accomplishment is something you’ve been pursuing for a while and will most probably be chasing for years to come. Trust me.

I’d say that if you want to reach your goals or be part of a label, especially one that has a certain notoriety, you’ll need to be prepared and to do things right.

I thought I’d make a list of rules for you, starting with these:

  • One demo, one label. Think of who you want to send your music to, check out the latest tracks released by the label, and then pick your tracks accordingly. If the label has been there for a while, chances are they might have a restricted number of artists and that their sound has changed over time. So make sure you’re up to date.
  • Before contacting the label, make sure you’re following the label on social media. This might sound silly, but if you’re sending to a label you’re not following and tell them you’re a fan, it just looks bizarre. It’s something label owners do check.
  • Find the contact to submit to. I could write an entire post about this alone, but I’ll summarize.
    • Check if the label has a website and find the specific contact information for demo submissions.
    • If they have a submissions policy, read it. It’s that simple, but important! If it’s written down, it’s because they want you to stick to it.
    • Send a first email to see if the label is accepting demos at the moment.

You now have the 2 main starters: the label and the how-to-submit. Now, let’s get to work.

Preparing your music demo for submission

Unless the label has a precise modus operandi, here are some general guidelines that work for most labels.

  • Check list with green and red pen over white paperAim for an EP. The magic number of tracks to start with would roughly be 4, so start by picking the best fitting ones. It’s not a good idea to send too many tracks at once since label owners already have a lot of demos to listen to (Note: the Soundcloud age has really brought smoke-screening to whole new level), and it makes you look a bit confused in your intentions.
  • Send your best stuff mastered, if possible. But ask the label for its preference. As much as this sounds obvious, you’d be surprised to know that as a label owner, I do receive music that sounds half-finished, pale, or improperly mixed. It doesn’t show you in your best light, and a first impression can only be made once. Ask someone to do the mixdown for you if you’re not sure.
  • Don’t submit remixes. It’s not up to you to pick the remixers at this point. That’s just awkward.
  • If you send Soundcloud links, make sure your tracks are private. Send full tracks. Use playlists too.
  • Always name your music demo files or record labels might find it later and not know whose it isIf you send tracks, use a service like WeTransfer, and I’d recommend sending mp3 files, in maximum 256 kbps. Sadly, there are people with bad intentions out there, and giving the real masters is risking trouble if the label releases your song. You still have rights over it, but I’ve seen labels do this.
  • Name and tag your files with your name, and title your song correctly. I sometimes find a demo months later with no information at all, and it’s quite frustrating to find out who made it.

Okay, you have your tracks ready, now let’s move on to the first contact.

  • Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 13.19.12Send your email to only one person!
  • Introduce yourself. Like any emails, business or casual, you gain attention by keeping things short, concise, clear and simple. Don’t share your bio (it has no value in decision-making), your releases to come (if you’re too busy, it can be turned against you, and if you have nothing, it can be… well, not good either), that you like the label (why would you contact the label otherwise?), or your 17 different profiles on all those music-related sites.
  • Say what you’d want from the label. Are you up for an EP? Or a vinyl only? Would you like remixes? Be precise but not demanding (you’re not signed yet!).
  • Don’t ask for a money advance or be cocky in any way. It’s pretty much a turn-off for everyone.
  • Start a conversation and invite the person to get back to you. Ask questions and try to open a space for discussion.

Great! Email sent, tracks submitted. Now, it’s far from over — next there’s follow-up!

  • Wait at least 1 week to follow up. When you do, make it very short and simple.
  • Bigger labels request time. Be patient.
  • Do not send your demo to other labels. But if you do, definitely not to more than one. I’ve heard so many stories of people submitting to a bunch, and then 2 wanted to signs the tracks… Sadly, after trying to please both, the artist ended up being discarded for his lack of commitment. So, be careful.
  • Again, be patient. Make more music, but don’t send more music unless the label owner asks for more.

At this point, it’s a bit of a follow-up game. You can give up on the label if there’s no answer at all after 1 month. If there are no plays on your Soundcloud links, that’s of course a bad sign. You can also track who listened. Some label owners hate to receive tracks that have multiple listens, so if you’re recycling a demo, I encourage you to delete the tracks or start from scratch.

If you give up on the label, be polite and just send a last email to thank them for their time and attention and to say you’d be interested in submitting more in the future.

Good luck!

SEE ALSOHow Will A Music Label Find Me?

How To Define Your Label’s Identity With Your Sound Engineer

In this article, I discuss the impact that music mastering can have for a label, and how a good sound engineer can help.

What is label mastering and how you can benefit from it

The term “label mastering” might sound new to you, but it’s something that can make one crew stand out from the others. When I refer to a label’s sound identity, I’m referring to the impression you want your label to leave with fans. For them, a label is:

  • A sign of quality.
  • A sure bet that the sound will sound as great as fans expect.
  • Whenever you look back, that sound still remains.

Label mastering means “making sure the sound is adjusted so each release sounds close to the others, and having a signature that makes your label unique.”

As examples, I could name Chain Reaction and its dirty techno sound, Ostgut with its driven techno, or Perlon’s quirky music.

Think of your own favourite label – one that has been running for years. Now think of the label’s early releases and compare them to the label’s more recent work. There’s a correlation, right? The sound is great, regardless of the release date.

Shaping the sound

A sensitive sound engineer will pay special attention to the label owner’s aesthetics and take a moment to listen to the artists to understand their musical direction. The partnership between an audio engineer and the label is as critical as the graphic designer is to forging the label’s visual identity. I see a label as the product of a strong collaboration between the three.

  • The label owner/manager decides the content of the catalogue.
  • The sound engineer analyzes the releases and directs what will suit them, sound-wise.
  • The graphic designer will aim to visually represent the way the sound feels.

Label mastering means that you will work hand-in-hand with your sound engineer to develop the direction of your label in the long run. If people can use your label as a reference, you’ll know you did well.

my demo is not being listened

Now, a tip for musicians that are sending demos abroad. So often, I see musicians sending me music for my label that sounds like nothing comparable to what we do. It always amazes me to think artists have no idea that a label aims to maintain a certain sound aesthetic. Of course, some labels are more open to different genres and ideas, but in general, the sound quality is what really will make the huge difference in deciding whether your tracks will be accepted or not.


You might also want to consider having a trusted engineer do a proper mixdown for your song, which I can help with.

SEE ALSO : The Changing Dos and Don’ts of Contacting Record Labels