Heavy Rotation Records (HRR), an established student-run record label at Berklee College of Music, is operated by musicians for musicians and expands careers by offering opportunities in all aspects of the music industry. Here are some of our tips, as business students, and also as fellow artists, on how to appeal to a record label or A&R.
1. Quality of music
Great songs make great artists. Try establishing songwriting techniques that best work for you. It is important to be creative and constantly write, record and re-write. Try to get feedback, not only from professionals, but also from unbiased listeners. Invest time and money into making sure the quality of the recording is professional. This may mean researching and acquiring new equipment or software programs and familiarizing yourself with the current sounds of your genre and the language of the industry.
2. Live Shows
When performing live, it is important to connect with your audience. Fans are developed one at a time. Whether you perform for one, or one thousand, always make sure to give 100%. Remember, the point of a gig is to give your fans a chance to experience you live, making money comes once you can pull a crowd and sell out a venue. Perform like it’s your last show every time because you never know who might be in the audience.
Identify venues that consistently book your style of music and don’t dismiss smaller venues. Understand your draw and where you would fit on a bill: are you an opener, support or headliner? Once you’ve confirmed a gig, never rely on the venue to promote the show! Utilize social media platforms and create posters or flyers to help promote each show. Send a stage plot to the venue in advance or at least have it ready when you arrive, and prepare your set list ahead of time. Be punctual to load-in and soundcheck. Stay for the other performances and support other artists on the bill. Bring your merchandise and meet with your fans to exchange contact information. Networking can happen at any moment, so also bring business cards. Be sure to meet and thank the staff, especially the booking agent and the sound team.
3. Social Media
Everything can and should be linked together, especially in the case of social media platforms. This will make it easy for your fans to follow you. It is also really important to track your insights – you can print them out, and export them as an excel spreadsheet. This helps you identify your target market. The better you understand your target market, the better you can connect with them and cultivate a following.
Your EPK (Electronic Press Kit) is basically your resume as an artist. It should be posted on your social media and your website. Attach a QR scanner code to your flyers and any other promotional merchandise. EPKs should always have the most updated bio, recent photos, music, and press releases.
Your website should be simple because fans and potential clients will become frustrated if they can’t easily navigate to the information they need. Important information to include is contact info, links to your social media, music samples, discography, photos, and any upcoming shows.
4. Partnerships and Sponsorships
In today’s modern music industry and with such a vast array of genres, new artists should know the value of defining themselves and their music to a specific genre, scene or cause.
Truly invest in promoting yourself before depending on other companies for support. That being said, when an artist is ready to begin a partnership, they should understand the importance of entrepreneurs and start-ups, as you are one yourself.
It is also important to remember that music companies aren’t the only sponsors to search for. Clothing, soft drink, or food companies can also provide an avenue for promotion. Local companies are also looking for exposure and can lead to a successful partnership. A partnership or sponsorship will help promote the company and the artist, leading to attention from record labels and A&R representatives.