(CelebrityAccess News Service) – Getting Signed! An Insider's Guide to the Recording Industry by George Howard, former Rykodisc president, was published October 31 by Berklee Press.
With today's music and computer technology, almost anybody can record, produce, and press a CD — or even distribute their music online — so why would any band or musician still do everything they can to get signed to an "old style" record label? According to Howard, there will always be a need for a connected and well-funded machine to help get music distributed and played on radio and sold to the right outlets, which will in turn sell records (or CDs, or downloads) to the public.
Having worked with Robert Cray, Morphine and Kelly Willis, among others, Howard has the unique perspective of being on the inside; he was the guy aspiring artists had to impress. Unfortunately, many demos were never seen or listened to because these artists made some simple yet fatal mistakes. While the bottom line is that talent is the most important factor in getting a record label's attention, it is surprising how many hopeful artists never get past the front door. According to Howard, "no matter how talented you are, or how great your demo may be, I won't hear it if it doesn't get to me, or is addressed to the exec who held my job five years ago. You absolutely need to do your homework."
Getting Signed illustrates what artists should and should never do to give them the best chance of at least getting heard. Howard includes case studies of the paths of some of the great success stories in the music business. Among his tips:
— Developing a killer demo package, tailored to the A&R recipient's
— Build your team: manager, booking agent, lawyer and others;
— Avoid wasting your resources through mono-dimensional activities, but
rather, tie your efforts into an overall plan for career success,
strategically positioning them to complement each other;
— Maximize your gigs and other activities to make yourself more
attractive to record labels;
— Understand industry politics within the label's corporate structure,
determine who the decision-makers are, and which relationships to
— Understand the inner workings of record sales and distribution so that
you can negotiate intelligently;
— Navigate through the basic kinds of contracts, and know what questions
to ask; and
— Determine when it makes sense to hire a publicist or radio promoter –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen