How Should You Approach A Record Label Or Manager?

What’s the best way to get the attention of a music industry executive when sending in a demo?

Just picture their usual response – a cursory glance at a web page or a CD tossed in the bin without being listened to. I can’t begin to tell you how many thousands of demos I’ve not listened to – and I’m confident that I have never missed a great demo in doing so.

If you’ve sent us a demo or a link in the last few months, you may well be reading this post. That’s because we have pointed all people approaching us in our usual job as artist managers to this blog as a shorthand way of telling them some of the basic, but often hidden, information that we think all aspiring artists need to know. If you haven’t already, you should sign up for and download our free guide in the sidebar on the right. It’s really very good and will speed your journey to fame and fortune immeasurably! No, really it will.

It was only when I started writing the blog posts for here that I realised that one of the things that we get asked all the time is whether it’s OK to send us a demo, how should we send it in, who to, is a web link OK, and all possible variations on that theme.

So, not only does that question need answering, but unique amongst Internet Music Marketing folk, I can answer it from the perspective of the submitter and the receiver of the demo!

Is it OK to send a demo? Well, yes of course, and you should be pitching your demos to as many people as possible. But, the failing that we most often see is that what we are sent just isn’t good enough. The two main flaws are that, firstly, it simply isn’t good enough in terms of songwriting and performance. The recording quality shouldn’t matter too much if the material is good enough, but everyone in this industry does suffer from not hearing past the production to a degree, even if they deny it. So whilst it’s not a killer, try to make the production good too.

Secondly, it’s always too soon. Again, almost without exception, we get sent demos or MySpace links to material and a band that haven’t been playing together long, have recorded a hasty demo and don’t really know themselves yet what they are aiming for. The main symptoms include the aforementioned poor quality songs, appalling photographs (see our MySpace guide for what to avoid!) and a general lack of focus. A band that have been playing together for less than a year or so are unlikely to have worked out a world beating line-up, a catalogue of quality songs, a blistering live show and some sense of where they fit in the pantheon of rock and pop. These are the things you need to succeed and it’s what we and all of our ilk are looking for.

So, assuming you’ve got that stuff straight, how should you approach a manager, an A&R man, an investor (just as likely these days), or anyone who can raise your career a notch or two?

Well the most important thing is to do your research and make sure that the person you’re sending something to will receive it and have some kind of affiliation to your genre. That means, in short, there is no point sending your Rap demo to a Metal manager. Obvious, but so rarely followed.

I, and my kind, don’t want to see an email that doesn’t address me by name and that I know has been sent to 100 or so people at once. I want to see that you know who I am and what I do, who my clients are etc. If I can tell that you have bothered to find out why we might be able to help you (you are similar to a band we rep, or something), then I am immediately more likely to listen. This is going to hold true for all people that you approach. So, use a name to address the mail or letter, and start off with a reference to what makes us interesting to you – not ‘we like your roster ‘ but something like  ‘we loved what you did with Nine MM Slayer X and how you broke them through MTV’ ….’and we think you might be able to use similar tactics to help us out’. It not only shows me that you’ve done your homework but also that you’re thinking about how to win the game.

Next, send me something that tells me all I need to know. And, as I have already had to defend on the blog, I need to know what you look like as well as how you sound. I’m not going to dismiss you out of hand if you look like the back end of a bus, but I need to know so that I can balance all the factors. Please, please, please have photographs that aren’t laughable.

Let us hear the best song first – ask your mates what that is and tell them to be honest. And then ask a few people in your age and peer group that you don’t know – test it at random on people in the mall to get an honest feel.

Although I want to know how many friends and plays you have on MySpace, I also want to know where you play, how often and what kind of crowd you get. Virtual numbers can be manipulated, which I’m all for, but real world numbers need to be real.

Something that people don’t often think about, seeing as most now email a link, is when to send the email. Over a holiday or at the weekend is just dumb. My inbox and everyone like me, is so full on Monday morning that I reckon you have halved your odds before you start. For me, make it Tuesday early afternoon. I’ve just got to grips with the week and I’m predisposed to hearing something new.

I’d also recommend reaching out when there is good news to report. You’ve got a self financed single coming out, or you’ve made it to the last three of a local Battle of the Bands contest. These days, I’ll also be impressed if you have a track being used on a commercial or in a TV show, or if your weekly podcast is getting 5000 listeners.

At the very least, I’ll be hoping that you’ve contacted me when you have three or more shows lined up within a fortnight that you know are accessible for me. That way, I have a real chance of coming to see you before I forget about you. Don’t ever send someone an email if you are a live band when you don’t have shows coming up – that’s just stupid.

Lastly, and this is the killer, can you get someone who knows your target person to pitch it for you? This is the harsh reality. The reason that I am fairly sure I never missed a diamond in a demo pile is that 99.99% of the things that hit are picked up by a recommendation. Managers, promoters and A&R men are to some extent filters of what is good and bad and one of them can filter out acts that will never make it so that only the half decent ones even get in front of people who have decision making power.

You need to get your stuff in front of one of these people at some point, so you need to cultivate relationships with people who can help you do that – all of the above applies to getting even those people to listen and help – it’s like a vicious circle in reverse – in fact it’s a vicious funnel!

But, when someone they trust recommends that the people in power listen to your demo and that person’s view has some weight, then you are getting somewhere. Whose opinions count? – venue owners, small-time promoters, local indie record shop owners, music store owners, bloggers, anyone at the front end of the music business.

Go and find them, polish your act and make your pitch!



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Ian Clifford is the owner of Illicit Media, a music management and consulting company. He is also the owner of Make It In Music, an online site that is the ultimate resource for aspiring musicians offering advice, tips, and insight on all the skills needed by modern artists to succeed in the rapidly changing music industry.

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Gauri - May 17, 2014 Reply

Hey Ian, I am not a songwriter, but a singer. I sing covers of different songs…is there a way to get into the music industry?

    Ian - May 19, 2014 Reply

    Hi Gauri

    Cover artists can become very successful. The obvious routes are making covers and posting them to YouTube – lots of people do this so there is competition but great performers can still stand out.

    I’m afraid that the other way is talent shows on TV – which I detest. But if you’re all about signing and having a great voice then some of those who make it on those shows do build a career and often covers are a large part of that.

    Other than that, your route remains the same as we advise here for all musicians. Create great material (for covers I’d go leftfield and either cover songs others aren’t doing – older hits maybe – AND crucially create a sound for them that you apply across the board and stick to that genre, but the songs you cover can come from any genre), build a digital marketing presence (YouTube, Facebook, SoundCloud, your own site etc) and build from there.


      Gauri - June 24, 2014 Reply

      Thank u so much Ian! The truth is that I am from India and it is bollywood which dominates the music industry here…non film songs seldom work…the only way a singer like me who wants to have an album instead of singing a song per film is YouTube…also, it is only record labels out of India i.e from US, UK etc who focus on non film songs…I will definitely send u a link of my first cover! Thank u very much.

        Ian - June 25, 2014 Reply


        No problem. Do you think doing covers of famous Bollywood songs in a style of your own would work?


          Gauri - June 25, 2014 Reply

          Maybe. That is a good idea, but my Bollywood songs are out of my vocal range! And it is difficult to change it to a scale which I can sing…plus, my voice is better suited to western songs i.e the songs sung by my favourite American, Canadian, English etc artists. As of now, I am planning to finish my A Levels in November 2014 and then train a bit more so I sound better…the next step is YouTube… keeping my fingers crossed!

          Ian - June 25, 2014 Reply

          OK – just an idea – but you know your talent and market, so just develop a plan and go for it.


        Gauri - July 2, 2014 Reply

        Another thing Ian, there are a few things I’d like to discuss about the industry via mail, is it possible?

    sindhurs - May 21, 2016 Reply

    How to contact a&r labels to send my demo? I have a song that I’m ready to send with it’s video but i don’t know who to contact and how to get there.. Please, tell how to send my demo there.. And how much time a demo needs to be.. Just to make sure..thanks..

      Ian - May 24, 2016 Reply


      That is all covered in the post and the very long list of comments here. In essence you need to have some ‘action’ on your demo, and then there are lots of places you can find label details.


Yasir - May 28, 2014 Reply

Hey Ian ,I m an 18 year old singer, can I get a chance to sing with any record labels ,I just want a chance ………..

    Ian - June 1, 2014 Reply


    You need to read all the advice here. It is virtually impossible to get in front of a record company and show you can sing by just trying to get a meeting or similar. You need to create a plan to record tracks and build some fans who love what you’re doing and go from there.


Em - May 31, 2014 Reply

Hi Ian–

Thanks for the informative piece. I’m sending out letters to record companies around the country for a musician for whom I’m doing PR. I have a link to a single, and I’m contacting labels who live in locales where the musician will stop on his national tour. Do you have any recommendations on how I phrase the cover letter?

    Ian - June 2, 2014 Reply

    Hi Em

    I’m guessing that these are smaller indie labels given that you refer to them as being in locales that the tour will visit (most major labels would be based in NY, LA or Nashville), so the main advice I would give is to get on the phone and speak to someone there to find out who would be the person at that label to send some material to. Try to get a number and email for them and send out the package a couple of weeks ahead of the tour. If the label release different genres you need to make sure you’re sending to the person who works your genre.

    Put simply, if you have had a 20 second conversation with the person who should be receiving your package they are WAY more likely to listen to what you send them. I’d guess that 95% of emails or packages sent do not get listened to.

    That call needs to be simple and quick and have something in it for the person you’re talking to – an element of intrigue that they might miss out without being over hypey – ‘Hi, I have an artist who’s just won the [home state] Battle of the Bands and been on the Ellen Show last week (or some such) playing in your town next week and would like to find out who at the label I can send some music to’ – Make the reference current and urgent.

    Follow up a few days before the local show and ask if they want to be put on the guest list.

    You might find that a posted package is unnecessary – a link to SoundCloud where they can hear music (or Bandcamp or similar) and to a website for info plus YouTube channel and Facebook may well tell them enough to pique their interest.

    I get very few physical packages now and prefer a simple list of links by email. As we have mentioned – NEVER mail mp3’s as it just annoys people.

    Hope that is of some help.


George - June 4, 2014 Reply

Hey Ian,

This was exactly the type of information I was looking for. It’s funny that it was on Page 8 in google, I guess it shows you the best stuff is always sitting at the bottom (hint hint).

The main problem I’ve been having is getting the gate-keepers to give me a listen. Following your logic, somehow an even lesser gate keeper would have to recommend me to a gate-keeper and then I can work my way up from there, but so far I’ve encountered a phenomenon where there’s a disconnect between even the lowest of the gate-keepers and total outsiders such as myself and all the people that have dug my music.

I have done a variety of creative things to get their attention including creating a worldwide viral phenomenon earlier this year, however in all cases I was disregarded before getting an open minded listen.

I believe I am undiscovered gold, and I’m not the only one that believes it, everyone I show my work to agrees. I get that you probably hear that all the time, and it’s never true, well at some point it’s true, and with me it’s true.

George is not my real name obviously (why would I put my real information in the comment of an article). I’ve got gold, if you want it, hit up my email address. If you don’t think I’m worth the 5 minutes… cool, go read some Bieber tweets or something with that 3000 seconds.

Obviously Different,

BayLee - June 23, 2014 Reply

Hello Ian
Well you obviously already know my name is BayLee but still I feel like I need to formally introduce myself. Hi I am BayLee and I guess you could say I’m an aspiring artist. I’ve read through many articles but yours has probably helped the most. I’ve been contacting record labels and some potential managers but they so far they have all started asking for money straight off the back. Then any of the bigger-named (I hope that makes since) record labels seem to be uninterested. I’ve tried many ways to get them to notice me. Everything I seem to do has gone unnoticed by the record labels. I was thinking maybe doing a couple of YouTube videos might be good but then again I don’t want to be like all of the other potential professional singers out there, who are still going unnoticed though some clearly have talent. Do you by chance have any ideas of how I should try and get my music out there? I have been writing lyrics and singing for as long as I can remember. I would like to consider myself a good singer and the people who have heard me can agree. I even made it into Madrigals as a freshman, which is the highest choir to get into at my high school and it takes dedicated effort to get into. I realize this might sound as if I’m bragging and maybe I am a little bit. I just want to get my music out there and I’d love to opportunity to sing and perform for people. I want to aspire people who are in the same boat as me. I want to give people hope and happiness. I just want to sing really. I am greatly sorry about how long this is. It might’ve been better if I emailed all this too you. Is it possible if you could email me? I know you probably talk to a million people a day, but I have many questions about the industry and I would really appreciate answers to some of them. If you would prefer me to ask the questions on here, I could also do that. Thank you for taking the time to read all of this.

    Ian - June 23, 2014 Reply

    Hi Baylee.

    My advice is already here in this comments on this post and elsewhere on the site.

    As a singer (or any type of artist) you need to make the noise that will bring managers and labels to you. That means building a fanbase and putting music out there for people to find. YouTube is a great place to do that – as is your won site, Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud.

    If you’re having problems getting music recorded we have a very detailed piece on working with songwriters and getting producers to collaborate with you coming up soon.

    In short, make some great music and put it in front of people who will care and there are many, many ways to do that.


Kimberly - July 1, 2014 Reply

I am the owner of Lets Talk Entertainment for Upcoming Stars. I believe this post is very valuable to those seeking a career in the music industry. The point you made about “name recognition” in an email really touched home for me, because I receive unaddressed emails all of the time. Great post!! Thanks. 🙂

Calvin - July 4, 2014 Reply

Hey Ian, I’m a singer and 17 years old. I’ve tried to contact a&r and labels but I never get any responses. I also saw where you said that following a&r on Twitter or connecting with their followers is a good idea. What do you think I should say to get them to help me get connected with those a&r representatives. Could you also listen to a few of my songs? Thanks.

    Ian - July 4, 2014 Reply

    Hi Calvin

    I think you need to build a fanbase and online profile before you reach out to the A&R folks – so that when they come and check out your music they are already aware that people are supporting you.

    It’s a long road and takes a lot of hard work but lots of ideas on how to go about it are on the site.

    Good luck.


Hahna - July 13, 2014 Reply

Hello Ian,

Yesterday, I had a pretty depression phone call with a “kindof” secretary of the LA studio skylerlexx
Supposedly working with Rihanna, Beyoncé, Ariana Grande Bieber …
Her name was Ashley Camden, I don’t know if you may know that studio, they say everybody know each other in the music industry.

She painted a pretty depressing picture of the music industry saying that nowdays, the industry is not what it used to be, souncloud / youtube / FB / Myspace advertisement simply would not work, because you could just buy off your followers / comments … etc.

She offered a rate of 5000 / song.
She said if you don’t know anybody in the music industry, if you dont have 5000 $ to lay on a track, then forget it, saying that labels dont accept “unsollicited material”, you need to know people or to have daddy on board with one of them.

Wow, she was also kind of a b*** but I guess thats just the way it is in LA.

So I just wanted to have your opinion on this.

Thanks !

    Ian - July 14, 2014 Reply

    Hi Hahna

    What you’ve been told by the woman at the studio is, frankly, total crap.

    In fact, the opposite is true.

    Going to a pro studio and laying down $5,000 to record a track is a TOTAL waste of time…unless you have a world beating track and some way to market it in place. There is a small chance that doing that could bring you to the attention of someone who could give you a big break.

    BUT, equally if you have a track that good, you simply don’t need to spend that money to get it produced and then get it to people that matter. It can be produced for 1/100th of that cost to basically the same standard on a Mac in a bedroom. You just need to find someone who has the chops.

    Then, a great track can be promoted easier today than ever online and if it’s truly great it will be noticed.

    The fact that idiots can and do buy pointless followers and plays for SoundCloud and Facebook etc does not mean that using them properly doesn’t work. In fact, EVERYONE in the music business does look at those numbers to see if an artist has real support. They can also tell when a profile has fake bought followers!

    The bottom line is that a studio that wants to take $5000 for you to cut a track is caring about its profit, not your career. If they had a hit track that they would provide, they wouldn’t give it to you for $5000 – they’d hit up some signed artist they know.

    So, if you don’t have great material of your own yet, they’ll give you a cast off from an in-house producer, and if you do have the material yourself, you don’t need their expensive polish!

    What you do need is to build a real fanbase online and connections at blogs and in the industry so that when you have a great track it can be exposed to people who care and people who can make a difference to your career.


Andy - July 22, 2014 Reply

Hey Ian,

Like ‘George’ a few comments up, I’ve being doing the groundwork (and then some) with my band The Connectors, for over three years now, and the only real problem seems to get our music in the hands of those who can TRULY make a difference.
Sure, you could debate that we’re just not good enough, but I’m gonna go ahead and say (although anyone would about their stuff I suppose) that we are, and many have agreed with us on that. We’ve recorded quite a bit of material, and released some of it ourselves online, and have played hundreds of shows, in front of crowds of all sizes.
We’ve put a music video out, and had very positive reviews for both the music and the live show, and yet somehow that industry link-up seems to shy away in the distance, and we’re still lurking in virtual obscurity. I’m not talking the big time you know, but some proper exposure (festival slots, radio play that isn’t online) and a little spending money wouldn’t go amiss.
I’ll admit I had some problems researching what your specific field of expertise is (i did try to do my homework, I swear), but all I can say is that if you’re willing to give us the time of day, and take 5 minutes to take a look and a listen, you won’t be disappointed. If then you can take the next step and give us even the tiniest push in the right direction, then we might really have something going, and I’d be wildly grateful.

I’m not gonna try and be edgy and insult you now, as sometimes the industry seems to prefer, and actually I look forward to hear from you very soon..

All the best, and thanks for the very helpful thread. (If more people in the biz were as open, things would be much easier, and I probably would’t be trying to get a career break by commenting on a random blog I only found today)


    Ian - July 23, 2014 Reply

    Hi Andy

    I’m afraid it’s the same story as I’ve posted her before.

    Although , having listened to your material, I disagree with you and think that you’re not ready to attract the attention of a label that will invest in you – I could easily be wrong about that as your genre isn’t my thing and I am definitely not your target market.

    BUT, that said, you simply haven’t done enough to show that you have people who love what you do. You need to build online followings at all the relevant sites – YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud and have your own site that shows you are active and building some heat.

    Your Facebook profile shows some activity and a number of followers that indicates a band yet to gain any traction.

    Basically, you need more to happen and then that will attract the attention. If you can’t do that it means that your music is, for some reason or another, not connecting with a potential fanbase. In which case you’d need to look at that first.

    Only if people of the right demographic embrace your music fervently can you expect to attract the attention of a label.

    I’m trying not to sound negative. The point isn’t to believe whether I’m right but to trust the reactions you get from strangers. If it’s there, then you need to build that into a following and our advice here on the site tells you how to do that.

    Good luck.

    As to our expertise – some information is here – and here –

      Andy - July 24, 2014 Reply

      Ok, thanks – I appreciate the criticism.
      What I do find though, that without the necessary funding to be able to move BIG, so to speak, there’s only so much that we can do as a band to be able to build that kind of attention.
      I’m talking about advertising in the press, PR campaigns, etc – all things that cost a fortune (for them to be of any substantial level).. Other ways are of course available, but the internet is so saturated that it’s really hard to make a splash with limited means. I’m sure you know all that.
      Anyway, thanks for taking the time to look into the band, and, well – if you did happen to know anyone that could be interested, maybe keep us in mind? 😉

      All the best

        Ian - July 24, 2014 Reply

        Hi Andy

        I don’t agree. You don’t need advertising (other than small scale on Facebook and YouTube – the price of a pint every day is enough) and you certainly don’t need PR campaigns.

        You can build a very engaged and expanding fanbase online simply by dedicating time and effort. That is way more effective at the stage you are at than trying to get magazines, blogs/sites or radio to push you. That will come when your avid fanbase have driven people’s attention to you.

        Honestly – that is how it is.

        Don’t push your music to people until it is undeniable. Pull them towards it.


Barby Collins - July 28, 2014 Reply

Hello Ian,
My name is Barby Collins I am a Singer/songwriter from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.
I have recently been to Nashville twice and recorded a 5 song EP. The title track of the EP is called “We’re Gonna Love” it is a wedding song. As there are not many wedding songs out there I believe this song stands a chance in making it out there in the BIG WORLD. As of now I have nothing on you tube. I am getting ready to shoot a music video for this song, which after that I will put the video on you tube as my first thing on you tube as a solo artist. I would like to send it to some record companies in Nashville as well as here in Canada. Any advice on how to prepare a package for the record companies?


    Ian - August 1, 2014 Reply

    Hi Barby

    Really, in this situation it’s going to be about the music doing the talking. The key thing is to not email people directly with a large mp3 file. I would suggest you either send a link to a SoundCloud stream (private if you wish and also trackable if you use for the link to see who clicks) so that you don’t block up people’s inbox.

    Failing that, at least zip up your package and send it by wetransfer or yousendit/hightail.

    I cannot over emphasise how important it is to not annoy the recipient with huge files!

    Also in there, on this occasion I would consider sending the lyrics because of the nature of the song. A press release and well written bio and some photos would round it out.

    My preference would be to build a simple one page site and put the stream, the lyrics and all the photo and PR stuff on there and send that link. You could then get some good data from anyone who visits that page.

    All that said – that isn’t your challenge here – assuming that the track is good enough to get a response, your issue is getting it to people who will bother to listen. That’s why having a growing online presence matters – you can leverage it to attract attention at this moment. Otherwise you are going to be sending mails blind.

    Do your best to get introductions and make sure that the people you are targeting are the right people for the material.


Carrie Harding - August 1, 2014 Reply

Hi Ian

I found this blog a few years ago, at the time I had plenty of written material but absolutely no way of recording them… I have done gigs in bars mixing original material with really good covers. Given that nobody in these venues knew who I was, they stopped and listened and loved what I was doing.. Never have I bored anyone, in fact, quite the opposite.

Since last year, I have written recorded and produced at least two albums worth of music.. I have trial tested this music over and over and it has genuinely been appraised as the most enchanting and different music.. I get names like massive attack and Kate bush/bjork thrown in… It has genuinely been said to be incredible… I absolutely have full confidence in it… I got to record all this (not all of it is finished of course) but it is so wonderful in it’s original form it wouldn’t do justice to play it to an audience acoustically, given that some of it is electronic.. It has huge all the way potential and it’s All deliciously different.. I have been offered a write up of it by hotpress when it is done. That’s a good thing. Anyone who hears it wants involvement.

Main issues are… I work with one other, very talented guy who is a musician and has a home studio but his time is precious these days.. He needs money coming in.. I don’t have an online fan base firstly because this music has not been put out yet except for one track written with another, which is very pink Floyd like.. I can give you the link to it.. It’s very difficult to get musicians in who are committed to the process an to learn this music as it is… I have been a dark horse and I do know and there’s plenty of arrogance out there so although I’ve set up pages I’m not gettin the support even from those I know.. I have also been approached by music people who can help but a lot of the time they don’t do anything to help and ask you to raise money to record.. Recording has cost me nothing so far.. I’m not deluded and I know if the right people heard this music, they would be all over it. I want a deal at this stage because I know with that, you will be given good musicians who are paid for their time and all I will have to do is keep creating (which I can do at a rapid rate).

I would be eternally grateful if I can send you on my material so you can see why I find this so difficult.. I am presently working towards getting the EP finished so I can book a venue to do my launch (which is going to be spectacular) I will have it filmed and I will continue to build an online presence and keep pushing it out… I know you say you need an online presence but I’ve done my homework and I’ve seen plenty of awful music being promoted…

I would really appreciate it if you do listen to a few samples Of what I have done and I can send you photos too that you tell me what you feel I should do, who I should get in touch with..

Do you think you can do this for me? I can email it to you today or by Tuesday afternoon if this suits better?

Thanks Ian


    Ian - August 1, 2014 Reply


    Send me the track (tracks) and photos and anything else relevant to Please DO NOT send me large files in email. Zip it up and send by wetransfer or yousendit.

    You should have been and be building an online profile and presence. I agree that 99% of the music that people make and build a presence for is awful, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work for the 1% who have great material. More and more artists are now discovered online by just doing this and if your material is as good as you say then you have probably missed a great opportunity to get discovered and then signed.

    I really look forward to hearing your material.


Singer in Kaskelott - August 21, 2014 Reply

Hi Ian!

Very good post and commentary field, I’ve found several valuable tips that I will keep in mind. Also, I’m impressed by your answering ratio.

I play in a band from Sweden called Kaskelott. Last year we released out debut EP and soon we’ll release some new music. I think we got potential. We’ve had some exposure in blogs but I find it hard to know if we’ve reached any companies. Maybe they simply don’t find us good enough yet or maybe we haven’t gone through the white noise of all music that’s around. You seem skilled and straight forward, could you give me an honest opinion?

    Ian - August 22, 2014 Reply

    Hi Joakim – thanks for noticing that we try to give real advice from our experience. That’s appreciated.

    I think it’s just too soon for your band and that you haven’t actually done enough yet.

    A very large number of musicians who ask our advice simply aren’t good enough to attract a sizable fanbase or then the interest of record companies – and I think you can’;t do the latter yet. BUT I do think that you have a lot of stuff right. I think your sound is close to being something special and I think you understand your story and how to create a look/brand.

    Where I think you’re lacking is in your material. It’s much better than 95% of what I hear from DIY/Unsigned acts but, for me, it’s not there yet. I think the songwriting just isn’t dynamic enough – there’s not enough light and shade and there aren’t really any hooks.

    What you’re doing is competent but it’s not making me need to tell people about you. The reaction you need to get to your music is that you are blowing people away.

    I think you might be able to get there if you keep working on your craft. At the stage you are at you should be writing and demoing a song per day. Then chuck out 30 in a month and be left with 1 – or make one from the best bits of three or four. All you can do to get to the level of having great material is wade through lots of mediocre stuff until you know you have something special.

    I do think, however, that your instrumentation and production is good enough for the level you’re at. That will also improve as you mature but essentially I think the sound is close and when matched with great songs you will be on the way.

    It all starts with great music – so study that first rather than worrying about reaching people. This can be done in public – you can take the best material you are working on and let people hear it.

    People are looking to Sweden for great music and there are fantastic writers and producers from your country so expectations are high – that is both good and bad for you, but you need to find ways to make that an advantage.

    As I said I also think you just aren’t doing enough – as well as not writing and recording enough material you need to focus on building a mailing list and then a local and national fanbase as you develop.

    Do not worry about record companies – build exposure locally and on;line (social media and blogs) and let it come to you as your material improves.

    So, lots and lots of development of material and don’t be afraid to give stuff away and release stuff all the time on SoundCloud and YouTube etc – don’t worry too much about official releases until you have some measurable level of support.

    Try reading these two pieces and have a good dig through the site:

    I get the feeling you can get there. Keep at it.


Sajid Pirani - September 12, 2014 Reply

Hi Sir
I am Sajid Pirani and I am a artist. I have been working on my music production from last two years and finally I have produced 4 tracks of Electro house genre so how do I make it big would really appreciate your advice

    Ian - September 12, 2014 Reply

    Hi Sajid

    First step is to read all the comments here and go and read the articles linked – you need to create a buzz about your music and those posts tell you how.


Shantelle - October 18, 2014 Reply

Hi Ian.
Your article is great but i’m a little lost. i’m a little new to this music industry thing. i just uploaded my songs on soundcloud weeks ago. i dont know what to do next. i’ve had people tell me my songs are good but i dont know if they were just being nice. well one thing that happened was, a radio presenter came across my song and called me up to the station and said she loved it so played it that day and few days after. I honestly dont know what to do next. I think i need a coach. i honestly dont know where i stand and what to do. Can you give me some private coaching through mails. maybe you can listen to my songs, tell me what you think i should change and which group of people you think will like my sound.

    Ian - October 18, 2014 Reply

    Hi Chantelle

    Your material does sound good. Do you write and record that yourself or are you working with a producer?

    The bottom line is you need to build a fanbase to get noticed. If you can’t do that locally you’ll need to do it online and there’s a lot about how to do that on the site. Target blogs and make sure you have a story that will entice them along with the music. Being from Ghana is certainly different and something to base your story on.

    We do do some private coaching and workj with a handful of artists through our agency at We are also working on a training course to answer exactly these questions which we get a lot!

    Good luck.


Jaelan - October 27, 2014 Reply

Hello Ian, my name Is Jaelan I love to sing everyday all day. I wake up singing and go to sleep singing. Sometimes I Think music is my calling but I don’t think I am creative enough to become a singer. I’m not a good writer but I really love to sing and I can sing well. I believe if I was given the chance by a manger I would be very successful. If someone would invest time and money I know I could make it. Can you help me by giving me advice I would greatly appreciate it.

    Ian - November 6, 2014 Reply


    Make sure you download our eBook and read through it and the content of the site. There’s loads of great advice here. If you need specific help, drop us a comment and we’ll do our best to answer.


velvet - December 8, 2014 Reply

Hello Ian,
I perform under the name of Velvet Jeanie. I’m a solo artist in my early twenties as well as a pianist, composer, multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter based in Australia. I have many alternate titles/personas under which i perform to suit the different genres in which i write. My material is truly original and last year I was funded by PJ Murton (the previous manager of The Hilltop Hoods)’s record label initiative where the package paid for all of my expenses for me to record a studio single, provided me with a full professional industry photo-shoot and 1 artist management session with PJ Murton. I have since been performing large and small-scale shows non-stop and have garnered the interest of publishing companies and booking agencies around Australia. My current aim, though, is that I would like to be signed to a record label and i believe that this will happen quite soon with the correct steps. While I’m still building my fan base, I would appreciate it so much if you could please have a listen to my song entitled “You’re A Girl” and if you have any advice as to where i can go from here, that would be such a big help. Kind regards, Velvet Jeanie 🙂

    Ian - December 9, 2014 Reply

    Hi Jeanie

    Your song is pretty good. Interesting lyric and well put together. But I don’t personally think it’s a hit. I have been wrong before.

    I think that your aim of getting signed by a record company soon is a way off. You need to build an active fanbase and create a buzz that will lead managers, agents and labels to you – not the other way around. You also say that you record under multiple personas. Whilst this can work (some artists have found success running multiple personas to see which will break through), it is very rare. You are far more likely to focus and succeed if you pour all your effort into one act – and make all your influences fit in that.

    Get a website, build an email list of fans and spread your music across the key socials – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and SoundCloud. Do that and play shows and you’ll know if you’ve got what people want to listen to and pay to see.


      velvet - January 2, 2015 Reply

      Hello Ian,
      Happy New Year! Thanks for taking the time to listen to my track and for your feedback. I can see where you’re coming from in terms of personas, however many artists like Nick Cave had a lot of band names/acts that he performed under and he still became successful. But nevertheless, I have certainly taken what you’ve said on board and will work on the things you’ve suggested. Thanks again 🙂

        Ian - January 3, 2015 Reply

        Hi Jeanie.

        You’re welcome. I was careful to say that multiple personas can work but that it’s rare. My point is simply that sticking to one thing and making that all it can be is a better way to go and more likely to lead to success.

        Good luck and let me know how you are getting on.


Shawn - December 30, 2014 Reply

Hello Ian,

I am not a singer or a rapper. I don’t have the voice or talent but I feel that I have an extremely strong talent in writing songs and writing lyrics. How would I go about contacting a record label to get my lyrics to a person that can put a voice to the words? Thanks for the feedback.

    Ian - December 31, 2014 Reply

    Hi Shawn

    I’ve covered this a little in earlier replies. You’d need to be just about the luckiest person alive to send just lyrics to a label and have them get to someone who could use them. It’s just not how it works.

    Your best bet is to start working on songs with a collaborator and build from there. We have a mammoth post on this coming very soon. Sounds like you need to take your lyrics to someone who writes melody and produces tracks – that way you end up pitching a finished song and have a realistic chance of getting some attention.


Alex Mane - January 2, 2015 Reply

So, when we have all the things you said we must have. Where should we send you all that?

    Ian - January 3, 2015 Reply

    Hi Alex

    When you have built a fanbase this way you won’t need to send anything to me or to other people in the industry – they will hear about you and come to you! That’s the point I keep making. 99% of artists that get somewhere and do so by getting picked up by a manager or label (which a few do without) get to that point by having built something that was getting a reaction first.

    If you want to send anything to me, you can do so at ian [@]

Daniel - January 6, 2015 Reply

Wow, I’m lucky to have found this site, assuming you respond! It’s so hard to find someone to help answer these seemingly simple questions.

I’ve been staying up every night reading articles (including yours) for hours upon hours. The problem is, I’m in this band, The Danes, and we thought we were going to record an album…

We’ve been together for 3 years and have played shows in LA on the Sunset Strip and at other local bars. But we have always been confused at the best way to market ourselves.

We were sitting on a whole set of original songs, not sure if we were playing too many shows or too little shows. But when we stuck to the one show every 2-3 months, we would get regular turn outs of 50-70 people. Maybe I’ve read too much out there, and being overwhelmed by opposing information, we’ve only progressed slowly in developing a fan base. Meanwhile we notice other bands not being as careful, and just playing a bunch of random shows in random places, getting more fans than us. We want to do this too, but we were more focused on something else:

Our slow fan development didn’t deter us from developing our music (what we really love focusing on). Over the past year, we wrote a full length album, which we were almost ready to record… until I got lost in research again.

Now, based on research, we are pretty sure we don’t want to “self-release” an album anymore, but that we instead want to send a 3 song demo to indie labels. We made 2 sets of demos before, but never sent them to press or labels… We just put them online and had them on CDs at shows.

Our new, developed sound is so much more accessible. We were kind of all over the place before.

We found a great engineer for a great rate, and we want to record these 3 songs with him.

But I am confused on the “release” aspect. Can we still put these songs online while sending them to labels? Can we play the new songs at live shows? Do you think we shouldn’t worry about this at all? I read that labels get offended if they aren’t the only ones hearing these new tracks on a private link. Are we not even at that stage to shop for indie labels yet? Should we just be putting more demos online and giving them out at shows?

We are so careful about this because we want to try and follow and compete with the ever changing market. We want our music to reach as many fans as possible.

We have all these new songs and don’t know what to do. HELP!!

    Ian - January 7, 2015 Reply

    Hi Daniel

    Great to know that you’ve found the site useful and that you’re reading up on what your options are.

    I could be wrong (I have passed on some great stuff in my time) but I am pretty sure that you are not going to get anywhere by reaching out to labels. You just don’t have enough heat and that implies that your material isn’t yet connecting with a fanbase that will make a label interested. You have a small number of fans on Facebook and a a small number of views on YouTube. Any A&R man will go there immediately and see that you aren’t getting natural viral sharing of your music so he’ll deduce that your material isn’t connecting.

    So why would he pick you up.

    I think you need to record a lot more material and grow your sound and learn how to build a fanbase that wants to spread the word for you.

    This post basically tells you that you shouldn’t need to be reaching out to labels. That happens so rarely these days – almost everyone gets noticed by creating their own noise – especially in your genre – i.e indie/rock. The only people who get signed with no fanbase are really out and out op acts. And that’s a whole different gig.

    Ignore what anyone at a label thinks – don’t worry about having your songs online or given away for free. The A&R man’s opinion doesn’t matter until he’s coming to you to beg you to sign to him. They won’t be offended because they won’t care. You can have given away thousands of downloads of a record and it will still get you signed if it’s a hit and is going to break your act.

    In fact, that’s what they want to see.

    You’ve got something but you have a very long way to go.

    Best of luck.


      Daniel - January 8, 2015 Reply

      I really appreciate you taking the time, Ian.

      We are going to put the album on hold and take your advice. We’re going to get out there and start gigging again. Then in a couple months we’ll record a 3 song demo and put it online to attract more people. We have so much music we’re sitting on that we love, which no one has heard. I hope you will hear it one day.

      You’re a good guy. I hope karma exists.


        Ian - January 8, 2015 Reply

        Thanks Daniel and good luck.

        We have a whole load of posts coming in the next 6-8 weeks about exactly what a band in your position should be doing. And we know it works. Look out for it.


Alex Salem - February 2, 2015 Reply

Hi Ian , read this invigorating post. Really a good thing for you to go out of your way and reach out to people. Well, reason I’m commenting is I, just like many other artists are in the same circle trying to breach the next inner circle. I’m a 21yr old rapper from Philly, was noted as best lyricist of the year, have a fairly well grounded fan base from doing shows and open Mics for the past 2 yearsyjust about twice a week since. And signed a distribution deal with Sony Bmg my first year out. Well my manager was arrested and breached contract yadayada.. long story short I’m back at the start and Sony owns literally all my music recorded with them as a “fail safe” when the contract is breached by either party. Dude I’m in need. I’m starving out here. I’m not putting my all into this because I want attention or because it’s a hobby. I’m on my own, have a newborn son. Bills and a table to put food on. That being said, I’ve perfected the craft to allign me with the best in the game. Potentially the greatest. All due respect I’m a very humble man. all I ask Ian is that u check out to what I have here below And if your enticed like I claim to be. Let me know what I can do to save my life.
Many Thanks,

    Ian - February 4, 2015 Reply

    Hi Alex

    I’m glad you found the post helpful.

    I checked your SoundCloud and it sounds to me like you’ve still got a way to go before your material is strong enough. I’m not an expert in your genre but to me it sounds some way off the finished article -you say you’ve been noted as lyricist of the year so maybe that’s your strongest side but I think the flow and the structure needs a lot more work. I don’t hear any obvious hooks and no particular highlights in the production.

    But, don’t let that be a negative – I’m just giving you my honest opinion.

    You need to do that in tandem with being able to show your fanbase exists – at the moment that SoundCloud page doesn’t show that at all.

    So, you need to rework and then get some online marketing happening.

    You’re still very young – dig deep and deliver great music.


    Daniel - February 4, 2015 Reply

    Alex– me and my roommate just heard your soundcloud main song. It’s dope. I agree with Ian- maybe find a better producer or something, the mix isn’t amazing and your voice can be handled better. And if you wanna go more POP, then you need a hook- but I think you are on the right track man. good luck

    Daniel - February 4, 2015 Reply

    haha sounds a lot like “Oldie” from Odd Future

      Ian - February 4, 2015 Reply

      Thanks for chiming in Daniel. Like I said – It’s not my genre but I can tell there’s work to be done.

Alex Salem - February 4, 2015 Reply

Thanks guys appreciate it. fortunately I have improved my vocals and flow. I write everyday everywhere doing what I think I can’t do to expand my sound.
Will keep you posted when this mixtape drops

Lewisland - February 16, 2015 Reply

Hi Ian

Really loved your post! It’s so true that building a fan base is the first and most important thing any artist should’s like building your business! first, you need a good product then, you also need the right people to “not only” consume it but spread the word/Good news to friends,parents etc creating a term I call Fanbase Networking lol
I’m an artist working hard on building a genuine and dedicated fan hasn’t been easy I must say..I always go by the rule of “Drawing people to your music” and not trying to push your music on them. It’s been working fine but slow.
I need some advice, I think my music career had taken a slow start because of the location where I find myself. I live in the northern part of Italy, where the English language is unspoken and unknown. I believe every country or continent has something to offer in this music industry; and Italy left alone has a few or nothing to offer internationally speaking! I’ve played in festivals here together with some big Italian acts and I’ve won different contests but it doesn’t count here if you perform in English language! I’ve been trying to break out of this country to further my music career although I’ve had different offers from Independent labels here. I thinking of reaching out to record labels in the UK or US.what do you think I should do?? I don’t mean to bored you with the same old questions..I know the drill, first you build your fan base and if your stuff is good the labels will find you..but do you think it would work in my situation due to the location where i find myself??
To understand my music and if it’s worth it here’s my SC

Thanks and hope to hear from you!

    Ian - February 19, 2015 Reply

    Hi Lewis

    I think that your location isn’t a problem in the internet age. You will need to take it into account in how you focus your promotional efforts – i.e. if you feel that the local market for music with English vocals is limited, then don’t waste your time with it. Instead focus on your potential fans across the world and reach out to them.

    I looked at your online presence and I can see that you have quite a lot of material and are doing a reasonable job of trying to spread the word on social media. However, I think I need to be brutally honest in order to give you the help you need. It seems to me that your material isn’t yet quite professional enough to make people think you are the ‘real deal’. There is a level of production that you aren’t yet reaching and, on occasion, your vocal performance is a little shaky.

    That said, I can hear some good elements in the songwriting.

    I don’t say that to discourage you but in the hope that you can focus on improving the areas where you need it and then reach out to people to build a fanbase that really care about you.

    With your material at the level it is currently at I do not think that reaching out to any record labels is worthwhile. I don’t see you as being ready to be signed.

    Take your best material and improve it and get better final mixes/productions.

    From that point you really need to build your own website and offer a lot of free music to bring people to you. From that point you can grow.

    I hope you find that helpful.


      Lewisland - March 10, 2015 Reply

      Hi Ian
      Thanks for being frank and honest! I soaked up every word you said and I’ll make sure I put it to good use!!
      I totally agree with you! I don’t think I’m all that ready because my songs aren’t recorded and produced professionally.
      I guess taking the best materials out of the many songs I write and improving on them (Vocals, mixing, productions) is the best solution!!
      Thanks also for commenting on the geographical problem and fan reach!
      Stay real man!

Raktim Singha Roy - March 3, 2015 Reply

Hello George,

This is Raktim Singha Roy from India. I have read your article here and I find it very enlightening. Thanks for the article.

I am a composer and lyricist, but I am not a performer which prevents me from becoming a band member. Most of the A&R in my country chose artist from public performances. And there I get stuck. I am wondering if you can show me a way to initiate my career as a songwriter.

    Ian - March 3, 2015 Reply

    Hi Raktim – I saw the you meant this for me!

    My answer would be essentially the same as to Lewis above.

    It doesn’t really matter where you are in the internet age and although you are a writer rather than a performer, as long as you can find a way to create recordings that you can promote and market you have the same chance as a more traditional band in getting your material out to people.

    If however you are solely a writer and need to collaborate and then pitch songs to other artists, then that is a little harder to achieve since you need to get your music in front of specific people for opportunities to arise. Even then though I would advise that you create an online presence and get support for your material as that will validate what you are creating and will also lead to some networking opportunities that otherwise would not happen.

    I do have a very detailed post on songwriting that looks at all the possible ways to create those opportunities which will appear on the site soon as well, so do keep looking back.


      Raktim Singha Roy - March 3, 2015 Reply

      Thanks for the reply Ian.

      I would like to elaborate my problem a little here.

      I am not a trained singer, I am learning guitar but I don’t think I can be a great guitarist one day, and I even lack the attitude a rockstar should have.

      What I am good at is songwriting. I guess I am born with it. and I prefer less attention so that I can concentrate on it.

      Previously I have tried pitching my song (homemade recording in my own voice) to certain record labels who says that they are seeking new sounds. But they didn’t responded. Probably it sounded unprofessional.

      When I tried to collaborate with local bands they like the materials but their conditions for collaborating with me is unacceptable.

      There are few Uk based sites offering collaboration services, but they charges for that. I tried to pay them and find out that our government don’t allow us to send money in any form outside our country. I even tried to have a professional recording online and stuck with the same problem.

      The situation is quite hopeless.

      I would like to share a link here if it is okay with you. I am only sharing it to know your frank opinion.

      Though the song is in Hindi(an Indian language) the music is universal as I have always believed.

      Please note that I find your answer enriching and I will be looking forward to the materials you are going to post. It’s just that I need your opinion.

      Thanks again for the reply.

        Ian - March 3, 2015 Reply

        Hi again Raktim

        The bottom line here is that the track you have linked to is much too rough in terms of production for anyone to make a solid judgement. Admittedly the fact that it is in Hindi doesn’t make it easy for me in particular.

        The music world is such these days that most of the time the reality is that A&R men and managers are actually listening for a virtually finished demo that they can just take your vocal off and replace with their artist. Occasionally they will pick up a song that isn’t well produced but it must in that case stand out as an exceptional song.

        I think you need to work on your songwriting skills and look for collaborators – the forthcoming post on that will give you some help. There are always ways round international currency restrictions – I’m pretty sure you could find a way if you spent enough time looking.

        Look out for the songwriting collaboration post in the next week or two – and best of luck.


Junkie Robots - March 7, 2015 Reply

I can agree with 90% of your words, but I can also say you just want the easy work, there are band (like mine) we`re so far away from the scene (by scene I mean US & Europe). Where I live not even the Beatles would make it. I`m just tired of producer/record companies/labels/manager/Investor trying to find the next big thing in these countries.
I believe, for certain, the next big thing are where you never looked.
I`m not saying the artist from Us & Europe are bad, on the contrary, some of them are awesome. My point is look for another direction. Man discover the fire in a cave not in a open space.

    Ian - March 9, 2015 Reply

    Hi Junkie Robots

    The beauty of the startegy that we advise is that it truly doesn’t matter where you are geographically. Sure, you can do more to create a live following if you are in the US or Western Europe, but you can achieve world wide success from a bedroom anywhere in the world if your material is strong enough and you build a great online presence and campaign.

    I look everywhere!


Nathalie - March 15, 2015 Reply

Hi Ian. Very helpful article and thank you for taking the time.
But i have a question that actually led me to thus website, and no matter how many websites, blogs or yahoo answers i read, i can’t find the answer.
Say someone has done it all, he created a buzz, recorded killer songs etc.. how do you actually find the info pf a music exec and industry people? Like how do you find their e-mails, adresses to send the package to etc? I’m guessing they are not open for everyone to see because in that case they would be getting thousands of e-mails a day..
And even if all the contact info was indeed open for everyone to see, how do you know that they will see/pick your specific e-mail to read? Would be a bit useless to make all that effort to become one of the ten thousand e-mails that won’t be opened, right?
Thank you in advance for the time you’re gonna take to answer this.

    Ian - March 16, 2015 Reply

    Hi Nathalie

    As I’ve said elsewhere in this comment section, if you really are creating a buzz, you will get noticed so in most cases you won’t need to reach out to label execs as they’ll come looking for you.

    If you do need to reach them, a lot can be learnt just by getting on the phone and being creative. Work out what labels suit you – do that by seeing what labels similar artists are signed to. You’ll be able to find offices for all the labels in major cities and a main telephone number by just Googling.

    Then simply pick up the phone and ask for the A&R department. When you get through you’ll need to use your guile to get a name and perhaps an email to send your music to. You can do this in a number of ways. Pretend that you’re at another label or a studio and have to get something to the head of A&R but the studio manager didn’t tell you their name. A lot of the time you’re going to be able to get a name and then you can also use the same method to get an email.

    If you can’t get the execs email, ask for the assistant’s when you’re on the phone. Likely there will be a corporate format to the email ( and so you’ll be able to work out the A&R person’s.

    Failing that, you’ll find some very smart and creative ways to find anyone’s email just by Googling ‘How to find anyone’s email’!

    But, there are some great guides.

    • The Unsigned Guide: a great UK online directory created for unsigned artists listing all labels, publishers and managers and more –
    • The Music Week Directory: the traditional UK music business directory. Essential –
    • Billboard International Buyer’s Guide: the US business bible for 52 years. Now due an upgrade but useful to have on the shelf –
    • Songwriters Market: Up to date contact information for labels, publishers and managers but it’s also full of additional information on how to submit songs and where to find grants, workshops, conferences and competitions –
    • The Music Business Registry: Very solid and regularly updated US label and publisher contact details –
    • Showcase International Music Business Guide: Mainly service providers for live and touring. However, the website (free) and the book do list a lot of European labels, managers and publishers that you won’t find elsewhere.

    As to how to get someone to open your email or package, for the former you need to learn about email subject lines and what can get someone to open an email – basically, make it enticing but not with all the information.

    The best way is to get an introduction from someone who knows the person. So, failing having built up a network, it can pay huge dividends to build up a little rapport with the assistant you spoke to when figuring out the names of people to contact and, in fact, send the package or mail to them. If you can get them onside, they may open the door to their boss.

    Hopefully, that is of some help.


Alka - March 24, 2015 Reply

Hey my name is Alka and I’m 18 yrs old. I’m really really good in singing. I just want to make my career in Mysic Industry but I’m not fully prepared by financial conditions. I can’t go to any audition of singing cause There is no career in Hollywood music in my country only Bollywood. I want any agent company who can give me a chance to sing in Hollywood…. I just love sinting. Can any suggestions???

    Ian - March 24, 2015 Reply

    Hi Alka

    Read the post and the comments and then look around the site. There is a LOT of great advice here.


S.A - March 31, 2015 Reply

Hello Ian ( Pls ignore previous comment)
Your column is really amazing and it seems as though you are a highly approachable person. Im around 16 years of age and my forte is vocals. Academic completion is a priority for any family and I intend on pursuing my passion at the age of 19 and i am a trained musican in western vocals , play the guitar and the piano but my one hindrance is that I reside in India and I am of Indian origin. I absolutely love my culture. With record lables is it compulsory to be near the location of the company house to be able to work for them , including regular meetings though ( 5 months available) ? . I have created alot of music and i am into soul so do you think it is wise to send a couple of songs of various genres together ? .Also do you think have a degree in music will help on increasing my chances?
Thank you for your time

    Ian - March 31, 2015 Reply

    Hi S.A

    Thanks for the kind words. I try my best!

    I think having a degree in music will help – certainly with your playing skills and in things like composition.

    Is it necessary – definitely not – but it might lead you down a different path. Some think that having a formal training can limit the creativity of an artist. I’m not sure either way!

    I answered the location question in the comments above to Raktim – for India – and also for others. It really doesn’t matter where you are if you can build a local fanbase before you seek out support from labels. That is the key.

    You might do better to work in a genre that has the possibility for success in your local market but that isn’t absolutely necessary. If your music is of a high standard and gets a reaction from people then you can succeed no matter the genre or where in the world you live.

    But, you must build fans using the online methods that we teach.


Apurv Singh - May 26, 2015 Reply

Hello Ian,
I and my friends have formed a band and we all are 17 yrs old and make songs mainly targeting on the problems and guilty like stuff and we work on different genres. We have a dream that we want to be known as a great band so can you give some tips that may help us pursue our dream.

    Ian - May 28, 2015 Reply

    Hi Apurv

    Work your way through the posts n this site. In essence you need o create great music and build a fanbase – a lot of the posts here will help you do that.

    Good luck.


Etana - June 15, 2015 Reply

When u send a demo to the labels can u call them to find out if they receive it

    Ian - June 15, 2015 Reply

    Hi Etana

    You shouldn’t be sending demos blindly. Therefore you should have contact details for those you are sending to. That way, yes, follow up.


Pranat - June 23, 2015 Reply

Hi Ian,

First of all thanks for writing such a helpful article. I have read all your articles and comments posted here. So I know for going into music industry I must have strong fan base online on different social sites and media sites.
I sing cover songs of several artists and bands including Ronan Keating, Westlife, Shayne Ward and Michael Jackson and several others. But my problem is that I live in India and songs which get any notice here are all in Hindi ( bollywood songs). But I can sing all the western pop and soft rock songs and hindi songs are not what I can sing. Is there any way to get noticed by any US or UK record labels????

    Ian - June 24, 2015 Reply

    Pranat – It’s already been covered in these comments.

    Yes, you can get traction and success now from anywhere in the world but you will need to create some momentum yourself first in order to be noticed.

    read the comments again, and build your fanbase using what we suggest.

    Good luck.


SovanZHunter - July 16, 2015 Reply

Hey lan I am from India . I am a song writer and singer . I just wanna simply get signed to big record label in Hollywood . So my question is do record labels will sign an artist from India ..

    Ian - July 17, 2015 Reply

    Hi Sovan

    We’ve answered that before here. You need to build a fanbase first and draw attention, but, if you’re creating enough buzz then there is no reason that an artist from India can’t find success in the US record industry.

    That’s most likely to happen by having success in your home market first, but if you’re great, it can happen.


SovanZHunter - July 19, 2015 Reply

Thank you lan for your answer .
But still can you give me the guarantee that a US record label will sign a Indian artist like me . I am asking this question because I live in a small town and trying to build my career but if you can give me the promise that US record will sign me then I will try my best to become successful.

    Ian - July 19, 2015 Reply


    I can guarantee that being an Indian artist will not stop you getting a record deal in the US. You probably don’t appreciate quite how difficult it is for anyone to get to that level though. It requires huge talent and a lot of hard work. But, if you are great and an American label thinks that they can market you and make a lot of money from signing you then the fact that you’re in India won’t make any difference.

    The hurdle you have to get over is to make yourself that signable and build a buzz so that they notice you.


Erik - August 14, 2015 Reply

Hey Ian,

I’m a musician who moved to Alaska for school, and brought my love for writing music with me. I know staying in Los Angeles was the place to be for getting the exposure I’d want with music, but that’s not going to stop me from writing. I’m writing to ask, will playing lots of shows and getting the buzz from my town (which is about 1/100 the size of any given city in or around LA) still impress labels or A&R guys like it would if that city were LA?

    Ian - August 14, 2015 Reply

    Hi Erik

    If you build a significant following anywhere that will attract interest from record labels.

    However, playing lots of shows in a small area can have a decreasing effectiveness – why would people come out and see you this week if you’re going to be at the same venue next week? That said, if you can create a real head of steam regular residencies can drive fanbase growth. Just be aware.

    One classic thing to do in your situation is play your home town and then play other towns 50 – 100 miles away as a mini circuit and then put on a special show every few months in your hometown and make it an event. Hopefully you can then attract people from the outlying places you played to come to the one off.

    HOWEVER! Above all, get your best material recorded well and start building a fanbase online. That is where most A & R men are looking and they will find you if you create a buzz online. Have your own site and work YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud and Twitter – all at the same time!

    It is also crucial to reach out to online press to feature you as you grow.

    Hope that helps.


Rizvan Khan - August 28, 2015 Reply

Hi Ian
Thanks for very informative article.
well here i am in India and Bollywood rules here(although don’t know what for)
but anyway i am into EDM and i wanna produce and get it released.
of course i understand the value of the quality of music but do you think since india won’t have much scope for my genre, I can be signed by any overseas label if they like my music just want to check possibility on that.
And how does it work???

    Ian - August 28, 2015 Reply

    Hi Rizvan

    I’ve said this before on this thread – if you create great music and build a fanbase online – which we write about how to do – then you can get signed to a UK or US label. It doesn’t matter where you are from if you make the music that they want for their market.


Alvin Poe - September 5, 2015 Reply

I have been writing songs for about 10 years and have some hits. I’ve been recording and have media. What’s do I need to do next to contact a label.

    Ian - September 7, 2015 Reply

    Hi Alvin

    Read this post again and my replies to the other comments.

    The bottom line is you need to make some heat for yourself as that is what labels are looking for. On the site we give a lot of advice on how to do that.

    Good luck.


chidananda - September 18, 2015 Reply

Sir, i read your article thoroughly,very insightful. but i have a question,i have seen many people in west doing covers of famous songs and record labels have picked up very few among them, so despite of fan base do they check vocal quality too? thanks in advance,sir.

    Ian - September 18, 2015 Reply

    Hi Chidananda

    Yes, of course, record companies are always looking for the most talented people and vocal quality is important.

    It’s important to realise that record companies aren’t just looking for someone who can create cover songs. If they do that and build a following on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram etc then that shows the record companies that the person has an audience and that will interest them. Even then however they will be looking for someone who can break out from being a covers artist – as they aren’t looking for that. They need an artist who will deliver their own or co-written new material.

    Lastly, that does not mean that creating a following by doing covers doesn’t work. It can and perhaps it is more likely to drive the growth of a fanbase that can support you as a DIY musician – having a record deal is probably not the end goal of many of those creating covers.


Lots - October 13, 2015 Reply

Hi Ian,

Just wanted to say what a great an informative post this is. I suppose the question I have is how do you know if you are good enough? As a working singer it doesn’t pay millions an studio work can be really expensive so when you send tracks to A&R people etc do they take this in to consideration. I have had it before where people have said the we like the sound but the production isn’t good enough to send out to major bookers. Is this the case or is it a light let down and I should be working more on my vocals?
It would be great if you could have a listen:
Any advice you can give would be really appreciated 🙂 Thanks

    Ian - October 13, 2015 Reply

    Hi Lots

    I’m afraid that production quality does have an effect. I’ve written about that on the site but just can’t remember where! Not every person you want to get a reaction from will care about production and might be able to hear the quality of your songs and performance in a rougher demo, but, sadly, many are listening for the production rather than the song – even if they don’t realise it.

    A good quality recording is therefore a great investment WHEN your material and position warrants it.

    I have written about how to know if your music is good enough here –

    I’ve listened to your material. It’s not my area of expertise but it seems well played, sung and crafted. My main concern would be that you don’t seem to have built much of a following. Watch out for our free video series in a week or so that details how to get your website into shape to be the anchor for your building your online fanbase.


Lots - October 14, 2015 Reply

Hi Ian,

Thank you for the feedback it is much appreciated.
That’s one thing I seem to struggle on building a following its such hard work…facebook obviously offers the pay promotion but I worry that its then isn’t a true following. I will certainly look out for the video and hopefully will be able to pick up some tips and improve our fan base.

Once again many thanks for taking the time to have a look at our music and reply it really is appreciated.

Lots 🙂

    Ian - October 14, 2015 Reply

    Hi Lots,

    Spending money on Facebook advertising can be very targeted and get you fans …BUT our mantra is that you need to bring people to your website and get them on a mailing list. Then build a relationship from there.

    Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Soundcloud and Twitter are the primary ways to do that – and it is a LOT of work!

    In our view, though, you HAVE to do it to give yourself a shot.


shivani - October 19, 2015 Reply

Hey Ian,
I m from India as well.I can write songs and sing cover songs of Hollywood. I wanna become a singer. The only thing I’m facing problem is where to show up the talent so that it could be noticed by people.could you guide me some tips so that record label can sign me for their album?how to show up the taken so that it is noticeable….thanks in advance sir..:)

    Ian - October 20, 2015 Reply

    Hi Shivani

    As I’ve said here before, you need to create some great material (covers can be OK) and use the leverage of the internet to get it in front of people. Re-read my replies above and look at the posts I mention.


Leon - October 24, 2015 Reply

Hello Ian,

I’m Leon from India I’m 17 years old I have a popular social media I got followed by Justin Bieber and Austin Mahone I have little good fan base but the problem is that I want to apply on record label and need a manager I wrote my album name “I Ain’t Leaving Without You” I need to release it soon help me about label and manager I also want to appeal xfactor uk but how give me some tips plz thanks 🙂

    Ian - October 26, 2015 Reply


    As we’ve said here many times, you need to attract the attention to you, rather than go looking for the assistance of a manager or label. If you lay down the ground work of putting your material in front of an audience and getting a reaction you will attract those people to you who can help your career.

    Do you have any music on YouTube, SoundCloud? Do you have a following on Facebook and Instagram?


ALIYA SPEAKMAN - October 25, 2015 Reply

Hi Ian, I’ve been very interested by reading some of these comments you’ve sent to others . i have been looking on this website for a long time now , for about almost a year now checking new updates & reading more . MY name is Aliya Speakman i come from a small town Springfield Ohio . Also the town John Legend used to live in before he became known for his amazing music . He is one of my many inspirations. I’m 16 & 7 months old & i’ve been writing my own music for about 3 years now . i’ve posted facebook videos got 200 & so likes & tons of comments with great opinions . I’ve got told by lot’s of people to go on American Idol or the Voice & keep up my work & i’v been doing so last year i went to audition for project jericho for my song & i auditioned infront of a judge about 300 auditioned and 12 got picked i wa sone i recorded my song i wrote & got to perform on stage live with Michael Kelsey a guitarist . Scott Dawson was the judge that helped me out & they were both amazing people to work with . i’ve sang at Springfield’s Got Talent & plenty of other events been in choir every year i’ve been in school . Music is honestly my life , it speaks to me like nothing else can . I would really love to try & take the next step & see if i’m able to step it up & find a spot for me in the music industry . i honestly believe it’s where i belong . My whole life i’ve known it . I appreciate any time you take to read this . 🙂
-Aliya Speakman

    Ian - October 26, 2015 Reply


    It sounds like you have some talent and are making steps in the right direction to get noticed.

    What you need is a plan – a website and a presence on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram is where you should focus. And then get your music and your story out there through those channels.

    Best of luck.


Robin - November 13, 2015 Reply

Sir I wanna ask where should I start from. I have the dedication like you want. How can I get signed to records labels like def jam or island blah blah… Please help sir.. Me and my cousin have a duo.. And we do teen pop and dubsteps and electronic pop… So should I send our first video to you???

    Ian - November 13, 2015 Reply

    Hi Robin

    Dedication is essential. You aren’t going to find success without it – on whatever level you aspire to.

    You will ONLY get signed in the modern music business if you show a record label that you have the ability to attract fans – that means starting the momentum yourself.

    The beauty of this is that even if you don’t get a record deal, you will have built a fanbase that can support you as you continue to hone your skills and grow.

    You need to create great material, build an online and offline presence (locally, regionally, nationally and internationally as you spread your message) and keep up a steady stream of new music as well as developing what we like to call a ‘story’. Bind people to you and your journey and the labels will come calling.

    Do you have great material? Do you have a website, a mailing list, YouTube subscribers, Facebook fans, Instagram followers, Soundcloud devotees? You need all of these. That’s what the labels want to see.


Mitali - November 23, 2015 Reply

How should I apply to any record label. And are there any record labels or mangers in India and if yes how should I contact them.

    Ian - November 23, 2015 Reply

    Hi Mitali

    India isn’t my expert area but there will be labels. You should, as we say here repeatedly, build a fanbase first.


praxus - December 18, 2015 Reply

All know that vocal quality should be awesome to be a great singer but do we really need to have a great looks for attracting more fans??

    Ian - January 11, 2016 Reply

    Hi Praxus.

    Missed this comment over Christmas – apologies.

    I have taken a lot of flak over that view in the free guide – that it’s easier to make it if you’re ‘young and beautiful’. But that’s just the point. For most, being youthful and attractive does make it easier to get noticed – especially so the more pop you are. BUT, yiou don’t have to have great looks to succeed. A look, or a style, a quirk is useful, but, if you and your material are truly great, the era of the internet has really leveled the playing field to the point where not being traditionally attractive isn’t the total barrier it might once have been.

    The same applies to age. You can make it at any age now. It”s not as easy as you get older for a whole host of reason but it doesn’t preclude it.

      praxus - January 11, 2016 Reply

      Hey Ian I’m 20 years old and from India.
      I’ve written some great songs as well as composed it’s music.
      I’ve not much fanbase because I haven’t posted my any gigs on YouTube or SoundCloud or Vine yet.
      Despite having a great song could any small independent label sign me the record deal?

        Ian - January 14, 2016 Reply

        Hi Praxus

        I think you need to have another look at all the comments here.

        You COULD get signed off the back of a great song with nothing else in place but it is very unlikely.

        You need to show that you are creating a fanbase to attract labels to you.

        Lots more about this in all the comments.


Joseph - December 20, 2015 Reply

Hey Ian,

I am a producer/beatmaker. What would be the best way to get my music heard by record labels/ AnR’s? Also, what is the best way to approach famous producers/artists with my work through social media?

    Ian - January 11, 2016 Reply

    Hi Joseph

    As with so many of my answers on this thread, the best way is to build a profile for yourself and get noticed that way. As a producer that might mean working with aspiring rappers / singers from your local area for a long time. Then help them promote themselves and promote your part in it yourself. Help an artist get recognised and that will necessarily reflect on your ability as their producer.

    You can try to reach out to management and A&R’s of established artist and occasionally people do get a break that way – but it’s rare. Normally the recognition comes from doing something on your own account and then getting asked to work with the more established artists.

    I’ve seen it hundreds of times with aspiring producers that they spend years doing the same thing, honing their craft and then one day they get lucky and make a hit with someone, somehow. They didn’t do anything different, they just lucked out and got to work with the right artist – usually an unknown that they happened across. That unknown then has a hit and all of a sudden all the industry looks at the producer. Prior to the lucky break there was no way they could be persuaded to get the producer in on a session but as soon as there’s been a hit, everyone wants you!

    It’s a long game. The more people you work with the luckier you get!

landry - February 20, 2016 Reply

Hi ian,

I am a 21yrs old cameroonian passioned by music. Let me say if i spend a day without singing I’ll fall sick. I do rapping and singing too(but let me admit my vocals aren’t just the best in the world). Music in my country is not really evolving(since just a few end up making it) and consequently for a pure beginner like me, the task isn’t that easy. I know I’ve got the talent to make a difference and your advise on creating an online fanbase I think has helped me a lot. What I want to know is if you think that a young cameroonian can make it world wide through the means you mentioned above. I do have some doubts reason why I am asking…
By the way, really appreciate all the stuff you pass in here helping different people from different backgrounds and musical styles. Think I better start putting your advise in practice very soon. Thanks again (in my cameroonian dialect “nge peno”… Lol)

    Ian - February 23, 2016 Reply


    The beauty of the internet is that anyone from anywhere can make it if your music is good enough and you work at it hard enough.

    Good luck.


Davis - March 2, 2016 Reply

Hi Ian

Great information!

I am a producer that has been working with 2 artists for a little over a year. We are finally getting to the point where you spoke of in your article (a sound is happening, visuals are coming together) we are truly finding who they are as artists.

Both artists have a new collection of material ready to release.

I however don’t have a ton of connections. We have been focusing on building the “vibe” over the last year.

A solo female artists do you think it is as important to get them doing as many shows as possible to start expanding their audience?

Or should we continue with videos and building online?


If you are just starting the process of making connections and the goal is to get a relationship with financing your indie how do you suggest starting?

Thank you for your time.

    Ian - March 2, 2016 Reply

    Hi Davis

    I’ve checked them both out and they seem yo have plenty of promise. The material in both cases is a little alternative and quirky but there’s some quality.

    The answer to all three questions is really the same – keep doing what you’re doing and do lots more of it!

    You have to create heat.

    To do that you must keep building the online presence which you seem to be doing quite well on Facebook, Soundcloud and Instagram. BUT, you also need to build a website for them and collect emails of the early adopters – the potential superfans.

    The YouTube channel for Scarlet is a good start but the most recent cover on there – a Lana song – isn’t going to win any new fans. The production of the track isn’t up to scratch. If you’re going to do covers they need to be timely and on point. They don’t need to be full productions necessarily (although that is great). A single mike and acoustic guitar is fine if well recorded. And, if you’re gonna do them, do them ….a lot!

    I’d also try reaching out to music blogs…a lot. And try to collaborate with remixers with some success – for example, those that get support from YouTube promoter channels.

    Every artist with good quality material can set themselves up with a release schedule these days but doing it and then promoting the shit out of each track / single to blogs, online, local and college radio etc requires a massive effort. But making that effort consistently is what creates opportunities.

    Tie this all up into a pre-release drive to build growth and get, say, 1000 emails for each artist of people that care. That gives you something to show investors / labels etc.

    If live is feasible then I’d definitely add that to the mix as that’s where your local scene networking can begin. Every gig is a learning experience for the artist and can only help them improve.

    But, website, email list, lots more promotional push and planned campaigns is the main thing for the stage you’re at.

    Hope that helps.


joseph - May 6, 2016 Reply

sir,the problem is recording the song.I have written lots of songs but no money to record them. what do I do?

    Ian - May 6, 2016 Reply

    Hi Joseph

    You have to find a way to record them. No-one is going to take you seriously if you haven’t managed that. Get hold of and learn to use some recording software yourself, or find someone local or online that you can work with. It shouldn’t be that difficult to find someone who has access to basic recording set-up.

    Good luck.


Shireen Padha - May 27, 2016 Reply

Hey Ian
I’m Shireen i just wanted to ask that im a singer and song writer as well so only problem that arise is i cant play any instrument so can u plz tell me how could i send in a demo if i cant play any instrument

Thank You

    Ian - May 27, 2016 Reply

    Shireen – I’m pretty sure there are comments in this post about this exact problem.

    The bottom line is you’ll need to find musicians and producers to work with.

    There will be colleges in your area where you can find people or perhaps recording studios. You can also find collaboration sites where people look to pair up, such as – but there are many so have a search for those.

    Getting a demo recorded is the most basic of hurdles – you just need to hustle and find people to work with – it shouldn’t be that difficult.

    Good luck.


Peter Farkasovsky - July 3, 2016 Reply

Hi Ian,

I have written a bunch of songs and would love to send a demo (3-4 songs) to record labels. However, the songs I chose for a demo are up-tempo/EDM and there is no way I can produce and adequately arrange them myself since I haven’t studied music engineering. What I can do at most is play them on a piano, sing and record them in Garage Band, although I doubt that such an arrangement for those (eventually EDM) songs would ever interest any producer, not even a record label manager. I don’t wanna pick slower/simpler songs either, because I just feel like such songs will not be my best shot. Do you have any piece of advice for me?

    Ian - July 4, 2016 Reply

    Hi Peter,

    I think the only advice for your situation is that you need to find a collaborator who you can work with to get your songs into the genre you want – a producer.

    There are endless ways to do this – contacting people on SoundCloud, looking at music colleges online or in your area or trying some of the music collaboration sites:

    You’re right that it’s unlikely anyone, especially in that genre, at a label is going to take simple demos seriously. You’ll need to find the right person even at a producer level to believe in what you have.

    Or, of course, you could get stuck into learning some production skills yourself….

    Hope that helps.


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