The Death of the Record Deal… Sort of

In case you haven’t noticed, the music business is functioning entirely different from the way it did only a short decade ago. Gone are the massive budgets and sleazy A&R guys talking up a big game. What remains are independent artists pumping out quality content to those that matter most; the fans. And that’s really good news.

The new music business model works a little differently. Actually, it’s a lot more efficient and becoming more so each day. Artists no longer have to contend with trying to setup appointments at some overpriced New York or LA office to get a meeting with label fat-cats to showcase their music. Especially when most record execs will likely listen to the first 15 seconds of a song and decide that “it’s not right for them.”

Nowadays artists must build their own fan base, and create opportunities for themselves. Easier said than done? Absolutely, but it’s also far more rewarding. For one, you control the creative process 100%. There’s no pressure to commercialize your art for the sake of forcing sales. That’s something your A&R rep would insist on had you signed  with their label. They need to recoup costs, after all.

Another big factor is that a timeline based requirement for new material is eliminated. This is often overlooked by most artists. Standard recording contracts usually stipulate time guidelines for project completions. However, what if a band isn’t inspired to create any new material just yet?  Or, what if they’re still interested in pushing their last project to a wider audience. A record deal entirely eliminates an artist’s choice to exercise that option.

So where does that leave us?

The way I see it, the formula for success is simple, but not easy. If you’re truly passionate about your music, I see no reason for you not to achieve a level of success that you can be proud of.  For your consideration, I’ve broken down the process into 3 easy steps below:

  1. Create as many social network site accounts as possible. Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud, Reverbnation, etc.
  2. Create new material as much as you can, and post it on ALL of your social sites – consistently.
  3. Interact with other members of the above mentioned social sites. (Don’t spam them with “Check out my new single” type emails). Simply interact with them.

…and that’s all folks! That’s the secret formula.

Eventually, when you follow the above 3 steps long enough, people will start recognizing you and your music. Out of those people, some will love it and some will hate it. Those who hate it are of no concern. Those who love it will eventually end up doing the bulk of your future promotions – at no cost.  And then the A&R reps will come knocking because they’ll smell dollars. Only this time you’ll be in complete control of how your record deal will be structured.  Most importantly, you’ll be able to control your creative direction (since your sound is already established as being commercially viable).

Recording contracts have their place, but only after the artist is ready. Get your online stats up, and add some value to what you do. When labels see that you’ve attracted enough ears and eyeballs, they’ll start pitching you to sign on with them. This is how things should’ve been since day one. But the allure of fast money and market manipulation has kept artists at a major disadvantage throughout the years. That’s obviously changed now. We can finally start utilizing record labels as the resource they are, while completely maintaining our creative integrity.

Gene Ometrik - has been producing music for over 20 years. He has been involved in music placements for National TV ad campaigns, as well as indie label start ups. He currently hosts an audio production channel on Youtube.