Tips for unsigned musicians
One of the things which I remember most about college is that there was a great number of artists and a greater number of musicians emerging every day. Working at a coffee shop in a highly artistic and musically inclined section of the city did nothing but increase the amount of aspiring individuals that I met on a daily basis. Thinking back on these people, I have to wonder how many of these musicians reached his or her dream to be sign, and how many of these individuals fell by the wayside or are still struggling to reach that dream? I would sadly tend to believe that most of these have gone unnoticed. An unsigned musician would do well to maximize the potential for exposure and recognition. Here are a few tips to help.
Don’t be a copycat
The reason why so many artists fail to be remembered is due to the ever growing trend of trying to sound like a popular artist. To a musician, this is shooting oneself in the foot. An artist that is already popular and has hit albums has already gotten the edge on that genre or style. Someone that is looking to sign an artist is not looking to find a carbon copy of an existing artist. Where it is true that there are some similarities between artists, all major signed artists have a style that is unique to that individual. Stay true to yourself and your music. One cannot expect to build a music career by piggybacking on the success of others.
Avoid the clichés and other sounds associated with other artists and tracks
Where there are great uses for sound loops and stock music, one should realize that there are certain sounds that are cliché. For example: Think on the boy band songs of the 90s. All of these tracks had that same shoo pop shoo pop sound in the background. Yes, there are a few boy bands that are still around, but one will find that for the most part these bands failed. Why? Because the sound became cliché, redundant, and dull. Another example would be what I refer to as the shoes in the dryer sound. Usually used by inexperienced individuals, this loop takes a base beat and repeats the sound over and over. The result is a base beat that is a replica of shoes in the dryer. Where the base beat desired may have required a loop, the result is annoyance.
Apart from cliché sounds, one should avoid using those things which remind the listener of another artist. If I were to put a “What?!” “OK” into my lyrics, one may accuse me of trying to copy Little John. If I were to do the power cord sequences of Metallica, one may label me as a wannabe. Neither of these are good labels for an aspiring musician. Therefore, one should be extremely careful in how he or she presents his or her music. Use loops sparingly, and avoid diverting one’s attention from your track. The last thing an unsigned musician wants to hear is “Great track, that sounds just like….”
Get your music out there
It always comes as a great annoyance when I see unsigned musicians that refuse to do the footwork to get signed. Everything worth doing has work involved. One cannot simply make the music with the hopes that it will be picked up. If one is waiting for this to happen then one might as well quit now, it will not happen. Some ways in which to get your music out into the public include:
• Put a track on a royalty free site – Royalty free music sights are a great way to quickly get your music recognized. By offering one track at a low rate, the artist increases the probability that someone will search for other music offered or buy the whole cd. Remember, you are not mainstream as of yet. However, if the demand for your music increases then so will your chances to be signed. The stock music industry is booming, so now is the time to make money from your music in this growing marketplace.
• Send out Demo Tracks Like Halloween Candy - Of course by this it is not intended that you should wait till October to do so. The philosophy is that by offering demos to everyone you can whether they be producers or just an individual you meet at the grocery store, one is greatly increasing the recognition of YOUR name. This being stated, one should realize that out of the demo cds that are sent out 90% of these will not get any response. The market is too big and the majority of people willing to sign musicians only listen to the first minute to two minutes.
• Follow up on Demos given to potential signers – If sending your demo to a recording studio one needs to treat it as if it is a resume (for that is essentially what it is). Do a follow up and ensure that your name is kept in his or her mind. When the topic of who to sign as a new musician comes up it is easier to come up with a name from one’s memory than to go through a stack of demo CDs.
• Contact the radio stations – many stations will play tracks from unsigned musicians so long as the track is worth playing. Send out a demo to all the stations that play your genre of music. Do callbacks and go to the station (in professional attire) to ensure it gets on the air.
In all one best maximizes the potential for being signed when he or she maximizes the exposure and potential to be remembered. Avoiding looking like a novice, but a professional musician is the key. Be diligent and unrelenting and success is sure to find you eventually.