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How to get Signed vs. What to look for when signing your first artist



New labels aim to sign artists who will be great assets, and artists need to find labels that will truly invest effort. Often, new labels are unsure what to look for, and artists may not know what a label seeks. The issues often lie below the surface, which is why many feel the industry is a challenge to navigate. If this knowledge were more widespread, there would be less struggle in the business.



Is the Artist Active on Social Media?

You might think you can sign an artist without a social media presence; however, the amount of work it will take for a label to elevate the artist to a decent operating speed or following is not the best use of resources in today's digital age. Many preliminary tasks are best handled by the artist so the label can focus on their core responsibilities.


Releases Music but Doesn’t Know How to Run a Record Label

If an artist already has music released but isn’t running the label properly, this is fair ground to pick up the task as a record label to facilitate the administration work in an acquisition deal.


Does the Artist Average 100k Streams per Song or Better?

This metric might seem superficial, but for a label eager to progress, signing an artist who is just testing the waters and unsure about a music career may not be prudent. An artist who has consistently averaged 100,000 streams has demonstrated a level of seriousness worth further investigation.


Are the Artist’s Expectations Too High for What the Label Offers?

Whether you’re a new label or a label with resources in certain areas, you want to make sure the artist’s expectations can be handled by your staff and resources. Often, the artist’s expectations are too lofty and can make the label feel inadequate. However, it is important to remember that you can’t have your cake and eat it too. If an artist has lofty expectations, be sure to meet the necessary ones, and you’ll find that in the midst of working on what’s necessary, the artist will feel satisfied with the progress.


Is the Artist Under Contract with Another Record Label?

Ensure that the artist is clear of all prior agreements. This is a major problem with artists. They sign management deals that include recording clauses or sign with small labels and eventually fall out with the record label. The record label then holds the artist under a contract that they can’t negotiate an exit from, hampering their career.


Are the Records Cleared with All Creatives?

If you are securing pre-released records as part of your deal, you’ll want to make sure the artist has secured all rights to the masters and any sampled material prior to your acquisition to avoid paying a high rights transfer fee.


Does the Artist Believe in Themselves?

It’s important to know if the artist believes in themselves enough to understand why the world needs their music. They also need to know what type of music they want to deliver to the public. This type of focus shows a belief that is much stronger than an artist who just wants to make music or be famous.


Does the Artist Have Star Potential or Power?

Upon first impression, a star lights up a room. If the artist walks in the room and doesn’t light it up when you first meet them, you may have an artist but not a star.


Does the Artist Have Competent Management?

If the artist's management understands the business well and your interactions have been professional and efficient, you likely have a great liaison who can facilitate more successes for the label.


What if I Have an Amazing Undeveloped Artist?

This situation is tricky. You'll need to develop the artist's team and manage your own label simultaneously. The biggest risks here are time and the possibility of the artist getting cold feet within 6 to 12 months. You want to find an artist who has warmed up to the business a little more than undeveloped talent because it might not be worth your time.


Can the Artist Average Lower than 100K Streams?

While 100K is ideal, diversifying beyond platforms like Spotify can be beneficial. Consider artists who have reached this benchmark within the last 90 to 120 days.


How Do We Know if an Artist Believes in Themselves?

They’ll say things about their music like “People need to feel ____ when they’re doing ____ with my music.” You’ll also notice their presentation and care for themselves and their art, plus their dedication to the craft. This will be evident in the recording’s quality, their style of dress, and how they walk with confidence.



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If You Adhere to These Guidelines

Following these guidelines enhances your chances of signing an artist or being signed as one. Artists will be better prepared for the industry, and time will not be wasted on developing an artist from scratch.


If You Bypass These Guidelines

You’ll end up making your record label journey or artist journey tougher than it has to be. Time is almost always not in your favor in the music industry, whether it be time vs age, time vs music style, time vs fan attention span, and much more. These guidelines help you jump time in a sense.


Conclusion

If you were struggling with signing new artists or trying to find a label home as an artist, you now have the means to accomplish this faster. With a clear understanding of what to look for and expect, you can navigate the industry more effectively and achieve your goals.

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