How to Get Signed: Advice from a Label Manager

The Sly Persuaders by Chris Patmore

The Sly Persuaders by Chris Patmore

You’ve been creating music for a while and you think you’ve got something good going. The next step is to get signed to a label. If only it were that easy!

Don’t worry, we’ve asked the expert to give you all his top secret tips to getting signed.

Josh Cooper is Founder of Roadkill Records, London’s fastest growing DIY label focusing on quality garage, surf and psych releases and events. The label grew from ‘Roadkill’, a London monthly live music night, and launched with a limited edition cassette compilation in 2016. Now, Roadkill Records are known for sell-out shows across London and incredible vinyl and cassette releases from the UK’s most exciting new bands such as Projector and After London.

Here are Josh’s 5 top tips:

1. Be yourself

Firstly, don’t think about what a label might want you to look like / sound like and don’t try to be something you’re not. It never works. To be on the zeitgeist you need to be doing something new before you hear about it, so if you’re confident about what you do and you enjoy it then lead with that. Labels aren’t looking for you to be the next *insert hype band here* (because they’ll have seen hundreds of them), they’re looking for what’s coming next.  

After London by Chris Patmore

After London by Chris Patmore

2. Do your research

To save both parties time, research the label you approach before doing so. Make sure the music you make isn’t wildly off brand with what they do and mention it in your opening pitch. It’s always encouraging to know an artist has taken the time to familiarise themselves with your roster or what you do before beginning talks. Unfortunately, Roadkill, like every label I’m sure, receives so many emails from bands outside of genres we work with, or asking for services we don’t provide. Set yourself apart from the spammers.

3. Be informative

There’s no use contacting a label asking for a deal and nothing else (yet surprisingly this happens all the time). Include a bio, pictures, links to social media, press and tracks, private links to new releases and anything you may have accomplished yourself already. No one cares if it’s boastful, it’s better than being vague.

4. Involve yourself

If you’re in the position, involve yourself in what they do. Go to shows, take a cassette, CD or flyer with you, engage the team. Some of the most rewarding relationships we’ve built with bands have been off the back of getting to know each other personally on the live music circuit. It shows a willingness to get stuck in. I personally think it proves you’re serious about putting yourself out there. There are loads of contacts to be made and they’re best made face-to-face.

Projector by Don Blanford

Projector by Don Blanford

5. DIY as much as you can

There are so many ways you can self-release and self-manage now, you shouldn’t be getting in touch with labels until you’ve got yourself as far as you possibly can already. It’s a great learning curve, it’s rewarding and it’s totally doable. A label won’t automatically make you famous, they’ll just assist in funding and promoting you in ways you wouldn’t have been able to before. But that core fanbase, your output, image, associated bands – that’s all yours to build, and usually you need that before any record label would consider taking you on. And there are loads of funding opportunities now too. But it’s better to be in charge of yourself and have full control than signing for the sake of it. You have to be sure the label you want to work with takes you seriously, that the contracts don’t compromise what you do and that you’re comfortable with their terms. Otherwise, you’re best off on your own. 

Roadkill Records is hosting a festival 10th-11th August at The Victoria, London (sponsored by the Pistonhead Foundation). Check out the event and get tickets here: www.facebook.com/events/727208884363702/

Follow Roadkill Records on social: @roadkillrecords

Listen to the bands here:

The Sly Persuaders 

Projector 

Muertos 

After London 

Enemy of the People 

If you’re a creative looking for support, get in touch with us at www.pistonheadfoundationuk.com/support