Being represented by a label or manager are things thought to signify an artist’s success, so it makes sense why so many musicians spend their valuable time and resources trying to get represented and signed. But the ritual of crafting thoughtful pitches and sending them off into the ether rarely results in bands landing a record deal or enthusiastic manager, even if their music is good.
There’s a few reasons why these pitches usually get ignored, but it mainly comes down to the fact that successful labels and managers want to discover talent themselves, not be sold on it by reading about it through an email. The people in the music industry with the expertise and resources to actually move your music forward want to hear and see your music in action before considering taking a risk on you. Instead of banging your head trying to pitch to labels and managers, here’s what you should be doing:
If you’re a regular reader of the ReverbNation blog, you already know how risky and frustrating DIY touring can be. But if you’re looking for a way to impress label scouts and managers, maintaining a regular touring presence is a great way to do it. Bands who tour regularly are taken more seriously than those who don’t because of the work and sacrifice involved. Being on the road is an indicator that you take what you do seriously and are working towards a building a career out of your music. Thousands of thoughtful email pitches likely won’t deliver a fraction of the impact that spending a couple of months touring will.
Writing and releasing thoughtful music
This is an obvious point, but it’s worth talking about because so many young artists miss it. It’s human nature to want success without hard work, but if you spend more energy pitching your music than writing and producing, you’re wasting your time. Without incredible music and some indicators that you’re going to be successful, no manager or label will want to spend their time on you. And who can blame them? Industry professionals are in the business of making money promoting great music. How well the artists they work with perform determines whether they earn money or not. Your job as a musician is to create the very best music you can. Sticking to that role by consistently putting out great music is your best shot at catching a manager or label’s attention.
Creating interesting auxiliary content to promote your music
If you want to devote time and resources promoting your music, you’ll get more mileage out of experimenting with photography, video-making, and writing blogs than reaching out to labels and managers. Putting real thought into creating extra content to support your music and identity helps build a narrative crucial in generating interest in your music. From taking band photos in interesting locations to video-recording acoustic versions of your songs, creative music promotion is more likely to help your music than email pitches are.
It’s also important to break down exactly what you’re hoping a deal with a manager or label will give you. The idea of believing your music is valid or successful only if you’re signed or managed is a destructive one. If making music is something you truly love to do, let writing and performing be your complete focus. You might not land a major record deal or ambitious manager, but you’ll be happy.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.