How to get a recording deal

(The original version of this article was first published on the Mp3 Backing Trax website circa 2006 – 2012)

TV programs like American Idol, Pop Idol and Fame Academy have all proved two things – there’s a lot of talent out there, and anyone is capable of making the big-time.

So, if you are as ambitious as you are talented (and why shouldn’t you be), then you won’t be satisfied with earning a few measley pennies singing around local venues for the rest of your life. No, what you really want is the ultimate prize in the music business – a recording deal with one of the major recording companies (and the fame and millions that comes with it)!

So, how do you get started?

Well here’s how…

The first thing you need to do is have recordings of yourself singing. I know this sounds obvious, but it’s a waste of time telling people how good you are – either they won’t believe you or they’ll just think you’re being egotistical.

So record yourself and let them HEAR you sing.

My article on “Recording a CD to sell at gigs” will help you make an album without incurring the large costs usually involved in using recording studios.

Don’t forget that when you’ve made your recordings, always carry them around with you at all times (an iPod is ideal to do this) so you will be in a position to offer to let anyone hear you, at any time. This is very important because the music business has millions of hopefuls out there trying to do make the big-time just like you, (and the ones who make it through are simply the ones who are in the right place at the right time) so get the edge by always being prepared.

So, you’ve got your recordings in your pocket and you’re keeping a constant lookout for opportunities..what next?

Well, it’s time to promote yourself now and here’s how to do it – pay particular attention to this paragraph because the music industry today doesn’t work the way it used to so don’t listen to so called experts who claim to “know the business” – if they haven’t been around the industry in the last year they’re out of touch.

You see, many years ago artists would jump on a bus or a train down to London and walk the length of Denmark Street knocking on doors, armed with a cassette under their arm, asking to see the A&R man and hoping he’ll like them enough to give them a record deal. Many of todays big name recording artists made it famous doing just this, but that was then…this is now.

Today the big record corporations are no longer centred in one street in London. They are scattered all over the globe. Certainly, you could find out the addresses of all the main record companies and send them copies of your recording but it’s unlikely the A&R man will even receive it on his desk let alone listen to it, so don”t waste your time and money doing this.

A&R men have always been lazy and up until a year ago, their method of “discovering” new talent was just to sign new artists from smaller independant labels. Their way of thinking was that if a small label had a band already signed and they were selling a few albums, then the ground-work was already done for them. So all they had to do was “buy” the artist off the small label and their job was done.

Although this method of signing artists still exists today, it’s less popular because something even better has come along for the lazy A&R men…the internet.

With the internet, it’s now possible for an artist to get exposure without the backing of a big major record label.

So all you need is a website with some pics, a bio and a few sound samples of you singing, right?


An insider at one of the biggest UK labels revealed to me that in the last year the A&R men have been using the internet to find new talent – but they haven’t been looking around singers or bands websites and listening to their audio samples. No, instead they’ve been keeping a constant eye on…wait for it….Myspace (update – now it’s Facebook).

If they spot you on Myspace (edit: Facebook) and you have 1,000 or more friends, then they know you already have a considerable fan base so have proved your talent and popularity.

Not only are you just ripe for signing, because you’re not already with a small independent label, they don’t even have to spend money “buying” you out of your present contract thus saving them money.

So, it’s time to take the bull by the horns and go to the next level in your career. Get some songs recorded and get yourself as many friends on Myspace (edit: Facebook) as you can.

There’s no guarantee that the A&R men will be beating a path to your door, but it will certainly give you the edge on all the others who are also trying to make the big-time…and in the music business, you need to use every trick in the book to stay ahead of the curve.

Remember, just as a burglar will walk by a house with a dummy alarm box on the wall and rob the house next door instead, A&R men will always go for the easiest option too, so take advantage of this and make their job easier for them…that’s what they want, and they may just thank you by making you a star and writing you a big fat cheque!