Why do you want a record deal?
Sometimes it's the most obvious questions that don't get asked. And sometimes it's important that they get answered.
It might seem strange to be asking why anyone should want a record deal, here in the Audio Masterclass newsletter. Surely that's the aim of anyone who is into recording?
But let's ask it anyway… So why do you want a record deal?
Well personally I don't want a record deal. In my days as a songwriter and performer I went through the A&R office of just about every major record label, and every major song publisher. I had my shot and I didn't get a deal. The A&R manager at RCA gave me some good advice, but that's another story. Also it's another story how I transferred my interests to TV music.
But at least I had my chance, and how many people really put the work in that's necessary to get that chance? Just the other day I re-watched 'Coyote Ugly' – it's glossed up a little like films always are, but it's not a million miles from the truth of getting a deal. I recommend it.
The link goes to Amazon.com. If you live in the UK and have a Region 1 or multi-region DVD player, you will probably find that the US division of Amazon is cheaper if you order two DVD's or more. They're shipped from The EU so there's no import duty.
The reason why many people see the record deal as their ultimate goal is because they think that's where the money is. There is hardly any such thing as a successful band or artist without a record deal, is there? Or how would they make their money?
Well actually, there are other ways of making money from music than by selling your soul to a record label.
Indeed, if your ambition is to be a successful artist or band, then you can achieve that success by performing live. You can't do it on your own though, without the marketing muscle of a record label behind you.
What you need is to find a style of music, or a sub-branch of a popular genre, where there is a live music 'scene' going on. You might not even know about it yet. Let's take an example, just one out of many and it doesn't matter if it's not your favorite music…
In the UK, it is widely supposed that the folk music scene is dead. (The US has a folk music scene too, but it gets crowded out by the multi-million dollar backed country music industry). But that is far, far, far from the truth. There are dozens of bands and artists playing clubs and festivals up and down the country.
And – here is the important point – there is enough money in it to make a living! And the icing on the cake is that you can make your own CDs and sell them. There are artists that are totally unknown outside the scene who are selling tens of thousands of copies, most of them at their live concerts.
And then there's the merchandise. You would be amazed at what people will buy to have a souvenir of their favorite artist or band. And if they are not major label, then that makes them a little bit more special and the merchandise can be more profitable.
So you see, you don't need a record deal. And if you ever thought a deal would be a short-cut to success, well it isn't. Going it alone, with the help of a thriving 'underground' scene in a genre of music that is acceptable to you, could be the way to do it, and not have some record label A&R guy saying you can't.
Wish I'd known that when I was starting out!