Record Labels That Accept Unsolicited Demos

8 May

This week, top searches leading people to this site mostly had to do with labels that accept unsolicited demos, record companies that take demo submissions, and so on. As I mentioned in a previous article, Unsolicited Music Demos: How to Get in the Door of a Record Label, the reality is that no one is soliciting to these demos.

Here’s a bit of reality: If you are looking for a list of record labels that accept unsolicited demos, then you probably aren’t record label material. The ironic twist is that you are most appealing to record labels when you don’t need them.

Think about this in terms of dating.

Sending an unsolicited press kit and CD to a record label is like asking for a marriage proposal when the prospect has no idea who you are. While that kind of thing might work in certain situations (mail-order brides, etc.), most reasonable people would not give you the time of day.

Getting a dream record contract is like getting your soul-mate: it usually happens because you know a bit about each other first, you have mutual friends who introduce you, you’ve worked on something together, or you have some kind of light introduction first.

Some other things to consider:

  • People can smell desperation miles away.
  • No one likes a cocky jerk who is obnoxiously annoying
  • It’s always better to let the other person do the talking rather than waste their time with your bragging
  • Your reputation often proceeds you; if they know nothing about you, walls automatically come up

How would you apply these concepts to getting a record label? For that matter, you could apply these concepts to anyone in the music industry: publicists, booking agents, a manager, promoter, etc.

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31 Responses to “Record Labels That Accept Unsolicited Demos”

  1. javaughn July 16, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    im a singer i can imitate miley cyrus adele, chris brown and rihanna i deserve to be heard im not desperate but i jst want to be heard and make something of my self if u heard me u would be speechless this is my step father’s number 0115995206084 call

    • imasocoo August 19, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

      Please God tell me you didn’t just write that. Did you not real the article? You can forget about becoming a famous singer if this your mentality. Jesus Christ you’re also bragging about imitating those pop singers and putting your cellphone number up? NO

      • Simon Tam August 19, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

        That was my initial response as well…but I think the user is just searching for things to spam in hopes of receiving a call.

  2. David September 20, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    I can sing country cris brown the cab. And r Kelly Zach brown band and a few other people

  3. Andy Jones September 24, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    While I agree with the content of this and the previous post, I disagree with the way in which your observations are framed. For example, your comparison of seeking a record contract to courting a potential mate implies that one should assume some kind of benevolent status upon record labels and their executives and representatives, and that there is something unreasonable about expecting support and compensation solely for one’s creative efforts. I get that this is how it works in the real world, but if we are in the business of copping to reality, here is the way I believe this truism should be framed:

    Much like the broader society, record labels and those in the music business favor certain personality types over others. I’ve read a number of other blogs and articles written on this subject informing musicians that in order to succeed in the music industry they need to build a substantial network and work really hard to have a magnetic personality as if, A) this should somehow be expected as part of the work from the get-go, and B) this is even possible for a number of musicians who could not suddenly become type A socialites if they sold all their musical ability to the devil. Moreover, as you correctly indicate, money is a major concern, but I would argue that the social magnetism desired in a performer in the first place underlies this, and that the two are in large part one in the same. In other words, magnetism=money, and thus in searching for magnetism, record labels search for money.

    Don’t get me wrong, I understand that everything you have described is (sadly) exactly the way it goes. But you seem to be suggesting that deep down those with the power to grant record labels and an access to the industry are really just super busy talent seekers and that it is right and just that musicians accommodate them. When really, considering that effective publicizing and creative work, though not mutually exclusive, are not really one in the same, either, it is not unreasonable for musicians to wish to avoid all the bullshit hoop-jumping that constitutes the music industry, regardless of how necessary it is to jump through those hoops.

    • Simon Tam September 25, 2013 at 9:39 am #

      Hi Andy,

      When I compare pitching to courtship, it’s mainly to highlight the importance of making a first and lasting impression and has nothing to do with the power balance or dynamics of teh relationship itself.

      I’ve worked with several major labels (as well as major-label signed artists( and I can attest that while yes, there are some socialites that do rub elbows and do well, there’s an equal number of awkward, introverted, or non-social artists who just want to work on their craft. Certainly, many pop-artists are groomed in a way to help them develop a certain image or at least cultivate better relationships, but there’s a large variety of personality types out there.

      There is a certain amount of luck required…but you’ll find that the harder you work, the more luck you’ll acquire.

  4. Scott Schmitt October 16, 2013 at 8:05 am #

    ya.. it’s all who you know..at this Late time in the game I need that “Ya my wife went to college with so n so’s wife she talks to her at least once a month I can ask her to send it, she’ll do it she’s really cool!”…ya that’s my only hope! ha!

  5. ARAT October 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    Getting tired of seeing these ‘bloggers’ linking this to searches for actual record labels that are looking for that material.

    Your opinions aren’t even useful because you’re obviously on here writing in hopes to be noticed, yourself. If you knew as much as you claim on this blog, you would be IN the music industry.

    No one on here should pay any attention to this blogger. Obviously its here to garner a ‘hit’ for the link, and since it wasted my time, they can fuck off.

    Don’t listen to anyone who treads on your dream, regardless of the struggle. You never know what’s waiting behind any door.

    • Simon Tam October 23, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

      Keep on dreaming – that’s your right. But as someone who as in the music industry, it’s my responsibility to tell the truth. And yes, I am in the music industry as a musician, promoter, label owner, and booking agency. I’ve worked with Sony BMG, Capital Records, Sub Pop, etc. I’ve personally played over 1,500 shows across North America and Europe as a professional musician and I’ve been featured on close to 2,000 radio stations, tv shows, and magazines. Again, it’s all advice based on my experience, but if you have useful insights as someone in the music industry, then start your own blog and share with the world. I do this as a free service for readers, on my own time, to help aspiring musicians – not to “get notice.”

      • Dustin Thomas April 8, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

        Thank you so much! I loved hearing this tonight..,I will take it to heart. <3

      • Mark Thomas June 9, 2014 at 10:28 am #

        I’m a little late here Simon, but your comment said “to help aspiring musicians.” I get that it’s what you’re trying to do, but this article comes off more as a “give up” sentiment. Aside from telling people that they’re not going to make it, I really didn’t catch much “help.” In it. A good thing perhaps would be to let people know (since you are in the industry), if they shouldn’t send press kits or demos to labels, then what should they do to get an A&R rep’s attention?

        I’ve personally seen many bands that put on an incredible show, have a great image, great music, very solid musicians, pack venues and yet….they garner no attention from A&R reps, because the reps don’t even know they exist. So helpful may be letting people know how you get their attention if not by sending them press kits or demos.

        I personally would think, that with the invent or “re-invent” of the 360 deal, most labels today would be nurturing the concept of musicians sending unsolicited demos/press kits since most bands are doing more for themselves these days without labels. Labels are gradually becoming nothing more than “service providers” for bands that are working hard and gaining success on their own.

      • Simon Tam June 9, 2014 at 10:45 am #

        Hi Mark, perhaps you missed the link in the beginning of the article (I probably should have made it more clear). As I mentioned in this post, it’s a follow up to another piece that details what to do when people aren’t listening. As I mention in that piece:

        These are the tried and true steps to take in order to get anyone in the music industry’s attention

        1. Tour often: After that, keep touring.
        2. Get plenty of media hype: reviews, interviews, show previews, etc. You’ll need a publicist for this and, often times, a lot of touring.
        3. Build a large following: That usually comes from step 1 & 2.
        4. Get Licensing: Most licensing agents are looking for acts with a lot of momentum. In other words, acts who are touring often and who get media attention.
        5. Learn how to pitch your band
        6. Run your band like a business and prove you can make money, that you are a good investment

        (Plus this is in content of a series of over two dozen articles that elaborates these points – from getting sponsors to labels, it’s a very similar process). Here’s the link: http://laststopbooking.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/unsolicited-music-demos-how-to-get-in-the-door-of-a-record-label/

  6. Khalil Astro October 28, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

    Check out my freestyle! Feel free to comment what you think

  7. Katz November 11, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    I’m a rapper/musician from south africa johannesburg,been rapping since 2002…rap is the craft that I’ve mastered,I don’t have much of a buzz yet & I aint known yet but I’m working on that…I wanna go international with my music & perhaps touch people through my rhymes..only problem is that I aint got the loot to pay publicists etc…not that I’m making any excuses…being the only kid my late mother had imma do whatever it takes to make her spirit proud…what advice do u have for me

    • Simon Tam November 11, 2013 at 11:50 am #

      Keep on reading and learning from music career websites. There’s a lot of great advice out there, even for those with limited resources or finances

  8. LEMAINE J.MARIE November 14, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    HELLO, MY NAME IS LEMAINE IM WRITING THIS MESSAGE TO LET YOU GUYS KNOW THAT IT IS ALOT OF TALENT IN THIS WORLD.BUT IN THIS WORLD TODAY IT IS HARD TO GET DISCOVERED.I IM FROM BELLE GLADE FLORIDA 33430 AND I IM TRY TO PERSUADE YOU GUYS TO LOOK INTO A ARTISTS THAT GOES BY THE NAME OF PROBLEM CHILD.OR D.CATO HE IS A HARD WORKER AND A AMBITIOUS RAPPER.HE MAKES MUSIC FOR ALL RACES.HE MAKES MUSIC THAT CAN MAKE YOU GUYS A LOT OF MONEY.IF YOU GUYS WOULD JUST LOOK INTO HIS WORK.I KNOW THAT YOU MAY NOT KNOW THIS ARTIST BUT HE IS WELL KNOWN IN BELLE GLADE YOU CAN FOUND SOME OF HIS MUSIC ON YOUTUBE/PROBLEM CHILD OR WACK PACK ENT.I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.AND I HOPE YOU ALL LOOK INTO THIS ARTISTS WORK.AND FOR MORE INFO CALL 5613512490.THANKS AGAIN

  9. NAYTO November 18, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

    Listen to some of my music here http://www.reverbnation.com/nayto/songs

  10. Shannon Kinsella November 27, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

    Hey, my name is Shannon Kinsella and I was wondering if I sent you a demo of mine could you give me some feedback please and some advice on how to make it into the music industry,its always been a dream of mine so if if i sent you a demo id really like some feedback and advice please you wont regret it, really hope to hear from you soon!
    Thanks..

    • Simon Tam November 27, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

      If you are interested in some feedback and advice, then I would recommend you set up a consulting session appointment. We can go over your goals, come up with a plan, answer any questions

  11. Alfred Earl January 12, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

    I have a lot of new songs looking out for a record deal.

  12. Justin Taylor January 25, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

    Hi my name is Justin alias “FLAME”. I have a ton of music and I’m looking to be heard by serious scouts. Basically, my craft speaks for itself. I’ve been a hometown hip hop artist for quite some time now. Been at since 13. I’m 27 now. Just looking to expand. Can I get any Positive feedback on this? Thanks

    • Simon Tam January 25, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

      Hi,

      Here’s the truth: Artists’ craft and music don’t speak for themselves. If they did, we wouldn’t have need for publicists, social media, marketing, labels or anything else. Some feedback is to learn how to pitch your music – figure out who you are audience is and how to reach them. Learn how to shape your pitch based on those elements and you’ll get much more from your efforts – certainly more than just leaving comments on a random blog about it.

      • officialmikethomas May 10, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

        Every so often tough,you hear about an artist or group who purposely used an “I don’t give an F”, approach. These are artists who might solicit a request to send in music but they will basically act not interested, by saying things such as, “we don’t care if you sign us or not,we’re too cool for your crapy label anyways”. I also remember in the Come as you are Nirvana book, it was revealed that Kurt would send demos cassettes to labels and smear a bunch of buggers onto his cover letter. And I think at one point they either also included a used Condom or they put something like Mayo all in it. That approach might have gotten something like a “these guys are really strange,we should meet them”,response from your average small Indie label. Probably not today though. It seems like r the mainstream corporate machine has infiltrated the “indie” scene these days. So pulling any kind of stunts might not get you anywhere But then again it could also be the one thing that made your band stand out from the dozens of other submissions received that week.

        I think with todays internet, a basic Introductory email along with a link to stream some of the artists music should be fine,no? It gives the label a choice to listen to it at their convenience or, to not even listen at all if they choose so. More often than not,for fear of maybe missing out something big; the label’s A&R will at least give your demo a skim listen. At that point the music has to now do all the work. Hopefully there will be enough substance to draw the listener in getting them to listen to more than just quick snippets.

        That being said,you want to email a link to your music page? What is a good approach in your opinion that will convince a label rep that you aren’t just another typical submission? What type of approach or even wording would you suggest using in your email submission? How are you going to get that A&R to follow your link rather than trash bin your email?

        The hardest part seems like actually getting someone from the label to actually follow through and listen. In the old days label A&R’s were sent submissions that were on an actual physical,tangible media. They would have a stack of submissions always starring back at them. A constant reminder like a stack of dirty dishes. Today on the other hand, an email with a link can get lost in the shuffle. It may go to a person’s Junk folder,accidentally get deleted, or could just be overlooked lost inside an enormous inbox full of mail. There are the small risk such as those,but there convenience,and efficient speed more than make it worth while.

        Another big question. Does it make a big difference if say you the artists were the one to send the submission emails? Or do you recommend having the email come from a representative of the artist? It could either be someone else or you could simply just word the email in such a way? Would you also recommend sending a first intro email without music? First,asking permission to send them a link to your songs? It may seem like the polite thing to do ,even if they plainly state that they accept unsolicited material? It might also give the label the impression that you were maybe dealing slightly bigger labels who typically only accept solicited material?
        Thanks.

      • Simon Tam May 10, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

        Hi Mike,

        Looks like your big question was more like a half dozen questions :)

        Relationships matter, it’s always good to have someone with credibility send something in, whether it is an artist, a manager, a booking agent, an attorney, or even a critic. It helps but it isn’t a deal-breaker. What actually matters more than the demo itself or who sends it is if the submission answers the question: Will this artist make the label money? If so, how? Labels don’t want to take a risk, no matter their size. Some gimmicks can get people in the door but once they are there, they need the goods to back it up: a solid fan base, good press, and a very robust tour schedule. In other words, like the post says, get so much buzz going about the band that they can’t ignore the artist. In the end, that’s all that matters – not the music (unfortunately) and not the tricks that get people to look at a demo or click on a link.

  13. Serenity February 20, 2014 at 5:50 am #

    excellent issues altogether, you just gained a brand new reader. What may you recommend in regards to your put up that you made some days ago? Any certain?

    • Simon Tam February 20, 2014 at 7:21 am #

      Hi, I’m not quite sure I understand your question. What do you mean by my put up?

  14. Tae Hustle April 1, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    Hey everyone im a las vegas local rap artist tryning ro get views plays likes and comments on my music please if you have anything to say about the music good or bad please comment it im tryning to get serious answers about my music you can listen at THA REAL TAE HUSTLE thanks for you guys time

  15. artisdead April 30, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    gee – nice to hear someone admit its all about who you know.

  16. Bhavesh joshi Bj July 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    a very good morning.. myself bhavesh joshi Bj.. lyricist of my club named yoyo club.. we launched an video on YouTube.. a documentary against smoking and drinking.
    and we want to sell oue song at cheapest price soo dat with that money we can make our new song.. a party song.written by me..
    please contact.. 08269460201…
    Bj.
    -regard’s…

  17. Dallas Q July 13, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    Wow, I think maybe I should just correspond with some A & R people for a while before even pitching any songs. Over time, maybe they’ll be like “Hey, weren’t you a songwriter or something?”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Record Labels Accepting Demos | Last Stop Booking - September 6, 2013

    […] likely, these results are landing on this post: Record Labels That Accept Unsolicited Demos. Other times, it might be this one: Unsolicited Music Demos: How to Get in the Door of a Record […]

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