HELLO STAGE BLOG

Tips on Finding a Record Label

Many musicians have recorded a master and they think it deserves to be published for its artistic value. But why it is so difficult to find a label? How to get in touch with labels? What is the difference between a label and a graphic/recording studio? Why are so many albums published and not yours?

Firstly let me say the easiest thing: there are too many musicians (and labels) in comparison to the audience. The most difficult step is to make people know that we are here, and once people know about us, be sure that someone else wants to take our place… Have you ever noted that we all remember the great names of the past but at the present almost nobody is remebered in the history of music? The reason is not because today's musicians do not deserve it, but rather because unfortunately the market is not the same as of the fabulous years from '50 to '90 with LP and later with CDs. More than two generations loving classical music have died and they have not been replaced by young people: the final result is that the buyers of our CDs are fewer and fewer. Also the public in the concert halls and in the theatre is not the same as it was in the past.

Even if classical music has always had fewer followers if compared to rock-pop-commercial music, it has always been seen as something sacral that deserves respect. Now, also the most important theatres and concerts halls, as well as the entertainment performances in festivals, are frequently only a pastime during hot summer nights or an occasion for the upper class to attend a grand gala. This means that people who assist live performances are not the same people that buy the CD in the CD shops and, as stated above, the buyers of physical CDs are declining.

This has forced many CD shops to close and this means less opportunities for the buyers to see your CDs!

After so many bad topics, everybody should ask: why recording a CD? how do I reach the market?

The first serious consideration is the following: anybody cna learn the secret of a magic spell, but there are some suggestions that make the difference if you want to propose your idea to a label.

  • - Beside the undoubtable artistic value, always think if the repertoire you have recorded can reach the "borader" public and not only the specialists of your instrument. Also, think if the same repertoire has many other recordings available on the market. In this case, even if your master is extraordinary, it’s harder to be published. Always remember that if you are proposing something composed by yourself is almost a miracle finding a label.
  • - Mostly, labels receive a ready master and then they let you know if it is of their interest. It is normal: it’s like a writer who wants a publishing house to print his book: first he finishes the book, then he submits its opera to the drafting and only later the publishing house decides if it is going ahead with an agreement or not. In some cases it happens that the labels record the master through their own sound engineers, but its harder to get this to happen with the first cooperation.
  • - If you have not recorded the album, but you want to test the water around you, get in touch with labels at any time and try to understand if they can be interested in that repertoire for the future.
  • - Despite artists probably knowing almost the name of the majors, there are many other serious independent labels. Search on the internet or go to your favorite CD shop online and seek out labels which are for sale. In this way you are pretty sure that also your disc will be probably sold there. Almost all labels have their own website: go through it and try to think if you would like to record for any of them. The high quality of the website does not always reflect the seriousness of the label but it helps. Have a look on how many albums it has in its catalogue and for how many years it has been on the international market.
  • - If you see that a label that has many physical distributors it is a good signal but remember that the most important countries are no more than 8-10 max.
  • - Digital download and streaming is a good way to promote and distribute your music but do not trust in those saying you can spread your album digitally on your own over the internet: anybody can give something for nothing and you need somebody that follows you in this matter… remember that everything digital is almost out of your direct control and you would be one among hundreds artists anyway.
  • - There are graphic and recording studios that propose artists to record a CD at a low price… This is not what it means to be under a catalogue of a serious Label. The choice between the these two alternatives depends on what you want for your recording, what type of product you expect.
  • - Frequently, labels asks to the artist to buy copies of the CD. This is not a way to pay the costs a label has to face upfront, this is frequently the only way to release an album because the sales of the traditional distribution are never so high. That’s why in some cases labels ask for a contribution. Be sure that this do not mean that all the masters are accepted because the artist buy some copies!
  • - By contrast, do not trust in those who required 3-4-5 thousands of euros to help you in making your dream come true. It’s too much and this does not help your album to be better known. In this case, it is likely that your masterwas up against another one with the same weight. That's why you probably have thought at least once: "Why has this bad album has been published and mine has not?".

Last but not least… it’s not easy to find the right label but despite the crisis there still are some serious ones out there. Just remember that artists are artists and labels are labels… every part has its work! If you are a musician, you are free to propose your ideas, it is your right to be aware about any doubts you have, but… if you give your trust in a label, remember that the label does the same to you, and be faithful about its job and its decisions.

Every recording is a point of arrival of the sensibility of an artist in a precise moment of their career and life. If an artist hopes to gain many money from the publication of his CD, he is mistaken, even if they can at least cover the costs of recordings. Also great conductors or well known players do not sell hundreds and hundreds of copies of a single box: even if you do not find a label, a recording is a fundamental business card for your career and it is especially a journey into yourself with an unique and extraordinary partner: the music!

These are the most important suggestions I can give you thanks to my experience in Urania Records.

Noemi Manzoni

Follow Urania Records on Hello Stage!
Author: Noemi Manzoni
Comments [1]
Wendelin Bitzan - 2016-03-19 22:21
Important subject, Noemi, and good to hear an opinion from a label manager. But, to add just one thing, claiming that »everything digital is almost out of your direct control« seems not quite appropriate to me. A recent article from VAN magazine sheds some light on the relevance of present-day classical music streaming: https://van-us.atavist.com/streamed-or-pirated
Finally, I regret that your article has quite a number of language mistakes. I'd suggest to have it proofread by a native speaker.
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