Chrissy’s Tips for Getting Record Labels to Notice Your Music
Chrissy’s Tips for Getting Record Labels to Notice Your MusicFebruary 5, 2021
What’s the best way to send people your music? Maybe you’re an amazing producer in search of a label, or maybe you’ve got a new release lined up and you want all the big DJs to play it. I’ve put out some records, run a few labels (Cool Ranch & The Night Owl Diner}, sent a kajillion demos, and made every dumb mistake in the book along the way. Here’s my guide to the do’s and don’ts of demo emails, so you can get the best results. Don’t forget to mention me in your debut album’s liner notes!
Get together four of your best, most polished demo tracks
A demo should be a small amount of your absolute best music. Your art is valuable, so give them the little free sample spoon from the ice cream shop, not the whole cone. Label folks are overworked/underpaid and will probably only flip through a couple tracks anyway, so just send FOUR songs max. If they like those, they’ll ask for more. DO NOT, under any circumstances, send a “rough draft” or any unfinished songs; labels only sign finished music.
Send 44/16 .aifs and/or 320kbps .mp3s
Sample Rate and Bit Depth are boring, complicated topics and I’m not even going to go into it because there are loads of better explanations online from smarter people than me.
To make your files user-friendly, set your DAW’s export settings to:
— Sample Rate: 44100
— Bit Depth: 16
— File Type: .aiff
Don’t send .wav files; they don’t include metadata (the artist info, title, etc. that pops up when you load the track into Rekordbox, Serato, iTunes, etc.). Likewise, avoid 24bit files or 48kHz files (and higher), and weird file types like .flac or .ogg, because they won’t work on all models of CDJ.
The downside to .aifs is that they’re big. You might want to also make 320kbps .mp3s, in case the recipient wants smaller files.
Get your metadata right
Once a month I see a DJ on Twitter saying, “can whoever sent me a track called ‘demo01’ please get in touch? I want to release this but I don’t know who you are!”
Tagging your files with correct metadata is the best way to prevent this tragedy. Open your files in Rekordbox, Serato, iTunes, or whatever program you use, and fill in the Artist, Title, Genre, etc. You can even put your email address or socials under the “Comment” or “Composer” heading. If you add artwork, keep it small (under 1500×1500 pixels)—huge images puff up the filesize.
Fix up your filenames
Likewise, your file names should contain your name and any other necessary info. If it’s a demo it might look like: Chrissy-SongTitle-Demo.aif
And a DJ promo might also have the record label or release date:
Chrissy-I_Can_Feel_It_[Cool Ranch October 23].aif
The folder or .zip file (and all subfolders) should also have the artist name in their title: do not send a folder just called “DEMOS” or “MASTERS” or “MP3S”. It’s better to be redundant than to have a label that loves your demo but can’t remember who sent it!
Make a streaming link and a download link
Upload your clearly-named, metadata-tagged files as a private Soundcloud playlist with downloads enabled, and also as a Dropbox folder (with your artist name in the folder title). Labels and DJs who want to listen before they download can use the Soundcloud link, and those who want to download now and listen later can use Dropbox. (I chose these two services because their mobile apps are more user-friendly than the competition, but hopefully, the others step up their game by the time you’re reading this…)
Find your target
Make a list of labels/DJs you want to contact and look at their websites, social media, Soundcloud, Resident Advisor, and Discogs pages to find their contact info. If you don’t see it, message them and ask—you’ll be surprised how many reply (and the ones who don’t are probably jerks who don’t listen to demos anyway). They might also list preferences like “only send Soundcloud links”, “only send mp3s”, or “DM me on Twitter instead of sending an email”, so make sure to follow their individual instructions.
Also, make sure the labels and DJs you’re contacting actually release or play the kind of music you’re making. Drumcode isn’t going to put out a Balearic nu-disco record, no matter how good it is.
One at a time
Label owners are delicate, sensitive creatures who need to feel important and special. Mass emails make them feel insignificant and less likely to sign your music. Make sure each demo email has one record label as the recipient, and the email text is individualized for that label.
DJs are used to getting mass-email promos, so you’re safer sending out an email to multiple DJs at once. Just make sure you put them on BCC instead of CC (unless you wanna get simultaneously roasted by 50 of your heroes).
Keep it short
Nobody wants to read a 4 paragraph bio. Tell them you have a demo, describe yourself and your music in one or two sentences, hit ’em with your links, thank them, and click send. They will appreciate it.
Ask for what you want!
What’s your goal? Are you sending music to a label so they’ll sign it? Are you sending it to a DJ so they’ll play it, or add it to their chart? Make sure to let them know what you’d like them to do.
What genre is it?
This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be shocked how many artists describe their creative process, their first rave, and the equipment they used, but forget to tell you whether it’s house or gabber or ambient.
Be confident, but not cocky
Don’t undersell yourself with something like “these aren’t perfect” or “maybe you’ll like some of these.” Your tracks are great and labels should be signing them!
On the other hand, don’t go overboard with the confidence—too much can come off as arrogant, which is a red flag for labels. I got a demo recently where the entire text of the email was “check out these sick f***in’ bangers.” They forgot to even include a link. UNSUBSCRIBE.
If you have other releases, a club residency, a popular blog, or other musical accomplishments, mention those in your short bio sentence, and then say something like “I’m really proud of these tracks and hope you’ll consider them for your label” or “I think these songs would be a good fit with some of your other releases.”
Make the links OBVIOUS
Don’t bury the streaming & download links in the text of the email—put them on their own lines so people see them (even if they’re too lazy to read anything else).
Include your socials
Just in case the label or DJ wants to follow you.
Follow up… once
Realistically, almost everybody is bad at email, especially artsy creative types, so a lot of the stuff you send out might fall through the cracks. Feel free to check back in two weeks or a month, but don’t flood their inbox with a million follow-ups.