· By Jay Bhalala
Navigating the Label Submission Maze
Embarking on the journey of submitting your demo to a label can be a daunting task, a pivotal step in your musical career. Your creation represents your passion and dedication, making the unpredictability of a label's response all the more nerve-wracking. To shed some light on this process, we sat down with Matt Linden, the visionary behind Forged Artifacts, a Minneapolis-based independent label that has spearheaded nearly 100 releases since its establishment in 2012.
Linden's wealth of experience in running a label that brings fulfillment to both himself and the artists he works with provides valuable insights. "Just like any entrepreneur in any industry, you don't really know what you're doing until you do it," he reflects, emphasizing the trial-and-error nature of the journey—an analogy applicable to emerging artists entering the music industry.
Here, Linden generously shares his top tips, along with crucial do's and don'ts, for successfully submitting your demo to a label.
Do: Conduct Thorough Research on Your Preferred Labels
Before reaching out to any label, Linden advocates for intelligent research. He suggests aligning your musical style with a label that resonates with your genre, aesthetic, and philosophy. Whether it's a major, indie, or a niche "micro" label, understanding their history, roster, and overall vibe is essential. Building a list of labels that genuinely fit your musical identity increases the likelihood of a positive response.
Don't: Mass Email Every Label in Existence
Linden warns against the impersonal approach of mass-emailing multiple labels simultaneously. Labels can easily discern when they are part of a bulk email. To avoid the spam folder, Linden advises personalizing your message and clearly articulating why you specifically want to collaborate with that particular label.
Do: Share Your Story and Artistic Goals
While a fully developed bio may not be necessary, Linden emphasizes the importance of being able to articulate who you are and what your music represents. Openness and candor, coupled with highlighting specific songs or themes, create an immediate connection. Taking control of your narrative from the outset allows you to shape your story and artistic identity, preventing it from being solely defined by others, even a label you admire.
Don't: Compare Yourself to Other Bands
Linden expresses a strong aversion to artists likening themselves to existing bands on a label. Focusing on your unique identity rather than drawing comparisons or attempting to cater to perceived label preferences is crucial. Highlighting your individuality stands out more than aligning yourself with established acts.
Do: Clearly Communicate the Stage of Your Music
When submitting your demo, provide a private streaming link or an MP3 via platforms like Dropbox. Clearly indicate whether your music is a demo, mixed, or already mastered. Linden emphasizes the importance of transparency in communicating the status of your tracks, enabling labels to make informed decisions about pursuing your work.
Don't: Lose Patience
Understanding that labels, especially smaller ones, may operate with minimal personnel and resources, Linden urges patience. Many individuals behind the scenes juggle label responsibilities with full-time jobs. Recognizing that the process may take time is essential for maintaining persistence and a positive outlook.
Navigating the label submission process requires a strategic and thoughtful approach. By incorporating these insights from Matt Linden, you can increase your chances of capturing the attention of the right label for your musical journey.