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How to Get a Record Deal as an Independent Artist: An Overview

Today we want to start a new series, 'How to Get a Record Deal as an Independent Artist.'

Record Deal

This article will serve to kick off the series with an overview of what’s to come, as well as take a look of the current state of independent recording contracts and record companies.

Previously on the Sage Audio mastering blog, we have looked at plenty of issues facing today’s independent musicians, including how to get your music on Pandora , how to use social media to your advantage and the best ways to record your own music.

How Important is a Recording Contract in 2013?

First things first: do you need a recording contract in today’s music world? After all, in the first paragraph, we linked to articles that illustrate how many of today’s artists use a more literal translation of the term “independent artist” than was previously held. In decades past, the phrase was primarily used to describe any artist not on a major label but instead signed to an independent label. But today, of course, many artists make good livings going at it completely alone.

Still, it is very difficult to become successful on any sort of widespread scale while being a completely independent artist. Even those that are completely independent typically have outside help in the form of managers, booking agents, and -- perhaps most importantly -- distribution deals.

The Importance of Distribution Deals

Certainly, digital music is extremely important in today’s music industry, and digital distribution is somewhat easier to independently achieve by artists through sources such as CDBaby and Tunecore. Physical distribution, however, is a completely different ballgame.

Some would question if physical distribution is still important in today’s market. While some artists may survive on digital sales (and streams) alone, many still want a venue to display physical copies in brick-and-mortar stores.

For this, having a distribution deal is extremely important, and it’s very difficult for an independent artist with little or no sales history to get. This is why signing to a label, whether a major or independent label, is so important, as they will already have these deals in place.

The Importance of a Professional Studio Session

While it is now possible to record for little more than the price of a computer, there is often a real need for an artist to record in a studio with a producer and professional engineer to achieve the desired level of success.

The extent to which independent artists require this varies on the skill level of the artist as an engineer and the type of music. But it is important to remember that having a record company help foot the bill for studio time can be crucial to success.

Further Reading

This article just begins our look at whether record labels are necessary, and we’ll delve much deeper into these concerns and much more as the series continues. However, as an artist, you must remember that everything you do must be thought of in context of your music and your eventual goals. As with most everything in the music business, what works great for some won’t work at all for others.

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