Why Record Labels Are Rejecting Your Demo
Are Record Labels Rejecting Your Demos?
Or worse, are they ghosting you entirely?
Don't worry, reject is totally normal and it happens to even the biggest producers! Each rejection is an opportunity to learn what the label really wants. Most of the time, record labels will reject a demo because of some very common reasons. We've written this blog to help you avoid the most common mistakes when submitting your demo to a record label. Use this guide to heal you avoid being rejected.
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- Your track is whack!
Let's be real here. Your track needs to be top grade. Most producers are so excited about their first few productions, they jump the gun and send them to record labels. If you're very new to production you'll still be sitting in the middle of the learning curve. You need to be at the top end of the learning curve before submitting to labels. Give yourself time to learn and perfect your craft before showing a label your work. First impressions really do count so make sure that you're 100% happy with your productions and feel there is no room for improvement at your current level.
Reach out to a professional who is already releasing on established labels for their advice and constructive criticism. You should also compare like-for-like your tracks with tracks already released on the label. Your demo must sound as good as, or better than what is already being released on the label. Not just in terms of creativity but also in terms of the quality of the production and composition. Ask your friends to compare your track with a labels track and be honest about what can be changed.
Learn how to accept advice, pick the best solutions and move your production into a higher tier before submitting a demo.
Another major mistake producers make is they send music which is nothing like what a label is normally releasing. Huge mistake and a waste of their time!
- You look like a one hit wonder.
Record labels need to know that you're capable of making more than just a one-off hit. You should be providing ample evidence of an established work and productivity ethic. Labels will want to see more than one track so they can judge your overall competence. Submit your main demo along with information about past work and upcoming work. You might want to include a discography, supporting references, biography etc.
- You have no online presence.
Labels want to see that you already have a professional online presence as a producer. Many people would call this your 'Brand'. Labels will want to see that you are capable of controlling your online image in line with a brand identity that matches the style of your demo. They will want to see that you are updating your profiles with the right information regularly and cultivating a fan base that the label will want to sell records to.
- You're not selling tickets.
Most labels, not all, will want to sign artists who are already making some impact in a scene. If you can prove you are being booked to DJ regularly, actively a good networker and cultivating a fan base you'll be one step ahead of the competition. Try setting up a professional website that lists your gigs and tour dates and allows fans to sign up to your mail-out. You might also want to try creating a Facebook group for your fans.
- You're using vocal samples.
Most record labels want demos to only contain samples that you have clearance to use. This means if you're chopping up commercial acapella stems you won't be able to release on their label without permission from the original copyright holder. It's extremely difficult to get clearance for a sample so labels will steer clear of your demo. In addition labels don't want to sign producers who use vocal samples from sites like Splice. This is because any other producer can use the sample making your demo less original. You need to step up and start working with singers to record original vocals. If you don't, someone else will!
- You don't have professional photos.
A professional photo or graphic identity is a must for all DJs and producers who want to make it in the industry. If you can't get organised enough to achieve these simple industry-standards it shows the label you're not dedicated to the job on a professional level. Make sure you get a range of professionally shot creative photos. You might also want to have some promo videos or recorded live streams.
- You don't have an EPK and Biography.
Don't just fire off a link to your demo by email without also attaching more information about you as an artists. Labels are interested in signing artists as much as individual tracks. They want to know everything about you, your music and your achievements. You should combine all of this information along with your photos into an EPK (Electronic Press Kit). Send this along with your demo. Often, if you don't a label will not listen to your demo.
- You're taking shortcuts.
It's a dog-eat-dog industry and one of the most competitive. If you take a shortcut you will always fall behind someone else who actually put in the hours. There are no shortcuts in the music industry. If you don't dedicate yourself to the cause 100% someone else will.
- You're not polite.
Being polite, friendly and articulate gets you far. Make sure you express positive characteristics in all your communications. Take the time to invest in relationships and always be super nice! Never burn a bridge, speak negatively about someone or inattentive. Learn how to listen with respect and take advice from those who are higher up in the industry.
- You're not thinking outside of the box.
When it comes to submitting demos, think outside of the box. Most labels are inundated with badly composed and lazy emails. Why not circumnavigate this by sending in a physical demo, or making a phone call? Many people are scared to pick up the phone or meet someone in person but if you do, you'll get much better results.
Rejection is totally normal. Record labels have extremely high expectations of any demo you submit, and if they didn't they are probably not a label worth releasing on! Make sure that you choose your label wisely and follow our guide to avoid the most common mistakes when submitting to venues. However, always remember that it's a possibility that you'll never be accepted by a label. Fear not, in this scenario it's better to start your own record label or self-release. Afrerall, how do you think most of these big labels started?