I was talking to a new artist today. He’s released one song in his short career so far and he’s released it through one of the popular distributors. When he originally went to the distributor and asked them (quite rightly) what they could do for his release they asked him to fill in a lengthy form with all sorts of silly questions, the main one being how big his social reach is.
Now bearing in mind that he is brand new, this was before he released his first ever song, he has pretty much a zero fanbase. To be expected right? On receiving this form they then went on to tell him that they couldn’t offer any support because he has no fanbase and there’s pretty much nothing they could do for him, except to make his song available on all DSP’s and take a nice cut for the privilege.
Sadly this is now pretty much the case for all record labels as well as distributors. I’ve heard from so many artists today who are asked from labels, how big their fanbase is, before they even listen to the music. In other words if you don’t do your job for them and build up a fanbase first they won’t even consider signing you.
I can’t begin to say how messed up and wrong this is.
Surely the job of a label is to develop an artist and help them grow a fanbase together? If the artist is talented and has great music then who cares about how many Instagram followers they have? I don’t. The fact that they have great music is all that matters and if you truly believe in them then the fans will come with your help. Isn’t that a record label’s job? Isn’t it remarkably lazy to expect the artist to do all the work, build the fanbase and then give their music to a label to put out? You don’t need a label to do that, they are supposed to be a partner and help you get your music to fans old and new.
And don’t even get me started about all those Instagram and Youtube stars with a massive audience who have been signed up by a label hoping to cash in on what they’ve achieved already and then release terrible music. Just because you have a huge following of fans who like your funny YouTube videos or makeup tutorials doesn’t mean they want to hear you sing.
This is partly why I set up Humble Angel Records, I have an open submission form where anyone can send in music. I don’t care what your fanbase is, all I care about is if you have good music. We can work on the rest together.