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I was wondering if there's any musicians here who have experience with this? I'm currently recording a 6 song demo but record companies don't accept unsolicited demos except if you have an agent (which of course I don't have). How does all this work?

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https://www.reverbnation.com

 

Big/low budget movies find songs for their soundtracks on there, labels constantly send out press forms looking for bands. It's probably one of the most legit ways to have your music infront of alot of other musicians & labels.

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Thanks but the songs on that website seem to be well produced and/or recorded in real studios. My songs are in a demo state as I record them in my basement. Even if I do a lot to make them the best quality possible (I have semi-professional tools), I wonder if they belong on that kind of service. 

 

I kept them on my SoundCloud, YouTube and BandCamp accounts and recently opened a Patreon account.

 

I've also seen spinnup.com which is owned by Universal but they put your music on services like iTunes and such. Again I'm not comfortable selling my music in their current state. 

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There's all kinds of music on that website with quality going from low-fi to high professional mix & master. Artists I follow & people I know who have been signed off that website just had basic demos online recorded off their laptop at home. Specifically speaking the 2 dinky very very very low-fi songs I recorded & put on there charted #1 for a few weeks on the alternative/indie charts & I received a few emails from interested indie labels. The platform is designed by musicians for musicians to grow, you gotta accept being a seed before you can be a tree.

I understand where you're coming from because that mindset put me in a bubble for the longest time thinking the songs I'm recording needed to be a specific sound & production before I release them, inevitably it doesn't do any good. Quantity over quality works with music because you can always re-record your songs over & over, all you're doing with a demo is saying "Here is what I have now, it can potentially change later". Some of the biggest rappers today all started out as terrible Soundcloud rappers, people enjoy hearing potential from a beginning artists. Daniel Johnston makes terribly mixed songs but the passion outweighs the quality. 

I promise if you make an account (it's free) and put your music out there, you'd be surprised. 

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Alright I'm going to try it then. I know I have to be a seed before being a tree but maybe I'm seeing things in a 90's way where you'd send a crappy sounding cassette to a record company who would loan you the funds to go into a studio and you'd record them properly. I guess that's not the way it works anymore (which is fine I'm not complaining mind you :P).

 

I'll get an account and tell you how it goes! Thanks :)

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The 90's way you're also seeing it is you needing a label in the first place in 2017. It's a lot more beneficial to grow a "brand" online & play shows to create buzz than depend on a label. Nowadays even if you've created the next Stairway to Heaven, they will own the rights & expect a large % of sales. Labels back full bands that can hit the road as soon as the ink dries on the contract because that's where labels make money, merchandise & gigs. That "loan" you talk about might be +$10,000 that you'll never be able to pay back, just isn't worth it. 

Major Labels are essentially a dying breed. There's many independent artists making 5-6 figures & touring the world out of their own pocket, it takes years if not decades to grind out a fanbase. It's the reality of getting into a "business" that has a below 10% success rate. 

Just food for thought, here's a few articles about the whole process: 

https://www.thebalance.com/major-label-record-deals-understanding-the-pros-and-cons-2460377

https://www.thebalance.com/self-releasing-music-pros-and-cons-of-diy-music-releases-2460380

http://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-1288-7-things-record-deal-teaches-you-about-music-industry.html

This is a video from one of my favorite Canadian bands, Protest The Hero. They really shine the light on the cons of being a successful band signed to a major label. They raised $340,000 themselves by having a loyal fanbase. A patreon will sit at $0 unless you have people who believe & trust in what you're doing as an artist.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-y258iOqlk

I've had my foot in the door 2 years ago & hated the entire process, now that I'm getting back into music & knowing what I know about DIY it's just the better choice for new musicians in 2017. This isn't to discourage you or anything I'm just letting you know that there's way more options today than ever before, you're more likely to succeed now than if you tried in the 90's. If you need any more help in this department just shoot me a message. 

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Thanks for all that info! I will certainly go through it! :)

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My SIL used youtube and toured.  She's being doing well for herself. "2016 Sirus XM coffee house best new artist and best song!"  Woot!  It's taken approx 8 years of hard work though.

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My SIL used youtube and toured.  She's being doing well for herself. "2016 Sirus XM coffee house best new artist and best song!"  Woot!  It's taken approx 8 years of hard work though.

 

Thanks! :)

 

To me it's not even a question of living off of it, just to get it heard, on record and wherever it goes next. But I guess that's not how it works anymore.

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Haha not even the biggest bands in the world make money off their music online or cd sales anymore, it's quite depressing. You're going to have to tour tour tour.

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Thanks! :)

 

To me it's not even a question of living off of it, just to get it heard, on record and wherever it goes next. But I guess that's not how it works anymore.

 

I'm not sure it ever really worked that way.  I can't think of a single major songwriter that got their break by sending a demo to a label.  Even the ones that came close to that played shows, sold the demo at their shows, and, at some point, made a connection with someone at a label or in the industry who helped make it happen.

 

And it's a bad method, anyway.  You end up putting all of the power in somebody else's hands, and they end up calling the shots.  Plus, the labels often have the best lawyers in the business, where you might not have one at all.  (A lot of new artists sign the first contract put in front of them, assuming the label has their interests in mind.)  A lot of new artists fall prey to producers for the same reasons - the artist believes the producer can get them heard, the producer has all of the power, and you end up with a situation like the recent Kesha / Dr. Luke fiasco.  (He was basically responsible for her sound, which gave him power over her career - and then he apparently tried to take advantage of her.)

 

Today is weird, anyway.  Twenty years ago, just the cost of getting studio time would be a limiting factor - not everyone could just put together a good demo.  But, now, every macBook has software better than many good studios did in the 90s.  That means there are literally *millions* of potential songwriters competing for ears.  Spotify is loaded with bedroom producers, and most of them have zero plays outside their friends and family.  Everybody thinks their songs are great (it's genuinely hard to tell), and your friends will say so just to be nice (but never actually listen to them).  It's really worth having people in your life who can be bluntly honest and tell you when they aren't.

 

Playing your songs live is a great way to find out if they're any good.  Play as many open mics as you can.  If your songs connect, people will stop and tell you how much they like them.  I wrote what was really my first "great" song when I was 19.  The first time I played it at an open mic, random people came over to tell me how much they liked it.  (It shocked me, honestly.)  Now as then, there are so many "average" songwriters writing "average" songs - one "great" one stands out.  Honestly, just go to any (good) open mic and watch, and you'll see what I mean.  Most of the songs will be okay.  You'll recognize them as songs, you might even think they're good at that point, but you'll realize later that you don't really need to hear them again.  (Some of the songs will be legitimately terrible, but you'll notice the performer has no idea.)  But there might be one "holy shit" song in there.

 

Nowadays, it's really worth spending years honing your craft before even really trying to step into a music career.  Everybody loves their first songs, then, a couple years later, they realize they can do even better.  After that first "great" song, I recorded a demo of my first songs.  I knew a couple of industry folks at the time who thought that "great" song in particular had potential, and offered to take the demo to an A&R they knew at a major label.  I could not be happier that I said no.  The next batch of songs I wrote after that first demo were garbage.  It took another couple of years (I was about 24, five or six years into songwriting) to get to where I had an album of songs that I was really proud of - where I had established my own sound (almost everyone sounds like their influences at first) - and that people seemed to enjoy.  (Though, admittedly, by the time I got to that point, I'd seen enough friends get treated like absolute shit in the industry that I wanted nothing to do it with it.  :lol: )  After a few years you have a ton of songs to choose from to put your best foot forward.

 

I never actually pursued a career - I still write, but I'm 100% content to just record them when I feel like and share them with friends.  (Or not - to be honest, I usually just keep them to myself.)  And I still love it - one of my major passions.

 

But as Tony was saying - especially in the modern day - create your thing yourself and figure out how to do it yourself.  Keep learning, keep writing, keep trying to get better.  Build a solid commodity that has value - when you're ready to really do something big with it, you'll know what it's worth, and you won't settle for less. :)

Edited by uglyredhonda
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Well I've been writing songs for 20 years and I've had my share of 'great' songs that were either below average or just plain bad ha ha ha! laugh.png I actually recorded a 14 song acoustic demo in my early 20's and those 14 songs are just plain bad. There's even one that a proper rip off of Can't Get Shot In The Back and Dusk mixed in the same song laugh.png. Just ridiculous. That's youth for you! But it helped me evolve as an artist. 

 

Now I'm in my mid-30's and I've gathered 5-6 songs that I think are worth putting out. Had I the money to go into a profesional studio I wouldn't even ask this question. That's the only thing I want for now, getting them heard by people. I thought one had to go through a record company but honestly I wish I could do without (and from your answers I guess that's possible). I'll try to plan it out that way but I'll put my demos online in the meantime. 

 

I don't think anything I do is great. That's partly why I want to put it out. People around me say it's great but that's in no way objective.

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