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Getting a record deal

Sending demos to record companies is not a very good way of getting known. You'll end up in a huge pile of CDs on an A&R person's desk and it's very hard to stand out in those circumstances - however good your music is.

If you have a massive following, the industry will come to find out what all the fuss is about. Spend time making your music and live shows amazing rather than mucking about with demos.

Promote yourself properly. Make sure that everyone who's likely to come to a gig knows where and when you're playing, every time you play. Use mailing lists, email lists, local press, fliers and posters to promote your gigs.

A&R people don't turn up at gigs randomly, so there aren't really any places to play to be 'spotted'. Also you don't have to play London to get your name known. A&R people have contacts all over the country. If you're causing a stir, they will find out.

Don't just concentrate on record labels. There are lots of people like PR companies, lawyers, publishers and producers looking for new business. These people get a lot fewer, demos so yours will be in a much smaller pile.

Be patient - it normally take artists a couple of years at least to get to the stage where they're ready to sign. Spend some time learning to work as a group and developing your songs and performance before you divert time into trying to get signed.

Don't be too eager. The more desperate you are to get signed the more likely you are to sign a contract that's not right for you. Take your time and consider each offer carefully. Don't take something just because you haven't got anything else.

With underground styles like dance and hip-hop, labels look for tunes that are happening in the clubs. Consequently, you're better off ignoring the labels and getting your tunes straight to DJs.

A demo addressed to someone by name is much more likely to be opened quickly. Find the right labels by checking the sleeves of records you like. Call and get the name of the person who handles your kind of music.

Phone the person before you send any material. Then leave at least 10 days after sending the demo before you call again and see if they've got it. Give them some time to listen to your music and don't hassle them.

A&R people tend to hang on to promising demos and see what else is sent, so try and keep a steady flow of demos coming. A new recording every few months will keep your name up and show that you're still active on the scene.

Once you start sending out demos, make sure you keep your website up to date. If people like your demo, it's the first place they'll go to see what you're up to and maybe check when you're gigging.

Everyone at every level gets knocked back several times on the way to the top. Don't take this personally and don't be disheartened. One person's negative opinion doesn't mean that much. Keep at it!

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