Step 1: Record a collection of tracks. Properly.
Contrary to what some people may think, few people are going to notice your abilities as an artist by listening to a rough demo. Either hire some studio time, enter into an agreement with an up-and-coming producer, or buy some studio gear. Gear is not expensive nowadays, and $800 should get you up and running.
Haven’t got the money? Save up for a while. There are thousands of artists doing the same thing - why not you? An A&R person wants to listen to a polished product. Represent yourself.
Step 2: Get some decent promo photographs made.
Myspace site got a picture of you taken with a web cam? Using your phone to shoot pictures? Not good enough, sorry guys. You’re going to need some great photos of yourself, airbrushed, the works.It’s the first thing an A&R person sees, I’ve found it has a huge bearing on whether your music get listened to or not.
Sounds harsh? I think so too, but that’s the way it is, so make your photos count.You can get great results with a digital camera, and some free photo software. It need not be expensive.
Step 3: Get a proper website.
This is a big one, and possibly one of the most important things you can do. Everyone has a myspace site, but to set yourself out from the crowd, I’ve found a proper website with domain (eg: www.youonline.com) is the way to go.
Web hosting is extremely cheap nowadays, and web development software is free, so there’s no cost barriers to getting this done.Your website must display three things clearly.
1) Your music. Try to have a track start playing when the site is opened.
2) Your photos.
3) Contact information. This is make or break. Make it clear and obvious.
So why the website? Why not stick to myspace? Well, I’ve found that A&R people usually have a million things going on at once. Their offices look like a war zone for the most part. They won’t be searching the web for sites - instead, they may have received a tip-off or recommendation about you.
Your website will be looked at in passing, so you don’t want to cloud the A&R persons attention with a glaring, comment ridden myspace page. Secondly, everyone has a myspace page. My brothers cat has a myspace page..
So set yourself apart from all the other players.But keep the myspace page as well. It’s good for everyone to see you have thousands of friends and fans too..
Step 4: Play out.
Now you’ve got your package together, start playing to audiences. Anywhere you think industry types may be. And it’s not just A&R people you’re after. Promoters, managers…all these people may see you perform. If you’re good, word will get passed around quickly enough, and opportunities will present themselves. Which leads me onto..
Step 5: Attract the attention of a music attorney.
Want to know who are the most under-rated, yet important people in the music industry? The music attorney. These people know everyone…A&R execs, managers, the works. If you manage to meet one (and it’s easier than you think..) doors will open for you, especially if the attorney becomes involved with you on a professional level.
Step 6: Go to industry days and events.
Here’s a story. Whilst I was promoting an artist, there was a music event on in town: A gathering of music equipment manufacturers, open to the general public. In the small print of the flyer, a “demo session” was advertised as part of the music event, giving folks the opportunity to take their demo CD’s along for the critique of music professionals.
So I went to the demo session, armed with a CD thinking they’d be a huge demand for this, and that there was only a small chance my CD would get listened to. I was wrong. There were about 6 people there, including me. So whilst downstairs, in the main hall, thousands of up-and-coming artists were playing with the new toys from instrument companies, I was upstairs with the attention of attorneys, managers and A&R men, all to myself. Can you believe this? It’s true.
The moral of this point? Keep your eyes and ears open for every chance you get.
Hopefully, this has given you some ideas on how to get the attention of A&R folks. So what happened when the A&R guy from Sony came to my house? Well, he wasn’t impressed when he found out my artist didn’t write her own material..but that’s a tale for another day!