Rap Coalition

A HOW-TO RESOURCE FOR RAP ARTISTS, PRODUCERS, & DJs. Since knowledge is power, here is your best defense to succeed in the urban music industry...

Friday, March 03, 2006

How To Get A Record Deal

I assume your goal is to get signed to a label (most likely because you don't know the negative realities of that if you have not read all the stuff at rapcoalition.org). Here's what labels are looking for, as talent has not mattered much since the mid-90s. Labels are in business to make money, and they will pick up ONLY what reduces their financial risk since the music business is so speculative (this explains why a gifted talent like Ras Kass sells 50,000 CDs while Master P, with no real lyrical skill, can sell 50 million CDs). What the labels sign is based upon what the public buys, like all good businesses.

There are two huge fallacies in this biz: one is that a banging demo will get you a good deal (in the 12 years I've been in this industry, I have yet to see one artist get a deal from a demo), and the second one is that a good connection can get you a deal. A good connection (like me) can only match what a label is looking for with the artist. So, if you put yourself in a position to supply what a major label is looking for (should that be your goal), I can make the match. Until then, there is not much I can do for you personally.

Right now you are probably asking what a major label is looking for…. In order to get offered a deal that is respectable, you will need to sell units regionally. The only ways I see folks getting deals these days is either to come up under a platinum recording act, like Nelly, Eminem, Juvenile, DMX, etc...or put out your record regionally and sell 30,000+ units yourselves. Then the majors will come around and take you seriously! If you decide to take this route, www.rapcointelpro.com probably has some helpful info for you. This is the only way I've seen folks getting deals for many years now, actually. I'll explain why in a minute....

I hear the same frustration from artists everyday regarding finding a deal. It is next to impossible these days to get a deal without either coming through a platinum recording artist who has a deal (again, Busta, Eminem, Nelly, etc); OR putting out your own record and selling units regionally on your own (again, like in excess of 30,000). The labels are looking to reduce their risk, and since there are already so many artists selling units around the country, they have an already established pool from which to choose new artists to sign. For example, there is a group in Houston who are selling 75,000 CDs right now, an artist in Baton Rouge, LA that has 300+ BDS radio spins and 24,000 CDs sold, and a bunch of artists in Atlanta with radio spins and sales in excess of 30,000 CDs each. Why would a label sign a rapper with a great demo, when they could sign a rapper that has some radio spins and sales already underway? Sad, but true!

It has been this way for awhile (since the late 90s) and I don't see any signs of it changing in the near future. Artists used to get discovered and signed by label A&R folks, but now it seems they get attention through moving units and signed (which, by the way, gives the artist better leverage and better deals).

To keep creative control or to get a label deal for more than one artist, you will need to put out multiple albums successfully, with each one out selling the one before. THEN the labels will allow you to retain control.


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