As Aspiring Producers, one of our biggest frustrations is how do we get our music OUT to the world. How do we break out of our bedroom/garage/basement studios and get our music heard? How do we get our music into the right manager/A&R/ hands? How do we get artists to record over our music? How do we get released placements?
The short answer is… there is no short answer. There is no magic pill, no Up, Down, Left, Right, A,B,A,C,A,B cheat code, no get rich quick scheme. And that’s a good thing. Trust me on that one.
If it was easy to get big album placements, everyone would do it and, as Aspiring Producers, that wouldn’t be good. It’s good for us as Aspiring Producers that getting big name placements serves as some form of quality control in an industry that really has little to no barriers of entry. Anybody can buy a laptop and download the latest version of FL Studio and call themselves a ‘producer’, but it doesn’t mean they are Producers. At times it may seem unfair that these gatekeepers hold the key to the promised land as a Producer, but you have to learn it see it as a positive, improve your music, improve your networking and continue until you reach that goal. We are all aiming for something bigger than $20 beat leases, and that just takes time and determination. Don’t get discouraged.Here are some ideas to help guide you to that next level and help you land some placements, both small and large.
1. Improve the quality of your music.
I’m going to start with this one, even if it may be a more controversial point, I mean it in the most positive way possible. If you’re not seeing the progress you would like to as a Producer, always start from within and improve the quality of your music. It may only be small improvements, but do it. Tweak the EQ on that snare drum, take out that synth line because it sounds overcrowded, spend an extra 15 minutes listening to your tracks in other environments. It may only need to be small improvements, but do them, the overall impact on your music will be huge. And also, be honest with yourself. Deep down you really know if your music is good enough to be considered for big industry placements, and if you don’t well then hit us up on Twitter @theaspiringprod and I’ll be happy to give you some feedback and constructive criticism.
Generally speaking, when submitting songs & tracks to artists/A&R/managers etc. they want to hear the most professional sounding product possible, so undeniable that they can not say no. Which leads me on to my next point…
2. Include hooks on your beats/tracks (where suitable).
If you feel like your tracks are as good and professional sounding as possible, then include some hooks in your tracks, where suitable. This mostly applies to Pop/R&B/Hip-Hop/EDM Producers, but could really apply to any genre of music and any style of production. When you include a hook over one of your tracks, it just helps any potential artists/managers/A&R’s hear your vision and hear the song as an undeniable HIT. They may not have the vision to hear that without the hook, and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to say yes, and as hard as possible to say no. Even if you are not a writer, reach out to some writers and convince them to write something over it. It doesn’t have to be amazing quality and perfect singing, just enough so that they know they have a serious hit on their hands.
As a side note, if you are a writer yourself, then definitely get involved and write the hook – it means you will get a bigger slice of the publishing pie, heyooo! But more on that later…
3. Reach out to other producers.
One thing I love about being a Producer is that we very much believe in community spirit. Perhaps it’s because we all know how hard it is to achieve your goals as an Aspiring Producer that it creates some form of camaraderie between us all. Either way, reaching out to fellow Producers can be a great way to improve your music and improve your chances of placements. Perhaps another Producer can help offer a different angle on a track that you’re working on, collaborate on it and it could take it to the next level and turn it into something special. Having a 50% credit on an amazing track that gets placed with a huge artist, or becomes a huge hit (if you are the artist) is better than having 100% ownership of something that will sit on your hard drive gathering digital dust.
It could also be that a fellow Producer has a contact with a certain artist, and they would be happy to send the track to them as a favor. You never know unless you ask. But don’t be afraid to reach out to fellow Producers – don’t look at them as your competition, look at them as your colleagues and you may be able to accomplish something quite special together.
4. Use Social Media to contact Industry people i.e. managers, A&R’s and artists themselves.
When compiling this list, this was my first thought, however, I have put it as #4 because sometimes you have to fix the problems within before you reach out to others.
Everybody is on social media in some for or other. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, Vine, Snapchat whatever… everybody has one. In this day and age, it it easier than ever to find your favorite artists, managers, A&R, producer, writers etc. and contact them. It’s through social media. It’s easier than ever to find out who the A&R at XYZ Records is – just google it, it’s all there for you. Reach out to these people and create relationships – don’t just fire off beats to them, it’s been done and they don’t appreciate being bombarded. Build relationships with people and then politely ask (if they haven’t offered already, they usually do…) to send them some tracks for critique or consideration for any upcoming projects they may have. You’d be surprised how willing some people will be, they’re looking to discover the ‘next big thing’ too, remember…
Now, you have to realize that some of these people are being contacted hundreds if not thousands of times a day, so you have to be creative to stand out and separate yourself as someone who has what they need. I’ll be detailing more on this point in a later post, so sign up for our newsletter up top & stay informed of when that drops.
5. Reach out to upcoming & local artists.
Look, let’s face it, everybody has to start somewhere, and that’s okay. Generally speaking, producers do not get Jay-Z’s next album as their first placement (well, okay… it happens, but it’s not that common, aight?!) and in the same way, artists do not become #1 artists overnight. They have been grinding at their craft for years, the same way you have. Look to link up with more upcoming & local artists as a way to have your music heard by a larger audience, with a view to this artist becoming more popular over time. As they do, so will your music along with it. Getting placements with upcoming or independent artists is still a great opportunity and a great way to build a platform and a fan base to help catapult you into other opportunities. You have to look at your back catalogue as your Resume, and you know how tough it is to get a job without ANY experience on your Resume. Even if it’s something small, it’s what people want to see, that you have the ability to create great songs.
6. Have an end artist or product in mind for your tracks. Don’t just (always) blindly create.
This is not the most important on this list, however it definitely can have an impact on the likelihood of you seeing success. We’ve all heard the stories that certain tracks were created with artists in mind, but ended up in totally different hands. It happens. When creating music, it’s a good idea to have an idea in mind for who you can see on it. However, and I can’t stress this enough… DON’T just go by the artists back catalogue to determine what to create for them. Even if a song/album is just out, chances are it was created months before, and the artist is already off that sound and on to something new. Push the boundaries and look to create a new vision or identity for an artist, don’t just copy what they went with on their previous release. Be original.
Sometimes it is okay to just fire up Logic (my weapon of choice) and create just to be creative. That’s amazing and I urge everyone to do that as often as possible, but for those of us who are trying to do this professionally, sometimes you have to think a little more strategically.
7. Network, Network & Network some more.
I can not stress the importance of this point. It’s similar to #4 but it has a much wider scope to it. Where #4 specifically deals with your social media presence, here I am talking about ANY and EVERY opportunity to network. There’s that old expression: “Your Network is your Net Worth” – which I happen to hate, btw, but it serves as a good example that it’s not a case of WHAT you know, but WHO you know (yeah, I hate that one too…) especially in the music business. This could include attending music conferences, local shows, reaching out to people via e-mail & phone, visiting offices & much more. However, whatever you do… don’t go anywhere without either: A) Music, either a CD or USB stick with contact information, or B) Business cards, or something similar where people can contact you and you can send them music. There is nothing worse than being caught out and having nothing to play or pass on, it makes you look unprofessional.
Most importantly, once you have made those connections and formed those relationships, do everything to make sure you maintain them over time. Too many times have I cultivated relationships with artists/managers etc. only to let them slip away over time, as I haven’t put in the work to maintain them. It’s like any relationship, you have to put in the time to stay in touch and build those relationships over time, it’s not going to happen over night.
And that’s it folks, those are my Top 7 suggestions to help get more placements and get your music heard by a wider audience.
Keep your eyes peeled for more of these featured advice articles coming up on theAspiringProducer.com – I have many more of them coming over the next few weeks & months.
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