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Why aren't the record labels actively looking for YOU?

Are record labels so awash with talent that they don't need to search it out anymore? Why don't they actively seek and search out the people with REAL talent... people like YOU?

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I received a e-mail message the other day from someone who had sent out his demo to a number of record labels. He was rather disappointed that none of them had bothered to respond.

He commented that many records are padded out with tracks that are not particularly good. He felt that his music was well up to that standard, if not a sufficient standard for release as a single.

And since his tracks were as good as the 'padding' tracks on many CDs, he felt that record labels should be interested.

This raises two questions, which I will handle one at a time, firstly...

Why don't the record labels seek out talent, and why don't they make more of an effort to be polite and respond when someone makes contact?

The answer to this is that record labels are absolutely flooded with people who want to sell them their music. Yes, some of these people are talented, but the vast majority of demo recordings are too far from release standard for the labels to be interested.

Never expect anyone to 'listen deeply' into your music to find the potential in it. They want a hit to leap out of the speakers and shake them vigorously by the neck.

So if someone did send in a demo with potential, it would in all probability be lost among the rest.

Now the other question...

If my demo is as good as the 'padding' tracks on CD's, why can't I get it accepted and released?

The answer to this is that the market for records is buoyed by the rare absolutely wonderful and outstanding track. That's what we buy the records for.

We buy other stuff too because the few excellent tracks put us in a buying mood. And also we expect a CD to last a certain duration of time, whether single or album.

So the market for padding tracks of relatively little musical worth exists.

Oddly, on a CD, those padding tracks are paid as much as the main tracks, unless some 'under the counter' deal has been done, which isn't uncommon in the industry.

So, if there is money to be made from inferior tracks, who do you think that money will go to? Will it go to you?

Of course not. Anyone can write a 'padding' track. Why should they give the money it generates to you - someone they don't even know?

No, the people who get to do the padding tracks are these, in order of likelihood...

  • The artist
  • The producer
  • A member of the band
  • The artist's manager or member of management team
  • The artist's wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend/object of as yet unrequited affection
  • Someone who can further the artist's career in some way
  • Someone who needs to be paid for a favor
  • Someone the artist or manager wants to be owed a favor by
  • The engineer who has been doodling on the sequencer while he was waiting for the artist to show up
  • Certainly not you!

Do you get the picture? Only people who are in the frame already get the chance to do the padding tracks.

This is a shame, because it means that apart from the few outstanding tracks, the rest of the music on a CD isn't as good as it potentially could be.

But that's the way the music industry works. Unless you can come up with a way to change the industry, you had better learn to live with it.

By the way, this isn't meant to put you off. If you know the scale of the challenge you face, then you will have a much better chance of dealing with it and achieving the success you desire.

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By David Mellor Monday February 6, 2006
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