As some of the readers may or may not know; I used to be involved in Band management. Heck, what a job! I will spare the details of my band management experiences but I do think that the one common phrase in all bands (and particularly in mine) is the “cannot wait to get signed” part.
True story; there are more labels out there than anyone thinks and it is necessary to actually take the time to craft a demo and send it to at least 70 different labels. That aside, it is important to know what an A&R requires in order to surpass a demo. Listed are below are some tips and hints. Please take note that I am not a professional and that any band should consider further research before taking action.
An A&R scout has the daily task of ‘scouting’ for new talent and new trends in the music business. A part of their day consists of looking through trade magazines, websites and blogs for information about emerging bands. HINT: Blogs are one of the most useful things as they are the rawest source of information - you get it earliest and then it's up to the A&R to filter what's good and what's not.
The A&R person has to know what works for a label and what doesn't. Again, the independent labels will focus on different musicians as opposed to the major labels. HINT: Make sure that the band’s demo is sent to the right type of label. Be absolutely specific. Look at the registry of artists on different labels and decide the closest fit for the band submitting the demo.
Once a band has found the label with a perfect fit; it is time to send a demo. Include all relevant contact details with the demo and include a press kit. For information on how to create a basic press kit look at Air Guitar’s prior post. HINT: It is a good idea to find a contact name to address your demo mail to otherwise it is likely not to get opened. You will always find an A&R contact in an artist's album sleeve that has a similar style to your band.
A demo alone is never good enough. Getting out of the recording place and playing live is the most important part of any music career. HINT: Depending on the style of music there are different ways of getting spotted; bands tend to be discovered at gigs whereas more extreme acts tend to make their name on the underground scene and virally through sites like YouTube.
Truth is not all bands get signed; but the strong bands know that things just don’t happen until they make it happen.