How to Avoid Frustrations With Labels?

Over the years, I’ve had a few frustrations with labels in my career that I wanted to share with you today so YOU don’t have to go through them:


1. If a label is telling you it’s almost there in terms of signing with them, don’t give up and keep on trying. One of my students has recently sent several tracks to his desired label, and the A&R says that his songs are being taken to the meetings, but the label has only come back with rejections FOR him, which is leading him to get frustrated. If you can, ask the A&R if it’s the composition that is lacking or if it’s the technical side of your production. If it is the composition, it’s a matter of finding the right melody rather than having to step up your production game, which is a bit harder. It can be frustrating since you feel you’re almost there, but not there at the same time, but the key in these situations is to put your head down and remind yourself that your goal is to make good music first rather than sign your tracks. In addition, be careful with the laser focus you might end up having on trying to make songs to fit that label as this can halt your creativity and your tracks can end up becoming generic, which will definitely not get you signed. Therefore, stop focusing on the results and focus on improving your songs. Try to understand why your tune is getting rejected, learn from it and don’t forget that you should avoid producing with one label in mind, as mentioned in this post.

2. Do the changes to your song that a label might ask you ONLY if you agree with them. When submitting tunes to labels, they will often ask you to make changes to them, and it’s up to you to decide if you want or not to make these changes. Why? Sometimes, the request list from labels can be big and it can take you some time for you to make the changes, but it’s not a guarantee that they will sign the song after you make these changes. In addition, you might not agree with the direction the label wants you to go with it, which will eventually lead you to frustration if you don’t get the track signed. For example, a producer friend of mine sent a track to a label, and they asked him to do a LOT of changes that he didn’t really want to do. But, after doing them anyway, they ended up rejecting the tune because they didn’t like the end result, which led him to be mad with them and to lose a bit of his motivation towards his music. Therefore, if a label requests you to do any changes, make sure that you agree with them before actually making them, or it can leave you frustrated if the song gets rejected after you change everything.

3. Stick with labels that allow you to have certain flexibility over your release dates. Something really bad that could happen to you is having too many releases too close to each other since (1) you won’t be able to promote all of them properly and (2) possibly the marketing efforts of one release can cannibalize the efforts of another one. Therefore, always make sure to stick with labels that allow you to customize your releases to YOUR release schedule as well, and not only theirs. Recently, another friend had an issue with a label that asked him to release a track in which he would be unavailable and, therefore, couldn’t promote the song properly, and they wouldn’t change the release date. Why would you release a track on a date when you can’t promote it properly after all the effort you’ve put into making the song? Therefore, ask the labels before you sign with them if you can request a release date with them, or if it’s something that they will assign to you, and how much flexibility there is in that date in advance, to avoid any frustration in the future.

4. Do your research and understand why you want to sign with that label so you can then set your expectations. As mentioned before, it’s crucial that you understand why you want to sign with a label and what are they going to bring to the table since, without that, you literally have no basis on which you could judge the release. Do you want stats? Do you want royalties? Or, do you want DJ Support? Some are better at bringing a good amount of plays, but have really small royalty percentages, which should take your focus away from royalties. Or, some labels have AMAZING support from DJs, but are not so strong on Streaming, so you should then focus your ‘success’ with the release on the amount of support you have. First, if you don’t know what the label is going to bring to the table, ask yourself why are you signing your track to it. Second, if you don’t do your research and sign to a label expecting lots of plays, but that’s something they do not normally deliver, you’re setting yourself up for frustration with that release. Therefore, make sure to know the reasons why you chose that label and that they can deliver what you’re expecting from them before actually signing with them.


What else can cause you to be frustrated with labels?
1. Not receiving enough royalties for your release: Before asking the label if you are owed anything, make sure to do your math and check if your streaming numbers are enough for a royalty payment. I’d say that below 30-50k plays and no big podcast supports, it’s unlikely that you’re owed anything;
2. Lack of Communication: Some labels can disappear for long periods of time and simply not respond to you. Try to get hints of this before you release with them and ask a couple of questions simply with the purpose of ‘testing’ their response time. If you’re not ok with it, then find somewhere else;
3. Lack of attention to your release: Some labels don’t make many promotional assets to your release and it’s all up to you. Ask before you sign with them if they get involved in this area and how they can help you with that.

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Leo Lauretti

Born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, Leo Lauretti has been producing since 2013. With releases on SONY Music, Armada, Enhanced Music, Leo Lauretti accumulates multiple supports from artists like Above & Beyond, Ferry Corsten, Cosmic Gate, Nicky Romero, and many others all over the world.

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1 year ago

Thanks for the insight, great content as usual! Cheers

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