How To Get Your Music Heard by a Major Label (…Or a Major Audience)

An insight from Nakul Sharma (A&R Rep)

You’ve just heard the finalized mastered version of your new song that you have spent one entire month writing, recording, producing…and now it’s finished. 
This is bloody good,” you think to yourself excitedly. You close the song and return to the three hundred and fifty browsers you currently have open chronicling your journey to finding labels, how to contact labels, how to be famous, how to be an Instagram influencer, how to enter that new competition to win a new pair of Lululemon yoga pants (…No? Is this just a specific rabbit hole that the Tonemamas put themselves through?) 
You sit back in your chair and sigh.
“Here I am with this incredible tune,” you say to the empty room. “How do I get it heard?”
Suddenly out of nowhere, a flash of light strikes and two angelic Tonemamas appear on each side of you.
“What the f-….”, you manage to mutter as they gently take your hand to open up a new browser.
“Here is the answer you’ve been looking for my child,” they say at the same time and then disappear in another flash of light.
You look at the words that appear on your screen and begin reading:

How to get your music heard by a bigger audience

Your Tonemamas love flipping through our old-school rolodex of contacts in order to bring you the expertise you deserve. Today’s guest is Nakul Sharma who whilst being a graduate student of the NYU Music Business program has also interned at Verve Label Group (UMG), worked in A&R and Artist Management at Sony Music India while also founding a music discovery platform called Pesky Tapes and being part of two successful artist projects (Burudu and Davesar). We don’t mess around when we call upon the experts.

Nakul Sharma

You want to know how to get your music heard by a major label or just expand your audience? Nakul breaks it down for us:

1. Have an existing voice and vision

“A label ideally wants to work with artists that have at least an initial sense of what they represent. Instead of coming in with an attitude of ‘Tell me what to be’’”, Nakul tells us. 

Present your artistic self with an existing image that the team can help foster and execute.

2. Work on the numbers 

This is one us sensitive artists hate hearing, but Wednesday’s are all about dropping truth bombs.

“Numbers are crucial,” Nakul confirms. “Find some kind of success in your music whether it’s in streams, followers, TikTok views that can validate your music.”
“But I don’t want toooo,” you whine to us (and we frequently whine to each other).
“I get it,” Nakul sympathizes with us. “But it’s about incorporating your personality and letting it speak up in some form. Even artists who are not keen to constantly showcase their charisma through social media platforms can find a way to communicate.”

Such an important reminder: there is a place for everyone on the social meeds! 

3. Do your research to find the right fit

When your music gets rejected, it often is less a statement on the inherent value of the music and more about not being the right fit.
“You have to know what music that label is signing,” Nakul informs us. “Do the research.”

Do you write electronic classical music while rapping in Polish? There’s a label out there for you but you have to DO THE RESEARCH.

4. Understand your music’s genre and the related target audience

Understanding this will help you with the previous point – knowing who your audience is can help you select the label that is currently targeting that specific audience.

5. Get on playlists

There are many ways to get on playlists whether submitting to our very own Tonemill’s playlist, going through SubmitHub or even learning more about Spotify’s submission process for tracks pending release.

6. Play at festivals

“But- “, you’re about to say and YES, WE KNOW FESTIVALS ARE A THING OF THE PAST.  But, there are a plethora of digital/ virtual shows happening as music venues get creative so don’t make it an excuse, rather adapt (easier said than done, Instagram Live takes some getting used to #livecommentsarestressful).

7. Invest in short-form content

Instagram, TikTok, Twitter…they are both the devil and the darling of a musician’s reality. But as Nakul reminds us, “the value of short-form content cannot be underestimated”.
Get creative with short videos, alternative versions of your music, etc.

8. Share, then share again, and then share some more

“The most important thing is to share,” Nakul explains. “Not holding on in saying ‘this needs a certain level of perfection’, but rather putting out more content and seeing where it goes.”
Once again: share it. Then share it again, and then finally: share some more.

9. Do everything you can to ensure quality

Having just spoken about the perfection problem, you’re probably ready to slam your laptop down and yell “hypocrites!”. 
Wait! Quantity is still important, but the importance of quality can be true at the same time.
“Music needs to be of a certain standard, but it’s nothing that can only be done with the help of a top mixing/ mastering engineer,” Nakul tells us. “Use resources within your budget and your network, there is talent all around us, it’s all about connecting the dots.”

*Enter back into scene*

You close your laptop screen, and sit back in your chair. Out of the window there is a full moon glistening against a dark night sky. 

“Thank you Tonemamas and Nakul,” you whisper to the once-again-empty room.

You’re welcome.

*End scene*

To follow Nakul’s projects check out:

Nakul Sharma

Pesky Tapes

Davesar – first song comes out 10/09/2020


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