How to Successfully Submit Music to Record Labels

“You as an artist are a brand. You need a strong image, to know who you are, what you wish to achieve and to keep pushing for that no matter what.”  

Gemma Roberts label owner & artist manager offers music producers some advice on sending music out to prospective record labels and how to promote and represent yourself correctly online.

So, you have finished a track, maybe a few tracks that you are happy with and you feel it’s time as a producer to submit music to record labels for opinions, feedback and the possibility of it being signed. This can be a daunting process for any budding new music producer and experienced ones alike. Getting your music noticed is unfortunately not an easy and simple process, with the cliques and politics surrounding the electronic music industry it is becoming ever more difficult for your tracks to be picked up. As a record label owner and A&R who frequently deals with demo e-mails from up and coming artists here are a few professional rules to follow and things you can do in order to speed up and ease the process..


email back lots of email

Be selective with which record label you send your music to

Do not just send your music to just any record label, you need to research each particular labels musical ethos and direction. If you submit music to record labels just because you recognise the name not only wastes the A&R’s time but your own. Before you start sending tracks out really consider what you think your sound is, compare it to other producers and see which labels they fit. Label’s are increasingly becoming more crew orientated, compare yourself to their other artists and check out their tastes and direction and see if this is a family you think you could slot into. Always conduct yourself in a professional manner and make sure your correspondences are polite and well written, being courteous doesn’t cost anything.

Don’t make fundamental errors

Never submit your music to multiple people in the same e-mail, for example posting the link to the track in an e-mail and CCing in all other record labels. As a label owner nothing disappoints us more than when a producer isn’t motivated enough to send individual personalised emails. I have seen a few producers receive a dressing down from lots of A&R’s for making this mistake. You should always enjoy and compliment the label you are sending to, explain why you would like the be a part of their journey, which previous releases you enjoyed and make an effort!


When is comes to sampling…BE CAREFUL!! There was once a time that using a well known R&B sample in say a deep house record for example was extremely common practice and record labels would release these tracks via Beatport etc without a second thought. Although acceptable for a while, the major record labels began to catch onto this particular growing trend in electronic music and decided to take back what is rightfully theirs in terms of publishing and in other areas.  There are many record labels that take a chance and will release obviously sampled music, my advice to you would be to be careful, avoid very obvious vocals and lyrics, and wherever possible try and obtain some original vocals.

Be Soundcloud Savvy

Make sure your Soundcloud is neat and tidy and if you can afford to pay for the premium option do so. With the paid option you can order your tracks how you would like them to be seen when people click on your profile, your own work will be boosted to the top of the page rather than other popular things you have liked and shared. Make sure that your Biography isn’t too wordy, you should let your music speak for itself. Insure your correct contact details are provided and the links to your other social media platforms work. Pop your demos into a playlist and send the private link to the label, I would suggest that you have the whole track available to listen to, downloadable if you are sending to a major but at a lower quality, not 320. If sending to a small record label do not give the downloadable option, let them take a listen first, if they are really interested they will get back to you and ask for a downloadable link. You can never be too careful in this industry with your work.


Never underestimate the power of social media

The above pointers all tie in nicely with some music business advice on the great importance of using social media to promote yourself successfully as a producer and DJ. Make sure that you have your Facebook band page separate to your personal, with a press shot or logo. Keep your bio to the point and honest as mentioned above, and make sure it is a reflection of your musical integrity.

Be present online everyday!! Be it posting something you have produced or created yourself e.g. podcast, or other peoples work you particularly enjoy, even something you find amusing. Take a look at the people who influence you social media accounts, and view how they conduct themselves online, there is a lot to be learned from your idols. You as an artist are a brand, you need a strong image, to know who you are, what you wish to achieve, and to keep pushing for that no matter what.

If you’d like to know more about the music industry and how to navigate, check out out Music Business Course, and our Rob Gretton Scholarship.

Joe Dodd : Sound Engineering Work at Neuron Pro Audio

Pharmacist turned Midi School Student turned Audio Engineer, Joe Dodd talks us of his work with Neuron Pro Audio…

Hey Joe! Talk us through how you started working with Neuron Pro Audio.

I saw the Neuron Pro Audio post on the MMS noticeboard here when I first started the 18 month Music Production, Audio Engineering and Music Business Course – but I hadn’t done my Audio Engineering module at that point. But, when I felt like I was ready enough to work with them I emailed them through in October and they were happy enough to let me come along with them, and I’ve been doing sound engineering work ever since!

Describe some of the work you’ve been doing…

I’ve helped Neuron Pro Audio setup the Void Soundsystems. So like, travelling to different venues – Manchester, Liverpool and so on. We liaise with the club owners familiarise ourselves with their setup and route it through the rig. I’ve also helped them with live gigs; so I’ve set up all the monitoring speakers on the stage for bands, as well as routing all the instruments, micing them up, and doing all the changeovers. Really hectic, in busy environments where everyone is still partying and you’ve got to do quite quick changeovers!

Are you enjoying it?

I am! It’s challenging but I felt quite comfortable after my Midi School Audio Engineering module. Jonny, the chief engineer, would instruct me of what needed routing through e.g. “I need those appliers routed to those monitor with monitors 3,4 linked” etc, and then he would let me get on with it. At times if there were problems I’d just work it out from there, so it was great.

Music Production and Sound Engineering Work at school of electronic music

Would you say that the course here has helped prepare you?

Most definitely, yes, particularly the audio engineering module where we familiarise ourselves with suitable microphones for instruments or vocalists and all the necessary outboard gear. Also with in-house studio wiring – it’s completely the same and applicable to live setups with different considerations to monitoring and live venue acoustics. I couldn’t have done it without the course at all.

Are there any really satisfying bits you’ve had so far?

The best bit was probably when we had to do a quick changeover – we had 20 minutes to changeover Riot Jazz – so from a 5 piece band with like generic guitars, bass guitars, drums and then remiccing it to 3 trumpets, a trombone… there was 6 brass instrument players, a drummer and the MC, and the sousamaphone of course. So yeah, that was kind of off the cuff!

Do you think you’ve come quite a long way since the days of your MMS Tour, back when you were doing pharmacy?

Music started off as just a passion, a hobby, but since coming to the school, particularly nearer the end of my course I’ve realised ‘OK there are all these possibilities’, and it’s made me more confident with the direction that I’d like to go in. At first, I wanted to have a career where there was a creative process and I could see something through from start to finish, so I delved into music production. Now, I can see a career in music with a whole new perspective. Whether it’s in live sound, music licensing or sound for screen. Also, it’s all about what you do with the knowledge you have gained and how pro-active you can be with it. Don’t just go to studio slots, also, meet other musicians and jam or make music, contact companies for experience or even offer to produce other bands music for free – it’s all a learning curve.

Definitely agree, you’ve got to be switched on about the steps it takes to get a job in the industry…

Yeah, there’s a weird battle now – I really want to get my music out there, but at the same time, I’d still like to venture in the industry with an alternative career as well, in case my music productions don’t earn my keep – it’s good to keep my options open and develop multiple skills in different fields. I’d still prefer to be working in music and earning a crust, as well as working on my music. It doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re delving into music and being submersed in it – around bands and around like-minded people – unsociable hours of course, but it’s worth it.

Fancy taking the course Joe did? Check out our 18 month Music Production and Audio Engineering Diploma if you like the sound of it!

Does loop based music restrict or free your creativity?

Everybody has a different angle that they take when producing or writing music. This process will derive from how the user has learnt to play their chosen instrument, or how they have learnt to write music within a sequencer. It is quite common to think that electronic music made in the box will be made up of loops and while this may be the case, it is not the only situation that this can occur. I’m not particularly interested in arguing if writing with loops is a good or a bad way of working because I believe that if a musical idea is conceived, that it should be realized in any way that the writer chooses to compose it. Some of the most well known pieces of music in the world have been based around loops, even when the computer music workstation wasn’t at the heart of the producers studio. The question that I want to ask is, does loop based music restrict or free your creativity? The first example that I want to show you is the Nine Inch Nails track – “Something I can never have”, which starts with a piano riff that seems to fall over itself at times, but is still a loop playing constantly throughout the track. The loop almost seems to fall out of time as it drifts in to the soundscape around it – but yet always starts in the right place musically. The song starts with the piano but this is not the main instrument. Nine Inch Nails are considered or recognized as a band, but the music is generally written by Trent Reznor and as this example shows, a loop can allow great freedom to experiment within the boundaries that it puts in place.

NIN – Something I can never have

I think, as with most things in music, this original question doesn’t have a straight yes or no, black or white answer. But I believe very strongly that if the writer has varied influences, is open to experimentation and most importantly doesn’t build the whole track from loops, there is no reason why an original and interesting piece of music can be produced. The situation that a developing music producer could find themselves in with sample packs containing loops is the basic regurgitation of music that has already been developed, which goes without saying. But if only one loop is used within the track this can actually give a strong foundation for the musical content to weave in and out altering the emphasis and energy of the track. This can be identified in all styles of music and shouldn’t be thought of as a purely electronic direction. I mentioned earlier that some of the most famous pieces of music that exist are based around a loop, Michael Jackson’s Thriller is one of those, and is undeniably one of the most highly respected and loved pieces of music ever written. The bass line is the loop and is continuous throughout the track, allowing the other elements of the music to develop, the vocals and synth parts primarily, which in turn build up the energy in to the chorus. Now its safe to say that Thriller was not written in a modern DAW, and it is more likely that the main riff of the song, written by Rod Temperton, was brought to the musical table – so to speak – the other people in the room would have started to add their parts until a track started forming. And we all know what happened with the track.

Michael Jackson – Thriller

The point that I am trying to make is that music of any genre can be created around a loop. The loop provides a constant for the rest of the music to swing in and around the said constant. This can be taken to the extreme where the loop is very obvious throughout the track, Little Dragon – Paris, is a good example of this. Little Dragon, if you have not heard of this outfit, blend electronic composition and sounds with a more contemporary live performance. The use of loops is more obvious in this track than in others but the example shows an extreme of loop use.

Little Dragon – Paris

Similar to Simon Green aka Bonobo, another example of an electronic producer who blends all sound sources at his disposal in his creation of the music, the culmination of this in the live performance show that is put on. The loop in the following track is not the main hook in the track, like with other examples, but it sets the scene and is the underlying phrase throughout the song. Bonobo is known for the his compositional style that evokes a emotional response as well as making people want to dance.

Bonobo – Cirrus

How many pieces of music will you listen to now and realize that there is a loop involved, it won’t ruin the piece for the listener but it certainly makes you think about how to approach your next track. The loop can of course be taken to its extreme with producer performers such as Dub FX or Denis Jones, who use loop stations, loop pedals and various effects to to build up a track layer by layer. The guitar style footswitches allow the effects and more importunity the loops to be triggered as part of a performance. This is a genius way of producing music, and to a certain extent, a very minimal amount of equipment needs to be used, but extreme confidence and detailed knowledge of the equipment is needed to be able to manipulate it in a live situation.

Here are a few more examples from well known artists that use the idea of a loop to lay down a theme or phrase in a track, you may be surprised at some of them, you may know these tracks already. The John Cage example is slightly tenuous as there is varied progression in the pattern in places but the phrasing and riff that essentially loops is audible every time it plays. The Paul Simon track, has two loops that are running, the bass part throughout (with exception of the bass solo) and the fanfare horns that introduce us to the track and return for the chorus.

Paul Simon – You can call me Al

Finally, our use of loops in the music industry can also be attributed to some fairly “out there” installation artists. Firstly, I would like to point you to Alvin Lucifer, who’s iconic installation experiment of recording a sentence explaining what is happening, projecting the sentence back into a room, recording it and playing back etc etc leads to a degradation of the sound, illustrates how a loop can be taken out of context and experienced in a completely different light.

Alvin Lucifer

The second video I would like to highlight is “6 Drummers and an Apartment”. As the title suggests this is a video about 6 Drummers in an Apartment, who are playing found sounds, playing live looped patterns with the sounds and creating a extremely musical pieces. It’s not written and composed music in the same way that the majority of the other examples have been, but the principle of all the musicians playing loops draws parallels with the solo performers like

6 Drummers and an Apartment

So what can we take from all this? When it comes down to it, loops are used everywhere, riffs or phrases that we write, play and repeat are technically loops. Live bands are playing loops, but with the exciting exception that because these are never played the same way every time, (through improvisation, variation, or even error) the possibility of creativity is enhanced. If there is an element of performance involved in the music, the possibility of increased creativity certainly becomes a possibility. A constant loop can set the precedent for the track, giving slight restrictions but allowing for experimentation in the spaces. If we think about how Ableton Live works, loops or clips can be triggered to play within an arrangement, this again is great in a live situation, but it is interesting how this piece of software has a certain area that is focused on allowing experimentation with loops.

There are no right or wrongs when it comes to making music, but there are many different ways to skin a cat. Try something different next time you sit down to compose a piece of music, and that goes for those of you that play guitar or keys too, any instrument can be used to create a loop for which the rest of a track can be born from. If you struggle with creativity or finding a direction, try starting with a loop and see how the track progresses, you never know, this could be the revelation you have been looking for to free your creativity.

On a side note, don’t confuse loops with sampling, in the way that sampling can be used to create a the whole basis of a track, for example, Snoop Dogg / Dr Dre – The Next Episode, which was originally, David McCollum – The Edge – and the original is on one of my all time favorite tracks.

David McCollum – The Edge