What To Do When A Label Approaches Your Band
What to do when the suits come calling.
Flickr/ Jose Camões Silva
Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.
Dear Fan, I've been playing in bands pretty much all my life. They've all been pretty terrible to say the least, but it's been a learning process, so I think it's been worth it. However, in the past year I decided to take music into my own hands and learn how to write my own songs. Since then, I have released a ton of music and toured a good amount. This is all in one year. Recently, a reputable label has said they have some interest in the band. We have been wined and dined, etc. Yet, it's been three weeks since they have gotten back to us. What do I do during this process? Do I simply sit back and wait? Or do I take it into my own hands and email or call them back? Are they disinterested? Help! J
Dear J, Congratulations--this must feel vindicating after years of being in awful bands!
It's been three weeks, which is plenty of time --and right on the verge of too long-- so I can imagine it's kind of killing you and you are fearing rejection. Call! Do not email. Proactive counts! Don't give anyone the chance to mis-read your tone. When it matters and you want to show you give a shit, pick up the damn phone. Call and b.s. a little and be social, complain about the holiday with your family or how people were at your New Years gig and then just ask. "It's been a few weeks since our meeting and I wanted to see where you guys were at, because, obviously, we'd love to be making records with you." Show your interest and gently press them to show theirs. That should at least start the conversation. Don't get into passive aggressive power plays --inventing other offers or saying you are going into the studio next week-- to try to force their hand. All labels want bands that want to be on their label, want to work hard with/for them and have their acts at least moderately together. Show enthusiasm, but not desperation.
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If they hedge a bit, ask them what their reservations are. Maybe it's something that could be easily remedied --or something you are already working towards (SXSW! Better recordings!)-- or maybe your bass player nodded off during dinner or something rubbed them the wrong way. Ask. Knowledge is power and real answers are valuable, even if it's "We're just not that into you," or "We have no money right now." Don't worry that you are pestering them (unless you are texting them stuff like "I guess you hate us now LOL") or being too forward. Make a move and hopefully you'll find out they were just waiting for your signal that you want them the same way they want you.
Happy New Year, Fan
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