Record Deal? I Want A Record Deal!

Submitted by Peter Åstedt

“Sorry for bombarding you with demo emails.” This was the first line in an email I got in from an artist that kept on writing that he or she (the artist name really don’t give it away) had written fifteen songs in different styles, love songs, ballads, pop songs, and dance love pop songs. Strange styles to write songs in, but hey, who am I to judge?

Then it was a new link to a song on SoundCloud. The song sounds like you just bought a beat online somewhere and then you wrote a really bad poem to a dead mummy. Yes, the song is about a dead mummy, I shit you not. Clearly, the music wasn’t up to any standards. Nowadays it doesn’t need to be in any standards to be given out either. In one way if the Soundcloud link wasn’t private it had still been given out. That it was a bad song and not that interesting, it’s the rest of the letter. Directly after the link, they jump to this:

I wish to acquire a record deal. There are three types of deals that interest me:             

–          The 360 Deal     

–          The Single Deal Recording Contract; and         

–          The Major Label Deal        

   In terms of a Single Deal Recording Contract, I have this in mind:

What they had in mind doesn’t say. Instead after that, they start writing about their bio, which I guess they forgot to copy and paste. We come back to that bio later. Let’s stay and look at the deals. 

My guess is that this person doesn’t really know what they are talking about. What happens if they get a 360 deal from an independent label? Is that good enough? Or what happens if a major label offers a 360 deal is that then a Major deal or a 360?

First of all, are the 360 deals still around? Yes, I can see them in shady small indie labels that really don’t know anything. In my mind, the 360 deals went to the scrapyard already ten-fifteen years ago since no one really could do a good job in a 360 deal either you were good on the release or good on the live side, no one was good on both, that doesn’t happen.

Single deal recording contract? Today to give artists money to record songs would be utterly stupid. Back in the old days, yes you needed quite a lot of money to record. That was the big thing. Today you can record out of any laptop if you are skilled enough. This means that no one is paying for a recording. You pay for mastering, mixing, and maybe a producer/engineer. If you pay for a recording it is a special studio with a good producer and engineer. That only happens though if the label is secure to recoup that so it’s a treatment for superstars. If an unknown artist is doing it, it comes out of their own pocket.

The Major Label Deal. Whoaa, stop here most of the bigger labels today won’t sign an artist out of fifteen written songs. Today a bigger label can wait quite a long time to watch your career before they sign you. They want a solid artist career with kind of good success to be able to put in their bigger engines to that project. If they would get a new artist, it’s probably a new project from a famous artist or boy or a girl band that they want to build up a brand. Signing a random new artist is not on the map, it’s too risky with the investment so they don’t have to do that any longer.

To even be considered for a Major Label deal you must have a very good bio and track record. Here we come back to the bio. Here the artist presents what they do on a normal day today and that they work in the public sector in their daytime profession. To be honest you have to live out of your music just to even have a chance to be something the Major Labels would put big money into on an investment level.

In the end, comes the big surprise. I had my feeling that this is just a lunatic that makes music and sends things around. To my big surprise, the whole letter is signed by a lawyer, a music lawyer. I was so baffled that I look the firm up, and yes, it’s real. They are operating as a law firm for music.

Suddenly you just wonder what kind of advice this firm would give people? I’m not easily surprised but even my jaw dropped on this one.

Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 35 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. In 2021, he worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes Peter is a Managing Partner and Editor of the newly launched Record World International.