How to find the right label? publishing?

So I’ve been plugging away at an album for the last decade. lol. Granted I had to learn how to make music in a different way. I guess it is 10,000 hrs no matter what.

So I am actually pretty much finished it and I’d like to see if I can find a good label where the people like music and can maybe help me with some publishing, placements, distro. I know the music is good. It isn’t shit anyways. Where does one find suitable labels? I am a grumpy old man and I have no clue what is going on. Any advice?

My advice, pay for distrokid yourself and self release. Anyone please prove me wrong but I don’t feel like there are many “in between” labels. Either it is a shite netlabel that will add no value to your release (ie you might as well do it yourself) or its a for serious label. Only for the for serious labels that actually have reach, power, clout.

I frankly don’t see the advantage of handing over my work to people who are just going to plop it up and bandcampa and make a few social media posts unless they’ve got a serious established audience who listens to whatever they put out.

1 Like

well, I’d really like to try and get some stuff in film or tv and I have a day job. lol.

If you think you have something don’t squander it on some bollocks ass label. And what little I know about publishing with labels I’d say skip that non sense and go straight to the source if your goal is TV and film!

Dig into schools with film programs with grad students who need music but don’t have money. I still think Uni’s are a gold mine for getting your stuff out there when students in another discipline need your media.


I’m no expert at all but with another IDMfer I was involved in a project called Erstav which ended up on Muti Music.
I have now long left but here’s what we did on the first album.
Select 2/3 tracks that represent that album the best, so pretty much the best tracks. Put them on Soundcloud. Secret link disable comments.
Make a list of artists that are similar to your style.
Google them and write down all the labels they released on.
Look for those labels contact info see if they have a demo policy.
If they do, READ IT CAREFULLY, then submit, always tailoring the email to the label.
If not, write them to ask about demos.

Be prepared for many rejections, prepare to be ignored, prepared to see your tracks skipped.

Something that can help is asking as many people as you can to listen to your track selection and let you know about the song order and selection of tracks. If more than 1 person agree on a comment, listen.

Good luck, it’s a painful process but nothing a good excel spreadsheet can’t sort.

Problem with self-releasing on Distrokid or similar imho is that you have to already have a name or you have to make some form of promotion yourself or chances are that you will get just a handfull of listeners. Most small netlabels don’t make a lot of promotion, but they at least have a few listeners that will check out your stuff. So it kinda depends what you are willing to do, how many people already are waiting for your stuff and are willing to share it, and what forms of promotion the label in question is doing.


Not trying to nah say since metaside is absolutely correct, but you’d want a really good idea of how large that audience really is.

Especially if someone else is going to end up owning your music.

1 Like

I’m with @relic. Don’t deal with shit labels, they’re a dime a dozen and they don’t add any value to your work. Often times you’ll cough up rights to them and they’ll do very little promotion for you in return and pocket whatever change they get, so it’s basically the same as putting your stuff on distrokid.

As for everything else, it looks like a hard game. Never been there, GL

1 Like

A label often handles:

  • recording/mixing/mastering
  • promotion
  • distribution
  • clout (being that they already have ‘known’ artists for you to coat tail or bolster name recognition)
  • touring/booking

The problem with really small labels is that they aren’t going to cough up $20k for a studio, their ‘promotion’ budget tends to be minimal (FB posts, website, etc), they’ll put your shit on bandcamp and then link it on their site, and they likely don’t have contacts or manpower to book you a legit tour, and they probably won’t pay for it if they do. Often, the best you can hope for is that there’s some similar artists for you to network with who will promote you. But they’re the labels that will take almost anyone, because there’s minimal risk or cost involved.

We live in an age where people just click on things and listen to it, and where 90% of the nuts-n-bolts stuff that labels traditionally handled can be done by the artist, at least on a small scale. Nobody needs to have money fronted for CD pressings anymore, or distro deals with Hastings and Camalot to get front row parking in the store. So much of what labels used to do are now outmodded concepts, and many parts they do handle, you can just do yourself.

The problem is that a ‘real’ label (decent sized indie labels) are businesses, and they’re in the business of moving music and taking a cut. They look long and hard at demos, and they weigh the investment risks. That sounds cut throat, but it’s exactly what you want - someone that knows a lot more than you about the boring and difficult parts of music promotion. That’s the tier to punch - you’re not getting on a big label without already having a name, and the small ones will charge you to do what you can already do (probably better).

tldr - Well established indie labels are the way to go.


I’d suggest self-releasing first that would work as a showreel, especially if you don’t have anything in your catalogue yet. Release it, then move on to something new. You can distribute it yourself too and this means you’re 100% in control. However, this start-up plan is the hardest part, obviously, because you need to hope that what you are currently doing gets picked up by some listeners. But here’s that golden rule that helps a lot - make good music. Sounds cliché but it’s very true. Competition is very high but there’s a lot of terrible music out there too!

Netlabels are hit or miss. If some netlabel approaches you via e-mail/social media, check their catalogue first and it will be easy to tell how much they bother with their releases. A huge red flag is if they’re releasing a new album every 1-2 weeks so prepare the classic “I’ll think about it” answer and move on because it means quantity over quality.

Look for a label you feel your music would fit in, inspect their art direction, ask for their manifest/ideology behind it. While small labels won’t offer you much of exposure the important aspect here that it’s way better to have your music belonging somewhere within a smaller community rather than being a release #1156 on some mega-catalogue. This really depends on music you’re doing and very important for those who make experimental stuff. Narrower scenes help to build relationships quicker. In general, more niche genre artists like to create own small community-driven labels for themselves. A home-grown one for only 5-6 same-minded artists from the same area is a common thing, I’ve noticed that. It works surprisingly well because they own that identity. There’s a lot of communication happening.

Now, if you’re up for submitting something, really makes sure you meet their standard of quality (I know this is very obvious). It’s not like sending your resume to some company where you can lie a bit about this one experience just so you could get a job. You really need to be 100% sure it’s in the same caliber with their previous releases so use it this as a very defined reference what are they expecting. So, if you’re aiming really high, your music should be very professional too. Never play some dumb lottery with this and don’t waste their/your time if the quality is not there yet. Always accept rejection as a reality check and get back to work.


Also: self-promoting/self-marketing is really hard.

You can reach out to many labels/blogs/social media/web groups/radios and you are more likely to be vastly ignored than anything else. The problem is that there’s simply too many “bedroom producers” and, I get it, probably a lot of crap out there, so that potential promoters won’t even touch your email/info unless you have many followers on Soundcloud, ReverbNation, Instagram or whatever places are most looked at these days.

Last but not least, people don’t really buy music anymore. You can have tons of listeners, be prepared to lose money when releasing an album outside of digital (CD, vinyl, tape). I knew it would be bad but I didn’t think it would be that bad.

If anybody knows any good way to market your project independently, I’m certainly listening :slight_smile:

Touring. My friend’s band (Cosmic Kitten) has done two tours, and both - while expensive- have made them a small amount of money and got their name out across the continental US. I’m very curious to see how their next album does (which is coming soon). Even before, they’ve had to do multiple CD runs of their last album, because they keep selling copies at shows - along with their merch. Shows put you in front of a captive audience who is most likely to care about your stuff - and that’s where sales are born.

As a few have said, playing out if you can is still the best way to interact with real people and not just digital numbers like “plays” and “likes”

This is absolutely said with a humble tone and I hope that old forum members aren’t sick of hearing about it, but over the past few summers I have been gifted the opportunity to help build an art space at a festival and DJ three dance nights at it over a week long festival.

I guess I bring it up because for me, this is what keeps me going creatively all year. Its so cool to have this thing you are working for all the time. I literally stumbled into it while on MDMA and bullshitting with an aquitance around a camp fire at said festival. He cooked it up and got it OK’d with the festival owners and now we are a huge hit. Sorry. I’m having a really weird day. But maybe it is worth it to find something like that for yourself. Ive been shocked and humbled by the response and I feel no need for anything else in my life since I make my living not on music.


Check out labels through the discogs release data base:
(select genre / style)

You can get an impression of any label there and choose some which seem credible.
Good luck!

1 Like