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  • Writer's pictureBen Byre

How To Submit Music To Independent Record Labels (Best Tips)

Submit music to record labels
How to get your music heard by a record label


  • What types of Independent record labels exist?

  • What can a record label provide you as an artist?

  • 3 main record label deals

  • Who do you need to contact at the label?

  • Find a record label that best suits you.

  • Find a record label that fits your style.

  • Find a record label that has artists you admire and would like to collaborate with.

  • Shortlist different labels.

  • Know who you are and where you stand in your music journey

  • Preparation for your music submission

  • Music artwork

  • Consistently utilize the power of social media

  • Demo submission policy

  • Find official contact details and personalize your messages

  • No luck in your first attempt, then choose a different route

  • The importance of feedback

  • Use a music submission platform

The music industry is a vibrant ecosystem of artists, writers, producers and engineers. For aspiring artists or bands looking to sign to a record label, it's important to fully understand how the process works and what steps you can take to increase your chances of success. This blog will explain how to submit music to labels, and explain why it is an important step in your music career.

What types of Independent record labels exist?

There are 4 major record labels worldwide that hold the majority of the market share (over 85%) in the music industry.

Universal (35.1%)

Universal, which was founded in 1934, is a monopoly within the music industry, with artists such as Taylor Swift, Kanye West and Billie Eilish in their books.

EMI Records

which operates under Universal Music Group, was originally founded in 1931, by the merger of the UK Columbia Gramophone Company and the Gramophone Company. Later on the label was acquired in 2007 by the private equity firm Terra Firma Capital Partners Limited. They represented British music legends such as Queen, The Beatles and David Bowie. EMI Group currently operates under Universal Music Group.

Sony (22.8%)

Founded in 1929, Sony Music Entertainment has signed a vast amount of all time music greats over time, such as Michael Jackson, Beyonce and Mariah Carey.

Warner (21.1%)

Warner, which was founded in 1958, is choosing to represent more artists making the transition into the music industry from social media. To this day, Warner still represents music artists like Madonna and Dua Lipa, however also represents newer artists, such as TikTok influencer, Nessa Barnett.

Record Store
3 major record companies.

Other than the 3 major record companies, there are many independent labels,of which some are bigger than others, and some collaborate with major record companies. Certain labels are completely independent and some accept unsolicited material from artists. An effective method to evaluate a label is by reviewing the portfolio of their signed artists, how big the artists are and how many followers they have on social media, fans and live shows etc....

This will give you some sort of idea regarding the size of the label.

What can a record label provide you as an artist?

Before even thinking about submitting your demos or tracks to a Independent record label, it's important to understand the different types of record deals and what they entail. The types of record deals differ in many ways, such as Royalty sharing, retrievable costs and majority ownership to name a few. You may be wondering why it's important to know about these kinds of offers.

Well, before speaking to the A&R manager, it can be an advantage to you if you already know what you want, in addition to being aware of what you are going to be potentially offered by the label.

3 main record label deals

Tradition Record Deal

Under this agreement, the label-artist royalty split ratio is 80:20, and the billable costs are single or album recording costs, with majority ownership remaining with the label.

These are probably the most common record deals signed by artists with mainstream labels. This may seem like a bad deal, but it can also work for artists. If you can increase your overall success with brand promotion and marketing support, you are more likely to regain your credibility and get better deals for your next release.

360 Deal

360 record deals are as common as traditional record deals. These deals are seen as a great investment in the artist as Independent record labels will be operating at a loss for a significant period of time as the retrievable costs cover everything. The royalty split equates to 85:15. The label will also be majority owners of the royalties. J. Cole for example is a successful, critically acclaimed recording artist, thanks to his 360 contract he signed with Roc Nation in 2009.

Profit Split Deals

Profit split record deals became a popular choice amongst artists once again back in 2018. The deal entails that the label agrees to a 50/50 split of royalties with the artist, as well as a large upfront payment to the artist. This is all done in exchange for reimbursement of all expenses. So, in the traditional record deal mentioned above, the label only reimburses the advance and recording costs, but in the profit share deal, the label reimburses the artist upfront as well as recording, marketing and all other costs.

independent artist Studio
Record deals for the independent artist

Who do you need to contact at the label?

An A&R (Artist & Repertoire) manager's responsibilities begin with talent discovery and signing, and continue through the creation, marketing and promotion of a track from start to finish. Specific duties include introducing talented records to labels, acting as a liaison between artists, producers and other creatives as well as arranging recording sessions.

An aspiring musician should know that to get a record deal with a record label, you will need to reach out to the A&R contact at the label you are interested in signing with. Ultimately, they are the ones who make the final decision to sign you on behalf of the label. Remember to always remain professional, and show your passion by submitting your best work. This will be your best chance to get your music heard!

Find a record label that best suits you.

It is very important to research labels and find key players before submitting a demo. Before you submit your music to a record label, there are a few steps you need to take. Below are some of the important actions that can help you get signed.

Find a record label that fits your style.

We know this can be difficult as sometimes you don't want to limit your music to just a few genres. However, do note that some EDM labels, for example, will not give your submission any attention, if you are submitting music releases in the Hip-Hop/R&B genre. This may seem obvious, but it actually happens!

Find a record label that has artists you admire and would like to collaborate with.

Genres aside, the best way to shortlist potential labels is by finding out if the label has signed artists you've worked with before, would like to work with, or who inspire you. This is a great method to find the best label for you. Previous collaborations with artists in the music industry are also a great way to raise awareness and gain recognition from labels.

Shortlist different labels

Based on previous research, it is a useful idea to categorize the labels that are most likely to listen to your submitted tracks. Once you have compiled the list, rank the labels according to your preferences and then submit your music.

Know who you are and where you stand in your music journey

If you're just starting out in your music career, the major record labels probably won't be interested in you. You will need a decent number of followers and crowd interest to get their attention. If you're not on or don't have many followers on Instagram, you will need to drastically improve your online presence on social media.

Artist on a show
Your musical journey

Preparation for your music submission

Tracks submitted to record labels must sound professional.

Gone are the days when an indie artist could send an unfinished track (demo) to a record label. If you turn in a less-than-finished track today, it's highly unlikely someone will come back to you from the record label.

If it sounds like a home recording, or if the quality doesn't match what the artist releases on their major label of choice, they'll think you're not and/or not for a career in the music industry. Don't take your technology seriously.

Make sure your music is properly mixed and mastered. The competition out there is huge. You can't afford to be left behind because of a rookie error, your track volume being set at a lower volume compared to other tracks submitted. Always do a final review of your song before your submission.

Music artwork

Your artwork is the first thing an A&R sees at a record company.

A cool and unique artist image can have a massive impact when you aim to try to grab an A&R manager's attention. Be creative, be bold, look for cool references for artist artwork, and take your time planning before publishing. The artwork is as important as the song.

Consistently utilize the power of social media

Social media is at the heart of all promotions for aspiring musicians. It is absolutely imperative that every aspiring artist has a solid music marketing plan across various social media platforms and channels. If a label A&R likes your music, the first thing they will do is check your social media pages to see how much traction you have across platforms.

If you have a Facebook page, post updates on new song releases and upcoming gigs. If you have an Instagram account, upload and share photos of your live performances and recordings. If you have a Twitter profile, share lyrics and music videos with your fans who follow you, and share links to buy your music.

Social media is also a great way for musicians to collaborate and promote music together and be able to reach new audiences and get your music heard. A music submission platform is a very useful tool to aid in this collaboration between artists. Read on for more information.

Artist on a live show
The power of social media

Demo submission policy

Most record labels have specific demo submission guidelines to ensure each submission meets the same requirements. These include copyright laws, demo formats, contact methods, and more. Submitting your demo according to the record label's demo policy increases the chances of it being signed by the record label.

Find official contact details and personalize your messages

Communicating on the label's official channels is extremely important to note. Avoid posting on social media asking questions about demos. Music demo submissions sent in social media posts are often rejected or ignored. Instead, look for demo submission opportunities through the labels official contact medium. Visit the labels official website or LinkedIn page for contact information or how to submit a music demo instructions.

You can also try looking for the record labels A&R manager. Personalizing your message is the key to standing out from the crowd. In short, introduce yourself, tell them about your demo and music in general, and why you and the label are a perfect match.

No luck in your first attempt, then choose a different route

If you are unable to find the email address of the label A&R, send an email directly to the label, asking them permission if you can submit your music straight to them.

If you still don't get a response from them, you can send your music directly from your personal Facebook or Twitter account to get the label's attention. This is not the best method of reaching out to labels, however it gives you the opportunity to be in contact with them.

The importance of feedback

If no one is interested in listening to your music, it probably means you're doing something wrong in the process. Your song may not be reaching the right people or your music needs to be improved. Getting professional feedback on your music is an important step to keep improving your music quality. Constantly seeking advice from music professionals, valuing advice given and knowing how to deal with criticism is the only way to grow as an artist in the music industry.

Use a music submission platform

An online music submission platform, like One Submit, can help you submit music to Spotify playlists, Radio stations, TikTok channels, YouTube channels, Music blogs, Record labels and soon to be Deezer playlists.

You can sign up and create a promotional campaign on the One Submit platform, and we will assist you in getting your tracks listened to by record labels within your music genre. Once you have submitted your music, a curator will review your song, if the curator likes your song, they will add it to their playlist, channel or label.

We know the process of sending music demos to a record label can be difficult, but it's not impossible. If you carefully follow the steps outlined above and stay consistent and diligent in your pursuit of a successful music career, then there's a great chance that you will get rewarded for all your hard work.

Good luck.

Check out our blog on how to promote music in 2023

For music promotion, visit our home page

Check out our TikTok music promotion plan

Find out more about Spotify playlist submission 


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