Alternative record companies are known for taking a chance on lesser known, out-of-the-mainstream performers. In fact, some of today's most prominent artists got their start in alternative music production and distribution. Many artists, especially those whose music doesn't easily fit into established categories, may feel that alternative music record labels are a better fit. They may also think that alternative music labels are easier to break into. This is sometimes true, but alternative record labels also have strict standards; after all, their reputations are built on promoting the highest-quality and most original music, not on signing high-profile artists.
To attract the attention of an alternative record label, you'll need to show them you're a serious professional dedicated to producing inventive and innovative music. Before you contact top alternative music labels, follow these steps:
1. Record a high-quality, professional demo of your best work.
2. Hire an agent to act on your behalf, and maybe help you get in the door more quickly.
3. Research which independent record labels specialize in music similar to yours.
Benefit from the resources and exposure of top alternative music labels
Though most alternative labels started out small, the success of their high-profile artists has placed them at almost the same level as labels that have been around for decades. These labels may be more receptive to your style of music than a more mainstream company would, but you'll still benefit from a larger budget and greater attention to marketing and promotion.
If you're a new artist, try independent record labels
As attractive as the more well-known labels are, if you're new to the industry, you may be more likely to secure a contract if you focus on smaller, or even local, labels. Because these companies are small and still building their reputation, they may provide more one-on-one attention and guidance, because their growth depends on the success of their performers.
Find an alternative music label that focuses on your style of music
"Alternative" often refers to any style of music that doesn't fall into the more mainstream categories, such as pop, country or rap, for example. But even within the alternative music genre, styles vary drastically. Some labels have a harder edge, signing artists that perform more of a hard rock style, while others prefer more laidback styles, such as folk-inspired. Check out the websites of alternative record labels you're interested in, to find out who their artists are and what style of music they specialize in.
- When researching alternative music production, start by browsing your own music library. What labels are your favorite performers with? You may find that the perfect label for you is sitting right there on your shelf. And, because you're familiar with their artists, you'll have a better idea of what they're looking for.
- Before you start contacting alternative record labels, invest in a professional quality demo. This provides labels a better idea of how the finished product will sound and shows them you're willing to put forth your best effort to make the project a success.