Zero To Hero: The Ursus Project – Let’s Talk To The Experts
Q&A 2: The Label Scout turned Producer
Former Point Blank label scout turned music PR man and label-signed producer, Carlos.
Data Transmission next put me in touch with a guy at one of their regular PR partners Vision Music called Carlos.
Carlos is a man who has seen emerging producers’ progress from a host of different angles: as the A&R guy for Point Blank’s own internal label he was tasked with assessing the most promising talent for the school’s own showcase label. He then moved into music PR, becoming an established DJ and producer, Carlotek in the process. So far he’s released his own tracks on labels including Coco Machete & 1980 Recordings , has had plays and mentions on DJ Mag, Kiss FM, MOS Radio , played guest shows on Passion 91.8 FM and has played out at clubs including London bastions & Aquarium. You can check out his sounds here . A man well equipped then, for a brief chat:
We’ll start with a wide one: genre aside, what did you look for (or listen for!) when aspiring producers sent in their tunes?
The track has to sustain your interest, so melody is always important. The other thing was the overall production quality, so good sound design and sound quality goes down well.
Is having a set of great tracks initially enough, or do labels need to see an online presence/ regular gigs too?
Online presence is important, but really the previous labels that you’ve released on is the key thing. If you are playing sets at big clubs then it’s definitely worth mentioning. Don’t worry too much if you don’t have great online stats, let your music do the talking.
Are all labels willing to look at bedroom-talent, or is it a case of going to the smaller ones first and working your way up?
It depends, some producers work their way up and others quickly get signed to good labels. Climbing your way up the label ladder is a solid way to go though. I wouldn’t expect top labels to sign up fresh new talent every time, even if it is good.
What are the biggest challenges labels face with signing new producers?
Getting people to know about you and getting your music heard by the right people is really important, i.e building a name/reputation. This can take a lifetime. There are something like 48,000 releases a week on beatport and there are countless other producers out there. So you can’t count on people discovering you, you have to take the lead and send other people your music. So email A&Rs, tastemaker DJs, blogs etc.
As a producer now, what do you feel are the most common stumbling blocks producers have when try to get signed to a label?
The sheer amount of submissions that labels get means that they don’t often get to give people feedback as to why they did, or did not sign the track. This makes understanding the way that labels work a longer process, and also you are competing with 50 or more other demos per week. So your track has to be good to stand out.
How did you get signed? How does the process actually work?
The first track that I got signed, I emailed to a label with a link and feedback quotes from DJs who had supported it. I had been spreading it around on soundcloud and following people up for feedback. But I would say that it was actually when I learnt to properly mix, engineer and produce tunes, that I got signed. If your tracks don’t sound professional you won’t get signed.
Let’s ask the awkward question: do you make any money out of your first few signed tunes?
Generally, I wouldn’t expect to make loads off your first releases. Think of your first releases as an investment in your own career, building your reputation to a point where your tracks are selling well and the name you’ve built for yourself with your productions, is bringing in paid gigs.
How does a producer “pitch” to his first label?
If you don’t have much profile behind you, then just keep it simple. Send them the music and work on making the music good. Try and get DJs supporting your track and persist with labels. If they don’t get back to your email, then maybe give them a call, or email them again to let them know that you’re there. Don’t push it too far and annoy them, but don’t be too easily deterred.
Mixdowns – making the elements in your track all work together, are vital in getting your track to sound “professional”.