What does it take for an artist to get signed? BreakOut West panellists weigh in

The music event is happening in Kelowna this weekend

Up and coming artists have a lot more to do to become a success than their predecessors, says a record label panellist who spoke to musicians during a BreakOut West conference session Friday.

“There’s definitely a level of which an artist needs to be, probably for any of our labels to want to sign them… they need to be further along now than they would have had to be 20 years ago, there are just less resources,” said Helen Britton, of Six Shooter Records.

Seven record label executives spoke to musicians about what it takes to get signed and the value of having a record label versus doing it yourself as a musician.

“For me, the artist has to have done a whole lot of groundwork already to justify other people getting involved (in their project),” said Michael Lambert, of A Modern Way, adding that the label will often work with artists for up to 18 months before they decide to sign them.

READ MORE: BreakOut West livens Kelowna with days of music

Most of the panellists were not only record label executives but managers, musicians and sometimes agents.

Joseph Blood, with 604 Records and Simkin Artist Management said “that’s because it’s so hard to make money on the label side, you have to supplement in other ways, either with publishing or management… I think it’s just the nature of the industry right now.”

Lambert, from the U.K., disagreed, saying he would rather work with a label that loves an artist and has expertise in that area, and would rather use “international teams that we can plug in when we need to.”

Andrew Morrison, musician for The Jerry Cans and also with Aakuluk Music, his own label, said working with a label allows the artist to spend more time working on music, rather than dealing with the day-to-day business side of the career.

“I always tell people or tell other artists its a very cool change when you work with people who have nothing to do with being on stage and have everything to do with the background work to make this happen… it’s really allowed us to focus on making music and making art.”

READ MORE: BreakOut West tickets are sold out in Kelowna

To actually peak the interest of labels, performance history as well as a social media presence is huge for present-day musicians.

“They need to not only post but interact,” Britton said. “We don’t want to be the only ones posting because people can smell management.”

She said she’s considered putting it in musician’s contracts that a social media presence is mandatory.

In terms of wanting to invest in an artist, the panellists said a band or musician must have a vision in which they want the band to go, an existing image and they must already have brand ideas for themselves, uniqueness and a strong stage presence.

Nigel Jenkins, with Laughing Heart Music, said the musician must have great songs overall.

BreakOut West conferences and events run from Oct. 10 to 14.

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

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