How to be Successful in the Music Industry by Sony Music CEO

Times have changed in the music industry thanks to technology. Some of the things that use to work in the past is now not so effective.

The CEO of Sony Music UK, Nick Gatfield, gives us some invaluable advice on how to be successful in the modern music industry. This relates to music artists and music producers as the rules to follow is pretty much the same.

Here are some of the key points to take away from this interview.

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How to Get the Attention of a Major Record Company?

If you’re a music artist that’s looking to get signed to fast track your career, you’d need to get the attention of a record company. Likewise, if you’re a music producer, you’d either go to a record company or give your beats to a successful artist who has some influence and can make things happen.

“Don’t send anything in unsolicited. It’s a complete and utter waste of time.”

It’s common for aspiring music artists and producers to do the rounds of sending in demos to countless amount of record companies. 99% of the time, they won’t get a response and you can probably guess where their demos go.

The amount of demos record companies get must be staggering and it would take too long to get through them all, so many times they simply don’t bother.

They have people that keep their ears to the streets and online, and you’d significantly increase your chances of getting their attention if you had some clout behind your name. This leads us to the next point.

“You’ve got to start making a noise for yourself…it’s social media. It’s making sure you have an online presence. It’s making sure you put your music out there and it doesn’t matter what form it is. Make some noise online then do some offline activity.”

If you have access to the Internet, which I’d imagine most aspiring music artists and producers do, then you’ve got to learn how to market your music online via your own website and media platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.

Do not underestimate the power of smart and consistent online marketing. If you gain an online following, you have choices – to get signed by a record label or to go the independent route.

“If you haven’t got the wherewithal to actually build an online community, you probably haven’t got the drive to really make it as a successful recording artist.”

What Do We Look For in an Act?

“Any artist that comes to me and says “I can do loads of things. What do you want me to do?” Not interested. I’m interested in artists who’ve got a single minded vision.”

No one likes a copycat rip off version of another popular act as it has no long term viability. The key idea here is to carve out a unique niche for your own music and create a fanbase.

Should You Self Release or Go For a Major Label?

With the internet these days, it’s possible, and even often more commercially viable to release your own music independently rather than trying to signed by a major record label.

However, there are some notable advantages in having such a big powerhouse behind your brand.

“How you get noticed first by coming in here [major label] is by creating a digital profile for yourself…you don’t have to be spoon fed by a major record label…if you get signed, you haven’t made it…it use to be a simple business…now, you’ve got to do all the groundwork before you even begin to go to what I call mass media.”

Basically, Nick Gatfield is saying you have to create an online buzz for your brand and music. That way, you and the record label know that your music is resonating with a certain group of people.

But in order to take your profile to the next level, you need a huge push which is made easier with the help of major record labels. It’s indeed possible to do it on your own, but it takes a lot more time and is much more difficult.

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