So you’ve looked at the list and want to send a song to the A&R person responsible for the project you are interested in.
You don’t have a manager, publisher, attorney or contact at the record company, but you know who you have to send the song to at the record company (we hope, you know this thanks to our list!). Just one thing to remember before you send anything. Each record company has a policy on dealing with “unsolicited” submissions. They are pretty similar but you should check with each label before you send them any music.
An "unsolicited submission" is something which was sent to a record company without them requesting it or asking someone to do so.
As a general rule of thumb, here is the outline policy for most record companies regarding unsolicited submissions:
Unsolicited submissions will not be accepted. A package addressed to “The A&R Department” will most likely be immediately trashed and thrown in the garbage unopened (trust me we’ve seen this happen many, many times) or if you sent an unsolicited mp3 via email it will be deleted without being listened to. If an A&R Assistant/coordinator is doing their job properly this will happen and you’ve wasted postage and your time. Every major and medium sized record company has a policy like this. Not all labels do, (but they really should for legal reasons); so, why should you take a chance sending something which is almost certainly destined to go into the "round file"?
You need to get “permission” from an A&R person at the label for you to send music to them. Be ultra professional. Call them up or e-mail them and simply ask if you can send a song to them for consideration for a specific project. Assuming the answer is yes, in which case, the label may ask you to e-mail the song to a special email account, or tell you to mail them a CD with a special code on the packaging. When it arrives at the label, an A&R Assistant will carefully log it, including all of the packages contents, contact information and date of arrival. This is vital because it gives the label a precise record of when the song was received and could be used in court in the event of a legal dispute, especially in the event there is a claim of plagiarism (“hey that John Doe song sounds like a demo I sent to these guys two years ago”). It happens all the time, believe us. Once your package passes this hurdle, unless there is prior interest, there is no guarantee that some eager assistant will rip it open and play your music right away, or open the MP3 file you sent a few seconds after you emailed it.
Labels will generally accept packages from artist managers, attorneys and publishers with whom they have an “ongoing relationship” without these folks asking the labels permission. So, if you have any of these people working for you, arrange for them to send a package on your behalf.
TIP: Beware of Law firms who offer to submit your music to record labels on your behalf for a fee. We’ve seen hundreds of these "packages" (which you have to create and pay for, then give to the attorney to send out) with a cover letter from the attorney on their stationery. Yes, they are opened and reviewed but in our experience its unusual for the law firm to follow up and its rare for anything good to come via this route. Think carefully before dropping a heavy fee (over the years we’ve heard of law firms charging around $5,000 for this).
And while we are at it, beware of websites who offer to critique your songs for a fee. We’ve known some less scrupulous former colleagues in A&R at labels where we worked for who used to have a nice sideline going on, making extra cash doing this. We don’t recall hearing any of them actually signing a writer or artist as a result. Poof! your hard earned money is wasted. We really hate those sites.
The only decent site we know of which will review and forward songs is www.taxi.com. We recommend them.
The submission policies we mentioned here are designed to protect the company and also to protect you. Pretty simple and common sense stuff but its amazing how many hundreds of unsolicited packages arrive each week at an A&R Dept which, for legal reasons cannot be opened and end up in the “round file”. Don’t let yours be one of them. Go about things the right way.
Feel free to email us with questions, we’ll do our best to help.