A&R – How to Shop Your Demo to Record Labels

These days it is extremely hard to get a record labels attention. Record labels get tens of thousands of demos each year. The competition for an A&R reps ear is fierce. The easier and cheaper it has become to record music, the more packages record labels will get. They just don’t have the man power to listen to all of these demos. That is why they are outsourcing this job more and more to managers and attorneys and independent A&R reps like myself. By outsourcing this part of the business, they get a lot of the junk filtered out and end up having a lot less demos to actually listen to. The odds are much better that if they listen to something that came from a trusted source like a manager, attorney or independent A&R rep that they have done business with in the past, that it won’t be a complete waste of their time. It’s kind of like asking a friend, who’s opinion that you trust, what the best sushi place is in town. You are more likely to avoid having to eat at every sushi restaurant in your city to find the locals favorite.

Well, how do you break through to these A&R reps? It’s not easy, especially if you are representing yourself. Most, if not all record labels will not accept unsolicited material. They will just send it back to you or throw it in the trash without ever opening the package. Trust me, I use to do it. Don’t waste your time or money sending A&R reps your package if it is unsolicited. You can try to call them and ask permission to send your demo, which turns it into a solicited package. This sometimes works, but most of the time they will not even take your call unless they know who you are. You can try to find record labels that will accept unsolicited material, but just make sure they are not asking for some kind of submission fee to do so. That is not a good sign that they are on the up and up if you know what I mean. I have read some articles that say your first step is to have an attractive looking demo package, which is something you should already know, along with having good songs, but it won’t matter if they don’t even open the envelope. Short of attaching your demo to a rope and harpooning it through their office window, which will get their attention and get you sued, there really isn’t any other way to get heard by an A&R rep but to pay your dues. I have heard people say that they have paid their dues and that didn’t work, well, it might have worked but the material just wasn’t up to snuff.

To pay your dues, you have to play live shows all the time. Get tons of fans on myspace and facebook. Start selling a lot of units, preferably being tracked by soundscan. And last but not least, have a hit song. If you are on your way there, find a manager or attorney or an Independent A&R firm that is willing to shop you to record labels for a record deal. All of this combined is your best shot at getting signed. There really aren’t any short cuts. It’s not just one or the other, but all of this that makes a good package that A&R reps will take notice of. Radio play is the fastest way to get noticed but virtually impossible unless you have a great connection. If you are trying to get radio play, you are going up head to head with the record labels themselves.

Fun and Budget Friendly: Vacationing in Your Town

We all want to take a vacation, a little getaway from it all. Unfortunately our bank account doesn’t always show that it is a good idea or time constraints don’t allow us to get too far away. About five years ago, I found myself in this situation. After thinking about it for a few days, I came up with a great idea that didn’t cost a lot but was full of new and exciting things. I took a vacation right in the town where I live.

Before you say “absolutely not” I want you to think about the possibilities. How many times have you driven past a museum, restaurant or shop and thought about stopping but didn’t have the time? I started out by making a list of all the things that I have wanted to do in my town but never have done. This list included simple things like taking a walk in the park to going or going to a little league game in the park to more expensive things like catching a show at the local theatre or eating at a gourmet restaurant.

I divided them into categories and listed them in order of price from free to most expensive. Family and friends even got into the picture and gave me tips and ideas of where to go. I also decided to sleep in my guest bedroom, set up a coffee bar in there and ate breakfast in bed. It was relaxing and fun!

My list of ideas of things to see and do was so long that I couldn’t possibly get it done in just a long weekend so I keep adding to it and pull it out anytime I want to get away for a short period of time without spending a lot of money. The best part of it all was that I have begun to see my town in a whole different light and when family and friends come to visit I have some new and exciting things to do with them right where I live.

How to Choose the Best Auto Repair Shop in Your Town

Whether you live in Bend Oregon or Virginia Beach, you will need an auto repair shop at some point in time. How do you find the best auto repair shop to work on your vehicle?

The first tip is to find a repair shop that’s compatible with your vehicle. If you own an import, you need to find a shop that works on imports. If your import is fairly rare, you should find a repair shop who works on that make of car specifically. I own a Ford so I prefer to take it to a Ford dealer in my town. This dealer has a large repair shop, so it’s a good fit for my vehicle. You do need to be careful not to be over-charged for the work, though.

For more complex and expensive repairs, you should always get a few estimates. Prices can vary quite a bit from shop to shop. It’s even a good idea to get opinions about what actually needs to be done to fix your car. Like in the medical field, it’s good to get second or third opinions.

Another tip in finding a good mechanic is to make sure they are ASE certified. Most larger shops hire only ASE certified mechanics, but it’s a good idea to double-check. The ASE certification tests mechanics on their knowledge and skills. If they pass the tests, they most likely know their stuff.

Some shops are large, some are national chains, some have a handful of employees, and some shops are a single-operator type. It’s probably not the best to use your brother-in-law’s, cousins, friend of a friend. He may not be qualified to do the work.

Years ago I needed a major repair done on my pickup and I had a guy at my favorite gas station do the work. After spending a couple thousand dollars, the problem was not only not solved, it was worse! I learned then to make sure I hired a competent mechanic in the future. It pays to do your homework!