Derek Sivers

How to get through the gates?


As a young musician, I always heard that you had to get your music “solicited” to the major labels.

I never really understood what “solicited” meant, until I worked on the inside. Here’s how it actually looks:

Every day, tons of music is sent to the labels from total strangers. It’s just too much to deal with, so it’s all ignored. All of it.

These companies don’t exist to find new music. Their job is to profit from their existing artists. That’s a huge job, in itself.

When the manager or lawyer or producer of one of their artists comes in for a meeting, he’ll say, “I’m working with this new artist that you need to hear before we head out for lunch.” Then the executive will sit and give it a real listen.

And that’s how you get heard. That’s what “solicited” means.

When you send your music unsolicited to some company, you won’t get a real listen. Their lack of response is saying, “Sorry. You don’t get it. That’s not the way in.”

Do your research to find those managers, lawyers, agents, and producers that are already in.

Same thing goes for approaching any too-public target, whether it’s a celebrity, or major media outlet, or whatever. Getting “solicited” through an existing contact is the best way to get through the gates.

You have to see it from their point of view. Understand what it’s like to be overwhelmed with new music. All they can handle is the stuff that’s been pre-approved by their trusted contacts.