Derek Sivers

The mysterious “solicited” un-veiled

Growing up, reading books about the music industry, I always heard that you had to get your music “solicited” to the major labels.

I never really understood what that meant, until I worked inside Warner/Chappell. Here's how it actually looks:

Every day, tons of music is sent to the companies from total strangers — the hordes of unwashed masses. It's just too much to deal with, so it's all ignored.

Because most of what any music company does all day is deal with their existing clients! Who knew? They don't exist to find new music. They exist to make as much money as they can from their existing clients. (And that has enough drama in itself.)

Then, when the manager or lawyer or producer of one of their existing clients 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 voila - that's how you get heard. That's “solicited”.

So, their attitude towards all that music thrown at them by strangers? It's “Sorry. You don't get it. That's not the way in.”

That's why you need to first do your research to find those managers, lawyers, and producers that are already in.

Same thing goes for approaching any too-public target, whether Richard Branson, Rolling Stone, Oprah, or whatever.

Even now, when it's almost a requirement to have already proven your success online, getting “solicited” through an existing contact is the ultimate 1-2 punch.

It's all about seeing it from their point of view. Understanding what it's like to be overwhelmed with new music, so the stuff that's been pre-approved by their trusted contacts is all they can handle.