The Real Deal: How To Get Signed To A Record Label

By nature, I am wary of promises. Not because I’m not a trusting person, but rather because there is so much about the world that is not in one’s control. To me, making a promise means being able to control all those millions of little things, and I feel that’s a little foolhardy.

Fortunately, Daylle Deanna Schwartz’s The Real Deal, unlike many books of this sort, does not make promises. Instead it offers wisdom, advice and explanations from someone who has learned the business from scratch.

The two biggest things that you will get from this book are seemingly polar opposites. First, you must love your music enough to dedicate yourself to it whether you get a deal or not. The Real Deal takes great pains to point out how important it is to simply play in front of an audience, to make as much of a buzz about yourself and your music as you possibly can.

The second major point is that music, in these terms, is a business. Whether you like it or not, you have to be able to see and understand the enormous difference between music and the music business. If you don’t look at it as a business, then why would you expect to gain any monetary benefits? Once any money is involved in your music, it becomes a music business; if that money is important to you, then you better understand that what you want is the business end of things. If you want to delude yourself into thinking otherwise, The Real Deal will not be of help to you.

This is a book about business planning and marketing, not about magic. Every chapter stresses the work involved, the commitment to educating yourself about the business. You will learn the roles of personal managers and talent agents. You will be taught the importance of not only getting an attorney, but of getting the right attorney – one who understands contract negotiations in the recording industry and who has your interests at heart.

The art of networking gets a lot of attention. You’ll find a lot of ideas for getting noticed by A&R (Artists and Repertoire) people or a producer. The book stresses the importance of preparing yourself by learning how to make the best possible presentation. Demos and press kits are covered, as well as advice on how to keep your ears to the ground to hear what is currently catching the ear of the record companies.

The best thing about The Real Deal is the focus it puts on developing your career. If you never get a record deal, the advice that you can get from this book on marketing your music or your songwriting skills will stay with you always. Schwartz explores both the conventional, time-honored methods of developing a following and throws in a lot more. She stresses that anything that will give you more exposure, from hitting the college radio stations to getting your songs played in films and television to touring in Europe, gets you on the road to success. The more you develop your craft and the more ways you find to get your music across to people the more you are likely to have the record companies come to you. But more important than the record deal is the fact that you will have created a way for you to spend your life making your music. As Daylle told me in a recent email, the emphasis is in “putting your energy into making money on the road to a deal…”

The author also takes time to break down various aspects of the coveted contract itself, spelling out the pros and cons of length of contract, and detailing the subject of royalties (for both artist and songwriter).

Schwartz fills her book not only with information, but also with observations from professionals from all corners of the recording industry, major labels to independents. In addition to her own stories, she shares those of producers, A&R people, agents and recording artists. There is an extensive appendix of resources to give you more than a good start in your efforts to achieve your dreams.

Ultimately, The Real Deal will test your resolve. Getting that record deal is a matter of many things besides you and your music. Daylle Deanna Schwartz gives you a lot of information to help you level the playing field and, with a lot of dedicated work, even tip the odds in your favor.