Unsigned? Don’t use that word. [Music Business Advice]

“Unsigned” bands define themselves as failures. They divide Bandland into two camps – the lucky Signed, and the green-eyed Unsigned – and then announce to the world that they live in Loserville. The “unsigned” team is the team that never wins.

Independent/DIY bands ignore all that crap. They’re independent; they do their own thing, and they do it themselves without waiting to be chosen by the magic arcade-machine grab claw in the sky. At some point, they might decide to work with a label in the future – but they’ll cross that bridge when they get to it. Right now, there’s work to do.

To labels, an “unsigned” band is like a timid child tugging at mummy’s apron, begging for a cookie. Independent bands can stand on their own two feet, and create their own opportunities. If they get offered a trip to the cookie factory, great – but in the meantime, there are other options to explore.

Lack of neediness and desperation make independent bands more attractive. If you’re doing something truly awesome, no label in its right mind will pass up the chance to get involved. The independently successful band that lies just out of reach, in a self-made niche the label would sell its CEO’s first-born to gain access to, is far more appealing.

If you want your band to have a future, delete the word “unsigned” from your vocabulary. Eliminate it from your biography, Twitter description box, and email subject headings. If you’re forging a career for yourself, getting off your ass and getting things done instead of waiting for someone to hold your hand and do it all for you, you’re an independent musician. Let the world know it.

Reserve that ugly word for your most hated rivals. That bunch of talentless assholes that everyone ignores, the ones who’ll never make it, not in a million years? Forget them. They’re unsigned.

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Posted on 08 December 2014

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