There’s no one path to success in the modern music industry, and too many music creators get overwhelmed by the options or the dogma on what the best way forward. In this episode of Boomcast by Boombox, Fabio (Noize London) and Lukas (musicbyLukas) sit down with MOTi – DJ, producer, and founder of independent record label, Zero Cool, about his journey and discuss some useful takeaways for music creators today. Wondering how to get signed by a record label in 2023? Hear from someone who’s done it in this episode of Boomcast!!

Remember to leave your comments and feedback below for the chance to win feedback on a track or a song by Fabio or Lukas!

Credits:

 

Transcript: How to Get Signed By a Record Label in 2023

Fabio:
Welcome to Boomcast the official podcast from Boombox.io

Lukas:
I’m musicbyLukas

Fabio:
and I’m Fabio from Noize.

Lukas:
Boombox is a collaboration tool for producers and musicians, engineers, everyone to be able to share, store, and synergize creativity.

Fabio:
Also, don’t forget that one of the first 100 comments down below will get professional track feedback from myself or Lukas. So comment down below. What is the Dream record label that you want to be signed to?

Lukas:
Today we were with a very special guest, our first guest ever on the podcast, actually. This is MOTi. He’s a platinum selling artist. He’s worked with the likes of Martin Garrix, Selena Gomez and more, and he also owns his own record label, Zero Cool. And today we are going to be talking to him about how to get signed by a record label in 2023.

Fabio:
MOTi, Thank you so much for being here. It’s such an honor to have you.

MOTi:
Well, I like to be here.

Fabio:
So when you first started out, was it a love for production? Did you want to get signed to a particular label? Where did it all kick off?

MOTi
Well, yeah, it’s kind of a funny story. So I’m when I was 15, 16, something like that, I was working at a store and, you know, a colleague of mine working in a store he deejayed and he played with turntables. And at some point he wants to buy new ones. So he was going to sell his old ones. And well, he gave it to me for a very cheap price. So it was you know, I was still playing with vinyl. So I had to go to the record store every week and, you know, to spend a little money. I had some records, so I went there back and forth buying records and at some point mp3 and CDJs came into the market. You know, I started buying and downloading music on the computer and I started cutting out breaks out of tracks. And I went to the to the record store and I wanted to show them, look, yeah, look what I did to the track. And, you know, at of this break was too long. So I got a little bit out and and they looked at me like, dude, you can’t do that. You’re you’re you’re messing up other people’s work. You know, you can’t do that. And they got quite angry with me. So, so I thought, like, okay, I’m going to make my own music. So I went back home and started producing my own music and, you know, sort of came back to sort of like here. Now, make my own music. What do you think? You know? And that’s how it started. Yeah.

Lukas:
I love that.

Fabio:
And when you were buying records, I feel like that’s like for a lot of people when they first discover labels, because you start buying into a sound and then you start realizing you’re buying from a specific record label. Was it similar with you?

MOTi:
No, not really. Like back then, you also trusted on the selection of the owners of the record stores because now everything is unlimited copies. You know, you can get music, you know, if if someone plays a record, you think, I want to record too, you can buy it. Back in the day it wasn’t like that. When when it’s empty, it’s empty. And you can’t, you can’t get it from anywhere. Or you have to buy it for a very high price online or for a – well, back then you didn’t have online, you know.

Fabio
What’s the modern equivalent of that person at the record store who you would depend on for great record selection, who had that big book

Lukas:
Right? I think that would be like a Spotify curator, you know, and someone who’s good at it. Yeah, kinda. Yeah.

MOTi: Or the deejays themselves who play. Yeah,

Lukas:
yeah. I was gonna also say, probably also the algorithm. Right. Because a lot of those playlists now are algorithmic and it all depends on what listeners are listening to in their personal playlists – boosts it to bigger playlists.- which boosts it to bigger playlists. Yeah. So it kind of vets it itself. But that can also be problematic because then you have artists who have more streams who are getting extra attention, whereas it’s harder for the artists who are just starting out to be able to get the algorithm to discover them in the first place.

MOTi
It’s hard to, uh, to build a label on streaming websites because, you know, if you go to Beatport tracks or those kind of websites that sell music, you know, you can actually click on a label and see all the releases of the label. You know, that’s where you can build labels, but on streaming you don’t have that option. You can only see into artist profiles. So everything is linked to the profile. So if you want to build a label on streaming level, you have to have artists who can, you know, can pull the label. And you know, can build it.

Lukas:
I’ve noticed that about you – is that you work with all these different artists like we talked about, like Martin Garrix, Selena Gomez, etc. And I noticed that you tap into all these different audiences, which I think isn’t that helpful for you to keep your streams growing and keep your audience growing? Is that why you do that?

MOTi
No. No, because there was that was quite some time ago that I did the records with with Martin and — and everyone.

Lukas:
But you still do a lot of collaborations, right?

MOTi:
I do. I do. And I do a lot of remixes for for for more pop artists. So that expands your your reach, you know. But the reason why I did did all the collapse on the club scene with with the other DJs was basically back then to to get all those older audiences. But but Spotify wasn’t that big back then. So it was more to build more of a club profile, you know. And if, you know, if you do a collab with Martin, you the fan, Martin’s fans will get to know if you do a collab with dubs, dubs fans get to know you. So you show you you built your you or your audience with it.

Lukas:
So tell us why did you start the record label Zero Cool?

MOTi:
The main reason was to to have control over my own tracks, you know, to to know or to to create what I wanted to create without people telling me I can’t create that, you know, or I have to do different because the trend is something else or, you know, whatever.

Lukas:
Yeah. I’m curious to know if since you started it, if anything has kind of developed that you didn’t necessarily think would at first, like how is it transformed into what it is today and how do you – how are you enjoying that experience?

MOTi:
Well, at the same time, that I started the label, my second kid was was was just born and I was still traveling a lot. And I lost a lot in Asia. And, you know, I started missing my family as well. So when when the label started, well, we had a pretty aggressive strategy with the label. You know, we did a weekly MOTi releases for a year.

Lukas:
I remember that! He released a track every single week.

MOTi:
So but but it was, you know, it was necessary to create a hype, you know, to do to create or to to get attention so that that that worked really well. But but because the strategy worked, the label’s growing very fast. — and that transformed in that I could tour a little bit less and be a little bit more with my family, spend more time in the studio because I had to make one record a week. So I had to have my studio time. So in the end it all worked out and one and a half year later, boom, corona hits and and and everything like everything stopped. But, but we have been building the label for one and a half year, you know, for two years. So we were kind of safe, you know, and so everything worked out for us perfectly.

Fabio:
You’re you were, or you are in a position where you have the platform, you have the audience to be able to start a label and already draw a lot of attention to yourself and to the artists who you sign. What do you think about up and coming producers and artists who want to start their own label in order to be able to self release versus going and sending demos to bigger labels for credentials and you know, to have more leverage overall.

MOTi:
I think you should do both. Because especially when you’re a new growing artist, you will never get to kind of reach a bigger label will get you know, you’re you’re never if you can do a release your musical freedom or whatever, you know, how much reach it those labels have, you know, and if yeah, if you think again independent I’m going to keep the 100% of of of the sales.Well I have the sales is, is 100 versus 10 million. You know, like it’s it’s still it’s still not that much. So I think you should always try, especially when you’re building to see, okay, what kind of music do I make? What label could it fit and try to get it on that label? So you can build your audience.bBut if nobody wants to sign it, you can still self release.

Lukas:
I like that you said do both because I think it’s good to rotate and also not to necessarily put yourself in a corner because I hear a lot of artists that are like, I will like maybe they have one bad experience with the label or they heard about someone that didn’t I will never release on a label. But then you also have the people who don’t release because of the fact that let’s say they sign a track with a label, but then they keep sending the new ones to the labels and the labels are rejecting so they just don’t release anything and their monthly listeners start collapsing. So I think that rotation is smart.

MOTi:
Yeah. And you know, but with this be very smart with your contraction because you know if you signed to a label and you know how it works they put three options in and you know and put a release block in so you need to get rid of all those things to to keep the freedom to self-release release if you want to self release.

Lukas:
Now it’s time for our Out of the Box segment where we’re going to ask you a completely random question. So MOTi, what are your thoughts on pineapple, on pizza?

MOTi:
I don’t really care. Yeah, no, no, no. You know, I ate it sometimes and I don’t think it’s disgusting, but I, I prefer.

Lukas:
He’s crying.

MOTi:
But. But, but I prefer a proper Italian pizza, you know? So. So if I order something.

Fabio:
You’re safe.

MOTi:
No, no. But if, if, if or to something, I would always order like something with pepperoni or something that’s best.

Lukas:
What would you say is the number one thing that labels are looking for from artists?

MOTi:
To be honest, it depends on the label, but I would say major labels are looking for TikTol hype. You know, if if if you have something that goes viral on on on TikTok or on on the Instagram reels or whatever this labels are looking for, for, for, for me, what I’m looking for with my label Zero Cool is I’m looking for artists who can can deliver. So I sign a lot of one offs. But, but when someone sends me a track, I think, ah, that’s a good track and then release it. And then a few weeks after I get another good one, another good one, another good one. That’s something that.

Lukas:
They stand out.

MOTi:
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Because it’s just, you know, just steady quality. And these days to build a profile, to build to an artist profile, you need to be consistent, Because especially on streaming, you know, your monthly should go up and down, up and down, up and down. But if you can keep it on a certain level, then your your followers will grow. And if you want the algorithm to work for you… you have to have followers. So but your followers are people who actually get a notification when you release something, when you release a new track, it’s in a release radar.

Lukas
Right. Spotify followers.

MOTi:
Yeah. And the more followers you have, the higher your numbers will be.

Lukas:
And it’s so funny how, how accurate that is for trying to grow on Instagram or TikTok as well. But you need that consistency and you know, because a lot of people are just, you know, do a one off post that does well or they have a post that does really well, but it doesn’t actually really go with their brand. It’s something random. And then people go to their profile and they’re like, Well, this isn’t what I was looking for. And it’s so interesting how that is very similar with labels.

MOTi
Spotify is kind of it’s social media. Social media, yeah. Kind of. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Fabio:
I think it was on the note of having to be consistent. There’s so much pressure to be consistent and put out so much more music. And last night what I realized every song is a remix of like a nineties vocal now and I thought to myself, why is this happening? Okay, so the vocals already hooky and catchy, but it’s easy. It’s easy to take that a capella, put it into a record do your amazing production around it, rather than working on an on a track with a vocalist and creating something original which can take so much longer. And that’s where that’s whole sort of, uh, consistency, sorry, quantity over quality. How do, how do you feel about that? As someone who runs a label having to clear vocals like that, or do you…

MOTi:
I do a lot of covers as well. But I think the main reason why people use cover vocals is because it’s just very hard to find good top lines or write them yourself. You know, if you’re a good producer, it doesn’t mean you can write songs. It’s already difficult to get into the studio with, with, with good rationale. It’s just as difficult to get a studio with good writers is to try to get Dave Guetta in your studio, you know, because you’re you’re working with you want to work with the top writers? Yeah, they work with the Guetta’s and everyone. So it’s very difficult to get very, very talented writers in the studio and doing it yourself. Yeah, well, maybe you have to tell them. You don’t know, you have to you know, you have to make the hours and build build your your your strength. But and all the top guys that are out there that get sent around, if it’s if it’s a hit, Guetta or Tiësto or somebody already pulled it, you know, it’s like, no, I’m sorry. You know, it’s also it’s very difficult to get good top lines and with with cover folks. Those are hits from the past. You know, you can clear it and you have a good top line. You can release a song. So that makes it a lot more easy to get a good vocal on your track because there are so many hits out there. You can just cover.

Fabio:
What happens when all the samples have been sampled.

Lukas:
You sample them again.

MOTi:
So look at

Lukas:
the difference.

MOTi:
Yeah. I mean, the guy that did blue –

MOTi:
For for how many time, you know. Uh, yeah, but it, but it’s cool because in, you know, the last few years, the new trend is that they rewrite covers and that’s cool, you know, because at first was just, you know, you take a vocal and you put a new beat on it and now, you know, the day they keep the chorus or to keep a part of the chorus, they write a whole new verse, you know. So there’s some more creative process involved. And that’s nice.

Lukas:
We also want to give a special shout out to a Boombox. Boombox.io for making this collaboration between me and Fabio a.k.a Noize London possible and to bring you the best advice from industry pros like MOTi and marketing and business and to make better music. So MOTi when it comes to your own tracks what do you think it was, especially in the beginning that made so many of those record labels interested? Because you kind of you had some you had many big hits, like, what was the thing that first got their attention?

MOTi:
Um, I think I was very good at finding what was a popular sound and, and giving my own twist to it.

Lukas:
Right.

MOTi:
So, and that worked out for me really well, you know, so because, you know, the dubstep tsunami and I made this dirty, you know, and you know, so tried to make a dropped it that feels kind of similar and send it to dove like hey guys to make collab and their like yeah man this sounds like us yeah okay perfect ya know? That that’s basically how it works a little bit and you know with Virus I was inspired by a was a very big hit back then and you know I was inspired by the by the lead synth with the goliath on Leeds and so also so I so I made a drop of virus based on I want to make a lead synth like that, you know so so I was always, always very on to what was happening at the moment and try to, you know, you’re not copying that. You get inspired by it and but you give it your own twist?

Lukas:
Yeah, because we talk all about collaboration all the time. That was like our main topic on this podcast. And I love how you’re saying that if you want someone who especially who has a specific sound to be interested in collaborating with you, that if you make something that sounds like them but has a twist that isn’t, you know, it’s not identical to them, but it’s done with a twist that they’re going to be more interested in, obviously.

MOTi:
Yeah, yeah, for sure. For sure. Because it because well now it’s a bit different because, um, because of streaming, you know, back then everyone’s just making club bangers, that was what everyone was doing. And now also the bigger artists if you want to get a collab with a bigger artist, they are also considering more poppy tracks or whatever because go, oh yeah, that’s good for the streaming. But if you want to go for club records, yeah, for sure. Listen to what they play and most of the guys they stick to one sound. So you can, you know, just, well if you want to we want to have a Guetta collab, which is very difficult. but let’s say you want to have a more than collab, maybe a little bit easier to get. Yeah, you should make future rave, you know, so and so everyone has its own style and yeah. Try to Yeah. Get inspired by it and give it your own twist. Yeah.

Fabio
How often are A&R’s looking for something similar verses something completely different because at some point, you know, I imagine as an A&R you want to be the person who discovered the new future rave or whatever it is right. But also then you take a bit of a risk there where you’re trying to put something new in front of an audience and you’re not quite sure whether it is going to to glue with them.

MOTi:
For for me, it’s I don’t care. I just release what I like. And, you know, we’ve had artists on our label with a lot of Instagram following or monthly listeners, and we have artist on label who don’t you don’t even have a profile on Spotify yet, you know, so, so, so for me, it’s just like if I like a track I like a track and I release it and I don’t think there’s any risks. It’s, it’s a trick. Yeah. Well, the only thing that, that, that is risky is that you can disappoint the guy who’s releasing on the label, you know, because, because now with streaming it’s, it’s like, well what I said as a label, I can’t guarantee that Spotify will see the track and, you know, put you in current list. I just can’t guarantee that because it’s not based on labels, it’s based on artist profiles. So if you don’t have a big profile, which we had a few times like you to do, is a very good track with a good artist and then they’re disappointed it’s only doing this much streams like yeah, sorry I can, you know, I can try to push it a little bit here and there, you know, but, but not with Spotify itself then, you know, I can ask so some other friends of mine who have who have own playlists or maybe add this to you playlist? You know, that’s what I can do, but that’s all we can do.

Lukas:
And that’s where that consistency comes back. And building your artist profile, you can’t depend on the label for everything. And also there’s other strategies like again, collaboration with other people that have an artist profile.

Fabio:
And then working on your virality as well. Right. Like you said, like at the end of the day, we have the best marketing tool in the world here and it’s free and we use it every day. So, you know, trying to use the labels resources for marketing, which has more credentials, is a little cooler, has has more grass roots, and then trying to find ways to push yourself.

MOTi:
Yeah, for sure.

Lukas:
For sure. Remember the question of the day to comment down below your answer to is what is your dream record label and why?

Fabio:
And also, what guests would you like us to have on and what topics would you like us to cover?

Lukas:
And you can find MOTi on all socials @MOTiOfficial

Fabio:
and you can find myself on @Noize_London and Lukas on @musicbyLukas. All the links are in the description below.

Lukas:
Yeah, and remember to subscribe and we will see you for the next podcast.

MOTi:
Bye! … be more spontaneous.

Fabio:
MOTi, Thank you so much…