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Click to email ChrisTest Your Knowledge:
How to Shop for a Record Deal
by Christopher Knab 

Back to The Academy

OK...so, you think you know a thing or two about a thing or two when it comes to preparing to shop for a record deal? Well, take the following test and e-mail me your answers, and I will let you know just how much you really do know about the world of ‘getting signed’, the job of the A&R reps at a label, writing your promo materials, and developing your career in a positive way.

Good luck!!!
Chris Knab

The following questions are True/False and Multiple Choice.

  1. The Demo packages you send to A&R Reps should contain exactly the same information that you would send to a club owner.
  2. A&R Reps will listen to a demo tape as long as it keeps their attention.
  3. A&R Reps participate in developing the marketing plans for their acts.
  4. A&R Reps must study the current marketplace for musical trends on a regular basis.
  5. Cover letters are generic, you send the same exact letter with the same content in it to all recipients.
  6. The first paragraph of a Bio should contain background information on the artist.
  7. An A&R Rep can help arrange the recording for an act they have signed to their label.
  8. A&R Reps get paid by the artist from a percentage of their royalty rate.
  9. An A&R Rep can assist in finding the right songs for an act to record.
  10. When you copyright your material you are giving the licensee the rights to use your material.
  11. The 4 key areas or ‘fronts’ used to develop an artist’s career are: Product Development, Promotion, Publicity, and Performance.
  12. When designing a J card or Traycard it is important to remember that your cover art can help describe your music with the graphics that are used.
  13. After an act has been signed, the A&R department at most many major labels provides the information to be included on Tray Cards, J Cards, and other promotional materials.
  14. Thou shalt not play live regularly, is one of the 10 commandments of Rock n’roll.
  15. If an artist has recorded a demo, they should include at least 5 or 6 songs on the tape.
  16. The best way to get a contract with a major label is to party with the stars of the music scene.
  17. Designing stationary with an act’s Logo, address, and phone numbers is an effective tool for insuring contact information is on all parts of the Demo Kit.
  18. It is always a positive thing for an act to be involved in a "bidding war".
  19. Because of bidding wars, many concessions are now made to recording artists in their contracts with record labels, that were not there before.
  20. 8x10 Black and White glossys are standard for press kit photographs.
  21. When a photograph is sent with a Demo package, it is important to include contact information either on the front or back of the photo.
  22. A J card is a card sent to an A&R rep from a major label as a thank you for listening to a tape.
  23. One of the best ways to promote a demo tape is to find out whether or not ‘follow-up’ phone calls are in order.
  24. The first sentence of a cover letter should introduce yourself, and the reason for the cover letter.
  25. Poorly recorded demos can have a negative influence on music business professionals, who listen to these tapes on a regular basis.
  26. A controlled composition clause is a clause in a recording contract that deals with the fact that only 75% of mechanical royalties due to a songwriter and publisher of the songs contained on a recording, will be paid by a record label.
  27. A bio differs from a fact sheet in that the bio can elaborate on a certain fact or anecdote about the artist, but a fact sheet must simply list those facts or anecdotes.
  28. In writing a fact sheet, all the key information from the Bio should be in it.
  29. To have 'ears' in the music business means you are the type of person who hears and spreads a lot of rumors..
  30. When hiring a music business professional to shop for a deal, the issue of whether or not a payment up-front is due, is a negotiable point.
  31. It doesn't matter if a person can spell or write a coherent sentence, because in the music business all that matters is the music.
  32. In a bidding war, it often happens that the labels bidding for the services of a certain act want the act solely because other labels are interested in them .
  33. Sending unsolicited demo tapes to the major labels is a potentially ineffective method of shopping for a record deal.
  34. Using quotes in a bio can be less powerful, than describing the music on your own.
  35. A good Bio, like a good song, should always have a hook, or a specific angle to it.
  36. "Frontloading" a demo tape means only, putting the best song first on the tape.
  37. The design and look of a demo kit matters not at all in the 1990’s.
  38. ‘Deal Memos’ are not legally binding documents.
  39. The advances given to an artist in a recording contract are exactly like the loans given by a bank, and must be paid back, with interest, by the artist.
  40. Researching the artist's background is mandatory when creating any publicity or promotional material.
  41. Neatness, package design, and creativity are three helpful attention getters to keep in mind when putting together a demo kit.
  42. The subject matter of each paragraph in a bio is written in the following order:
    1. History and formation info
    2. Introductory statement
    3. Current summary of activity
    4. Additional Data and Elaboration, and
    5. Summary/Closing.
  43. How long a tape shopper has to shop a demo tape for an artist matters very little.
  44. An A&R reps responsibilities at an indie label is exactly the same as an A&R job at a major label.
  45. Everything that was said in class in the lectures and everything that was written in the handouts is absolutely true in every way, and if followed precisely, will result in guaranteed success and untold wealth for each and every aspirant in the music business.
  46. The artist’s business team consists of a Manager, Booking Agent, and Attorney.
  47. If an artist has not filed for copyrights of their songs, it is the job of the A&R Rep to take care of that job.
  48. Most Major Labels know what they are looking for when they audition new talent.
  49. No contact information on Jcards and labels is a leading reason why many demo tapes get trashed.
  50. When a contract is being negotiated, the only people directly involved with the legal negotiations are the label’s attorney and the act’s attorney.
  51. Sending video demo tapes in place of audio demo tapes is standard business practice ever since the emergence of MTV as a major force in the music marketplace.
  52. Which of the following is not the duty of an A&R Rep at a major label?
    a. discover talent
    b. book tours for the act
    c. participate in marketing
    d. be a liaison at the label for the act
    e. none of the above.
  53. Which of the following is not a reason why tapes get rejected?
    a. the music sucks
    b. lack of musicianship
    c. poorly recorded songs
    d. lack of originality
    e. none of the above
  54. 54. Which of the following are not ‘gatekeepers’ in the music business?
    a. A&R reps
    b. PDs and MDs at radio stations
    c. Buyers at Distributors
    d. Writers at magazines and newspapers
    e. none of the above
  55. In a bio, concentrating on how good the music is, is the most effective thing to say.
  56. When designing a fact sheet, one of the most important sections to include is ‘Musical Genre or Style’.
  57. What type of information should not be included in a bio?
    a. too much hype
    b. marketing plan info
    c. background info
    d. music description
    e. city/area if origin
  58. The 3rd and 4th paragraph of a bio should concentrate on the current activities of the artist.
  59. Where is the ‘purpose’ of a cover letter most effectively stated?
    a. 1st sentence
    b. In the salutation
    c. the body
    d. the closing
  60. 60. Which of the following is not a good tip for writing a cover letter?
    a. Tell the reader what you want
    b.addressing an unknown contact by first name
    c. keep the writing style natural, positive, and personal
    d. reminding person of previous contact or reference
  61. In a quote sheet, which of the following sources for quotes should be kept to a minimum?
    a. writers
    b. radio station contacts
    c. producers
    d. fans
    e. none of the above
  62. Small reviews should never be included in press clippings.
  63. It is more effective to select ________ of the best press clippings:
    a. 2 or 3
    b. 4 or 5
    c. 6 or 7
    d. it doesn’t matter how many
  64. The best way to assemble demo kit materials is:
    a. in a 3 ring binder
    b. stapled together
    c. loose in a folder
    d. bound
  65. When in doubt what to send in a demo kit:
    a. put everything in
    b. presume what their profession needs
    c. ask the intended recipient
    d. none of the above
  66. Depending on the genre of music, a "too slick’ demo kit can hurt the artist.
  67. A Major label will have a lot of people working on a lot of releases at any given time.
  68. In the 90’s, when giving contact info, providing the media with fax or email info is important.
  69. A quote sheet is the same thing as a press clipping.
  70. A song is considered published when copies of the song have been distributed to the public by sale or by other transfer of ownership, and/or by rental, lease, or lending.
  71. Legal proof of copyright ownership is accomplished by registering songs with the copyright office in Washington DC.
  72. Mechanical rights and Performance rights are different names for the same source of income for songwriters and publishers.
  73. A song that is used on a soundtrack for a film or TV show is called a synchronization.
  74. Artist and bands who establish their own careers, and demonstrate a strong fan following are more likely to be attractive to record labels in this day and age.
  75. It is not possible to send the ‘right’ music to the wrong label.
  76. A ‘hook’ is that part of a song that is most memorable.
  77. Examining musicians union bills and overseeing their payments is a job for the A&R administration department at a major record label.
  78. The administration department at a major record label monitors the funds allocated for the recording budget of an artist or band.
  79. A&R departments at major labels do not contact any other departments at the label because doing so could cause a lot of problems for the rep and the artist.
  80. The label of a demo tape should always have a copyright notice, but contact info does not have to be on the label, because it is usually on the JCard.
  81. Which of the following is not important to remember when taking band photographs?
    a. background objects
    b. clarity and brightness issues
    c. number of people
    d. band’s image
    e. none of the above
  82. Photographers do not have the rights to the photos they take.
  83. The best way to find a competent photographer is to look in the yellow pages.
  84. Which of the following is not one of the many ‘myths’ that new artists believe?
    a. people in position of power are never wrong
    b. putting out your own record and building your own career is a good idea
    c. a record deal means success
    d. the best way to make contacts is to party with the stars
    e. record labels know what they are looking for
  85. The world of the A&R rep is very structured, and every rep is trained and disciplined to evaluate, search, and discover talent in the same exact way.
  86. Booking agents are as easy for new artists to get as Managers.
  87. If an artist develops their career successfully, a Manager is usually the first ‘team’ person to get on board.
  88. Most attorneys charge their fees on an hourly basis.
  89. As an artist career develops, a business manager is brought on board to handle the money.
  90. In a recording contract (outside of bidding war deals) which of the following are rarely negotiated?
    a. ownership of the masters
    b. recoupment issues
    c. term of contract
    d. exclusivity issue
    e. recording budgets


Christopher Knab is an independent music business consultant based in Seattle, Washington. He is available for private consultations on promoting and marketing independent music, and can be reached by email at: chris@chrisknab.net

Chris Knab's book,
'Music Is Your Business' is available from the Music Biz Academy bookstore.

Visit the
FourFront Media and Music website for more information on the business of music from Christopher Knab.

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