Dear Record Label: Should My Band Put Our Music on iTunes or Just Give It Away?

In a band? Have no idea how to go about getting a label to take you seriously? We've got the answers you're looking for.

In our blog series, "Dear Record Label," we went to Roadrunner Records -- home of Slipknot, Rob Zombie, Opeth, Megadeth, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Trivium and more -- and asked them the tough questions young bands should know the answers to. Each week, we'll be bringing you advice from members of the Roadrunner staff to try and get you on track to get noticed.

This week, the advice comes from Roadrunner Records Vice President of A&R, Monte Conner.

Q: As an unsigned band, does it make more sense to put my material on iTunes or make it available for a free download?

MONTE CONNER: iTunes is the largest music retailer in the U.S., so why wouldn’t it make sense assuming the sound quality and material are up to snuff? Record companies have traditionally served as the gatekeepers between musicians and the public. As the gatekeepers, your music has to go through us before it gets to the masses. While putting your own music on iTunes seemingly bypasses the record labels as the middlemen, consider that there are thousands upon thousands of bands doing just the very same thing. There is such a huge glut of music out there that kids are overwhelmed and confused about what to focus on. So in end, the record companies still serve the same purpose they always have, which is to sort through and vet the glut of music, letting only the cream of the crop through to the consumer. Further down the line, we also promote and market that music better than a band would be able to on their own.

As for free downloads of your songs, why not? Your music is your calling card. As an unsigned band, give it away to anyone who will listen and create a buzz; if the buzz is big enough, it will reach the A&R guys. Instead of bothering A&R guys, spend your time creating a buzz and touring with the goal of making us come to you.

And if you're an unsigned band, be sure to check out Roadrunner's Sign Me To website, which allows unsigned bands to display their music, move up charts based on fan ratings, get reviewed by Roadrunner staff and maybe even get signed!

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