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Source: Disney

The Gritty Reality of What Happens After You Sign a Major Record Deal


It's many people's dream to make a living playing music, singing to large stadiums, and collecting Grammys like they're Pokemon cards. Major music labels receive 40,000 demos a year from desperate, starving musicians looking for their big break, and the few who score a record deal are actually incredibly lucky. But their journey doesn't stop once they get the coveted contract. 

Although it might seem like scoring a record deal is the one thing all artists need to "make it" in the industry, major labels often take advantage of young, naive talent. Though their contract might say they'll release three albums, many signed artists don't get to release anything at all. Before you chase music stardom, here's what scoring a record deal is really like.

1. Record labels say they'll make you a huge star.

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Being scouted by a record label is every struggling musician's dream. A label might fly you out to New York or L.A. and take you out to swanky restaurants where you'll be wined and dined. During this courting, they'll tell you you're going to be a huge star, make tons of money, and be the next "big thing." Since this is literally every artist's dream come true, you'll be so happy and flattered that you'll be ready to sign just about anything they give you — which is the point.

"I'm sure that's a common trick," said rapper Spose, who wrote about his experience being signed with Universal. "It was all just smoke being blown up my a%#."

The reality is that most labels don't follow through on their promises. "My first record deal I probably signed in some fancy restaurant with champagne, I felt like I made it," Victoria Hesketh, a.k.a. British singer Little Boots, told Noisey. "[That] first deal was terrible, and if I’d understood the small print I would not have signed it.”