Post Production / Marketing your Music

Reality Check

Purveyor of fine antiques
Taken from a topic a friend has done on another forum. Thought it might come in use on here. It's quite a long read, but hopefully you can take a few tips from it.

Louk said:
Hey all! Here is a short guide on the various steps available to you when you have finished a track and want to get it out there. This is very dance orientated with the main focus being Hard Trance and Techno but I hope you all find the guide useful. I have been releasing music since the very end of 2003 and if I knew then what I knew now, some decisions made over the years I certainly wouldn't have done, but you live and learn and that's why this guide is here to help!

I'm sure you all initially get that buzz when you have finished a track in Cubase/Logic and have always dreamed of it going on a Vinyl and Being available for all to hear and play so hopefully this guide will help you get there and also earn some money from your music whilst avoiding being ripped off.

When you have mixed a track down I would advise burning it to a CD-R and playing it on as many systems as possible. Also another option is to do what I call A & B'ing where you take a track thats already been mixed down and compare it to yours by ideally importing both into your sequencer and flipping from one to the other. You can tell then if your track is lacking in certain areas. Though obviously make sure the source material you are using for this is of the highest quality and not some shoddy vinyl rip of your all time favourite trance classic from your mate Dave.

AFTER A & B'ing
Once you have completed a track, there are two routes you can go down. If you are a DJ I advise you to see the PLAYING THE TRACK OUT section below. One route is to get it mastered yourself. Unless you have an ideal set up and a STRONG knowledge of what you are doing I wouldn't recommend this at all. Mastering tools can make your tracks superficially sound great but can also cause some serious irreversable damage if used improperly. So I would advise you not to do this. If you do want to have a go however there are always hardware finalisers and software plugins like Izotope Ozone, Waves or T-Racks you can get.

I always get my tracks mastered externally as something I was taught was 'a fresh pair of ears always picks up frequency problems you have become accustomed to.' This in the most literal sense means after hearing your track so many times your ears become tired and you don't notice mixing errors where as a fresh pair of ears who has heard the track for the first time will instantly pick up on these.

There are many good, reliable and cost effective mastering companies good for mastering your track before Digital Release or when pressing to vinyl.

GIGALOOPS / ULTRASONIC [ran by FJ Project] (Italy) -
ENCODED MASTERING [ran by Audiowarp] (Germany) -
AUDIO SENSES (GERMANY) [ran by Dominik De Leon / Dumonde] -
LHAUDIO (GERMANY) [ran by Oliver Lieb / WJ Henze] -
BLACKLISTED MASTERING [ran by Chris McCormack] (UK) -

So there you are, you have your track and want to play it out, I would advise burning it to CD-R or if you are a vinyl junkie get a dub plate pressed. Thankfully due to companies like Dub Studio you can have a one off vinyl dubplates pressed for £40. These last, some of the pressings I had done in 2006-2008 from these are still lasting me today and extremely fresh now and are definitely worth the money. This is definitely a good test to see if your tracks can 'hold their own' in a set.

Dub Studio (UK) -

Before giving the track to anyone I would advise that you copyright it. It sounds a remarkably obvious thing to say but if ever you are sampled you would like to prove that the work is yours wouldn't you and be owed the royalties you deserve! I'd advise keeping all the files associated with your arrangements backed up safely on a DVD including earlier versions and individual tracks so you can prove that you made the file. Also many believe that posting a copy to yourself and not opening the envelope is a 'foolproof' way to copyright tracks. But to quote the Copyright Service website:

'You could post a copy to yourself, (and we are still amazed how often this is quoted as “‘the way to prove copyright’”), but the reality is that as the copy you post remains in your possession, you have ample opportunity to tamper with the contents. Even if you did successfully use it, (and it would be a pretty poor lawyer who could not bring some doubt on it as evidence), once you used it, it has been opened and no longer sealed evidence if you need it again in an appeal or future infringement.'

The only clear way to registering copyright is to register with these:

Copyright Service -

A bit of advice I was given by a Sound + Music Production lecturer at Plymouth University was to always get your music registered with a publisher before you take it anywhere. This applies even if your material is not signed. You can infact publish tracks yourself but this is a very long winded bit of administration and might not be worth it if you only release a make a couple of tracks.

A GOOD publishers role is basically one that maximises the return on the music they control the rights of. This can be by generating royalties from what are called Mechanical Rights (sales of CDs/Vinyls and other Physical products), also Performance royalties from Live/Broadcast Performances (ie DJ sets where playlists are taken by PRS folk and from Radio plays where the stations pay performance rights), and something called Synchronisation income (if your music is used on a TV program/video game/movie etc).

One thing to bear in mind is a publisher is interested in your compositions only. They have no interest in the actual audio of how a track sounds but the actual music notation. That's why in old times music publishers used to print books of sheet music of their works/songs. This is their intellectual property.

Anyway, all the above might sound like jargon but lets say for example a track you have written is played on Radio 1 here in the UK, licensed to a CD Compilation in Germany, pressed on vinyl by a Dutch record label and used in a film in Australia, that would be 4 different sources of income that you are entitled to that a decent music publisher can collect the money from. It's all possible. Here are some publishing companies that are used frequently in the hard trance world.

A good side to a publisher is sometimes they offer you advance cash payments if they want to invest in you (it's happened to me before), but there is a catch in that you have to write a certain amount of tracks exclusively for them, but this can have a drawback if you do not write regularly.

Trancewarez Music Publishing [ran by Vandall] (UK) -
All Media Music / Paul Rodriguez [publisher of Jon Doe, Hixxy, Organ Donors) (UK) - /
Sirup Publishing (Switzerland) -

Reality Check

Purveyor of fine antiques

Louk said:

By now you should have had the track copyrighted and have found a good publisher. The next step is to decide what you want to do with the track. I would recommend sending the track to a few big name DJs and Radio Stations to build hype. I always do this with my productions even if its a small worldwide mail out of 10-20 DJs/Radio Stations worldwide, or a track I'm going to release on Compulzion where by I do a bigger mail out. Of course this is helpful if you have built up huge contact lists of DJs and know them personally, but this takes time and effort and for quicker results you can hire a promotion company to do this.

This is what I actually do as a business. A record label/producer comes to me and I send the track to DJs, Radio Stations, Magazines, CD Compilations/Licensees and more to build hype. Also you can come to me with a track unsigned and I will try and find a label for it. I have helped license Vicky Devine to Drizzly, Audiowarp to Dataless, dB Shredaz to Atmosphere, Synthetic + Major Tom to Mental Madness, DJHusband to Digitally Infected, DJ Pred to Pro State Digital and numerous other clients.

Compulzion (Hard Trance/Hardstyle/Techno/House/Commercial/Hardcore) (UK)
[ran by Me (Louk) and handles promotion for labels such as German Trance, Tetsuo, Theracords, NTR and many others]. -

It's not just only me who does this so it's fair to mention some other wicked clients too:

Concrete Promotions (House/Trance) (UK)
[handles labels like Skint, Deconstruction, Global Underground etc] -

Music House/Hyperactive [Dance orientated remixes of commercial stuff and handles labels like Nebula and the new Pendulum and Tiesto releases etc] (UK)


By now you should have a track which in an ideal situation a few DJs are playing. The best bet is to then take it to a label. This next step sounds simple but so many people overlook it I am often shocked. Target the labels who release music SIMILAR to what you are making. The best way to get their contact address is to look at records you are buying and send them a polite e-mail.

Seriously, nothing infuriates an A&R guy when he gets sent a demo that is not the style of the label at all, The amount of house demos I get sent for Compulzion for instance is ridiculous and although it's rude to say it I have to write back and go 'Have you even heard what we put out?'. So rather than do that and be ignored / upset an A&R the best bet is to target a label that release a similar style. Forward an e-mail that says something like this:

Hi there,

I hope you are well. My name is Louk, I recently purchased a track on your label and am interested in sending you guys a demo of my material as it is quite similar to the style you release. Can I please have an e-mail address to send a link to?.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Many Thanks,


Hopefully you will get a reply and then it's best to send a link. Here are some DO's and DONT'S I suggest you read (as when listening to demos nothing irritates me more than the following).

* DON'T Send a 2 minute soundcloud clip. Most labels I know are starting to hate soundcloud. If you want to give a label a demo at least give them a copy of the full track in 128 kb/s mp3 or something. It's a bit of an insult to not send the full tune.

* Similarly DON'T send an unfinished track and apologise for it. Looks really unprofessional. I used to do this to be honest but it hindered me more than helped. When you contact a label it's always best to send a finished track rather than (and I quote from an e-mail I once received), 'This is all I have done so far as I can't afford proper decent monitors, would u release it?'. When you contact a label you should be selling your track not hindering your chances of them releasing it.

* DO Check your spelling, punctuation and grammar as well as a simple text message speak hardly gives the best impression!

* DON'T Send large e-mail attatchments. A link is brilliant. To be honest the most professional way to do it would be to invest in yourself and buy some webspace (see WEB PRESENCE below). As a direct link from your artist name is much better than a Sendspace, Rapidshare, Megaupload, Zshare etc link that expires and you have to wait a minute to download. If I set up webspace for my Cohesive alias and bought the domain for instance it would look far better sending a link from than or something.

* DO send your track directly to the one label. If you wish to send it to another send it in a separate e-mail. This is not only curteous but it's more of a personal touch than approaching loads of labels at once in the hope that one might sign it, especially if you are silly enough to send the e-mail direct to everyones address in the TO field so that can others can see it. This will greatly reduce your chances of getting signed.

* Finally the most irritating of all... Please DON'T send links to your track on facebook especially not a Facebook Chat Message and expect people to listen straight away, it hardly ever happens and is *** irritating! Most labels prefer to be emailed links to their inboxes which they can check/sort into folders (like I have a demo folder) and reply when ready. Sending a 2 min clip of your unfinished tune on facebook just cause you want reassurance it sounds good is likely to get you deleted/blocked rather than help you on your way. This must sound really touchy but after the amount of artists contacting me with 2 min clips expecting instant responses it's really annoying.

MCPS / people / PRS

I touched on these above but if you want to publish music yourself you need to register with the MCPS-PRS alliance. The MCPS look after Mechanical Royalties (royalties from CDs/Vinyl/Digital Downloads). The PRS look after performance plays (radio plays etc).

people are more concerned with those of you who have performed on any recorded music, but this is touched on above.

PRS For Music (UK)
people (UK)


Right you've made your track, got it copyrighted and now the next thing to do is promote it online. I suggest making 128kbps soundclips of the best 4 minute section of your track. For me I usually make a soundclip from just before the bassline is to come in and just before the drum outro at the end and fade it in and out.

It's best to set up a basic web page so that you have some information about yourself as an artist. I recommend buying some webspace like I said above as for £40 per year you can have your own web domain and address, that looks much better than a address.

Once thats set up it might be wise to hire a designer to design you some artwork and logos and also set up a website for you. My designer for Compulzion is someone who I can highly recommend both for cost effectiveness and professionalism. His address is below.

Following on from that. It is good to get a well written artist biography, profile done written. Please get it spelling, grammar and punctuation checked before uploading else it will look hugely unprofessional and having a good image is a great thing. I can also write one if you need one done as I have written profiles for Kamui, Uberdruck, Iain Cross, Jake Nicholls and many more in the past.

Social Networking is a must and sites like Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, Soundcloud, Reverb Nation and more are beneficial too. Whilst these in my opinions are tools of the devil, they are necessary evils in getting your name out there and promotion. Though to be honest I (and also most my family, friends, girlfriend etc) are quite addicted to facebook, it can be beneficial and gigs have come as a result of it. Set up simple pages on each with your contact details. Soundclips of your tracks, and some well written hype/information about yourself and some artwork if you can cause this looks wicked. Try to build up fan bases on all as there are some who use certain sites but not others, and if possible (though its easier said than done), try to stay on top of updating everything to help improve consumer awareness.

UKWSD [Web Space Providers] (UK) -
Xpress MMCG [Graphic + Web Space Designers] (UK) -

Facebook -
Twitter -
Bebo -
Soundcloud -
Reverb Nation -

Reality Check

Purveyor of fine antiques
Louk said:

Forums too are an international way to promote yourself and make friends. If you want to run your own label you could easily find artists here (it's how I found out about DB Shreddaz, Jim Justice and Audiowarp). - When you have a new production you might want to post it online and get involved in discussions on sites.

Some forums I recommend are

Blackout Audio [Mark EG's forum] (UK)
Global Hardtrance (Holland)
Serious Sounds (UK)
USH.Net (UK)


So, you've done all that and someone wants to sign you to their label. Realistically what should you be offered? This is a double edged sword really, but for the bare minimum there should be a 50% split of profits. Get everything in writing and double check it, if you register with the Musicians Union you are entitled to legal advice and also a good solicitor might cost but they would find out about any hidden clauses that are there.

If you are lucky enough to be offered an Advance payment (it used to happen lots but hardly ever happens now), what this means is you will be paid a fee upfront for your track and you will not receive any more money until the track has sold enough to recoup your advance.

Look to see if a label wants you to sign a publishing deal with them in the contract. If they do, I'd advise to refuse point blank because A) Your tracks should already be published by another person and B) This creates a conflict of interest. Plus YOUR publisher can demand to see sales receipts and work out how much money you are actually owed and chase that for you. I signed one publishing agreement in house, never again as I never saw any publishing money for that track.

On a similar note, Never sign away your music for free. I'm not going to name names but a certain European label signed two tracks by a friend of mine and said they would pay no royalties but the exposure of him being on their label was too good a chance to miss and he got 10 vinyls from it. That sucks and despite how keen you are to have a release avoid a deal where no royalties are paid. I was whacking my head in disbelief when I saw this agreement and the fact he signed it.

Realistically though on a time-scale point of view, if you sign a track, give it a year until you start seeing some serious income from it. Cause labels statement twice a year and statements take up to three months from the point of them sending a statement to you so you could be talking a mininum of 9 months before you see how much has sold before sending an invoice. So yes, do make sure in the contract there is a clause which states that statements are sent out twice a year.

Look out for something called an exclusivity clause too. Many wonder why my tracks 'Pill Abuse' and 'Your Love' never came out as Louk. At the time I was contracted exclusively to another label for 2 years, so when I signed the tracks to Hitland and V-Trax respectively, I had to use another pseudonym so had to release them as 'Cohesive' and 'Future Vision' and rename the original mixes to Louk mixes just so people knew that I was behind them. If any label recommends you sign exclusively I would suggest only do so if you really must. However on the flip to this, most labels offer something called a first refusal on a future singles, this is a standard clause in most contracts and at least then it's good if you make another track and want to take it to the same label as it gives them the chance to refuse it first and could mean a quicker release for a follow up.

Musicians Union (UK) -
Wolferstans Solicitors (UK) -


This could so easily be another section so I will just touch on the basics. If you want to release music yourself, there are a few things you need to do. First decide which medium you wish to release it on. I chose for Compulzion to release on Vinyl then MP3 a few months after so the vinyls have the largest shelf life and I would recommend others to do this.

Next seek a distributor. My distributor (Icon Distribution) has a top sales guy by the name of Jay Frantic. He has worked for Alphamagic, Amato and now Icon and knows how to sell music like the back of his hand as he also DJs at Firewall, Uprising and many other events across the UK. So he knows exactly who to sell your music to and he has this strange Simon Cowell-esque quality of scarily being accurate in telling you if he thinks it will sell or not. Their company offer deals where they pay half the costs of the pressing and you pay the other half, but you are accountable if the releases do not sell enough to break even (it does happen sometimes). So keep your costs down.

Next for digital distribution you can either seek a company who handles it all and takes a percentage, or do it yourself. I recommend the former even though I end up doing the latter now. Label Worx are a company which does this, you only have to upload your release once and providing they accept your label (it is wise to have a release schedule of 2-3 releases planned and a strong web presence before approaching them), they will get your release into stores and I think take a 20% cut of sales.

Alternatively approach key stores like Trackitdown, Juno Download, Dance-Tunes (Holland), Imo Download, and Hard Beats Store direct. Contacts are provided below.

Icon Distribution (UK)

Label Worx (UK)

Trackitdown (UK)
Juno Download (UK)
Dance-Tunes (Holland)
IMO Download (UK)
Hardbeats Store (UK) Http://

I would recommend Beatport too and I-Tunes but these stores only take people on if they are through distributors. In my experience though Juno and Trackitdown are the big sellers for harder music so I would concentrate on getting your tunes on their stores.


Many thanks for reading all of this, I hope it helps you!

All the best


Very VERY long read, but some pretty valid points in there if you can be bothered to read it!


VIP Junglist
Fuck. After the first page I was like 'Alright!', near the end of the second page it started sounding like a lot of work. Good read tho.