Releasing a record with Chrmatic
Everyone who works at Chrmatic is an artist on their musician’s journey. While we’re on our individual paths, we all experience confusion and frustration when we try to get our music signed to labels. For a new producer, there is very little public information and it can be tough to ask peers their experiences. Additionally, it’s really difficult to tease out the difference between “that’s how the industry works” from “that’s a scam.”
This page is focused on transparently sharing how we sign and release records. We also want to make sure we’ve set realistic expectations with you as an artist. Let’s get into it.
Submitting a demo
Submit demos through our website. This funnels everything to our LabelRadar portal where we can easily manage all Chrmatic submissions in one place. It’s also the platform where we communicate with you as an artist.
LabelRadar is a platform many labels use to manage demo submissions. They make money by charging artists to submit demos to labels. They have a free plan that lets artists submit one demo per month without cost. They work on a credit system. You get 5 credits for free each month. LabelRadar requires 5 credits to submit a track to Chrmatic. You can also buy 5 credits for $1 or sign up for one of their plans.
In summary, it will cost you, at most, $1 to submit a demo to us. We take your investment seriously and we promise we’ll listen to it (if we don’t, you get your credits back and LabelRadar will yell at us).
Giving yourself an edge
After you’ve uploaded a demo, here is something you can do to impress us. Most labels won’t want this, but we like it. Send us an email with the following information:
An introduction and short artist bio
Full color artist photo
Why are we a fit for each other
Your plan for the next 6 months and how a Chrmatic release would fit in
While we always put the music first, emails with this information help us understand the seriousness of your artist project and how ready you are for a label release. Additionally, we need this information when we sign a record.
We promote the records we sign. To be a bit more explicit, we invest money in marketing and promotion that we believe will result in streams and positive exposure. We’re always learning what works best and focusing our investments in the best channels. The money we invest in an artist’s record is recoupable. This means that this investment must be paid back to Chrmatic prior to the artist receiving royalties.
This is probably one of the most confusing parts of the music industry. However, let’s focus on the headlines that are relevant for us:
You’re unlikely to make much, if any, money when releasing a record with Chrmatic.
Chrmatic will invest in your record. This investment will have to be paid back from royalties before you receive your share of royalties. This is known as recoupment.
We’re growing and we usually lose money on each record we sign. This will change as we get bigger and our reach is larger.
We will never ask you to pay Chrmatic money to sign your record. If the mix or master needs work and you're looking for help, we can introduce you to an engineer in our circle (more on this below). Otherwise, we’ll tell you to keep at it and come back when the record is ready for commercial release.
If you’re serious about your artist project, we will encourage you to invest in the promotion of your record. The music industry is “pay to play” in a lot of ways. We can help you identify the best channels for promotion.
Here is a spreadsheet template where you can calculate how much money you'll make or lose on a record. We use this model internally to forecast revenue.
Mixing and Mastering
We listen to a lot of demos. The ones that stand out the most have a commercial grade mix and master. We have relationships with mixing and mastering engineers who we trust. If your track is a good fit for Chrmatic but needs a mix and master, we can make an intro to an engineer in our circle. In these cases, we'll typically sign the track when it's completed. If you have an engineer you work with or your prefer to mix and master yourself, that's fine as well.
Vocals on your record
Vocals can bring a track to life. We prioritize tracks with original vocals which exclusively belong to the artists submitting the record. We seldom sign tracks with vocals from mass distributed sample packs, Splice, or similar services. If you're using non-exclusive vocals, our preference is that they're heavily processed and have a unique flair.
We encourage you to read all contracts closely before you sign them, whether with Chrmatic or anyone else. Talk to your peers in the industry to understand their experience and perspective. If you have questions about a contract, don't be afraid to ask the team who sent it to you.
Here are the highlights from our single record contract:
Chrmatic gets exclusive rights to your record for 7 years
All investments in the record are recoupable
After costs are recouped, artists receive a negotiated share of royalties
You promise that you have the rights to the record and all samples in it
Releasing your record
After we sign your record, we will schedule it for release 4-8 weeks in the future. Well executed releases take time and we will expect you to invest significant time to make it a success. Most of the work is done in the weeks leading up to the release. This article offers a fantastic overview for planning and executing a straightforward promo campaign for a streaming focused release. We’ll stay in touch so you know what we’re doing. The more work you put in, the more successful your release will be.