I Got a Major Label Meeting and Nothing Happened

Atlantic Records, My Major Label Meeting

At this point, we all know someone trying to “make it” in the music business.  Thanks to the world of technology we live in, the industry has easily become over-saturated with thousands, if not millions, of aspiring singers, producers, songwriters, musicians, DJs, etc.

Anyone with a smartphone and a Wi-Fi connection can simply fill out their social media bio and give themselves whatever title they wish to be called.  With too much supply and not enough demand, it’s no wonder that so many are getting discouraged while in pursuit of their dreams.

Old Way of Thinking

You may have heard the classic “get signed to a major label vs. remain independent” discussion buzzing throughout the industry. The new way of thinking is very much in favor of DIY (Do It Yourself). It’s all about taking matters into your own hands now. Stop whining, stop complaining, and stop looking for someone to “put you on.”

Well, I used to be one of those folks. It took me awhile to accept reality. For years, I was stuck in the old way of thinking. I used to think I needed to get signed to a major label to be successful.

New Way of Thinking

The truth is that you definitely don’t need to be signed to become successful anymore. Yes, of course it helps in some aspects, but there are many pros and cons to either side of being independent versus signed. One major difference is the mindset. Waiting around to “get discovered” (yes I was once naive enough to think that was possible) versus GO out there, bust your ass every day, be fearless of rejection, and go make something happen for yourself.

How Did I Get a Major Label Meeting?

With that being said, I somehow ended up in a situation last year that landed me a meeting at Atlantic Records.  It was completely unexpected and rare.  My mental picture of a label office consisted of a bunch of greasy suits sitting around a huge corporate conference table scheming about the best ways of maximizing profits from every angle. Of course, this is the MUSIC BUSINESS – the for-profit monetization of distributing recorded music.

So here’s how it happened:

Connections Connections & More Connections

You’ve heard it before, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

That proves to be all true and powerful in the music business, but I would say it even goes a step further than just who you know. It’s who you know that believes they can PROFIT by helping you.  Let that sink in.  Everyone is talented these days, but that’s not enough.  Whenever you meet an A&R, manager, etc., what they ultimately want to assess is your commercial viability.

How likely are you to be commercially profitable?

Started With an Attorney

So, through the wonderful power of the Internet, a relative of a high school friend of mine came across my music and reached out. She believes in me greatly, and wanted to help. She had a connection to some attorneys who were previously successful in entertainment law. Through a series of emails and introductions, my music package ended up in the hands of a well connected music attorney in LA. For non-disclosure and legal purposes, let’s just say his name is… Professor X.

After lots of discussion with Professor X, he felt that I had massive potential and said I was a “rare find.” What a compliment.  From there, Professor X set up a meeting in New York between myself and his A&R buddy at Atlantic.

Day of the Meeting

So fast forward.  It’s just me.  I’ve got my acoustic guitar, press kit, and confidence as I go up the elevator.  Slight feeling of knots in my stomach and heart beating fast, but that’s normal.  I get off the elevator and saw those huge glass doors.  Those doors that I’ve seen in other people’s Instagram pics so many times before with the overtly corny hashtag #meetings in the caption.  Well it was finally my turn to walk through those doors.

Walk Through the Doors

I’m greeted by a stand offish dude that looked like he just finished jamming to old 90s Nirvana tunes in his mom’s basement. After 30 minutes of waiting, I’m finally greeted by the A&R. For non-disclosure purposes, lets call him Doctor Robotnik. (What you know bout that old school Sonic joint from Sega Genesis!)

So, I’m at the conference table sharing my story with Doctor Robotnik. We talk about some of my accomplishments, things that have shaped my musical influences, latest shows, production accolades, etc. Finally, I play him 3 records. Then, I busted out the acoustic guitar and rocked out for about 10 minutes. He was complimenting me up and down about what a unique sound I have, and how he wanted to get me in the studio with Cee Lo and Trey Songz.

Following that, we continued talking for another half hour or so. Discussing my potential as a songwriter and producer. Doctor Robotnik was a fan of my versatility, especially my vocal arrangements and musicianship. I was down for that. I just wanted to build and see where the road could lead. At the end of a near 2 hour meeting, I had all the reason in the world to be optimistic.

I Went from Optimistic –> To Hopeful –> To Huh?

Days, weeks, then finally a month goes by and I haven’t heard from Doctor Robotnik or Professor X. I tried the usual email and text follow up, but got totally ignored. A complete cold shoulder. Needless to say, I was confused and disappointed. I was looking forward to getting in the studio with some new people and building. I wasn’t expecting to become the next superstar overnight. I’m a smart guy with realistic expectations, but I was puzzled as to why I was getting snubbed.

Months later and I actually ran into Doctor Robotnik at an industry event. He saw me, looked down at the floor, and passed by with no acknowledgement. Now, I’m a man of respect and dignity. Maybe I was raised like that because of my traditional Italian heritage. But in my world, there’s no excuse for a grown man being that immature and petty. As an artist, I’m always trying to get better. I would prefer to receive the constructive criticism and learn from it.

Nothing Happened

So that was that.  It’s a sketchy industry.  It happens.  But who cares? Just be you.  Continue to work hard, stay humble, believe in yourself and your gifts, because the only person that can deny you is yourself.

 

Gaetano

Gaetano is a NYC based Singer, Songwriter, Producer, Guitarist that has worked with some of the biggest names in music. After releasing 2 EPs and producing records for major artists, Gaetano has been documenting his music industry experiences via his blog.

To get in touch with Gaetano, follow him on Instagram: @official_gaetano.

 

All images provided and owned by Gaetano.

24 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    welcome to the music biz kid. get in line with the 50,000 artists that have experienced this.

    nice clickbait story DMN. this story is lame

    Reply
    • Literally Can't Even

      Yeah, you know who else experienced this?

      DRAKE.

      But sorry — what were you saying?

      Reply
      • Gaetano

        Hey Man – Thanks for reading definitely appreciate you weighing in. That guy who commented above has a valid point, yes it happens to lots of artists who get label meetings. But nobody ever talks or writes about it as honestly as I decided to do. I wanted to place emphasis on the fact that talent is a small component of the game, where connects and commercial viability weigh more.

        – G

        Reply
        • Literally Can't Even

          Listen Gaetano, get real. That guy owes you nothing. So he talked you up, thinking maybe he wanted to do something, keeping the option open so you didn’t sign with Sony accidentally… then changed his mind. Don’t shove some “I’m better than you,” “real men” superiority blah blah — he just didn’t want to talk to you so he saved both of you about 20 minutes of bullshit conversation (and didn’t put you in the circle of sending him 10 emails that he wouldn’t respond to). He was doing you a favor, now move on to the next meeting!

          Reply
          • Al Walser

            don’t agree! if he spent 2 hours complimenting him, at least shoot the talent a quick email saying ” na, not interested at this time! that’s called having minimal decency …

        • Anonymous

          Hard hitting story. Please tell me this guy wasn’t paid for this…I guess you’d call it an article…

          Reply
  2. Versus

    Been through that many times.
    Rejection is never pleasant. At least it needn’t be rude, but sadly it often is.
    But you typically have to get through a lot of rejection and criticism (and sometimes just being ignored) before arriving at success…if that success ever comes.

    Then again, it depends how you define success…

    Reply
      • Gaetano

        Exactly bro. The rejection is whatever. Everyone gets rejected its just a part of life. The grimey way the dude went about it was the lame part. We’re both men, no reason why we can’t just part ways with professionalism.

        Reply
  3. indie dude

    “I’m greeted by a stand offish dude that looked like he just finished jamming to old 90s Nirvana tunes in his mom’s basement”

    really? you had to go there…the 90’s were SO much more interesting than what’s been going on for the last 16 years..it’s not even a competition really…WAY too many people trying to sound like Michael Jackson these days..and I like MJ…but it’s been done people..move on and do something that’s you…and just you…and then if you’re lucky enough you just might get signed..

    Reply
  4. Speaking of rejection ...

    See, 17 U.S.C. § 203(a)(5) (inalienable authorial right to revoke a copyright transfer). See also, New York Times Co. v. Tasini, 533 U.S. 483 (2001).

    Reply
  5. zogg

    Remember in todays world it’s not what he can do for you the ? is what has he done working at Atlantic. Who has he signed ,whats his track record and why does he have any interest in you? Your approach was totally wrong
    Major labels today are not your only option,remember your in the business of music ,when you start believing that someone else will gain you success you will be on the road to debt with everyone wanting a piece of you.
    I’m still surprized that none of todays artist have come forward to explain some of the mistakes they have made along by encouraging up and coming artist on bad deals and bad decisions that will cost then creatively and monetary in the future.
    Nothing has changed.

    Reply
  6. Al Walser

    Gaetano, let me first tell you what a heck of a talent you are! Checked out your renditions, so i totally get why the A&R and the attorney were fascinated! I always said that, and in fact had the very very same experience as you did! The hardest part for me also was always when there was zero feedback at all, when the meeting went great and then zero, not even a rejection – just pure black whole! No harm when it’s not a fit or whatever, but 0 feedback after all the back and forth was always the hardest pill for me as an artist – especially when they compliment you and were all excited etc. Again, i had the very same experience, also in N.Y. with the difference that when i ran into the A&R months later, i did actually approach him and he was all excited to meet me, gave me his new email etc – and the spiel started from the beginning lol .Followed up with him as he suggested, and never heard from him again haha. It’s those experiences that let you become stronger though and where you learn to just take things into your own hands! Keep it up bro, you R-o-c-k-! Watch the interview i did on here with digitalmusicnews – it talks about DIY artist spirit also! Al – http://www.alwalser.com

    Reply
  7. Musicservices4less

    Wow, with all due respect Gaetano, (God forbid I “disrespect you”), your story is NOT just the story of the music business but the story of different types of people. I don’t care what industry you are in, your “story” happens to just about everyone, everyday who is in business. Please get out more and meet business people you don’t know.
    BTW, of course you got a “no” because all it takes is one “yes”. That’s “showbiz” and it has been and always will be just like that, especially with large corporations.

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    This article should be in a consumer facing outlet, not an industry one like this where we all realize that everything you describe is completely par for the course.

    Reply
  9. Willis

    This kind of thing happens all the time. Just because you get a meaning doesn’t mean you get a deal.

    Reply
  10. John

    Same thing happened to me in the film business. They loved my script, best thing ever, going to get it to Spielberg, etc, and then never heard from them again. Six months later and I finally find out through a friend of a friend that they did actually love my script but were afraid that it wasn’t very commercial, they didn’t know how to sell it. They didn’t want to give me the bad news and have me (potentially) get all mad so they just completely ignored me. Cowardly, but at least I get where they’re coming from.

    Reply

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