How Artists Are ‘Purchasing’ Record Deals — Before They Get Signed

Photo Credit: HiLife Music Group
  • Save

Photo Credit: HiLife Music Group
  • Save
Photo Credit: HiLife Music Group

HiLife Music Group’s subsidiary label, A-Grade Music, is allowing artists to ‘Purchase a Record Deal‘ — aiming to change how label deals are done. Artists can now get ahead of the curve by buying a deal that comes with every perk that a conventional record label would provide.

Despite the multitude of label models in the music industry, the landscape is still rife with talented musicians spending a lifetime looking for a deal they’ll never procure.

Distribution-label hybrids like AWAL, Empire, and Create Music have up-ended the traditional label model while giving artists more favorable terms and options. Nonetheless, a recording contract continues to be a divine blessing that labels choose to bestow upon artists they consider a lucrative financial investment. Traditional labels also remain painstakingly cautious about offering a deal — and all the resources that come with it.

Now, A-Grade Music, a division of HiLife Music Group. is handing the strings of artist success to artists themselves. With their ‘Purchase a Record Deal’ model, the company is creating opportunities for artists to bypass the process of looking for a conventional recording contract. Instead, musicians can simply buy one. Just recently, HiLife joined forces with DMN to further expand the innovative concept.

A-Grade Music is establishing a unique system for musicians. They can purchase complete options for production, branding, campaigning, project teams, and release — with no strings attached.

CEO Adrian Fife spoke to Digital Music News about how A-Grade Music is changing significant aspects of traditional record deals. “There are a lot of talented artists out there, but to get a conventional recording deal, you need a lot more than talent.”

For artists stuck in the loop of waiting for a record label to give them a toehold in the industry, Fife believes this is the perfect way to get ahead. “There are millions of people worldwide looking for record deals. Rather than waiting, we’re empowering artists to kick start their careers on their own terms.”

According to A-Grade, even if an artist sells a million records, they keep 95% of revenue from sales. The company merely retains 5% for the artist fee, which includes administrative costs.

It’s no secret that for every artist that has procured a conventional record deal, tens of thousands have fallen by the wayside.

There are far too many artists and not enough opportunities. And thanks to consolidation among major record companies, even fewer acts are getting signed.

Fife spoke about one of the biggest reasons why record deals are hard to come by, saying, “It’s risky for a record company to break a new artist. They’re putting all this money behind an artist—money they’ll have to recoup. For an independent label, it’s an even higher risk than a major. So why not take all that risk out of the equation and turn it around?”

Fife clarifies that A-Grade Music isn’t signing artists, so the company doesn’t own IP — unless it collaborated on tracks with songwriting or composing. “Artists have the freedom. We’re not here to hold them back. They own the IP of any completed tracks and videos they want to get out there.”

Moreover, artist managers and mid-tier labels can utilize the expansive gamut of services that A-Grade Music brings to the table. ‘Purchase a Record Deal’ could be the missing piece of the puzzle that propels their artists to the next level.

Clearly, ‘Purchase a Record Deal’ isn’t just for early-stage artists trying to kick-start their careers. It’s also a fit for musicians wanting to re-enter the scene after a successful run in the past. That includes seasoned artists, allowing them to eat their cake and have it too — by retaining ownership of their IP and keeping all proceeds from sales.

‘Purchase a Record Deal’ makes sense for artists who are confident in their future prospects, and willing to invest in their talent and career.

Some labels now exclusively sign artists with established track records, existing fanbases, or a seriously viral moment. Against that reality, many musicians are seeing A-Grade Music as a stepping stone toward a conventional recording contract. With A-Grade’s professional services, artists can demonstrate their talent, popularity, and sales potential to mega-players in the industry.

For musicians who believe they can venture out on their own, their DIY fantasy typically underestimates the amount of time, money, and effort that goes into a label’s role.

A-Grade aims to fill that role for a lot less upfront cash compared to what artists will ultimately pay for studios, mastering, video production, promotions — and everything else that must be done for track production and release.

Fife explains how economies of scale allow the label to get things done cost-effectively for artists. “We’re not outsourcing anything. Recording studios, marketing, promotions, everything’s in place already. We’re doing everything any major record company does, and we have the infrastructure to tackle it all.”

A-Grade Music can take over everything from creation, marketing, release, distribution, and promotion of completed songs and videos — depending on the package purchased by an artist. With a multitude of features, artists get a chance to showcase their talent to the world from A-Grade Music headquarters based in the UK.

Every musician purchasing A-Grade Music’s record deal is assigned a creative music production team, which works alongside the artist to help maximize their artistic potential. With artist branding services, musicians develop their own brand of the desired style and sound to differentiate themselves from other artists. Moreover, merchandise and products are produced, marketed, and distributed via A-Grade Music websites and subsidiary outlets. ​

The label also combines a portfolio of campaign tools, including photography, video, image consultancy, recording studio, vocal coaches, web pages, social media, official channels, and promotions.

An extensive project management team supports every stage of an artist’s music journey. All music releases comply with UPC barcodes and international standard recording codes (ISRC), ensuring that all sales figures are reported to the Billboard charts, allowing artists to enter.

Speaking about what happens after an artist purchases a record deal from Grade-A Music, Fife explains, “You’d be given your schedule and tour manager. You’d get your track and video recorded. For the duration, you would have your accommodation, go to the recording studio, have an image consultant and a marketing team to get your social media profile up to where it’s meant to be. It is across the board, depending on what you purchase.”

Despite its ability to thrust artists into the spotlight, the company emphasizes that musicians are under no binding commitment to stay with A-Grade Music.

Fife is excited about the exposure and revenue artists can earn by taking charge of their careers, saying, “We’re not looking to tie an artist. The artist is a free agent.”

With ‘Purchase a Record Deal,’ A-Grade Music appears to be opening the doors to a one-of-a-kind opportunity for artists. It allows musicians to get ahead of the curve, and according to Fife, “That has never been done before.”