One of the biggest differences at AWAL is that we don’t just accept everyone. With a selective, curated roster, we’re able to give our members a higher quality of service that goes far beyond just distribution. Every artist is at a different stage in developing their career. So, we focus on helping where it’s needed most, whether that’s pitching for playlists, access to data and insights, or cash funding when the time is right.
As applications come in, our AWAL A&R team works to vet applicants that best fit the AWAL mold. At this point, you may be wondering — well, who fits that mold?
So, in today’s post, we’ll be taking a look into some of the key factors that we look for in an application for AWAL membership. Now, before we begin, it’s important to note that we definitely don’t expect an applicant to meet all these criteria before applying. Instead, these are a few of the essential elements that typically encourage us to accept an applicant.
1. Strong Creative Quality
Creative quality plays an important role when deliberating on the acceptance of an artist. We fully acknowledge that something quite subjective like creative quality is difficult to define; however, our seasoned A&R team searches for originality and the potential in an applicant’s music. While quality audio is essential, the quality of other creative collateral such as videos or artwork also play an important hand in our decision making. Although creative quality is a key factor that every AWAL member should possess, it is certainly not enough on its own.
2. Positive Engagement from Fans
The ideal AWAL candidate should already have somewhat of an engaged fan base. Our A&R team quantifies this by checking the number of streams or views an applicant has on popular streaming sites like Soundcloud, Spotify, and YouTube, and the level of engagement the artist has on these platforms in terms of followers and subscribers.
Michael Brun is just one example of the heights to which partnering with AWAL can take a developing artist in terms of engagement on popular streaming platforms like Spotify.
We also look into an artist’s social following. How many followers do they have on Twitter and Instagram? What does their engagement on Facebook look like? These are all essential questions we look to when reviewing an applicant's online presence. While follower count is important we personally look more to the level of engagement on socials vs. the total follower count, alone.
Cosmo Pyke is an AWAL artist who has done a great job creating social buzz and engagement around his content.
Stepping out of the digital world, we also look for artists who are no stranger to putting on successful live gigs. The ideal candidate will have a track record of bringing in crowds to live venues and may even be considering / gearing up for the next leg — touring.
3. Positive Engagement from the Media
We love a good hustler who loves music but is conscious of their brand and has the drive to promote it. Our A&R team looks to evaluate candidates based on their reception in the media. Are you able to capture the attention of press and music blogs? What kind of buzz are you able to generate? While this is certainly not a mandatory aspect, seeing that placements have previously been made, or even just hearing of the attempts can certainly weigh in an applicant's favor.
AWAL member Carmody secures some great exposure in Notion Magazine around her latest release.
Other forms of external exposure that can help an applicant get accepted is having radio play or their music featured in film or TV soundtracks or in ads. However, from reviews on the smallest of publications, to exposure on a worldwide stage, we’re just looking to see that you’re working hard to get your name out there — that’s the key.
4. Other Members on the Team
Being an independent artist doesn't mean you have to do it alone... and the ideal AWAL candidate is cognizant of that. Realizing the need to partner with AWAL is a great indicator in itself. While AWAL will always play a primary role in your development other relationships which can prove beneficial are with a —
- Live Agent
- Radio or club promotions company
- Music Publisher
It’s not required for artists to have all these relationships to get accepted. However, in some instances we use the existence of these partnerships to gauge the potential an artist has to take their career to the highest point possible.
5. Commitment to Your Brand
We look to align ourselves with artists who are imbued with a certain level of professionalism. Our A&Rs look for artists who have the foundations of a brand and want to see it grow. For example, we’ll definitely look at your website to help us evaluate.
Has there been time and effort put into the aesthetic layout of your website? Does your website properly connect to and showcase all your other social pages? Do you have press materials and a biography readily available? We look for the essentials that make up any reputable artist website in our candidates.
Other aspects we use to determine an applicant's level of professionalism is looking at previously run releases. We specifically look for clear evidence of a well thought out marketing plan. Execution on quality of creative assets such as photos and videos, a clearly thought out timeline, and overall positive reception of release, are all signs that you’re ready to jumpstart your career on AWAL.
As stated at the start, we do not expect applicants to have accomplished everything we’ve listed above. Beyond creative talent, we look to partner with the most motivated and passionate artists out there in the market. We believe these are the artists who can fully benefit from all we have to offer. So, we use many of these key indicators as a means to identify those who are truly driven to achieve success. AWAL is a catalyst, and we are there to support and accelerate all that you work on, but it’s AWAL’s members who are at the center of driving their own careers.
If you’ve read this and you know that you’re ready to take that next step in your journey… then join us. Join a community who offers artists an alternative to the traditional label deal. Join a group of fellow artists without a label. Join the movement. Join AWAL.