What We Look for in an AWAL Member


One of the biggest differences at AWAL is that we don’t automatically accept everyone who applies. With a selective, curated roster, we’re able to give our artists 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 find those artists who best fit the AWAL mold. You may be wondering — well, who fits that mold?

Below are a few key things that we look for from artists applying to AWAL. We definitely don’t expect artists to hit all of these points before applying — these are just a few of the essential elements that typically encourage us to accept an artist.

1. Quality

Creative quality plays an important role in accepting an artist. We fully acknowledge that this point, in particular, is quite subjective and difficult to define; however, our seasoned A&R team searches for originality and potential in an artist's music.

While quality audio is essential, other creative collateral, such as videos or artwork, also play an important part in our decision making. Although creative quality is a key factor that every AWAL artist should possess, it is certainly not enough on its own.

2. Fan engagement

The ideal AWAL candidate should already have an engaged fan base. Our A&R team quantifies this by checking the number of streams or views an artist 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.

rex orange county streams (1)

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 when reviewing an artist's online presence. While follower count is important, we also look at the level of engagement on socials vs. the total follower count alone.

Steve Lacy Engagement

Stepping out of the digital world, we also look for artists who are successful with live performance and touring. The ideal candidate will have a track record of bringing in crowds to venues and may even be considering/gearing up for the next step — touring.

Related: Why Every Independent Artist Needs to Be on Facebook, Instagram, AND Twitter

3. Breaking through the noise

With Spotify adding 20,000 new recordings per day, it can be challenging for artists to "break through the noise." The artists we look to partner with aren't deterred by this fact and know that if at first you don't succeed, keep trying.

One way to break through the noise is through press attention. We love artists who are proactive about getting press coverage. Our A&R team takes any write-ups on music blogs, magazines, or newspapers into account. Are you able to capture the attention of press and music blogs? What kind of buzz are you able to generate?

Michael Brun Press

While this is certainly not a mandatory aspect, seeing that placements have previously been made, or even just hearing there has been an attempt, can certainly weigh in an artist's favor.

Other forms of external exposure that can help artists get accepted is having radio play or music featured in film or TV soundtracks or in ads.

Regardless of whether your music has earned a review on the smallest of publications or exposure on a worldwide stage, however, we’re just looking to see that you’re working hard to get your name out there — that’s the key.

Need help attracting press attention? Check out these articles:

4. A supportive team

Being an independent artist doesn't mean you have to do it alone... and the ideal AWAL candidate recognizes that. While AWAL will always play a primary role in your development, other relationships which can prove beneficial are with a —

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. A strong brand

We look to align ourselves with artists with a certain level of professionalism. Our A&R team looks 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 and consider: 

  • 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.

Betty Who Website

Another aspect we use to determine an artist's level of professionalism is looking at previous 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.

3LAU website

Related: How "Thinking Like Fans" Ups Your Marketing Game


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. 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 that 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 the movement. Join AWAL.

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