Why Are Record Companies Not Signing American Producers?

Editor note: I’ve come under some scrutiny for writing this article. After managing a 12-hour restaurant day, I finished this at 4 a.m. While I’ll admit this can be considered a jumbled opinion piece, rest assured the emails and screenshots that I have received from American producers are not.

It’s safe to say that Trance is a genre of dance music whose popularity lies within the European reaches of the world. After all, in the late ’90s and early ’00s, it was played on European commercial radio, something unheard of here in the states.

It’s also safe to say that everyone who reads this can count the number of American Trance music fans or producers on their friend’s list with two hands. So, it goes without saying that while some lower-profile record labels aren’t afraid to venture out and sign lesser or flat-out unknown producers, many higher-profile labels steer clear of those – mainly Americans.

Trance Farm has obtained credible information and documents from several American-based Trance producers whose songs have been rejected by some of the more popular Trance labels. Feedback forms and emails seem to mirror each other with the comment, “It’s a good track, but…..” And, the “but” is always the same – “You’re not an established European producer” or, more recently, “You’re an American.”

The music business isn’t fair – it never claimed to be. Another trend we’re seeing is “Producers,” mainly European, who have no history of releasing music, magically signing to reputable labels. To be fair, it makes you wonder how that piece of music was brought to fruition. The question also begs why the song was chosen for release ahead of someone who has spent hours in front of their computer trying their damndest to compete, and not on social media.

From a business standpoint, it makes sense that a signed piece of music is meant to reach as many people as possible for purchase. And, if having to choose an artist with a well-established social media presence versus someone who doesn’t, the decision is often easy to make.

So, why aren’t Americans getting a fair shake? Well, there’s an adage that Trance is a boys club, and if you’re not included in a specific circle of people, it isn’t easy to be heard, purchased, and play gigs. The fact is social media followers and likes matter. Even feature articles by blogs such as this don’t hurt an artist when competing for record deals, clubs, and festival slots.

Time, effort, and money go into releasing a song. Many record label owners have other jobs, but the well-established ones do pretty well for themselves. After all, name recognition is the selling point, and labels often take advantage of this by offering the public merchandise to accompany their brand.

Since name recognition is of the gravest importance, many labels have a core group of successful artists that regularly release – it’s what makes up their brand. Some of those artists decided years ago to leave America and move to Europe, where their physical presence is easily seen. After all, that’s where the gigs are.

And, it makes sense, right? Most of the high-profile events, save EDC and Ultra Music Festival, are held outside the United States and cater to the European or English audience. Sure, DJs travel to America, but it’s generally to the same ten clubs. Chicago’s Sound-Bar is the closest to Trance Farm’s Cincinnati home.

So, does all of this account for why Americans are being shunned? Is it truly a case of the name attached to the track? Admit it, when you see your favorite producer has released a song, you’re more apt to enjoy it because you’re already a fan. And, maybe that’s what the record companies are literally banking on. Since many of the A-list producers are European, the bar has already been set to crack into the elite.

And, who makes someone “elite?” Well, it’s you and the continued likes and comments on social media posts that drive them to the top of people’s newsfeeds. Perhaps it’s to make yourself look cool or included when in reality, there is so much good music out there that will never be heard because you don’t take the time to explore. But why?

We’re a lazy society, intimidated by the sheer amount of music that is available. And can you blame us? Twenty-five thousand songs are uploaded weekly to Beatport while another 20,000 are uploaded daily to Spotify. Most will go unheard, and that’s probably a good thing. But, the bottom line is that the majority of people go with what they already know. It’s already accessible and easily relatable because other people said so.

It’s a vicious cycle and one that many record companies will never break in fear of losing their place in the popularity competition.

Erik Lake

All this machinery making modern music can still be open hearted.

2 thoughts on “Why Are Record Companies Not Signing American Producers?

  1. Exactly. I wasn’t going to name names, but you’ve clearly identified some of the artists I was referencing in that “moving away from America” portion of the article.

  2. Ironic considering how many Americans have been huge in making Trance what it is today. ::Looks at:: BT, Sean Tyas, Gabriel & Dresden, Tritonal, etc. If you’re label is dismissing quality over politics that will eventually be reflected in their brand. Labels such as Regenerate and ITWT will continue putting out good and cutting edge music by artists not “in the club”.

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