How To Get a Record Deal with Def Jam Records

For aspiring hip-hop artists, it is their ultimate dream to land a recording contract with Def Jam Records. Def Jam has a long roster of talents, including LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Ludacris, Jay-Z and Kanye West. It was acquired by Polygram Records in 1994 and is now under the umbrella of Universal Music Group. It may be a long, steep climb to land a record deal with Def Jam Records but this should not stop you from trying to do so. Below are tips on how to do just that.

  • Decide on the music genre you want to focus on and be the best you can be at your chosen path. You have to learn the craft, going to music classes, training under a vocal coach, going to dance classes and learning how to perform on stage. If you play musical instruments be sure that you are proficient in it and that you can read notes. It can be a plus factor if you know how to compose. It can be an advantage although there are many talented composers who will be able to provide you with good songs.
  • Hone your different talents by joining contests in school, in public entertainment venues, clubs, open mic nights and other singing competitions. These things will help you gain plenty of experience performing in front of a huge crowd as well as learn from and network with other aspiring musicians and singers. It will be a good idea if you can collaborate with other musical talents for performances as this will develop your skills in working and coordinating with other music personalities.
  • Practice performing with your backup singers (if you need them) and perfecting your dance moves. Invest on some professionally done videos where your talents will be showcased. Once you have your singing perfected, scout for a good recording studio to cut your demo.
  • Recording studio rental is not cheap so you should be very well prepared to record the demo when you go to the studio so that you do not waste time. Bring your backup singer/s and session musicians. Ask for recommendations for a good sound engineer if the studio will not provide you with one. Developing a working relationship with a music producer will be very advantageous.
  • Make sure that the studio is not overbooked. There should be enough time in between bookings so that you will not be rushed to finish your recording on time. Make as many retakes as possible within the allotted time until you are satisfied or the sound engineer and the music producer are satisfied with the results. You are paying good money to rent studio time and you should make full use of it.
  • Decide on a cover for your demo CD. It can be a contributing factor if the label of your demo CD is done cleanly, showing your demo tracks listing and the song duration. Your demo should be accompanied by your bio and your contact information. If you have a talent manager most of these things will be handled by him or her and you can concentrate on polishing your talents and presenting yourself at auditions.
  • Send your demo CD and attachments directly to the A&R manager of Island Def Jam Records in New York City. You should know the right person to send the demo CD to so that it can reach them directly. You should be prepared to wait for a while as the company receives several demos on a daily basis from aspiring musical talents as yourself. Adding a self-stamped, self-addressed envelop will ensure that you get your demo CD back if ever the company does not want to get you or invite for an audition.
  • Alternatively, make several copies of your demo CD and send them to different talent agencies. Look for those that specialize in your chosen music genre as they have the necessary capabilities to suitably work with you. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of the different talent agencies and the commissions that they will collect. Create an impressive resume and have a professional head shot photographer to take your photographs.

Increase your knowledge while waiting to hear from Def Jam Records. You can go back to school and take classes. You can look for a part-time job while you are waiting for your chance or continue to perfect your skills and amass a wealth of experience by looking for solo gigs, collaborating with other artists or joining singing contests.


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