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Seren Ffordd
Dreaming in the Well of Slow Shadows

Dave Fulton
Of Those Things Left Unsaid

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Antonio Testa & Michel Moglia
Forget the Past

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Trances & Drones

Robert Rich
Sunyata & Inner Landscapes

The Deception of Reality

Bruno Sanfilippo

Seren Ffordd + O÷phoi
The Martian Chronicles

the "What to do if you're a struggling, unreleased artist" manifesto

See the Hypnos FAQ/Information page for an explanation of the purpose of this document

Apologies from Hypnos for responding to your inquiry with a "generic" form response. You're receiving this message because you either A) inquired about sending a demo, or B) went ahead and sent a demo without inquiring first.

Unfortunately Hypnos is so busy with the music of artists already affiliated with the label, that almost no time is left to recruit new artists or listen to demos. When openings in our release schedule do occur, we first turn to many of the most established and respected artists in our genre, many of whom have already expressed interest in doing projects with Hypnos, whenever we are willing and according to any terms we offer. This may sound like arrogance on the label's part, but it isn't -- it's simply an indication of the supply and demand relationship between independent artists and independent labels. There are many, many more artists out there, than there are labels to release their music. This scarcity of opportunity for musicians to get their music released makes it harder for all of them, especially the less established ones. It also allows the label to be extremely choosy, and to work with only the most talented and distinguished artists in the genre.

For that reason, Hypnos is no longer in a mode of accepting demos through any channel other than via recommendation from one of the artists on the Hypnos roster, or some of the more established radio DJs or published reviewers in our genre.

The beginning or unreleased artist is encouraged to establish a "name" for themselves and their work, by getting their music on some compilations, or possibly doing a CD release on a newer, smaller label, or as a self-released CD. If you can get people talking about your work, and create some interest among the listening audience and DJs and reviewers, then you have a better chance of grabbing the attention of mid-sized labels like Hypnos. Very few artists start out by releasing their music on more established labels like Hearts of Space, or Projekt, or even the second-tier labels like Hypnos. Established labels are so busy with the process of releasing new music, that no time remains for giving advice or feedback to beginning artists. It is no exaggeration to say that it would be a full-time job to deal with all the demos and inquiries and follow-up requests that come our way.

The best way to stand out from the crowd is to do the sorts of things I've mentioned above -- self-release a CD, or put something out on a really small, startup label, or do compilation releases of a few of your tracks. Try to get your music played on the radio, and reviewed in magazines. People will notice, and that's how you go from being an unknown beginner, to being the kind of name that people start talking about. Most musicians never get beyond the "I've recorded a few tracks and would like to release them, can I get you to listen to this and tell me if it's good enough?" stage, and that's the key. That next step, releasing something tangible and more than just "demo" quality, takes you from being one of the thousands, to being one of the dozens.

Another way of putting it is that it's not up to the busy people at labels to sort through thousands of demos and answer questions that beginning artists ask. It's up to the artists themselves to introduce themselves to the music world, and to give the world a reason to notice them. Some artists have the misconception that all they need to do is record a tape, and mail it to a few of the top labels, and the offers will start rolling in. This never works! The top labels -- even the ALMOST-top labels -- don't sort through the thousands of cheap demos cassettes they receive, expecting to find exciting raw talent. No, they let the smaller labels and reviewers and DJs sort through all that, and weed out the bad stuff, and then the bigger labels check out what's getting good reviews, and what people are talking about.

Most artists are annoyed and/or frustrated by this, and feel that THEIR demo is special, and deserves special attention. Unfortunately, it is very much like trying to get your first job, in the sense that it's hard to get hired without experience, and it's impossible to gain experience before you've been hired for the first time. Truly dedicated, energetic and resourceful artists find ways to bring their work to the attention of people like reviewers, independent DJs, and even like-minded artists, and gradually, if the work merits attention, labels will notice.

Best of luck with your project, and again I apologize for not taking the time to respond individually. It's my hope that making this response more informational, and perhaps more helpful, will compensate for it being non-specific.

Mike Griffin
Hypnos Recordings