How To Get Artist Features
We get asked this quite a bit at Boost...
"How do I get a feature from an artist?"
If you don't have time to read this whole guide, here's a quick summary:
Reach out to plenty of artists (get used to rejection)
Have value to give the artist
Agree to a compensation arrangement
Get permission from any involved parties
Setup your release, and distribute the song
In this guide, we'll break down exactly how to get featured artist collaborations for your songs going forward.
Trust me... it'll be well worth your time to read this article.
Our Own Case Studies
Before we go super in-depth, I think it's an appropriate time to brag a little (wink wink).
Getting big artist features isn't actually that hard...
You just need to check a lot of boxes which take some time get done.
You don't even need hit songs, a record company backing you, or even a few thousand dollars...
So then, let's get into our personal experiences.
The first artist I want to bring light to is Max Volante.
Max is a prodigy just waiting to take off into the mega mainstream, and we're super lucky to have been able to work closely with him.
In 2022, Max was able to score a major artist feature on his track "wish it wasn't so."
He was able to get a major contribution from the rising R&B & pop-infused singer Ant Saunders.
Ant was sitting at over 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify at the time.
And so what did that do for max's music career?
It helped Max achieve his biggest numbers yet. He was able to crush over 15,000 streams on Spotify thanks to the major artist feature.
Big artists bring eyes from their own audience, which comes over to you. It's especially helpful for getting in your featured artist's release radar on Spotify.
We're also very lucky to be able to have worked with our close friend The Fifthguys.
They're an EDM Producer duo from Italy with some heavy weight tracks and numbers on Spotify.
In 2022, they've reached over 100 million total Spotify streams. Impressive right?
The FifthGuys have used features and collabs to climb their way to over 1 million monthly listeners on the platform as well.
So then how did they do it?
Here's the laid out process to building upto 1 million listeners through collaboration and features:
They levelled up your production skills
They then started working with other artists on their level
The duo has their own set of Spotify playlists that they use as leverage to make collaboration an easy choice on their featured artist's end.
They team up with multiple artists to maximize their shared reach between accounts.
The best part about this method is that you can do the same thing! It works now, and it'll work in 10 years.
We expand on exactly how to make these types of moves below! Enjoy!
Scoring Major Artist Features In The Music Industry
If you want to score a feature from a famous artist, here's what you'll need to do:
First you'll have to decide what's going to be your leverage in getting what you want.
If you want to feature artists you will have to bring some major value. This is the music business after all... keyword "business".
Getting features means 1 major thing... you have to start networking.
You can build relationships in the music industry to score features in 2 big ways.
The Free Way
Here's the free way to get artist features.
If you're trying to get a feature from an artist that has a ton of fans behind them, (someone that gets millions of streams) you'll need to bring some serious value.
When you're reading out to a bigger artist, here's what you need to bring to the table:
Take care of the cover art and promotional assets (banners, social posts etc...)
Have a track record of super high quality previous releases
Have a relationship built with the artist in question
A sizeable audience of your own
Amazing work in progress tracks ready to go
Studio time allocated for both of you
Music promotion strategy
Endorsements from other artists in the industry
Track record of your releases making money
Now obviously, you don't need everything you see above to seal the deal... but it greatly helps.
So then what matters the most in the list above?
We found that our artists had a much easier time getting a feature from an artist they wanted when they had Spotify promotion covered.
The Paid Way To Get Famous Artist Features
Now if you're rolling in money, your life is about to be much easier in the game of getting features.
However one thing I have to let you know is that whilst in this case money can buy you talent to jump on your songs, it can't buy you immediate skill.
Even if you have the biggest artists on your songs, you still might not be able to build a lasting career.
One good example is rapper BlocBoy JB.
He enlisted the help of none other than Drake to jump on his 2018 single "Look Alive."
Whilst the song blew up... most fans were there for Drake and not BlocBoy JB...
So then what has this meant for the rapper? Well... if you take a look at his Spotify numbers... they aren't exactly pretty.
In this case I always recommend investing in your own skill first.
Phew... with that out of the way, let's say you have a ton of money and you're looking to pay for some features.
The easiest way to secure paid features is to simply run a google search of the management team behind any artists you're looking to work with.
Then, you'll want to send over an email inquiring about a paid feature.
Just know... some of the major artists can put a major dent in your wallet...
Are Unknown Artist Features Worth It?
You might be curious... is it even worth it to get features from small or unknown artists?
In short, yes it is very advantageous to get collaborations even from smaller artists and here's why.
First, if that artist is dedicated to growth, they will grow with you over time.
You'll be building that strong connection before they blow up, and that value they gain will come back to you.
Not only that... as they grow, their new fans will go back and listen to older songs that they've released. This can be extremely good for you.
Those new fans will hear you eventually.
So whilst getting a feature from a major artist would definitely greatly help you out... in the long term getting a mix of features and collabs from all sizes of artists is seriously important.
Ever heard of the 33% rule?
According to the 33% rule, you should spend 33 percent of your time with mentors (those who push you), 33 percent with peers (people on your level), and 33 percent with individuals you can mentor and lead.
This will be the best way to use your time.
The Kanye West Method
You may have not known this, but Kanye started out making beats at a studio.
He was able to put in time into the careers of other big artists and brand new artists.
West is regarded as one of music's greatest artists, and his beginnings as a sought-after beatsmith are well-known...
He created significant successes for Ludacris ("Stand Up") and Alicia Keys ("You Don't Know My Name"), and helped shape Jay-masterpiece Z's The Blueprint's sound.
As these artist's continued to grow, he was able to call on them years down the road to secure features and collabs to create the tracks eating away a his mind.
Some of Ye's largest songs have come from having bold artist features.
Dealing With Signed Artists & Getting A Big Label's Permission
Those who have been signed by one of these labels hold the technical rights to that label.
As a result, if you're a friend of an artist, you must get permission from both the artist and the record company before using their music.
Email the label or set up an event to get in touch with them.
Get started on the featured artist agreement by creating your own artist features contract.
Just think... A record label owns any artist, band, or organization that is signed to them.
For this reason, even if you are friends with an artist, you will still need to seek permission from both the artist and the record label to utilize their music.
As mentioned above, an artist we've worked with (Max Volante) was able to score a major artist feature.
Max built up a solid relationship with that musician, even though he was a new artist in the scene.
Max had to ask the major artist what his label was comfortable with.
And here's what the average major label will say:
Essentially a feature is just fine, and there isn't much need for the label to get involved.
Whether that's quick compensation or a royalty split or even a favour...
It doesn't seem to matter.
What About A Featured Artist Vs A Primary Artist
When you're going about getting your music on Spotify & Apple Music, there are 2 ways to have the artist you're working with appear alongside yourself on your song.
In your music distribution platform, you'll see the option to list an artist has a featured artist, or a primary artist/main artist.
Which one should you use when entering the meta data?
Now that's a great question and here's why...
Depending on how you list the artist you're working with, could make or break your performance on streaming platforms.
Use the primary artist option when your song is a direct collaboration between yourself and the artist you're working with.
Think of 2 main artists on a song as a 50/50 partnership on the tracks listed.
The best part about having multiple primary artists is that big platforms such as Spotify will share the song to the fans of both artists listed.
Let me break it down...
You have followers on your artist profile on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music etc... and so does your collaborator.
After the release of your song, it'll get shared to the followers of both your artist profile and the other main artist listed in the meta data.
Pretty sweet right?
This is the best way to grow your streams on a brand new song.
When you have a feature, the big platforms don't always promote your song for you to all your collaborators audience. The reach is limited.
Back to my example above... if Max was able to get his guest feature to be a main artist instead of a feature...
He'd probably have scored tens of thousands more streams on his song.
We've been lucky enough to see another case study with the Fifth Guys, who have been able to skyrocket their streams and monthly listeners through collaboration.
Checkout their song "Arcade."
They have 3 other big artists listed as main artists on their song.
This is an excellent strategy to climb the ladder in the industry as you get more reach for less work.
Not mention... the end result is creatively enhanced when you work with talented people.
For the exact definitions of the terms, see below!
So Then... What Is A Featured Artist?
When referring to a sound recording, track, or album, the word "featured artist" refers to the group or individual who is featured most prominently on the recording.
This is an artist your brining aboard your song.
The way in which they are contributing is much smaller than the next option below.
What Is A Primary Artist?
A primary artist is the musician who performs on the track/album. Alternatively, the primary artist is also known as the main artist. They are usually the mastermind behind the composition.
Do This When Big Artist's Reject You
When you're reaching out to plenty of artists, you'll have to get used to rejection...
Oof... yep its part of the job.
Think about this... if it was really that easy... would even be worth it?
Long term games are ultimately the most rewarding, and here's why.
The longer the game (in this case the longer it takes to get bigger artist features), the less people will want to play.
And this makes it easier for you.
We run a free artist development platform, and so we've seen tens of thousands of artists come through the pipeline... and I can tell you this...
Very few artists are working on getting features...
Very few artists are going to the studio and networking...
Very few artists have put in the time to start making money through their music...
So then here's what you should do.
Move on... and I'm being 100% serious here. You have to simply keep reaching out to others.
Most artists reach out to 4 artists, get no replies and give up. You'll need to step those numbers up big time.
The moment I realized this was when we actually expanded our outreach goals. Set bigger goals for how many artists you reach out to.
Let's sum this up nice and easy:
Reach out to 200 artists at your same level (similar monthly listener count)
Reach out to 100 mid level people and artists
Ask your network if they know any talented artists looking to grow
Reach out to 100 artists that are bigger than you
Go to studios and work with artists there & ask the engineer for connections.
How To Ask An Artist For A Feature?
Don't get ahead of yourself. There are a lot of artists out there seeking for features.
As a first step, it is important not to suffocate the individual you are seeking to persuade to join you in your endeavours.
As a second step, you'll want to put your wares out there. If you're a tiny artist, a financial reward is usually the best option.
Additionally, you can get in touch with that artist's representatives, who may be able to help you locate the individual.
And with that being said, this wraps up our ultimate guide to getting artist features. We hope you enjoyed the article!
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