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What Metal Blade’s Brian Slagel Looks for in Bands

Metal Blade founder Brian SlagelEver wonder what a label president looks for when signing bands? Metal Blade founder Brian Slagel admitted there is no specific formula for cherry-picking bands and that it’s a case-by-case basis when he decides to slap his label logo on a release.

“There are no formulas or criteria, but there are things bands can do to help themselves and get noticed,” Slagel told Noisecreep. Some of Slagel’s tips are as follows:

Do something different. “Don’t copy bands you like. Take the influence and do something different with it. Make it your own. Make music you love, not music that you think people want to hear.”

Use the web: “Get your MySpace page up and running. Put songs up on the page. Go on the road. Getting signed to a label is what should take you to the next level. But you have to have a foundation that you build yourself beforehand. You can generate a huge buzz on the web and tour without the help of a label at first. When the label signs you, it’ll be easier on everyone, and the label will be able to do more for you if you’ve done the initial legwork. We come in and raise the profile and awareness. If you’re not doing all this, there are other bands out there who will be doing it and will get our attention first.”

In addition to signing brand new bands, Slagel and Metal Blade have entered into distribution deals with Metal Blade artists who also own and operate their own labels. Two recent examples are the Red Chord‘s Guy Kozowyk, who runs Blackmarket Activities, and Unearth‘s Trevor Phipps, the man behind Ironclad Recordings.

Slagel says its a win-win scenario for everyone involved. “We love Trevor and Guy, and both of them had labels going,” Slagel says. “We can help them as they are in bands on our label, but these labels also serve as an A&R source for us. We’ve done these distribution deals six times now with High Impact, where we put out Evergreen Terrace, and we signed Believer through Howard Jones’ imprint label. We like what they bring to the table, and they are good guys who are also smart, so we offer them the extra services of the label. They are part of the family, and they are wonderful people that we enjoy working with. It makes sense for us.”

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