The Nashville Dispatch, Ya Gotta Love It: Do you need a record deal?


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Welcome to The Nashville Dispatch, a feature on NRI NOW

In this monthly column, submitted by Burrillville native Keith Bradford, we cover topics in the music business designed to inform, entertain, and enlighten people interested in the topic.

Do You Need a Record Deal?

A record deal or recording contract would be nice to have, but in today’s real world, is not necessary to achieve success in the music business. Although you cannot call me a, “star,” by any stretch of the imagination, I can say I have had my share of success, and never ever had a record deal.

In the early 1970’s I had a New England regional hit record called, “I Picked A Rose For Mama.” It sold 50,000 copies and was considered by many as the official mother and son dance at wedding receptions.  It is worth noting that the original recording of that song took place at Viscount recording studio located in Cranston. My little band at the time and myself went there and recorded the song for the late Jimmie Aubuchon, who was the song writer. Shortly after that, I moved to Nashville and Aubuchon mailed me the big master tape and told me to go to a studio, and hire some professional studio musicians to come in and sweeten the tracks. We also brought in back-up singers. It was on that recording session that the strings were added, and the girl background vocals rounded out the sound very nicely.

If that song had been purchased by a major record label, there is no doubt it would have become a giant hit. Instead, since it didn’t have the connections and financial backing that a record company has, it stayed a local hit. Now keep in mind, this all took place in the 1970’s and selling 50,000 copies of a song was considered quite substantial. I remember visiting a popular record store on Diamond Hill Road in Woonsocket and asking them if they would consider selling my 45 rpm. The owner politely told me no because it didn’t have major distribution, and his shelf space was very limited. He also shared an interesting fact with me that just blew me away. He said that the brand new release by The Carpenters had just topped the sale of 30 copies right there in his store. I said to him that I didn’t think 30 copies was very many. He went on to explain that when ordering records from the distributor at that time they came 25 in a box. He sold all 25 copies and had to order another box.  

The answer to the question, “Do you need a record deal,” is still, “no,” in my opinion. In another segment, I will explain distribution, and how you can attain it.

The Music Business – Ya Gotta Luv It

Keith Bradford is the host of Ya Gotta Love It, a country music show on NBRN based in Nashville, Tenn. Also a singer and song writer, Bradford is the owner and operator of KMA Records in Nashville and brings more than 60 years of industry knowledge to the endeavor.

Do you have questions about the music business? Have a topic or artist you’d like Keith to discuss? Send your questions and requests to [email protected].

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