How To Send A Demo To Top Dawg Entertainment (Step-By-Step 2024 Guide)

The music industry is changing every day, and despite people questioning, if record labels are dying, the fact remains that signing with reputable labels like Top Dawg Entertainment, is still a goal and dream for many!

You've built up a buzz, you're getting insane views on your music videos, and now you want to get your music out there even more.

You've got your eye on Top Dawg Entertainment Recording, a Universal Music Group imprint responsible for the release of some Hip-Hop, R&B, Progressive Rap artists you may know of, such as: Kenrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, BO to name a few.

And, still highly relevant today, Top Dawg Entertainment is home to current artists including ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and, Jay Rock So how do you do it? How do you reach such a company? Let's explore the two main methods of how to send a demo to Top Dawg Entertainment and a couple of rules that you need to follow...

Top Dawg Entertainment

Top Dawg Entertainment Info Card

Top Dawg Entertainment is an American independent record label founded in 2004. It is home to eleven artists, including Black Hippy members Jay Rock, Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q.
Anthony Tiffith started TDE Records in 1997 and signed Kendrick Lamar in 2003. In 2005, TDE began to gain success with Jay Rock and Warner Bros., but planned an exit strategy after the labels failed to handle Rock's debut Follow Me Home properly.
Top Dawg released a compilation mixtape titled Do It Nigga Squad, Volume 1 in 2008, which featured songs by Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, Lil Wayne and
Schoolboy Q, Lamar, Rock and Ab-Soul formed the hip hop group Black Hippy in 2009.
In March 2012, TDE closed a joint venture deal with Interscope Records and Aftermath Entertainment to release Kendrick Lamar's second studio album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.
Top Dawg signed Isaiah Rashad to TDE in June 2013, and SZA to TDE in July 2013. In August 2013, Tiffith spoke on comparisons to Death Row Records, and said he learned several lessons from his first major-label contract.
Kendrick Lamar won five awards at the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards, and Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar were featured in a cypher with Ab-Soul, Isaiah Rashad and Terrence “Punch” Henderson. The label's CEO revealed that the entire roster would release solo albums in 2014.
Kendrick Lamar won five awards at the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards, and Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar were featured in a cypher with Ab-Soul, Isaiah Rashad and Terrence “Punch” Henderson. The label's CEO revealed that the entire roster would release solo albums in 2014.
Former co-president Dave Free announced he is leaving Top Dawg Entertainment in 2019, saying that the tactics he used to break artists such as Kendrick Lamar won't work now.
TDE started the inaugural Christmas concert and toy drive in 2014, with guest appearances from Rihanna, E-40, and Chris Brown.
Kendrick Lamar left Spotify after the streaming platform banned XXXTentacion for his alleged acts of violence against women. The move was in accordance with Spotify's new Hate Content & Hateful Conduct policy, which was poorly received by recording artists and executives. Lamar's representative contacted Daniel Ek and Troy Carter to express his frustrations with the policy, and threatened to pull his music from the service if the policy was kept. Ek and Carter reversed their policy and reinstated XXXTentacion's music onto playlists.

Year Founded: 2004

Founder: Anthony Tiffith


Primary Genre(s): Hip-Hop, R&B, Progressive Rap

Parent Label: Universal Music Group

Prominent Artists:

Kenrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, BO, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Doechii, SZA

The Two Main Ways to Send Top Dawg Entertainment a Demo

There are generally two main methods to getting your demo into the ears of the Top Dawg Entertainment team, as well as any of the other Universal Music Group labels. These methods differentiate between how involved in the wider music industry you are and who you're already connected with.

Method 1

The most typical and arguably easiest way to get your demo into the hands of the Top Dawg Entertainment A&R team would be to have it handed off to them.

This would be through someone like a manager, agent, producer, radio DJ, or some other kind of industry professional. (Universal Music Group)

The reason that this is one of the easiest ways to get your demo to this label is that Universal Music Group, and all of its record labels, refuse to take or listen to any unsolicited media.

They do this because of the sheer amount of music that they receive. If you send it through the proper channels, though, the odds of them checking it out are much higher.

Method 2

If you're an independent or otherwise unsigned musician, you do have other options. Universal Music has a platform called Spinnup that provides services like digital distribution and access to a whole network of talent scouts who have relationships with a variety of labels in the group, including Top Dawg Entertainment. (Universal Music Group)

Spinnup is a great platform as it has been designed to do just this, discover artists! Sadly, Spinnup has announced the switch to invite-only. This changes this submission option in the same way that AWAL changed when Sony acquired it in a $430M deal in March 2022.

AWAL now filters out around 90% of submitted tracks! So why am I telling you this?

Spinnup ❌


Well, Spinnup is not completely off the table, UMG is just shifting to a more curated artist discovery and distribution platform.
As a result of this, most indie artists who had been using Spinnup have been asked to take down their releases. It is worth following along with the publications to keep up with what they are doing on the platform.

There are a few other kinds of platforms that you can find that provide similar services and help you in an attempt to get involved with Top Dawg Entertainment.

What to Know BEFORE Submitting a Demo To Top Dawg Entertainment: Demo Submission Rulebook!

Once you figure out how you plan to get your demo to the Top Dawg Entertainment A&R department, you'll want to make sure you do these key things to increase your chances of getting in the doors:

Tip 1: Preparing Your Demo


•Before submitting a demo to a record label, ensure the music is of high quality and sounds polished.

If your demo sounds like it was recorded in a bedroom on a laptop, it's not going to make a good impression. Likewise, you might have a certain, marketable look – but if the music is trash, it won't be enough.

• Ask for feedback from experienced people in the industry to get an idea of whether your tracks are ready for release.

• Make sure you export your tracks in the correct format and that they are properly tagged with clear file names and ID3 tags.

• Do not send demos with copyrighted material or remixes/mashups as these will likely be rejected by labels.

Tip 2: Do Your Research


• Top Dawg Entertainment has a specific sound, so it's important to do your research on a record label before sending them your demo, to make sure that your music aligns with the type of music they release.

• You should also check out other artists signed to the label and see if your style of music is similar to theirs.

• Familiarize yourself with the labels you want to get signed to by looking at their website, SoundCloud, Facebook Page, Twitter account, etc.

Find names and contact information such as the A&R manager’s email address, and look up their demo policy.

• The more you know about a label before submitting your demo, the better chance you have of getting signed.

Tip 3: Read The Submission Guidelines


•Most labels have a demo policy that is displayed on their website. This policy outlines the guidelines they require for demo submissions.

• Unsolicited material is often rejected by labels for legal reasons.

• Most labels ask for original, full-length tracks and reject remixes, mashups, previews, unfinished tracks, etc.

• Some acceptable demo formats include private SoundCloud or Dropbox links and MP3 or WAV attachments.

• Mastering and mixdown preferences may be specific (i.e., mixed down track with -6db of headroom).

• Email format should include artist name, track names, and contact info but some labels prefer an EPK (Electronic Press Kit), bio, music career achievements, photos, etc.

• Contact instructions could include email or submission form guidelines and other contact information.

Many label policies explain that they will only contact those whose music has been accepted and offer follow-up instructions if necessary

Tip 4: Build Relationships


• It is always beneficial to build relationships and network in the music industry. The music industry can be a very tough business to crack, and it is important to have as many connections as possible.
• By getting out and connecting with people, you never know what opportunities may arise. It is important to meet other artists, producers, DJ's, publicists, booking agents, label staff, fans, and anyone else involved in the music industry.
• These connections could one day lead to your big break. However, it is important to approach these potential connections in a professional manner so that you do not come across as a stalker.
• Establishing and maintaining healthy relationships in the music industry is essential for success.

What Next?

Of course, the last thing you want to do is make sure that you're not sending unsolicited material or anything that infringes on copyright. From there, if you do what is asked of you while sending out a demo, you should really be good to go.

At the end of the day, record labels like Top Dawg Entertainment receive hundreds of demos. It takes a lot of both skill and luck to get chosen to sign with them. That doesn't mean you should ever give up on sending out your demos. It just takes time and determination to find a record label that fits best with you.

If you are not using the Spinnup service, it might be worth contacting Top Dawg Entertainment directly to check if they have an additional process or contact you can deal with directly.

You also want to get clued up on the different types of record deals out there and be prepared to consult with an entertainment lawyer.

About Author

Arielle P

Arielle P

Songwriter | Music Producer | Engineer.

With a background in music production and a strong passion for education, Arielle is dedicated to helping emerging artists navigate the music industry. She has worked with a diverse range of artists, from indie rock bands to well-known hip-hop and grime artists. Arielle's unique approach to teaching focuses on empowering artists to take control of their brand, ensuring they retain creative ownership throughout their journey. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting with new sounds in her home studio and sharing her insights through music production tutorials and workshops.

📧 Email Arielle