From the time I was about 15 years old, the only thing I dreamed about was getting signed to a major record label and touring the world with my band. To say that I was obsessed with “making it big” may even be an understatement. It was literally all I thought about, 24/7. I used to lay in bed at night and close my eyes and imagine that I was on a tour bus, in my bunk, headed to the next town, on some big tour.  But it always felt like more than just a dream. I literally believed with every ounce of my being that one day, my dreams would come true and that I would be on a major label, touring the country with my band.

I’ve been asked many times, “What’s the secret to getting signed?” and the truth is that I don’t believe there is just one secret. It’s more like a lot of small steps and a little luck at the right time.

Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity – Seneca

TRUSTcompany was born in 1997 under the name 41down. We were a three-piece band and we all had full-time day jobs, that we worked 40 hours a week. We practiced on Tuesday and Thursday evenings after work and played shows on the weekends. We created relationships with other bands all across the southeast and traded shows to get exposure in other cities. We had a lot of fun but took it very seriously. We never made a penny of profit before we got signed, but we didn’t care. It was our passion and we loved every second of it!

( 41down The Lonely Position Of Neutral Demos 1999)

The music industry has changed quite a bit since those days, but I wanted to share some of the things that we did that I think helped us, and then I’ll share some thoughts on the music industry now.

  • We all had the same goals, commitment, and dedication

As simple as this sounds, it is one of the biggest factors in determining the success of a band. Nine times out of ten, when I hear of a band breaking up, it’s because there is someone in the band who isn’t as dedicated, or really wants to play a different style of music. Sometimes it’s because a couple of members have different goals and only want to play as a hobby, while the other members want to go all in. Just like with any kind of business or partnership, it’s hard to be successful if all of the partners aren’t on the same page or have different ideas, dedication, and goals. And like it or not, a band that wants to earn a living with its music is a business.

  • We focused on the music

41down was an all-original band which meant our main focus was writing new songs. And we knew that no matter how much fancy equipment we owned, or how great we sounded live, the only way that we were ever going to get a record deal was if we wrote original music that people actually wanted to listen to. And this goes back to knowing what you want. We never even had one conversation about doing covers to make money. The focus was always on writing songs.

  • We played live a lot

This may have been more important back in the day than it is now. With all of the social platforms available to musicians these days, it’s possible to grow your fan base without playing live shows every weekend. We played a lot of shows for a few reasons:

  1. We absolutely loved it!
  2. It allowed us to travel, meet new bands, and grow our fan base.
  3. We knew that no record label would sign us without seeing us play live first.
  • We all believed it could happen

Belief is a powerful thing. It changes something inside of you. When you believe something is possible, you work harder, you focus more, you go all-in in every way. There came a time in our journey as a band that all four of us started to truly believe that it could really happen for us and I personally believe that this was an important part of the equation that led to us getting signed.

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t… you’re right. -Henry Ford

I was just recently talking to our (then, and current) manager, Jeremy, about the chain of events that led us down the path to Geffen Records. Believe it or not, we were probably one of the last bands to get signed by mailing our demo to a record label.

We got tons and tons of rejection letters as a result of mailing them out, but one small indie label from Washington D.C. (DCide Records) was interested and wanted to come see us play live. They flew into Birmingham, Alabama to watch us play, and subsequently offered us a deal.

We ended up recording an album for them in Orlando. After recording it, we all quit our day jobs, sold our cars and houses, and jumped in our van to go on tour.

(Shots from the show in Birmingham, Alabama the night DCide Records offered us a deal)

We never dreamed that the album we recorded for them would never come out.

Nope. Turns out, while we were out playing shows in almost every major city on the eastern seaboard, DCide records was shopping our album to major labels, in hopes of selling us for a big return on their investment. Before we knew what was going on, they had booked showcases for us to play in New York for Atlantic & American Records, and in Los Angeles for Geffen, Hollywood, Capitol, and Maverick.

Long story short, Atlantic passed on us, but Geffen offered us a deal after playing only two songs. It was a crazy experience. We literally went from touring in a van on a small indie label, to signing a deal with Geffen and recording with producer Don Gilmore in a time period of fewer than two months. It happened so fast, it was hard to process it all.

41down DCide & Trust Co Geffen promo shots


The music industry has changed a lot since 2001. Labels want more than a demo these days. They want to see that you have already built a following on all of your social media channels. They want to see that you can do it on your own before they invest any money.

The good news is- it’s now possible to find and reach hundreds of thousands of targeted fans with things like Facebook ads, and by learning the art of list-building. For the first time in history, an unsigned, independent artist can grow a fan base and earn a living as a musician without the help of a major label. It still takes hard work, dedication, and learning how direct-to-fan marketing works, but the results can be a game-changer for an indie artist.

I’m excited to share some of the things I’ve learned over the past few years in the world of digital marketing in some of my upcoming posts, and I’d love to hear about your experiences in music and what kinds of things you’re struggling with. Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts and have a happy Thanksgiving weekend!


Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Musician, Web Designer, Teacher.


  • Jacob Ortiz says:

    Great read!

  • Mark Taylor says:

    Really enjoyed this!

    I’ve seen a lot of my favorite musicians offer to do guest spots for a fee. Have you ever considered helping produce or write music with unsigned bands/musicians?

    • Kevin Palmer says:

      Hey Mark!

      Thanks for the comment! I’m always up for collaboration if it’s the right fit and my schedule permits. it’s much harder these days with a 6 year old running around, but I’m always up for helping however I can!

  • Cory Dull says:

    Very cool read! Thanks for sharing! It does seem easy to get your name out these days because of social media, forums, etc. can you comment on the creative control side of things after your signed. I love all of TC’s albums but a good bit of bands…it seems like their 1st album is great then it’s all down hill from there. Perfect example…Incubus. Not persay their 1st album but SCIENCE was incredible. I enjoyed Make yourself but then after that they pretty much lost me. Not sure if this was their decision or the label. Anyways thanks again for the read. Really cool! Oh and if y’all tour and come to Pensacola, FL…I’d love to sit in on bass for a song if you would be down! 🙂

    • Kevin Palmer says:

      Hey Cory!

      I know in our case, all the songs on the first record were basically the best of the best songs that we had written as a band up until we got signed. Figure 8 was written four years before we got signed, and downfall was written in 1998 which was three years before we got signed. So a lot of times a bands first record is almost like it’s greatest hits up until that point. On the flip side, we were on tour in March of 2003 and our labeled decided that they wanted us back in the studio by June to record the second record. Only three months away and we had maybe two full songs written and a couple of ideas. They required us to turn in a minimum of 14 songs (a couple for international releases). There’s just no way that we could write12 amazing songs in the next couple of months. Especially in the head space we were in after battling with the label about ending our touring cycle early. I think a lot of bands run into a similar scenario in that they have their whole lives up to write the first record, and then have to rush to write the second or third. That was the case for us anyway. If we ever come back through Pensacola, I’d love it if you sat in on bass for a couple of songs! Take care bro!

  • Kenne Vernon says:

    Happy thanksgiving Kevin and Trust Company. This post is very inspiring given that I’m a dreamer too and now at the point where I just can’t get pass the barricades. I first heard of your songs on WWE pay-per-views and ever since I’ve loved many of your songs especially Stronger, The War is Over. I play this a lot on my Bose speaker. Anyway, Godspeed and rock on.
    ~ Kenne

    • Kevin Palmer says:

      Hey Kenne!

      Thanks for the kind words bro! The WWE has been very good to us. They’ve used a few of our songs and their fans have been awesome. Thanks for taking the time to read the post, I hope you have a great weekend!

  • |Antonio| Y2J_SAVE.US says:

    Happy thanksgiving!
    Just like Kenne, I’ve heard TRUSTCo for the first time in a WWE’s highlight video and after it, I became an addicted to your music, and every song has a special meaning for me, especially “Falling Apart”, “Silently”, “Slave” and “Stumbling”!
    I couldn’t believe when I saw your post about a TC’s return and I almost fell of the bed in shock! LOL
    I like the way your albums talk about life and relationships as well!

    Just a question, do you still think on recording for Amity Lane?

    As always, keep rockin’ Kev!

  • Donna Lackey says:

    This was so interesting to read!! Have always wondered what it took to get signed. Luck , talent , and good timing I guess! Seems like it has to be the perfect storm. There are SO many talented artists that don’t get the recognition they deserve. Thanks for sharing !

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