Mike Shinoda Shares Linkin Park’s Trick To Get A Contract From A Record Label

Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda recently looked back on when the band first got signed by a record label during a conversation with Dan Schawbel. Apparently, the band tricked the record label into thinking they had numerous fans by bringing their friends to the meeting, which worked perfectly for them.

Linkin Park was founded by three high school friends, Mike Shinoda, Rob Bourdon, and Brad Delson. When the three graduated from high school, they started taking their musical interests more seriously. They recruited Joe Hahn, Dave ‘Phoenix’ Farrell, and Mark Wakefield to perform in their band, then called Xero. With the limited resources they had, the band started recording and producing songs within Shinoda’s bedroom studio in 1996, creating a four-track self-titled demo tape.

However, tensions and frustration within the band started growing after they failed to land a record deal. The lack of success caused Wakefield, who was the band’s vocalist at the time, to leave the band in search of other projects. Farrell also quit in order to tour with another band. After spending a considerable time searching for Wakefield’s replacement, Xero recruited Chester Bennington. The band then agreed on changing their name from Xero to Hybrid Theory to reflect the newborn vocal chemistry between Shinoda and Bennington.

In 1999, the band released a self-titled extended play, which circulated across internet chat rooms and forums. However, they still struggled to sign a record deal as they were rejected by Warner Bros Records until the company’s vice president helped the band sign a contract in 1999. However, according to Shinoda’s recent interview, the vice president of Warner Bros Records wasn’t the only person who helped Linkin Park get a record deal.

Apparently, the band members came up with a plan after guitarist Brad Delson gave them the opportunity to perform for a potential record deal. That’s when the Linkin Park members filled the room with their friends, pretending that they were their fans. Impressed by what he saw, the person from the record label thought he needed to get this new band who already had a fanbase. As a result, Linkin Park got its first record deal and released its monumental debut album, ‘Hybrid Theory’ on October 24, 2000.

Recalling the time they got a record deal, Shinoda said:

“There are basically two types of deals to be had. There’s the recording deal and the publishing deal. We got a publishing deal first. Our guitarist Brad was interning at a publishing company right across the street. It was on the Sunset, near the Whiskey and Roxy basically.

He convinced his boss to come to see us. Unbeknownst to his boss, the room was packed with our friends, like we knew everybody there. It created this illusion of popularity, and when he walked in, he just felt like he was missing out on something the kids were into. He basically offered us a deal right away.”

It appears that the trick Linkin Park members pulled was incredibly clever and worked perfectly after a long time of struggling to find a record company that embraced their hip-hop and rock-style approach, which we admire today. In the end, their first record deal gave birth to one of the most celebrated albums of all time, as well as one of the best-selling bands of the 21st century.