Developing a digital record label is certainly not an easy task. The benefits are great but the work involved is also rewarding in it of itself. In our experience with creating digital labels and running the distribution aspect of things, we figured out what some of the essential needs and even essential wants are to get a label off the ground. We hope you enjoy reading this as well as take into consideration some of the helpful tools that many don’t necessarily think about when running or starting a digital record label.
Put it all in writing
It is important that you have contracts ready for potential artists that will show them just how much they will receive off their music as well as how much you will retain. This is also important to protect you from certain artists who might not be thrilled for whatever personal reasons they may have. Additionally, you should have contracts reviewed by a professional lawyer (although costly, we recommend it!). If you start to notice that your record label is making quite a bit of money and is gaining rapid exposure then meeting with an Accountant and take proper steps to ensure you are financially stable and secure. We recommend you do this prior to even developing your record label for the sake that you want to get all ducks in a row prior to anything happening!
Be Open Minded With NO Ego
There are thousands of record labels that release music every single day. Some have massive success and some unfortunately do not. Before and after your label is up and running, don’t expect to make thousands of dollars because YOU love your music. Here’s the hard truth, if you don’t make money, it is because people are not digging what your releasing. Rather than being upset and arguing that your music should be making tons of revenue, face the facts that the sound you produced perhaps might not work at the current time, and that you should try something different. It has gotten incredibly tougher for record labels to succeed and one of the first things that you must do is be open minded to criticism and advice as well as have a simple mind and not massive ego.
Watch, digital label manager of Furious Funk, Danny Dasky talk about starting a digital label and growing a brand.
Establishing a presence
So, now that you have you have your legalities out of the way, go ahead and begin to create your presence. By this, we mean a reputable webpage that shows the label logo, information about your label, the focus / sound of label, your email, etc!! An artist is much more comfortable and willing to work with you if you come across as professional, trustworthy, and of course reliable. If you need any help creating a label logo, website, or anything else graphically, feel free to contact us.
Establish Your Sound (And Make It Solid!)
Your record label is a brand and sticking to one genre isn’t bad however, it does not hurt to have various types of genres that you release. If you like Dubstep, focus on only going after those artists, if you like Trance, then go for it! We will never tell you to NOT do a genre but do recommend that you be open minded and release multiple genres. You also want to ensure that the music you release is of good quality. Need help? Check out our services.
Sign Those Artists!
You can get artist one of two ways. Either you hit them up directly by using Soundcloud.com or establish an A&R Department. The cost effective solution is to literally hit up hundreds of artists every single day in hopes that some will reply back. The other option is to setup an A&R department. This sounds like a lot of work and already, some new labels might look at this as a daunting task but truly, just find 1 or more people that you can easily count on in terms of communication and that know the sound well. This A&R Department can focus strictly on looking for artists through the free methods of Soundcloud.com. With this department looking for music as well as you looking for music, you pretty much establish that you want to look for a certain style and sound.
Watch Jesse Scotto, label manager from Warm Walls, talk about defining your style, and growing a label.
Get A Release Schedule Established
While I understand that you really can’t plan for everything all the time, you should try and develop a consistent release schedule for each quarter, or even for the year (if you have that much music.) We don’t recommend that you release your entire catalog in one week or a month for the sake that when a person goes to a store (For example, Beatport.com) the material will be buried in the amount of music that they release everyday and your label will soon be forgotten in the digital black hole that is the music industry! With that said, space out your releases and focus on 3-4 releases if you have a lot of catalogue signed.
Remember this: FOLLOW UP
If you are trying to make stuff happen for you and your label then try your best to make it happen. We do know the feeling of emailing and not getting replies and things of that nature but what you have to do is constantly follow up to get to your goal. This is obviously not news to most however, we have found that a lot of folks do NOT follow up and do not stay on top of potential ideas and solutions that will help them excel and advance in their careers! Music is fun yes, but its also a business! Treat it like a business and make things happen with your creativity and business sense!
Publish Your Music
It’s quite important that each track released is registered via ASCAP, BMI for the USA and PRS For Music for outside of the USA. Symphonic Distribution is working towards providing an easy to use Publishing service to ensure that all works are properly registered while giving you all of the royalties earned from Performance and Mechanicals.
Marketing Of Your Label
So, you have your contracts set, your presence set, your music set and releases in a schedule, what do you do about trying to get the word out? Well… First off, DEFINITELY use the social networks. Send messages to DJs, Fans, Friends telling them about your label, artists, and its releases. We also have some very useful Marketing services available to all record labels (some of which are FREE!). In addition to our services, we have an established and basic Marketing Plan created for those that need some extra guidance in this department.
We hope that this brief post has helped you to gain some knowledge on how to start a record label. Of course, this is one way of doing it and everyone can have their own method of starting a record label. As always, we are here to help and provide consultation to anyone interested in getting a record label off the ground.