Labels like Sony Music and Capitol Records are household names across the US and the rest of the world, but even big names like this started off as only a dream and a good few handfuls of ambition. Of course, the music industry has turned into a completely different beast these days, with downloads taking the place of LPs and online music videos becoming an integral selling point. There are a lot more factors to consider now if you are trying to launch your own record label in the hope of becoming the next Capitol, so here are a few of the milestones to tick off.
Invest in a recording studio
Whilst it is possible to simply hire a recording studio, if you want to make a big impression, you need to, realistically, have access to your own. This will help to attract new artists to your company before you build up your reputation as a recording label. this doesn’t have to be a fancy venue, you can adapt almost any space into an efficient studio. You’ll be surprised at how many classics were recorded in artists’ kitchens and even bathrooms, because of the surprisingly good acoustics.
Name and register your label
You need a name for your record label, it could be linked to your own; like Simon Cowell’s Syco, or maybe named after the location you’re starting up in. Once you have decided on your label name, you need to register it in your state. You can find more guidance on incorporating your business on the corporation directory website. You might also want to register your website domain name and trademark your logo before anybody gets any smart ideas about taking it.
As a business, it is important to have adequate insurance such as property insurance if you have a studio, and general liability if people will be visiting your property, to cover yourself for any injury claims if people were to get injured on your premises. With a lot of musicians jumping about, you can never be too careful. Another type of insurance that business owners often take out is professional liability insurance, in case a client claims against an error made by your business. It’s best to do your research on all the different variations of small business insurance policies to double-check before you get started.
Set up your company structure
You will need to agree a structure for your company, particularly if you have partners in the business. To avoid issues in the future, everybody’s roles and responsibilities should be clear and there should be detailed contracts in place. Ownership percentage should also be clarified and legally drawn up, as it’s best to avoid any clashes a couple of years down the line over creative property.
Sign artists up and release music
If you are thinking about starting up your own label then you probably already have a lot of contacts in the music industry. You should spend a lot of time networking, going to events to find new music talent, and pursuing other ways to find artists to sign to your label. Once you have some artists signed up and there is a recording contract in place, the next step, and the most exciting one, is to begin to produce and release the music. It is much easier to distribute music now by uploading onto music sites like Spotify and AppleMusic, that only require a very cheap artist’s subscription fee that allows you publication access to a bundle of music services. There are also sites like SoundCloud, which you can publish your music on for free. Contemporary music streaming services make it easier, now more than ever, to get music out there and listened to by a wider audience.