How to Start an Independent Record Label in 7 Steps

How to Start an Independent Record Label in 7 Steps

More artists today are deciding to go the independent route when it comes to releasing and marketing their music. And, with all the tools available today, record labels are not as needed as they used to be. The industry has become greatly democratized, and there isn’t as much red tape. Artists don’t necessarily need to have push from a major label to get their music heard, and platforms like YouTube are as accessible to the average garage band as they are to Grammy-nominated artists. If you are thinking of starting a record label as a business venture or to promote your music, here are some of the things you’ll have to do.

Work on Your Craft

If you want to create a label so you can release your music on your own, you still need to have a good product. Being able to keep more of the money to yourself is good, but only if you can sell records. Unless you have a solid body of work, you shouldn’t think about starting a label. You need to release a few tracks first and see if there’s demand. If you manage to get some traction and are starting to build a base, try to book a few shows and see the public’s reaction. If you notice that people are genuinely into your music, you know that the time and money investment will be worth it.

Choose Your Musical Genre

If you’re starting this as a pure business venture, then you will need to choose your genre and study the space. You might be tempted to hop on the most popular types of music, but there will be a lot of competition. Instead, you should look at which genres are the easiest to monetize. With that being said, getting into a genre you know little about and have no real interest in will end up hurting you. You will have a harder time connecting with the scene and identifying talent. You might have to hire outside help to help you with scouting and be overly reliant on them. So, it’s always better to go with a genre you at least have some affinity for.

Look at what venues in your city book artists in your genre and start to do some scouting. Go watch some shows at some of these venues. Pay special attention to the acts and how they perform. Look at their aesthetic. These are all things you’ll be able to inspire yourself from when trying to build your acts.

Choose a Name

You need to pick a good name for your label. It has to be catchy and memorable. Brainstorm with your team and come up with a shortlist of ideas. See which names stand out the most and sound more in line with a record label brand. This is how people will recognize you and it will be very important in the digital age when label names are routinely attached to artists in streaming services.

Build a Brand Identity

Independent labels need a strong identity to help them stand out. You will need to build yours right now as this is part of what will help you form a following. A lot of indies focus on artistry, and this is a great image to have. However, you will need to follow through with your actions as well. So, check what your brand stands for, and make this central to all your decisions.

Look for a Good Studio

As a label, you have to keep costs to a minimum. Studio time is one of the biggest expenses for any label, and you will need to form relationships with good studios from the beginning. Finding a studio that will give you professional-level sound at an affordable price is not easy, however, especially if you’re in a global hub like London. If you want to find a great London music studio, we suggest you check out Pirate Studios. This London based studio has been in operation for decades and they have 700 locations around the world. What’s great about them is the amount of control and access they offer. Their installations are self-serve and open 24/7, allowing teams to set up shop and have a space where they can work with no pressure.

Find a Good Sound Engineer

Your sound engineer will ultimately determine how professional your records sound. Even if you work in the best studio in the world, your tracks will not sound good if they’re not properly mixed or mastered. A good engineer, on the other hand, will be able to take a track that wasn’t recorded the best and turn it into a masterpiece. Engineers are some of the most underrated people in music and having a good one in your corner is an invaluable asset. When you find one you can trust, treat them well as they may become partners in your label’s success.

Find a Good Lawyer and Accountant

Labels get sued all the time and go under because they weren’t on top of their finances. Do not let that be you. Hire an accountant early on who will be able to track your overheads and work on a budget. They will also be able to draft a solid business plan for you. Having a good accountant will help you when the time comes to seek partners or financing as well.

Having a good lawyer will be important because of the many contracts you’ll have to draft and sign. If you want to sign acts, you will have no choice but to work with a lawyer. They will help you craft contracts that will be profitable to you while still being standard. A lawyer will also be able to identify legal liabilities when planning shows or issues with intellectual property, among other things.

The music business is a great one to be in at the moment and the barrier of entry is not that high. Whether you want to start a venture or want to have more control over your art, follow these tips and you’ll be building your brand on solid ground.

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