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Starting a Record Label
So you’re ready to break into the music business, but you’re slowly starting to realize something scary: you don’t know the first thing about making it in the music business. After all, you’re a musician, not a record producer. But what effect will it have on your career as a musician if you just release your music without serious promotion with a record label? Are you content doing that 9-5 for the rest of your life, or do you aspire to something different?
DOES THIS SIT LIKE YOURS?
- You’ve made good music, maybe even an entire album’s worth of material, but now you don’t know what to do with it.
- You’ve sent your music to a record label and been met with cold rejection. Most of the time, you never hear back.
- You’ve submitted their music to several places online…but you’re not getting any listeners. You will definitely get lost in the crowd and not make much money.
- You want to start bringing in big bucks, but you’re stuck playing the same five or six clubs every month. It sounds like your career is going nowhere fast.
If this all sounds familiar, you might want to consider starting your own record label. If music is your thing, but you’re lost in the “business” side, you need to start thinking about exactly how you can pursue music full-time. You need to learn how to promote your CD, how to get people to buy it, how to distribute it, how to start a tour, how to get on the radio.
THE OLD ROAD
The majority of people who send demos to record labels get rejected all the time. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Most people can’t get ahead in the music business by relying on overworked, underpaid interns to listen to your demos and share your vision for the future. If you keep sending your demos to record labels, they’re likely going to end up in the trash.
The key thing to understand is that the only relationship that matters in the music industry is the one between the artist and his fans. There are many organizations that seek to exploit this relationship, and one of the biggest parasites is the major record labels.
The sad truth is that artists lose a lot of money when they sign a contract. Most bands and bands only see pennies on every $15 CD sold.
If you keep sending your demos to labels, you’re taking a lot of risk. You will lose your music. It’s not unheard of for record companies to steal the “good parts” of their signed assets at your expense.
But what about promoting music online? The cold hard truth is that thousands of people are submitting their songs online, and there’s a very good chance you’ll be drowning in a sea of artists just like you. It’s hard to stand out and gain a large following if you’re not promoting your music face-to-face on a daily basis with your fans, with whom you’ve built a real relationship.
WHY START AN INDEPENDENT LABEL?
By starting your own record label, you’re taking the steps to start a great career in music.
The biggest and best reason to start your own record label is money. As the CEO of your own label, you’ll keep a bigger share of the profits. Although you may not be on par with a major record label, you may do well as an artist signed to a major label because you have more financial control.
By building a successful independent music label, you can explore the options of publishing and releasing music from third-party artists. For example, you can enter into profit-sharing agreements with musicians on your label; If done right, all parties can be very richly involved along the way.
True professional solo musicians have to promote, tour, and release albums. And these musicians need a strong business plan to make things happen. It requires business knowledge and industry insight – but it’s worth it in the end.
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