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What do I need to do to start a successful record label?

I have a brother and a few friends who have raw talent. I’m not just saying that as a bias. Every person who has ever heard their music has always asked “how come they are not famous yet?” For the longest time I couldn’t figure it out. I thought that their talent was enough, but it is ever so clear that they need good management. I want to start a label from the ground up. I know I need a solid business plan. I have absolutely no capital. Where is square one?

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About Richard Butler

Richard Butler has been marketing online since 1993. As well as having generated "affiliate" income, he also provides "done for you" solutions for small business owners & entrepreneurs: http://goTBMS.com and has his only Web Hosting solution: http://BritHost.net He has also used his online skills in his Real Estate Investing business, where he is well known as the "video marketing" expert. http://VideoDominationSystem.com http://RichardButler.biz

One Response to “What do I need to do to start a successful record label?”

  1. Andrew Strauss January 21, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    1. Although many successful record labels started off with someone winging it, there are many that fail for that very same reason: poor planning. Creating a record label is a business and a full time job.
    2. Choose a name. Brainstorm 5-10 good names that you feel will fit your business. You need to tell people who you are and the type of music you produce. In short your business name should say it all. The reason for choosing a number of names for your record label is that if one is taken you can still fall back on the others and not have to waste time rethinking your names.
    3. Corner your market. Choose and study your genre. Sit down, either alone or with your partner(s) and think of the style(s) you want your record label to be. It would be best if you picked a style that you are very familiar with and have extensive knowledge about. Musicians don’t like being forced into a box, but choosing and sticking with a particular genre helps a record label know their market (who buys that genre) and build contacts with people who deal with that genre (record shop owners, DJs, journalists, etc.). Research your genre, and find out what it’s missing. Observe and predict trends. You need to fill a niche. Talk to local promoters, studio owners, music shops, distributors, journalists, and anyone who can offer insight about what’s hot and what’s not. Who is your target audience? How old are they? What are they buying? This is also good research for a business plan.
    4. Find talent. Scour the local band scene and find bands who you think will earn your label a good reputation in your genre. You can’t compete with the big record labels, so you want to go for interesting records that slip under their radar but will be a hit with your specific market. After you find a band you feel is a great fit for your label, talk with the band or the band manager and offer a contract signing them to your label. The key word here is “sign”. That means you should have a contract for every artist, drawn up by a qualified lawyer. If a track or an artist gets big and you don’t have a contract, things can turn ugly, and your label might get the short end of the stick. Some labels don’t do contracts if there are one or two singles at stake, but insist on contracts when there’s an album deal on the table.
    5. Record in a studio. If the artist doesn’t have a recording and you don’t have a studio, shop around. Look for an engineer who has experience in your genre and an owner you can work with. You might be paying for some or all of the studio time. Ask about lower rates if you block book time for two or three projects. It’s a good idea to have a producer there (you or a musician you trust) to make sure everything turns out well (and your money isn’t wasted). It can cost $150+/hour. If you pay for a portion or all of the recording, then you can withhold earnings from the band until you make back all the money you put into the recording, and you have more of a say in how the album sounds. This needs to go in the contract, though.
    6. Promote the music. Your goal here is to do everything you can to chart locally.

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