Starting a Record Label in 2023: A Budget-Friendly Guide (1/2)

Starting a Record Label in 2023: A Budget-Friendly Guide (1/2)

With the rise of independent and locally curated music labels, starting your own record label has become an attractive prospect. However, launching a successful label requires careful planning and attention to detail. Fear not! This article serves as your comprehensive guide to starting a record label. We’ll explore everything from practical operations to marketing and design, to developing a winning branding strategy. With expert advice, invaluable tips, and handy tools, we’ll make the process of launching your label a breeze. So, let’s dive in and get your record label off the ground!

How to start a record label

If you’re passionate about music and want to be part of the music industry, starting your own record label could be a viable option. However, launching a successful label requires more than just a love of music. You’ll need to consider various factors such as the legal aspects of forming a company, financing, selecting genres, building a brand, and marketing.
Embarking on the journey of starting a record label can be overwhelming, but with the right knowledge and planning, it can be an exciting and rewarding venture. In this section, we’ll delve into some practical steps to consider before launching your label. These steps will guide you in making crucial decisions regarding the legal, financial, and creative aspects of your business.
Let’s examine crucial elements to ensure a successful launch day.

Make the different roles in your label abundantly clear

Are you going solo in running your label or are you going to have partners? It’s important to establish expectations and responsibilities with your team, especially in the beginning stages.
When starting a label with someone else, make sure each person has a specific role they are committed to. For instance, one person can handle the business side such as artist recruitment, A&R, finding PR opportunities, writing grants, and album rollout planning. The other person can focus on creative direction, design, social media management, and event planning.
Running a label involves a lot of roles and responsibilities that require teamwork to ensure success.
While it’s not necessary to pigeonhole each person into a specific role, it’s crucial to have clear expectations laid out to avoid confusion and potential conflicts in the future.

Decide on a vision

When starting a record label, it’s important to have a clear vision of where you are and where you want to be.
It’s a good idea to have a written mission statement outlining who you want your label to be.

Do you have a specific target audience or community that you want to focus on? What are your preferences in terms of the type of music that you want to promote and curate?

A clear vision from the start can establish direction and excite/support your audience.

Incorporating diverse perspectives and voices is essential to represent your community through your label. Be sure to involve local artists who live and work in your community as well.

Develop a brand aesthetic

Now that you have a clear vision in mind, it’s time to develop the brand aesthetic for your record label.

Branding covers a wide range of aspects including the type of artists you work with, the tone of your messaging, the design of your website, the logo, album artwork, and merchandise.

Do you plan to limit your distribution to cassette tapes only, which can help reduce costs? Or do you plan to invest in producing vinyl records as well?

Consider the different options for merchandise you could offer to fans, such as t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, perfume, and even underwear. E-commerce platforms provide endless possibilities for your merchandise selection.

Take into account your social media presence and think about how you will present your label on various platforms like Instagram, Bandcamp, Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook.

Creating a custom website is recommended as it provides a blank canvas for you to create the exact look and feel you want for your label.

Use your creativity to make your brand stand out as a unique and memorable entity.

Create guidelines for signing new artists

When you sign an artist, it’s a significant step and the main reason why you’re establishing a record label.

In any record deal, there are two sides to consider.

As the label, you commit to working hard to promote the artist and in return, the artist will receive a percentage of the sales, streaming, and royalties generated from their music.

Profit-sharing terms, length, and percentages should be agreed upon by both the label and the artist.

It’s vital to have a written agreement signed by both parties to avoid misunderstandings and protect your brand and reputation.

You can use online record label contract templates or consult with a music lawyer to ensure that everything is legally binding.

It’s also helpful to talk to other labels in your genre to gain insights into how they handle contracts and profit splits. Generally, splitting the profits from merchandise and streaming 50/50 is a good practice.

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