How to Start an Independent Record Label and Get Artists to Sign With Your Label

There are a number of record companies out there today and each one operates differently. Some record labels are huge companies that have hundreds of acts to promote. These are the labels that carry the most popular, commercially viable rock bands and singers. They can offer artists huge sums of money to sign with them and they’ve got the experience and to promote them heavily. Their business model has dominated the music recording industry for years, but that’s been steadily changing.

Rock artists and bands have found a way to get around all that waiting for the record label by self-publishing their own music. The good news for bands is that it’s getting easier and easier to do this. The down-side is that it’s not cheap and it’s not easy. It’s a serious business venture that can either make or break a person financially. Still, if the risks are well-calculated, the marketing is done right and the music is good, there’s a huge chance of success.

Starting out with a small budget? It’s ok, it really isn’t necessary to have a gigantic bankroll to get started. With only a few hundred dollars, more than one small record label has sprung into existence. Investors can also be convinced to contribute funds to a new record label start-up. In order to get them to invest though, expect to produce a sound business plan and good future revenue projections.

Most small record labels start out life as a way to promote and sell a single act. The label focuses all of its attentions on that artist or bands albums and songs. This narrow-minded approach works well for new labels, giving them time to learn the ropes before expanding. Over time, the record label has the potential to expand and grow, taking on new talent to promote.

There are several things that need to be done before a record label can begin producing work. This is the time for planning out the record labels future. Every business benefits from a well-rounded business plan and a record label is no different. It’s important to write everything down and work out all the details of how the label will be run. Setting realistic goals and accurately projecting revenue and expenses not only directs the company towards it’s goals, but it also helps lure in future investors.

A lawyer or reputable source should be consulted to create contracts and other legal documents. Whether these are documents the company will use or those that need to be signed, have someone look them over that has experience. These things are nearly impossible for laymen to read and understand so leave it to a professional and you’ll be less likely to have problems.

After the business plan has been developed, one of the first things would be to choose a name and maybe even a logo for the record label. It’s best to choose a unique, short, snappy name. Consider choosing one that suits the genre of music that will be promoted. It’s of the utmost importance that any name be thoroughly researched. If the name is already being used, it’s time to come up with something new. Infringing on someone else’s copyrighted or trademarked name is a bad first move that could cost a bundle.

A unique record label logo or company image can make all the difference. Images speak to people and the record label logo should reflect what the label stands for. Over time, as the record label grows and becomes more public, this logo will become more and more recognizable. Consider how famous the ‘Sun’ records label has become over the years. It’s all a matter of making an impression on the public.

In order to set up a bank account for a record label, it’s necessary to have legal proof the business exists. The quickest way to do this is to file what’s called a DBA, or Doing Business As form. These forms are super short and are available at the courthouse. It’s as easy as filling out a form, signing it and handing it to a clerk for filing. The DBA form usually suffices as identification for the business and a bank account can be created for the business. Having a business checking account will make paying musicians and vendors much easier. Another benefit is that it’ll appear more professional from the start.

Once the record label is set up and the financial stuff has been taken care of there’s nothing else to do but get down to business. A record labels main function is to promote artists and their music. A small record label has the potential to pick up untold numbers of talented acts, just like the big players do. Unlike the large companies, they don’t have millions of dollars to throw around. That just means they’ve gotta be smart businesspeople, great leaders and inventive marketers.

Nearly everywhere there’s a local live music scene. This is one of the best places there is to find new talent. Many a mega rock star was discovered while performing at an obscure venue. Bands playing at this level are hungry for attention and they’re willing to work for it. In order to find the best talent, a new record label should have representatives everywhere the music they sell is being played live.

It’s important to take the time to talk to all promising singers or bands that are found. A portion of them will be under contract with another label, but give them your card anyway, things change. Others won’t be quite ready to sign with a label, they get a card too. And then there will be a couple that are ready to sign on the spot and these are golden! Do your job well for these first clients and your record label could get noticed.

Over time, your ability to attract new talent to your label will depend on its performance. Do a fantastic job of marketing the artists and their music. Your job is to sell them, period. Send out press releases, do interviews and advertise online. Set up a website for your record label and advertise your artists there. Take each and every CD you produce to independent record stores and any other place that will take them.

Develop a sound marketing strategy that works and run with it. Remember to keep things simple, stick with artists that work in the same genre at first. You can expand as you grow and learn about the business. Get excited about the music you’re new record label is putting out and let the world know.