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Welcome to the EvO:R Tips Section. We call this section EvO:R-Pedia because it is like a complete
reference library for Indie musicians...Just about every tip has been used so you won't find false
promises and a series of books to buy after reading each tip. This section was put here by musicians
so that people that followed can take this knowledge and use it's power.
How To Start A Record Label In 5 Easy Steps
By Derek Stephens
If you've been wondering how to start a record label, but don't have a clue where to begin, it really can be a simple, fast, and relatively cheap process. When most people think of taking on such a task, the first obstacles that typically come to mind are either a.) "I need a lot of money to start a record label," or b.) "I need to know a lot about music to make it in the industry." I'm here to let you know that both are complete myths and nowhere near the truth!
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In fact, running a profitable independent record label in todays "web-centered" world, is very realistic and the odds are in your favor if you know the right steps to take, and of course, take them! So here's how to start a record label in 5 easy steps:
1. Pick a name. This may seem like the easiest part of the process, but really it can be one of the most challenging steps because many of the names that first come to mind will already be taken. The key here, is to create a name that is "catchy." For example, don't use your last name in your record label name, unless your last name just so happens to present a "Play-On-Words" opportunity. One mistake that too many label owners make is naming their label based upon some sentiment (family name, personal nickname, etc.). The problem is, nobody else cares! You need a name that people will hear once, and never forget. If it means using comedy and creating a funny name just so that people will remember it, that may benefit you more than the forementioned tactic. There are online services available that will tell you whether or not your name is already being used.
2. Pick a genre. This may be "step one" actually, but the two are interchangeable at times. I would recommend that you don't make your first label an "all genre's" label. Don't try to be like the major labels in this sense by going out and signing a hip-hop artist and a country artist and hope to be able to efficiently promote both. Decide on a genre, or at least if you're going to promote multiple genres, make sure they're close to each other in terms of the fanbase you want to go after. For instance, a hip-hop artist and an R&B artist would probably be okay. You really want to be able to study your genre and get good at knowing how and where to promote that style.
3. Get a business license. Once you have your name in place, get a business license. With an LLC, there are ongoing tax benefits as long as there is more than one member. Also, the LLC structure offers personal protection from LLC liabilities and the LLC itself, so your personal assets/accounts are often not raided in the case that your company owes money or happens upon other financial difficulties.
With a sole proprietorship, there are no large filing or registration fees and tax documentation is much simpler and quicker. I usually recommend starting as a sole proprietorship and converting to an LLC once business really gets going and you begin to establish a payroll. This really shouldn't take much time at all, to establish, if you do it right!
4. Search for artists. Your artists are an extremely important component to your label because they are your face and voice. They represent your label, and the perception can be that they represent you personally so you need to make careful decisions when contemplating who to sign. I always recommend sitting down and interviewing artists, sharing your vision for the label, and attending their shows to make sure they know how to generate a following and can really put on a show. You don't want artists with stage-fright! Along with this, you must get a hold of a contract template that protects you and instills trust in the artist.
5. Set up your marketing channels. Develop a plan on how you will promote each artist. There are so many cost-effective ways to market independent music today, and so many label owners have no clue! The opportunities are endless and many times, FREE! The internet offers so many different creative avenues and if you can grasp them, you can really make a lot of money, and have a profitable label up and running within days!
Well, now you know how to start a record label! What are you waiting for? It really could all be done in a day's work!
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