Musicians are artists in the purest form. But every successful musician that you hear is brought to your ears by a record label. They are the institutions that bridge the gap between musicians and their listeners, so they form a very important part of the music industry. But to start an independent label, one needs more than just a love for music; you need business acumen. Despite the emphasis on the love of art, at the end of the day it is a business, and you need it to be profitable to sustain it. Here's how you can do it:
- Plan: Like any other business, a record label also requires a considerable amount of planning, including, most importantly, an action plan. You don't just win a marathon without planning it beforehand, and you cannot start a business without a business plan. This plan will contain your sources of finance, your financial details, the size of your label, and other such things. Covering your finances in detail is a crucial step in case you plan to approach people to invest their money.
- Type of Business: You need to decide what kind of a business it will be. You will either be the sole owner, or you will be in business partnership with one or more persons. Alternately, you can even opt for a limited liability company, which is a completely different entity from the owners or partners. If you have decided to go along with a partner, make sure that you can trust him/her. Many businesses have failed because the partners have fallen out with each other. It's probably best not to mix your personal life with your professional unless you're absolutely certain that it is the only way to go.
- Name and Logo: Now that you have a partner and a business plan, you need to come up with a name and a logo for your independent record label. Choose a name that is unique and does not infringe on anyone else's rights. Also ensure that your name clearly portrays the kind of record label you are and the genre of music you wish to present.
- Licenses: You will need to apply for a business license. If you aim to sell your music directly to the public, you will also need a retail license. This is the most important aspect, as without such licenses your record label will be illegal. Do not forget to file the necessary tax forms.
- Studio Hunting: The next step for you is to find a studio in a great location with great equipment. Lease it, rent it, or just buy it. This is going to be your own sanctuary, so make sure it's up to speed.
- PR is the Key: Along the way, keep in mind that the only way people will hear about you is when you advertise and promote your label. Hire a Public Relations professional and constantly stay in touch with him to ensure that your service is being promoted as it should. Use online methods as extensively as you possibly can.
- Decide on a Genre: Talk to people in the know―music distributors, shop owners, artists, and journalists. Find out what kind of music is the rage in the market, and decide on your brand of music. You cannot randomly pick out musicians from any genre. Ensure that their brand of music matches your targeted audience.
- Pick out Talent: This is it. Now you need to find your artists. Locate them, and sign them up to your label. Make sure you know what the artists want before you sign any agreements, because if the artists feel stifled, their productivity will suffer, which ultimately means that your label will suffer.
- Have Fun: Now that you've figured out how to start and run your own record label, remember that the most important thing is to enjoy yourself. Keep in mind that you're doing something that millions of others would love to be doing, so make the most of the opportunity for which you have worked so hard.