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Record Lable 101 Speed Dating
February 25, 2006

To get music released is it better to approach the major record companies, or start your own label?
If you can afford do the latter it is better, because at the moment it is very hard to get a major label to take notice of you without you having some form of profile as an artist to begin with. Putting out your own record will raise your profile, but you need to think about how to do it.

Although releasing CDs is the cheapest option, independent r&b/dance releases tend to do better on vinyl, whereas if you are aiming straight at the mainstream pop scene, marketing will be the biggest cost (which is not advisable unless you have a substantial investment fund from the start).

A debut record on your own independent should be good enough to bypass the hype and be recognised for the music on its own merit. In theory an initial pressing of a good record can pay for itself by dividing copies between ones you sell and one you give to DJs to build the interest. If it's a brilliant record that you can sell the rights to another company with the capacity of putting it in the charts and establishing you as an artist in the mainstream.

Going straight to mainstream will be very costly in terms of marketing and proper distribution. However, if you get good management it will help a lot - it will also help with getting a deal with a major label if they have good connections. Major record companies do not respond do demos sent through the mail and would rather work with a manager they are comfortable about working with than artists direct.

If you do start your own label you are advised to set up a legal entity and make sure you are protected from financial risks. The best way to do that is by becoming a limited company, although that, too, has costs involved.

You also need to get distribution - there are two ways to approach this:

press your own records/CDs and then try and secure a distribution deal only. This way the distributor has to do less so is more likely to agree, and you will get more of the money; OR;


get a pressing and distribution deal, which will be less work for you as a label.
What do I need to think about when starting a label?
The first thing to do is get someone who knows the business; you need more than just enthusiasm. There are copyright laws and contracts to understand, and you must contact the MCPS to ensure you have a license to manufacture and sell any recording you plan to release

You need to decide what you are best at, who is in the company and what roles they will have. Who makes decisions? Who controls the money? etc.

You need to find an outlet for your records, and set some money aside to market them when they are released.

Once you have done all this you should look for your best record, and put it out on vinyl because CD singles tend not to sell outside the charts. You need to be as creative economically as possible when it comes to marketing because you are on a budget.

If you are trying to distribute it yourself, don't go to retailers, go to wholesalers, as this is where retailers get their supplies and can help you get a wider spread of sales. Finally establish who the key players are in your area of music and get copies of your record to them for support.



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