You have completed part one to fulfilling your dream, your passion of starting your record label. Now it is time to make sure your record label is a success. Note ‘success’ is the key here. Many start-ups occur but just as many start-ups there are closures. Closures occur because certain factors are ignored, factors that build the framework of a successful record label business.
The First Step
The number one thing an independent record label should do is retain an entertainment lawyer. Any contract between you and anyone in the music business should be looked over by a lawyer. It is not wise to create your own contracts. If something was to go wrong or a misunderstanding occurred you may not have the necessary securities listed in your contract to protect you and your business in a court of law.
An entertainment lawyer is not only beneficial to you as the record label but also to your artists. An entertainment lawyer shows the artists that they will be treated fairly when it comes to contracts and agreements. The artists will have a better understanding of the quality of your record label by having sound representation through an entertainment lawyer.
The best way to find an entertainment lawyer is to ask around in the industry, do internet searches for your city or do a look-up in the phone book. An entertainment lawyer should be a priority worked into your budget from the start.
There are many contracts involved in the music industry. The most used is the standard 360 contract. The 360 contract has become the current business model for large labels as well as indie labels. The 360 contract is a deal between the artist and the record company. This deal grants the record company to share in the artists’ non-recording sources of income (t-shirts, tour earnings, books, commercials, flyers, posters etc.). In return the record company agrees to provide support for the artist through large advances. The advance you guarantee an artist should be worked out in your budget beforehand.
The 360 is the most standard used but there are several others two of which will be mentioned here such as:
1) Demo Deal – this is where the record label will finance a small recording project to see what the artist can do in the studio before signing the artist. Usually the record label will take about thirty days or so to decide whether or not the artist is worthy material for their label.
2) Spec Deal – this is where the record label will invest time and money in hopes of a return on their investment.
Identifying the Right Artists for Your Label
No artists, no label. From the start your label should be signing the right artists. Note not just artists but the right artists. There are plenty of talented individuals raising their voices for a chance with your record label. But your ear must be tuned and trained to sign the right artists’.
The selection process can be tedious sometimes as tedious as finding a needle in a haystack. This is so because you are looking for artists that represent what your label is trying to accomplish. The artists will set your label apart, make it standout.
There are several factors to consider when choosing artists for your record label:
1) Declare your genre, your niche in the industry
2) Set a list of standards by which your label operates in selecting artists
- Ex. An artist who has exceptional talent (writes songs with meaning, has a great stage presence, friendly (relational), performs well, has his/her unique style, an artist who is marketable, time conscious etc.)
3) Look for an artist with an established fan base both online and offline (artists who are serious about their careers understand it takes hard work, they will have developed a fan base through show performances, social networks, internet streaming etc.). A fan base will enable easier marketing for the artist.
Scouting out talent for your record label is not difficult. In addition to the traditional traveling to view live performances you can scout talent from the comfort of your home or office. Sites such as YouTube and Reverbnation.com allow you to view talent to sign up.
Viewing through these sites should be the initial step in your selection process; you ultimately want to wait to make a decision until you see them perform live.
Your Label’s Attitude
This is not just a one sided deal. Your responsibility as the record label should be an upfront map of what you can offer the artist. It is never wise to act as though you hold all the cards. The record label should remain professional and enthusiastic toward its artists.
What are you waiting for…start signing artists…you have what it takes and the necessary tools to make it happen.