Want your music in the hands of as many people as possible? Then don’t spend your time worrying about getting signed by a record label.
Record labels, while still powerful, are not the only way to get your music to a wider audience. With a little bit of planning, you can accomplish most of what a record label does by taking on the tasks yourself.
Starting your own record label doesn’t necessarily mean starting a business, and it doesn’t necessarily mean releasing multiple bands’ music, or even having lots of money to start with. Starting a record label can purely be about supporting your own pursuits. It can be whatever you want it to be. And with some effort, your own record label will help you get your music out into the wild in ways you might not have imagined.
Take your music into your own hands and get creative with these 7 Steps to Launching Your Own Record Label.
1. Set up the Recording Sessions
Save up the money to work with a reputable producer and get the band prepared. This doesn’t have to be a famous producer; it can be a reliable person who can really use their gear. Ask around. Set up some recording dates and be ready to hit a bull’s-eye when you and the band come in to record. Don’t be too picky about recording in a studio; recording in a basement or living room can add charm you can’t quantify with a meter. What’s important is that it sounds good and that you like it.
2. Collect Feedback
After you’ve gotten your mixes and mastered them — don’t debate mastering; just do it — embrace your music and share it with anyone and everyone who might be remotely interested in hearing it. Ask for feedback. Ask which songs stand out the most. Be brutally honest with yourself and listen to what other people say. Put yourself in the listener’s shoes. If you feel good about it and don’t think you need to re-record, you are ready to make these recordings the center of your life as you shape them into a tangible product.
3. Choose Your Destiny
You’ve no doubt picked your favorite tracks and thought about how they might be used. Now you have to decide how to release it to the world and choose your formats. Money likely will play a large part in this decision. Don’t distress, though. Streaming music sites, like bandcamp.com, offer musicians a way to conceptualize their recordings and release them online to great effect. It is true that offering multiple formats is best for getting your music into as many hands as possible, as everyone has different equipment.
4. Create Your Concept
Once you’ve decided the format for your recording, it’s time to start thinking about your artistic vision for your release and the concept behind your record label.
Think about how the art will look on your chosen format. Strive for coherence between the sound and artwork. A cool name and logo will go a long way for making your label stand out and be memorable. You’ll want your releases to sport your record label’s logo and create an online presence to further promote your work. Whether or not you release another band doesn’t matter. You’re replacing the need for a record label by becoming one.
5. Execute Your Vision
Putting it all together will make your record become a reality. Basic knowledge in Photoshop will go a long way, but is not mandatory. If you have any friends who are graphic designers or artistically inclined, reach out to them. Offer them work on your project. Craigslist can also be a good resource to connect with designers if you can afford to pay them. Try to prepare other promotional propaganda during this phase. Posters, stickers and inserts go a long way toward promoting your release and your new record label.
6. Some Assembly Required
Double check to make sure all your files are set up for the proper size printing. Print out your covers and inserts yourself to save money and time. Buy cassette and CD cases in bulk to save money. Print inserts to stick inside of the packaging to make it as professional looking as possible. Make sure everything is printed well and cut evenly. Then call some friends and start putting it all together.
7. Promote and Hustle
Now that you have your product and your record label, it’s time to start hustling. Make sure to create an online presence for your new record label and to update all of your band’s social media to heavily promote your new release. Put your recording up for streaming online. Create a basic press kit with any pictures, media and press comments you might have. Contact some like-minded blogs and ask them to do a piece to support your release. Don’t be intimidated by who you contact; if the music is good, they will listen.
Find the email addresses to any college radio station in your area that might play it. Put up flyers and book yourself shows to promote your release. Stop at local record stores and offer to sell them your media at wholesale prices. If they like the music, this will get you in the shop and your music in front of people who care. Remember to keep promoting your release online and in reality. Make a weekly agenda for how you will promote. Sell out and reprint.
Repeat all the above.
Who needs a record label anyway?
Julian Ludwig é diretor do Pro Áudio Clube, produtora de áudio Jacarandá, Loc On Demand e Jacarandá Licensing. Trabalhou para empresas como: Guaraná Antartica, TV Gazeta, NET, Chivas Regal, FNAC, Prefeitura de São Paulo, Mukeca Filmes, Agência LEW’LARA TBWA, Agencia MPM, Agência Content House entre outras. Fez trilhas para programas de TV como: Internet-se (Rede TV), Você Bonita (TV Gazeta), Mix Mulher (TV Gazeta), Os Impedidos (TV Gazeta), Estação Pet (TV Gazeta), CQC (TV Band) Vinheta Oficial TV Gazeta, entre outras. Também atuou em vários longas e curtas metragens, incluindo mixagem em 5.1 e serviços de pós-produção.