How to start a record label
As recording software becomes more affordable, starting your own music label is now a viable, low-cost business opportunity for music enthusiasts
- Creating a record label business plan
- Record label rules and regulations
- How much does it cost to start your own record label?
- How much can you expect to earn running your own record label?
- Record label useful tips and contacts
- Register your record label name with our preferred company formation agent (external site, opens in new tab)
- See if you can get a Start Up Loan to help you start a record label business idea (external site, opens in new tab)
What is a record label and who is it suited to?
If you’re the sort of person who says “music is the air I breathe” but can’t play a note to save your life then there is an alternative way to get involved in your passion, and hopefully make some profit – start a record label.
The term record label is actually derived from the circular label in the centre of a vinyl record, and is a brand or trademark involved in the production, manufacture, distribution and marketing of artists and their music. Record labels range from global corporations such as Universal Music Group to independent labels founded from a bedroom.
The latter has experienced a boom recently thanks to ease of access to and more affordable recording software. There are many reasons for getting into the business side of the music industry. Maybe you want to record a friend’s band, maybe you have a passion for a niche genre that you want to share with the world, or perhaps you have your own music that your struggling to release via other avenues.
Owner of Kent based Regen studio Mykel Dunn started out “to create a platform to sell under”, whereas “a traditional label is there to profit off other artists, we were doing it for ourselves.”
Running a record label is all about having a good working relationship with your artists. The business can be a minefield of legal issues with copyright, licensing and ownership of material but as long as you are honest and write up contracts at the start you can maintain a mutually beneficial working relationship.
A knowledge and understanding of the industry is vital if you want to succeed as it is famously fickle and difficult to predict, the crazes of yesterday gone in an instant. It favours youth and craves originality and innovation.
See if you can get a Start Up Loan to help you start your business
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Do you have an eye for what can sell? Part of your job will be spotting bands that are going to find an audience or notice emerging trends in music and find artists that epitomise those trends.
Or perhaps you don’t want to go along with trends or top the charts, perhaps you want to rebel against the monopoly of mass produced soulless pop and bring Scandinavian folk metal fusion to the masses? Jack Clothier, co-founder of Alcopop! Records, says “there are no hard and fast rules, we all know music sales are tough so you can be massively creative and push things in your own way.”
Whatever kind of label you want to create a passion for music and a knowledge of its history is essential – finding the right balance between art and business and having an aptitude for both will put you in good stead to succeed.
Ready to get started? Find out everything you need to know about how to start your own business here.