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101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
101 Reasons Why as an Artist…
You MUST Start Your Own
Independent Record Label...
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This report will discuss several of the reasons that an artist, manager or other music industry
professional would benefit from starting their own independent record label. I hope you enjoy
it. Ty Cohen - Your Music Business Coach!
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Page 1 of 48
101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
Nineteen Reasons Why Starting Your Own Record Label Gives You Creative Control _______6
Let’s Get It Right! _______________________________________________________6
YOU Believe in YOU! ____________________________________________________6
Put You Best Foot Forward _______________________________________________6
Nobody Else Can Hear What YOU Hear _____________________________________7
Your Hobby is Your Job.__________________________________________________7
Let Me Be the Judge of What is “Whacky” ____________________________________7
This is My Room and These are My People. __________________________________7
I’ll Stick My Neck Out if I Want To. __________________________________________8
It’s All in the “Gut”. ______________________________________________________8
I’ll Do Anything for Love, But I Won’t do THAT! ________________________________8
You Make the Call ______________________________________________________9
Don’t Mess with My Art ___________________________________________________9
What’s happening RIGHT NOW? ___________________________________________9
It’s a New Century _____________________________________________________10
Abandon Ship!!! _______________________________________________________10
Strike While the Iron is Hot. ______________________________________________10
I CAN Get Some Satisfaction _____________________________________________11
I Own My Name, Thank You Very Much. ____________________________________11
All You Need is Love ___________________________________________________11
Seventeen Reasons Why Starting Your Own Record Label Gives You Business Control. ____13
It’s Good to be King. ____________________________________________________13
Book em Danno. _______________________________________________________13
Come on Feel the Noise _________________________________________________13
Scratch My Back and I’ll Scratch Yours._____________________________________14
It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To. _______________________________________14
Work, Work, Work, Work, Work!___________________________________________15
The Root of All Evil _____________________________________________________15
My Way or the Highway._________________________________________________15
Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee______________________________________16
Doomed as Doomed Can Be _____________________________________________16
Sweating the Details ____________________________________________________16
I’m Rich Enough, Thank You Very Much ____________________________________17
Watch My Back________________________________________________________17
Do I Know You? _______________________________________________________17
Buy ME Out? I Don’t Think So! ___________________________________________18
See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me _____________________________________________18
I Love It When a Plan Comes Together _____________________________________19
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101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
Eleven Reasons Why Starting Your Own Record Label Gets You The Best Artists. _________20
I am the Walrus, I am the Egg man ________________________________________20
Success Breeds Success ________________________________________________20
Show me the Money ____________________________________________________20
The Hot Market ________________________________________________________21
Water that Garden, Help it Grow __________________________________________21
A Brave New World ____________________________________________________21
We Are Family ________________________________________________________22
Jurassic Park wasn’t just a movie about Dinosaurs. ___________________________22
The Alternative Nation __________________________________________________22
The Creative Mind _____________________________________________________23
A Band of Brothers _____________________________________________________23
Five Reasons Why Starting Your Own Record Label Gives You “Clout” In The Music Industry.24
A Rose by any Other Name ______________________________________________24
Catching the Buzz _____________________________________________________24
R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Find Out What it Means to Me. _______________________________24
It’s all About Me! _______________________________________________________25
All Roads Go Through ME!_______________________________________________25
Fourteen Reasons Why Starting Your Own Record Label Is Good Business ______________26
I’ll Call the Shots Now! __________________________________________________26
The Rat Race? I Don’t Think So! __________________________________________26
It’s Party Time! ________________________________________________________27
Signing on the Bottom Line ______________________________________________27
My Priorities are THE Priorities ___________________________________________27
Opinions Count – Especially Mine! _________________________________________28
"I Don’t Like Your Face" is Good Enough! ___________________________________28
The Real America ______________________________________________________29
You’re fired? __________________________________________________________29
The Time Clock Works for Me! ____________________________________________29
Let’s Take a Meeting ___________________________________________________30
Slump? Schmump!! ____________________________________________________30
Building Your Empire ___________________________________________________30
Stand and Deliver ______________________________________________________31
Six Reasons by Staring Your Own Record Label Will Make You More Money _____________32
That One Big Break ____________________________________________________32
You Deserve This ______________________________________________________32
The Money Trail _______________________________________________________33
Investing in the Future. __________________________________________________33
Your Fortune is at the Door ______________________________________________33
Let Your Money do the Talking____________________________________________34
Thirteen Reasons Why Starting Your Own Record Label Is Good For YOU! ______________35
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Page 3 of 48
101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
Its Easier Now than it Ever Has Been Before. ________________________________35
Release that Inner Genius _______________________________________________35
Getting that “Insiders” View of the World ____________________________________36
Fame, Fame. Fame, Fame _______________________________________________36
Follow the Leader ______________________________________________________36
All of Your “Heroes” Paved the Way for You, Now it’s Your Turn. _________________37
It’s “Taking It to the Next Level” For Your Love of Music and the Music Business _____37
“Get Back to Your Roots” ________________________________________________38
You CAN Get Some – Satisfaction _________________________________________38
When Things Hit it Big, You Get the Credit! __________________________________39
You Can Have Your Family in The Business, In Fact YOU SHOULD!______________39
Independence Day _____________________________________________________39
Its Fun! ______________________________________________________________40
Sixteen Reasons to Get Off Your @ss and Do It Now! _______________________________41
86. Procrastination is a Terrible Thing _________________________________________41
87. The Music Industry is Ready for You!_______________________________________41
88. It Won’t Get Started Unless YOU Start It.____________________________________41
89. It Can’t Be a Success Until It Has a Name. __________________________________42
90. You Can’t Build a House Until You Lay the Foundation. ________________________42
91. You Have the Confidence, Strike While the Iron is Hot. _________________________43
92. Change is Exciting and You Need the Change _______________________________43
93. Doing It for the Kids. ____________________________________________________43
94. Stop Dreaming ________________________________________________________44
95. Its Free to Try _________________________________________________________44
96. Help is On the Way_____________________________________________________45
97. Well, if They Insist You be Rich? __________________________________________45
98. Hit the Road Jack ______________________________________________________46
99. The Time is NOW ______________________________________________________46
100. Only YOU can Kick Your Own Rump _______________________________________47
101. Now You Are Hooked! __________________________________________________47
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101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
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People do it all the time. You have seen or read about successful artists or bands who finally
just got tired of the rat race and made the big jump – they started their own record label. If you
go back just a few years ago, the frequency of people or bands starting their own record label
was not that common. But any more, if you look into how any successful band organizes their
affairs, very often it is through the vehicle of their own record label.
All of us go through frustrations with the trials and tribulations of dealing with the large corporate
record labels. We usually just write it off to “paying your dues” and “learning the ropes” but way
in the back of your mind, there is that question, “Gee maybe I should start my own record label”.
It seems like a daunting challenge and you have to have good reasons. There is no question,
taking on the job of building a record label that becomes your business which will take you into
every facet of the record industry, every facet of running a business and every detail of what
goes on can be a little scary. But there are a couple of reasons to take heart if you are
genuinely giving the idea some serious consideration.
It’s not impossible. As we already mentioned, it’s done all the time. Unlike when the big
corporate giants ruled the recording industry, we are in the age of the “Indie” so the path has
been paved for you. You just have to find the right people and resources to get that help.
The resources are abundant. Any “Google” on the subject of “start your own record label”
will bring back abundant hits. Books and articles as well as e-books and online courses are
out there for you at affordable costs to give you an outline for how to get started.
It’s similar to starting a small business. Sure, there are quirks and nuances to the fact that
your small business is a record label but the steps to getting a small business off the ground
are very well known. Every state and city has a chapter of the Small Business Association
who can give you outlines, booklets, classes and sample business plans to help you start
organizing your new venture.
People who have made it starting their own record labels love to talk about it. They say that
“networking” is the key to success in a job hunt. Well the best people to find out about
starting your own record label are those who have done so successfully. Don’t be shy, just
do some research and pick up the phone and call them. You will be amazed how much they
want to help you get your start.
So we know it’s possible and we know that there are abundant resources to help us start our
own record label. It’s a big event and undertaking but you can do it, if you want to. So that
takes us to the heart of the matter doesn’t it? You have to ask yourself why you want to start a
record label. What are the good reasons to start a record label that you can call your own? In
this paper, we will discover one hundred and one killer reasons to take the plunge and dive in
and get your record label up and running. So let’s get started…
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101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
Nineteen Reasons Why Starting Your Own Record
Label Gives You Creative Control
1. Let’s Get It Right!
One of the most frustrating things to experience as a musician out to build your career is to
see someone who you thought knew what they were doing make big mistakes with your
career. When you put yourself in the hands of a major record company, you are a commodity
to them, not a person. They are going to do things according to “policy” or “that’s the way we
always did it” and the result could be a big set back in the career you are building. That is why
so many musicians are taking the plunge and opening their own record labels. That way, if
you know something is a mistake, you can avoid it because you are running the show, not
some “business entity” that is not going to pay attention to detail and react to changes as
rapidly as you can. But even if you make the same mistake, by doing so under your own
authority and working for your own record company, at least you get the benefit of learning
and growing in how you manage your company. At least you know you will grow from the
experience and not make the same mistake twice.
2. YOU Believe in YOU!
There is a cute song in the Broadway musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really
Trying” called “I believe in You” and at one point in the musical, the lead character sings it to
himself. It’s meant for humor but it illustrates the point that if you know what you can do, why
not be your own best friend, your own cheerleader, your own agent and your own record
company promoter? It can take the wind out of your sails when a record company executive
expresses doubt that your sound or your band can “make it big.” He is probably saying that
because he wants a big score quick and is not ready to invest the time and patience to see
your career explode when it has had time to nurture.
But YOU know that you have the stuff to make it. If you believe in you, and your band and
staff believe in you as well, there is not stopping you so why not build a record label around
that support group of yours. That record company will be your rocket ship to fame and
success in the music industry.
3. Put You Best Foot Forward
When a survey was conducted on one of the big reasons people have had for starting their
own record label, one that was near the top was the ability to control the quality of their demo
products that they use to promote their music. There is a whole subculture to how to put
together a good demo tape and there is no question that a strong demo tape can result in
more sales, more airplay and more exposure. By producing your demo using the professional
production facilities you will have when your record label is up and running, you can deliver a
demo CD that is polished, professional and ready for the air.
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101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
4. Nobody Else Can Hear What YOU Hear
Don’t you hate it when you meet with a record label executive and they want to know who you
“sound like”? So often, what they are looking for is a band to replicate a successful sound. If
they sign you, they want to be able to say, “They are the new Nirvana!” or whoever is the
musician icon they want to mimic.
But you didn’t go into the music business to “sound like” anyone else. Sure, you have your
influences but you have that sound in your head and you alone know what it is supposed to
sound like when it comes out on stage. You have carefully pulled together a talented team to
help you transition that inner music to music for the world to enjoy. You don’t need someone
who doesn’t understand that creative process to impose a “sound” on you just because
someone else made a gold record with it. By arming yourself with your own record label, you
have the control by what means that sound is nurtured out of your band. And you can give the
bands you sign that same freedom so the genius they sound like is them.
5. Your Hobby is Your Job.
It is the dream of all of us to make our living doing what we love. That anecdote that most
adult live lives of quiet desperation comes from people who compromise their first love and
make a living doing something dull or what they hate just to put food on the table. But you
have the talent, the network and everything you need to put up your own record label. All you
need is that last push of courage to step out and make it a reality. So go for it because
“working” at your music and building your musical career isn’t really working at all. It’s like
playing for a living. Your own record label can help make that possible.
6. Let Me Be the Judge of What is “Whacky”
The big difference between your record label and the big conglomerates is that theirs is a
business but yours is your passion. As a business, the corporate giants have a firm rule.
They don’t take chances. But you will be lighter on your feet so if you get some “wacky” idea
or see something that has a lightning fast potential to make lots of money or gather
momentum or fame, you can nail it. Whether it’s “The 50 top Novelty Act Songs” to “Star Trek
Spoof Songs” or the next Weird Al, you can take those chances and maybe hit gold on the
next big trend. But in any case, you know your record label knows how to have fun. And fun
is not what happens at the “business only” corporate labels.
7. This is My Room and These are My People.
Because you are intimately involved in the music industry and your knowledge, particularly of
the local music scene is extensive, you have the ability to know your market better than any
“scout” could possibly have. That’s because it isn’t just your market, it’s your friends. You
don’t just study the audience of the shows and festivals where you know new acts are
breaking weekly, you ARE that audience. If there is a buzz, it buzzes through you. That kind
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101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
of in-depth knowledge of the marketplace and what “products”, if you will, are going to work
and which ones are phony or bogus and will flop cannot be replicated by a corporate policy
making board. By starting your own record label, you are turning your contacts into business
relationships to make everybody more profitable and benefit the artists as much as the
8. I’ll Stick My Neck Out if I Want To.
When musicians who have or are considering starting their own record label speak of the
things that really make a difference in running their own operation, inevitably one of the top
justifications for being the head man at the record label is that it affords them complete
“creative freedom”. Creative freedom means a lot and it means different things to different
people. But above all, it gives the artist, whether that’s you, your friends or other new artists
you bring on board, the freedom to explore new worlds of their music, take chances, maybe
even stick their necks out into new blends, instruments and musical themes. This is where
genuine artistic growth happens and because you, as the owner and operator of an
independent record label are ready to stick your neck out with the artist, you enjoy the thrill,
the excitement and yes, the danger of being on the cutting edge of what is new and
progressive about modern music.
9. It’s All in the “Gut”.
Whether you know it or not, you have been thinking with your “gut” for a long time. You know
what it means to decide to go with a new song, a new sound, a new band member because
you had a good “gut feel” for it. When you are the one who runs the record label, you speak
that “gut feel” language that true creative people and music artists operate in all the time.
Creativity and music are not logical systems that can be evaluated on a spreadsheet. They
are a complicated interplay of the heart, the musical instincts of the artists and composer and
the insights, many of them instinctive that go into a new creative masterpiece. You
understand that even though how the “gut feel” decision making process is hard to describe.
But because you do speak the intuitive language of the creative world, you can make
administrative decisions for YOUR record label that reflect your fluency in the language of the
arts, the language called “gut feel”.
I’ll Do Anything for Love, But I Won’t do THAT!
Whether you are a studio musician, a manager or an artist supporting that new release, it is a
common experience when working under contract with a major label to be “told” that you will
do that interview, you will perform with that festival, you will sit in on this act as they record
and you are expected to do as you are told. The currency of the business world is
compliance and obedience and anyone who is an “employee” does what he is told. Well, you
aren’t an employee. You are a musician and an artist. It is humiliating to have to be
interviewed by someone who cannot possibly understand your show or your genre or have to
sit in and perform with an act that is out of touch with what is going on right now in the
business. So, by owning and running your record label, you can pick and choose who, what,
when, where and how you and your artists will be showcased or used creatively. In many
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101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
ways, the ability to say “no” to some gig or interview that is “just plain stupid” is as creatively
liberating as the ones we say yes to.
You Make the Call
In the landmark spoof of rock and roll “This is Spinal Tap”, there is an issue with the bands
record “Smell the Glove”. They cannot release the cover of the record because it is too
offensive for Wal-Mart and K-mart. While the movie is meant for comedy and yes, “Smell the
Glove” was actually offensive, it points out an issue that has been a plague to artists working
under major labels for decades. The label may allow you some leverage to “realize your
vision” but if that vision cuts into corporate profits, they are going to edit the “offensive
material” out, sometimes without asking you.
As an artist, you don’t need that. You can preserve your artistic integrity and release the
entire package, original words, ideas and yes, even that risky cover art and let it stand or fall
where it should be judged, by the marketplace of ideas, your audience. You will feel more
satisfied with the work you do and your audience will thank you for being the guy who ”makes
the call” on what has to be included in the release and what doesn’t have to be.
Don’t Mess with My Art.
While lots of spoofing has
been done about artistic
“prima donnas”, that does not
diminish the fact that one of
the core values of people like
you in the music industry is
your devotion to the purity of
your art form. As you grew as
an artist, everything was
measured by that pure vision
and inspiration which drives
your choices and how you go
about compositing, recruiting
for your band and performing.
Now you can let that same
purity of ethics and priorities
make its influence known at
the record label level because
it is YOU, the artist or artists
who are making the decisions that support the creative effort. No longer will a corporate
accountant “mess with your art” to serve the business need. The shoe is on the other foot
now. The business doesn’t run the music. The music runs the business. It’s the way it
always should have been in the first place, isn’t it?
What’s happening RIGHT NOW?
Doesn’t it make you laugh when a new act suddenly “breaks” on MTV or through the corporate
labels and the promotions make it seem like this act and genre is just breaking today, is the
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101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
state of the art and will be the “next big thing”? You know that by the time an act gets
attention at that level, people on the street have known about them for a long time and in fact,
what is really “breaking” today goes completely unnoticed at that level of marketing.
But you are on the street and in the buzz lines of communication so when something truly new
and exciting begins to break out, you can capture them onto your label long before the big
labels even get wind of what is going on. This is one of the reasons that the big record labels
are the dinosaurs of the industry and are being “scooped” over and over again by small Indie
record labels, These are independent record labels just like the one you are getting ready to
start who are finding and signing the exciting new talent and keeping them under contract from
the garage band to the stadium show level.
It’s a New Century
The music industry is not a stagnant place. It is a living marketplace what evolves and
changes almost as fast as things come to notice. Things that were true in 1955 were not the
same as what was true in 1965, 1975, 1985, 1995 or even 2005. It’s a new century and the
way music is marketed, distributed and enjoyed by the audience has changed radically. The
“era” of the big corporate record labels is over and being rapidly replaced by the era of small,
artist friendly Indie labels.
By starting your own record label NOW, you are jumping in on the state of the art, the cutting
edge and the truly up to date trends in the industry. There is nothing more exciting as being in
on the ground floor of something. Imagine if you had been the one who played Buddy Holly’s
first release over and over or one of the guys who hammered the nails into the stage at
Woodstock. Your Indie record label gets in on the early rumblings of an explosion that is sure
to rock the music industry for much of the early decades of this new century.
Abandon Ship!!!
As you begin to evaluate the investment needed for your record label, it will probably seem
like a lot of money. The good news is there is plenty of help out there for you. But an Indie
label is a much lower cost operation than one of the big corporate labels. Because of that and
because there are not very many management layers in a small label and because your label
was built to be nimble and respond quickly, if you are involved with a project that is going
poorly, you can shut down and get out of it a lot faster than a larger label ever could. The
result is your losses are less severe and you are better able to try new things knowing you can
grow them fast or shut them down fast. That is just how efficient your new record label can be
under your control and leadership.
Strike While the Iron is Hot.
The flip side of being able to “abandon ship” quickly and efficiently is your ability to “jump on
the bandwagon” just as fast. How often have you become aware of a new festival, a breaking
act that is going to debut that day or something that is so new and revolutionary but moving so
fast that only the street level people get a piece of it? If you just had a nimble and well
managed record label under your feet, you could hit the streets with that flexibility and ability to
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101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
jump on something at a moments notice and be the label that was “already there” long before
the rest are even aware something was happening.
I CAN Get Some Satisfaction
One of the deeply satisfying things about being a professional musician is being part of that
the creative flow that starts at inspiration for a new song or creative idea and flows in an
uninterrupted stream of growth from composition to rehearsal to performance. The
satisfaction in the creative process never stalls out. But why let that enjoyment of seeing your
creativity grow legs and skin and become something real and exciting stop when its time to
record and put your art out there for distribution. When you have your own record label, that
continuous creative expansion of your song or CD will go directly into production without all
the delays and red tape the big record labels can impose on you.
I Own My Name, Thank You Very Much.
One of the most publicized abuses that big record labels put into their contracts with new and
upcoming artists is the control of their name, their inventory and their sound into the future. I
suppose if we wanted to look deep into the corporate culture of these organizations, we might
be able to understand why they do that. But the battles artists have gone through with record
labels over the future use of their own creative materials are legendary. From Prince who
changed his name legally to continue performing to the almost unbelievable problems John
Fogerty had because his new recordings “sounded too much like him”, it is a nightmare that
we all want to avoid. But lots of new bands sell that away just to get signed and get their
careers moving.
By owning your own record label, you manage the legal controls over your own sound, name
and artistic library. You become much more actively aware of contracts, royalties and legal
trappings so you can sidestep those minefields that have taken down many creative geniuses
in the past. But, secondly and maybe just as valuable is that because you have a
compassion, an understanding and a connection to the artists your record label represents,
you can craft your relationship to no have to take away their heart and blood just to assure
continued success for your label. By being a partner of your artists rather than their “owner”,
your creative collaboration can continue long into a very successful and very lucrative future.
All You Need is Love
There is no more inspiring and idealistic a concept that have birthed so many creative
explosions over the years as the idea of an “artistic community”. You see it at festivals or in
clubs late at night as artists gather, maybe during the show or afterward and musicians of
many venues and bands begin to jam and share musical ideas. Great blends of genres,
cultures and musical themes are born in the melting pot of artistic community. Often that
community is bohemian and does not take a home but when it does, institutions that change
the musical landscape become a reality. Because you understand this and are part of the
local artistic community, that trust you already nurture in your fellow artists and with them will
naturally take root in your record label. In that way, your new record label isn’t just a business
venture, it’s a melting pot for creative juices to flow, intermingle and sprout new musical
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101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
identities that never existed before. How exciting to be at the root of that new life as the owner
of an Indie record label.
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Page 12 of 48
101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
Seventeen Reasons Why Starting Your Own Record
Label Gives You Business Control.
It’s Good to be King.
That phrase “Its good to be king” has become a popular catch phrase to emphasize the
privilege and the joy of being the “top dog” and telling others what to do. A bit of trivia is that
the phrase itself is actually a punch line used in a movie by the great Mel Brooks called The
History of the World Part I. Of course, the movie and Mel Brooks are very funny but the catch
phrase brings us another of the great business reasons for owning your own record label. As
we spoke of in the last section, when you are under contract to a record label, you are at best
an employee, at worst, their property. But when you own the label, you are the “King”
because all decisions flow through you. From the color of carpet in your offices to the t-shirt
design to what acts to sign and support to the details of money management and legal help,
you have control and keep control and that eliminates so many problems as we will discuss in
this section.
Book em Danno.
“If I could only get signed.” Isn’t that the woeful complaint we all have struggled with for so
long? When you are first starting out, you don’t feel like a professional musician, you feel like
a bunch of guys with instruments trying to look and sound right so maybe you can get some
notice. At the local level, the competition to get gigs and get some attention is intense. But
that competition only intensifies when it comes to getting the attention of the major record
labels and catching that “lucrative record deal” that will surely make you a star and a rich one
at that.” This is where the record labels have the community of music artists at a
disadvantage. Because they know how “hungry” artists are, they can exploit them and cut
unfavorable deals that hurt the artists down the road.
But that landscape is changing. Now that Indie record labels are not only becoming more
common but also starting to dominate, you can take control of the entire “signing” problem.
You not only assure your own bookings but you can reinvent the rules of behavior for bands to
be signed to your label. And your rules will serve the creative process, the artist and the
integrity of the music itself in ways the corporate giants could never really do.
Come on Feel the Noise
While you initial reasons for starting your own record label may revolve around personal
reasons for creative control and to extend the creative process into the administrative and
distribution level, make no mistake, there is a very good chance that your label will not go
unnoticed. As you sign hot new acts, even if they are your friends and neighbors, you will be
at the center of the next great “scene” of musical creativity. We all know of the “Seattle
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Scene” and more recently the “Brooklyn Scene” or the “Omaha Scene” but somebody was
there when those musical hothouses began to generate some serious creative direction. Your
record label will be that somebody.
Then as your artists start to get the buzz and “make some noise” in the industry, larger record
labels, agents and promoters will come to you, the controlling label for those acts and you will
be the one in the drivers seat making some key decisions on the direction your artists and
your label will take. There is a word for that kind of power, that kind of recognition and that
kind of sway you hold in how things really get done. And that word is ----- clout.
Scratch My Back and I’ll Scratch Yours.
As you developed as an artist or a player in the local music scene, you developed a lot of
relationships. In the clubs, record stores, radio stations and bars where musicians gather to
swap stories and discuss what is going on in the local scene, friendships and creative
partnerships are formed and you have your share of them. It’s a natural, organic thing and in
that setting, you learn whom you can trust and whom you cannot. And you learn who can get
things done for you and who will drop the ball on important arrangements for your next gig,
practice or recording.
When you put the first pieces in place for your new record label, that network of trusted peers,
fellow artists and trusted music industry professionals becomes the pool that you draw on to
build your business network to run your label. You know who will follow through when you
need to say to someone “Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”. And those professionals
have come to know that you can be counted on to follow through, get the job done, and get
their backs scratched.
By using this network of trusted allies in your network of music professionals, you are way
ahead of the game on building a record label that has quality people to contribute to the effort.
That trust will build a strong label and one that will succeed because you know whom you are
dealing with. Rather than dealing with distant strangers who may not have your best interests
at hearts. You are dealing with “your people”. This network goes a long way to reduce the
anxiety of starting your record label and it goes a long way to assure that your new record
label will be a big success.
It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To.
Maybe you have had the experience or heard about it when an artist invests his life work in
creative compositions, artistic development and his inventory and sweat equity to make a
project go well working with a major record label. And so often we hear of the project using up
so much resource, maybe getting all the way to press and then the label pulls the plug. They
might just cancel the project and all that work goes nowhere. But then at least the artist can
go elsewhere. Worse is when they decide to “put on the shelf” the tour or the release and
your creative heart and soul goes into limbo, maybe never to be released but locked up in
legal no man’s land.
Well those worries are behind you when you start and run your own record label. When you
make the investment both in terms of funds and time but in your hard work and creative
talents to bring a project from the idea stage to a fully developed product, no record industry
accountant is going to pull the plug and bring the party to a halt. It’s your party and you will
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see to it that it turns out the way YOU want it to. And you can make sure your artists have that
same sense of trust that if they invest themselves in your record label, their creative “children”
will be well taken care of and not neglected.
Work, Work, Work, Work, Work!
For a creative person, such as yourself, there is no greater form of torture than idea of
“working” in a cubicle somewhere sweating out eight hours so you can pay the electric bill.
The “rat race” as they call it is that soulless world of business where you just punch a clock
and do some task for a boss rather than pursuing your dream. By starting your own record
label, you tell that “rat race” to dry up and blow away and now you are back to the world you
love, the music industry but now you are redefining “work” as building a record label that truly
succeeds at nurturing music, musicians and artists. In many ways “work” stops being “work”
and becomes “play” and when that happens, you never tire of it and are always amazed that
not only are you making money at it, you are making lots of it.
The Root of All Evil
From a business prospective, a solid business focuses on its customers first, its market
second and its product third. Too often big business focus on the needs of the business first
and that’s when things start to go wrong. When building a music entity like a record label, we
must never look away from the fact that the music industry is about music first. When you do
that, the money will be there and plenty of it as we all have witnessed.
Because you are in control of your record label, it makes good business sense to not “think
like a business”. You can focus on the artists, the music itself and the quality of product you
and your label and your community of musicians are providing to that all important population,
your audience and fans.
My Way or the Highway.
When you first start out in building your record label, there is a bit of a sense of intimidation or
uneasiness about whether you will be able to handle all the decisions and little business
issues that come up with a new business. But there are lots of others who have done it before
who can help and a mountain of information both in the form of courses, books, e-books and
web pages to help you get your “legs” about handling your own business.
So have courage because while you may not love the process of setting up your accounting,
dealing with contracts and lawyers and finding someone to clean the bathrooms, at least when
it is all is said and done, you are the one who made all those decisions and you know they
were done right. And if there are mistakes or inefficient relationships, you don’t have to just
put up with them. You can change who works for you and get a crew that goes the line the
way you want. You can let them know that when working for your record label, it’s your way or
the highway.
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Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee
They say that small business is the backbone of the economy. We hear more about the big
businesses but yes, when you drive around, there are so many small businesses and there is
a good reason for that. A small business is more flexible, it is usually closer to the founder’s
vision and it can adapt to the change of the market faster than a huge corporate entity. That
is an advantage you will enjoy when you start your record label. You will be able to change
things, change business direction or even do changes to how the business is organized
financially or what they call the “infrastructure”. If you want to bring in a new “vice president”,
you can do that or if you want to streamline the label, you have a lot of flexibility to quickly
adapt, try new things, keep what is good and dump what doesn’t work to make your label a
powerful force in the music business.
Doomed as Doomed Can Be.
We talked earlier about the frustrations of working on a project and seeing it shelved by a big
corporate record label. Just as frustrating is to see the merchandising and distribution of your
product mishandled and so your release does not reach the level of success you know it
deserves. The world of distribution and promotion is a strange one to most of us. Like the
details of starting a record label, the good news is there is ample literature and courses to help
you learn the ropes.
We have all seen how a good solid record, maybe a great recording can flounder if the record
label doesn’t handle the distribution and marketing correctly. It takes some finesse to
coordinate the release with your tour, with interviews or other events designed to put a
spotlight on your record. If you have seen the process happen a few times or several times
and you know what works and what doesn’t, starting your own record label can give you the
opportunity to succeed where others fail in this important but confusing part of the music
And while we do not often think of distribution and promotion as part of the creative process, in
many ways it is because it is a direct way of influencing how many of your audience will enjoy
your work, learn of more of it and buy it sustaining you and your band financially. In the same
way, by making sure the artists you sign in your record label are handled well in this stage of
their release, you in a small way become part of the creative work they are doing and that can
be very gratifying, not to mention financially rewarding. Then you know the hard work you and
your artists put in will get a good shot at success and not be doomed by a poorly designed
distribution and marketing plan.
Sweating the Details
When you “work for” a record label, like most of us do at one point or another, there is a value
to the fact that they handle all the “details”, in theory, leaving the artists to the pure art of
creativity. So we often are glad to sign over that area and just wait to hear how it all turned
out. But often we wonder, is the record label handling the development of the project well?
You just don’t get in on the nitty gritty about where your project is in its stage of development
and what is the next step in the schedule. When you start your own record label, the very
thing you might think you will hate, the responsibility for every detail of running the label and
promoting your artists is actually very liberating.
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When you are the one who “sweats the details”, you have “ownership” and the result is your
projects are not going to get bogged down in the mire of some corporate flunky who isn’t
seeing things through for you. No longer are you “in the dark” about what is going on with
your projects. That sense of being lost in the process or wishing you knew what the scoop is
on your project or projects vanishes for you and your artists and the outcome is your projects
move more quickly, are more successful more quickly and the everybody wins, particularly
your bands and audience.
I’m Rich Enough, Thank You Very Much
Every business entity, whether it be Apple Records or your garage band, has a mission
statement. That is, every business or community project has a goal and it builds its objectives
and what gets priority and work on that goal. When you start your record label, you can make
an agreement with those in the business with you what your goals are and maintain those
goals as you move foreword.
A big publicly owned record label will almost always have the same goal. They have to make
money. They are owned by stockholders and investors who put their funds into the business
for that purposes. Of course, all of us want success and to make money at what we do
because in that way we can focus on our art and not on paying the bills. But when you own
the record label, you can decide if making money is starting to become more important than
the original core values of the label and you can decide when enough money is enough. At
some point, you may not wish to grow the label to a larger size, even if it means more money
for the label. So for you because the new size will reduce your market flexibility, create too
much overhead so you have to focus too much on details and less on the creative side of the
business or because of tax reasons. Because it’s your business, the decision is yours when
to set a limit to how much you run the business versus how much the business runs you.
Watch My Back.
I often wonder how big business decide who they will give their big contracts to for support of
their business. I know when I have interacted with the big music industry corporations, I had
plenty of doubts about whether everybody I met and did business there was trustworthy. One
of the great business reasons for starting and running your own record label is you can make
sure that whoever you are in a business relationship with, whether it is bands you sign, legal
or accounting help you get, promoters to do deals with or the guy who changes the toilet
paper, are trustworthy.
You can bring into the business trust relationships from your days before you were a
“corporate entity” and you can use people you know are dependable based upon
recommendations of friends, family and other music industry people. In that way, the network
of support help will watch your back because they know by protecting their reputation, that is
watching their back too.
Do I Know You?
In the same way that you can bring into your new record label, the relationships of trust you
already feel comfortable with, once you are in business, you can build a history of service and
trust with your suppliers and vendors. You know, at least in theory, that all businesses do this
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and perhaps your old record label did it too. But when it’s your business, those are your
business contacts and they are accountable to you so that sense of ownership makes a world
of difference between feeling like you are just a cog in the machine or if you are making an
exciting new record label to do things the right way, your way.
Buy ME Out? I Don’t Think So!
A big problem that has interrupted the lives
of millions of workers in every industry is
when the company they put their trust and
lives in suddenly goes out of business or
gets bought by someone they don’t know,
that doesn’t know them and they fact the
fear of being eliminated from that new
company. If you are working with a record
label, a medium sized one or even a big
one and they get bought out, you have no
idea if the new label will share the same
commitment to your work, the same vision
for your creativity and the same ability to
carry through what has been started. At
the very least a buy out is going to cause a
big turn over in staff so many if not all of the people you can to know and rely on may no
longer be your contacts with that label.
One of the huge advantages of being a small businessperson and owning your own record
label is nobody is going to buy you out. There will be no “hostile take over” of your record
label as long as you retain exclusive ownership of the business. That is a huge plus for
owning your own record label, that sense of vulnerability from being in a business world that
can be cutthroat is virtually eliminated so you and your bands can work in peace and security
of knowing there will be no buyouts to derail the important work you are doing.
See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me.
The struggle to get noticed starts when you first pull your band together and begin making the
rounds for gigs. The desire to be noticed seems to be never ending even when you get to that
threshold where you say to each other in your band “if we could only get signed by a record
label, then we would get seen and noticed.” It seems you are constantly, begging, pleading or
“sucking up” to someone to try to get attention.
But when you finally do get signed by a major record label, the constant quest for attention just
never seems to end. Even in the label, you compete with so many other bands for funds, for
promotion or just to get a meeting so you can move forward with your career within the label’s
corporate structure.
But with your own record label, you are the owner and top boss of the company so the search
for recognition isn’t so difficult. But beyond that, your bands will get the attention they deserve
so their careers will move much faster and they will be more successful which makes you
A new phenomenon in our modern culture is the fact that the small Indie record labels are
getting a lot of attention these days. So by organizing your friends and other bands in your
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area who are struggling for that attention into a label, you can move in an organized way
toward success, which will draw the attention of the industry and media. Success spawns
success and media attention spawns media attention and creating a record label that
champions the local scene is an outstanding way to get that cycle into motion.
I Love It When a Plan Comes Together
There is nothing like being in the presence of like-minded people. When you are with your
band, you know they all have the same values, the same approach to music and your career.
But it is more than that. They understand your musical vision as well and speak the same
language as you. Starting a record label just takes that sense of shared community and
makes it into a business that can promote those shared goals and protect the community you
In a corporate record label, by the nature of the business being a big incorporated entity, you
have no idea of everybody or anybody shares the same vision for the future, the same value
and priority on the music and where the music industry is going or the same way of doing
business that is dependable and understandable.
When the record label is your own, You know that everybody in your organization understands
your mission, your goals, your sound and that they totally “get it” about what you and your
label are here to do. You know that everybody is on board with the business plan because
they probably helped you conceive of it in the first place and that kind of teamwork more times
than not makes that plan come together.
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101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
Eleven Reasons Why Starting Your Own Record Label
Gets You The Best Artists.
I am the Walrus, I am the Egg man
When you first decide to set up your own label, usually the thing that gets your mind going
along that path is to set up a vehicle for the production of your own music and to eliminate the
hassles you are so tired of getting from the big corporate record labels. And that alone is a
valid reason to set up a record label.
But it’s a good thing to also keep tucked away in the back of your mind that the same
resources, tools, systems and mechanisms you put in place to benefit your music career can
be a great benefit to the music careers of your friends and other musicians in your area. You
don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself but there is no harm in dreaming of the day when
your label represents the best and the brightest of area musicians and the same benefits you
want for yourself in your label helps them along too.
Because they know you, your integrity and your drive to success, when they know you are
setting up a label, those past relationships will bring them to you and the growth from a one
band label to one representing others and representing them very well will be a natural one.
Success Breeds Success
As we have alluded to earlier, once you become an “entity”, that is a record label as opposed
to an individual or a band, that step alone can begin to draw attention to your band and your
artistic statement. But beyond that, as you add bands to your label, a label that represents
many artists as a rule will have an easier time getting distribution deals and smoothing out
other details of marketing and distribution that hinder you if working alone or as a single band
This is true oftentimes even when your recordings are not selling that well. By owning your
own record label, you provide an institution for other bands who need this kind of industry
clout. They can utilize your label to get their recordings into distribution and “out there” where
they can get some notice, some airplay and develop a fan following.
Show me the Money
Any new business requires some start up costs to get moving and that is certainly true of your
record label. So one big motivation of bringing in additional artists to your label is that the
income from their work can help sustain and fund the early set up costs and provide a stable
long term budget for the sustenance of your label.
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But another way to look at the early funding problem has a very positive spin on it and may be
a significant incentive for starting your label and getting it moving toward a multi-artist status is
just as you need other bands and performers to join you, they need the shelter of the label to
begin moving their careers forward as well. The very fact that you have the courage, the
backing, the brains and the gumption to get out there and start a label will draw other artists
who are attracted to using a local label but do not have the same resources to jump start one
like you are doing. This community can be a tremendous source of support both artistically
and financially, as your new label gets underway.
The Hot Market
As we have spoken of before, the Indie label scene is the hot market for the music industry
right now. The music industry is undergoing a tremendous change as the lines of distribution
and the allegiances of the genuine talent is moving away from the large major record labels,
away from radio airplay as a method of getting known and away from traditional channels of
distribution for their products.
As a member of this modern world, you understand it better than the old “dinosaur” record
labels and you can cash in on this surge of interest in new record label formats. By striking
now in putting yourself into the market as a new Indie presence, the innovative bands will
come to you because you are forward thinking and up to date. Then just watch out as more
and more artists who are riding the crest of what is creative and new come to you. As your
reputation grows, so will your artist base that you are handling.
Water that Garden, Help it Grow
The one thing we know about creative people, they require lots of understanding and room to
express themselves and nurture their talent. That is one reason the music industry is so
unique. However, when those same creative spirits find themselves being put under the
regimen of a corporate record label, communication problems so easily occur and problems
and hassles that can squelch the continued growth of the artist.
But since you have a small record label, you can afford to give your artists the nurture and
understanding that you have because you grew out of that world and to a large extent are still
very much part of it. Your label will not be the one who will dump them after a few weeks of
recording if the project is floundering and needs some TLC to find its vision and its voice. And
because you can afford to provide the nurturing environment that creative people need and
desire, the very finest of the newest artists will come to your record label to record and
become part of your label family because they know they can achieve their artistic goals with
you and everybody wins if that occurs.
A Brave New World
Today the major record labels are dispatching armies of “scouts” into the clubs, festivals and
bars of the major cities to try to find “the next big thing”. You have to admire their spunk and
they have the money but they are desperate to find the next trend and capture it before one of
their competition does.
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It is a brave new world in the music industry. And the
lay of the land favors you, the local Indie record label
because you don’t have to send out scouts, you ARE
the scout. You have the connections, the network and
the street knowledge the big business record
companies wish they had. And you can help the new
artists navigate this brave new world better than the
corporate giants can too so they will be glad to affiliate
with you rather than some mega corporation that is
owned by somebody who is owned by somebody who
is owned by somebody who is owned by Disney.
We Are Family
You offer something to artists that the big record labels cannot offer. You offer relationship. A
big corporation does business in a cold distant way. They have to. Its just he nature of big
business. But you don’t have to be distant from your artists and in fact, before they were
artists on your label, they were probably your friends.
Because you are an artist yourself, you will go to bat for your artists. They are more than your
“product”, they are your family and you are investing in them for the long haul. That kind of
commitment, devotion and caring for the individual needs can only be done in a small record
label like yourself and its just want artists are looking for. Your label will draw new acts from
far and wide as they hear of your approach and the success of the acts you support.
Jurassic Park wasn’t just a movie about Dinosaurs.
The more you read about record company wars with file sharing services, about the woes of
internet distribution of songs and the other difficulties big record labels are having with the new
world of the twenty first century music industry, the more you see those old structures as
dinosaurs struggling to stay competitive in a market they are to cumbersome to deal in and in
a world to fast paced for them to keep tempo with.
If you see those big corporations as lumbering dinosaurs, so do the artists out there making
the music scene come alive in the clubs and festivals in town. And they do not want to put
their futures into the hands of an entity that doesn’t understand them, their music or the way
the industry works in this century. You will be that modern record label they will want to be
part of because you understand the music world of today and are small and flexible enough to
react to it and strike gold for them and for yourself.
The Alternative Nation
The transition and growth an artist goes through from local performer to a wider exposure in
clubs and area events and then perhaps on to recording, becoming better known and touring
should be a natural growth, an evolution that is always comfortable to the artist as he
outgrows his old skin and grows into the new skin.
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If that transition involves a jarring change of culture to suddenly have to learn the language
and topology of the world of big business, that can be a shock and is not the natural growth
that gives the artists the space to grow into their new roles. They need an alternative to
jumping from the local to national stage and your record label is that alternative.
The Creative Mind
The creative personality does best when it is in the presence of others who have been through
the creative process before and understand what it takes to produce a truly innovative record.
If they go to a record label and all they are hearing is how expensive studio time is and can’t
they sound more like whoever the top name in the venue is, that is not going to be a breeding
ground for great creative work.
That is why the small local record label like you want to start is so attractive to new artists or
artists who are fed up with being treated like a commodity and not an artist. And you have the
resources and the freedom to give them what they need knowing they will produce a superior
product which will benefit them and your label as well.
A Band of Brothers
There is nothing more attractive to an artist and a band than knowing that they are coming to a
record label that can deliver to them a ready made fan base. Because your record label grow
out of the very genre and creative community where the bands you want to book are thriving ,
you will have a natural base of fans and audiences who want to know more about their favorite
acts and how they can attend their shows and buy their recordings.
You will realize a two-fold benefit from this natural connection to the community that you bring
with you into your new record label venture. First, that audience will provide a natural
marketing community that you can market to which will build your fame and establish a base
of income to continue building your dream. Your fans know you and expect only the best and
newest sounds from whatever you are into. That fan base will grow as you hire other acts just
as skilled as you are. A devoted and spreading fan base means a devoted stable of talent
and a steady revenue stream.
There is the second benefit. Because the fans will know you and that is a highly tempting
draw for any band wanting to get well known in this market. New artists and acts will gravitate
to you so they can participate in the community that you serve. There will be a momentum.
As more acts sign with you, more fans will be loyal to you as customers. Then as more fans
come to you to get their “fix” of new music, more acts will sign up to join the party. Want a
good reason to start your own record label? You sure don t want to miss out on the fun and
excitement being at the crest of the wave of new music can bring you when you are the
catalyst to bring artists, music and audience together.
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101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
Five Reasons Why Starting Your Own Record Label
Gives You “Clout” In The Music Industry.
A Rose by any Other Name
It’s a funny thing about establishing a corporate identity like you will do when you launch your
record label. You will come up with some catchy name for your label like you did when you
started your band. It will be a name that is cute, expresses your personality and perhaps your
sense of humor but also expresses the genre of music you represent and something of the
personality of your new label.
When you gave your band a name, that new entity took on a life of its own and established
your act in the marketplace separate from who you are. So too, giving your record label a
separate name will give you a “brand name” which brings with it a professional look and feel.
You can build on that with a logo and other niceties that give your label its own personality and
life. That entity will lead the charge into the music industry to gain you the respect and clout
you want to do business as a record label.
Catching the Buzz
You may not have thought of the affect your work will have at an industry level because your
focus in starting your record label was to make it easy to get your CD into distribution. But as
you are doing what is best for your band and your local music industry, the big boys at the
corporate level are paying attention. Just as they know what new movement is going on in
your local club scene, they know about this new upstart record label and when you put out
your new CD and then begin to bring on board other acts in the area, you bet they are going to
sit up and take notice and begin to treat you as a force to be reckoned with.
R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Find Out What it Means to Me.
You know the undertaking of starting your own record label is going to take some effort. But
the reasons to go for it are strong and while there will be work, it will be a labor of love as you
birth something truly significant for you and your fellow musicians. There will be another pay
off though.
As your record label begins to gain momentum and new bands come on board, you are doing
more diverse types of business through it such as festival promotion and support and cross
label promotions. You will start to be regarded as part of the recording industry infrastructure
and other record executives and agents will give you respect and the kind of clout that comes
with it. You will enjoy the newfound status of “music industry mover and shaker” and that
respect will translate into more signings, more projects and more profits for your rapidly
growing record label.
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It’s all About Me!
Is it wrong to want greatness and for people to admire you and recognize your skills, your
talent and your achievement? Not at all. Let’s face it, so much of what makes the Music
Industry great is that lust for applause. Ego is a powerful force in performers and as long as
ego and ambition are mixed with a love of the music and respect for your audience, then you
will keep your balance.
So let’s put it out in the open since we are talking between friends here. One of the great
reasons to have your own record label is that all of the glory, the excitement and the “buzz”
will be about you. As your label begins to gain in influence, add artists and get that industry
clout that we want, you will see a different look on people’s faces when you walk into a room.
It will be like that commercial where a friend turns to his associate and whispers (your name
here) says, and everyone stops and listens to catch the advice of a successful influential
Yes, when you walk into the meeting, that look won’t be one of “what are you doing here” like
you get when you go see a record label now. It will be one of, (can we say the word?)
RESPECT. And when people talk about music industry insiders or music industry executives,
they will be talking about you. Now that is not too shabby.
All Roads Go Through ME!
Let’s not kid ourselves. Starting a record label is work and you will get your fingers into every
aspect of production, promotion, distribution and all sides of what it takes to run a business.
For some, that is a good reason to run and hide. But for you, it isn’t a problem, its all about
opportunity. Why opportunity? Well because now you will control every decision that will be
made on behalf of your music, your band and your recordings. In fact, once you get moving,
you will have significant control over those details for several, maybe many bands if that is the
path you choose to take.
That uneasy feeling you get in your stomach that maybe advertising or promotion funds are
being wasted, that you can’t tell if royalties are being accounted for correctly or even whether
the profits are being managed wisely and honestly all go away when its you at the controls,
making every decision and signing every contract and expense check. Now the vendors, the
bands, the agents, the promoters and the support staff all come to you. All roads to what
happens to your artists and your recordings have to get your approval and the only word that
properly describes that kind of power is the one we like. That word is CLOUT.
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101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
Fourteen Reasons Why Starting Your Own Record
Label Is Good Business
I’ll Call the Shots Now!
One of the reasons many people give for starting their own business or going into business for
themselves is the idea of “being your own boss”. Well when you look at it like that, starting
your own record label is starting a small business of your own. And you will go through the
same steps of writing a business plan, creating a name for your “business”, getting funding, all
of that.
We in the music industry are often way ahead of the world on wanting to retain our freedom
and not be locked down to a “9 to 5” job or a boss. But in a lot of ways, we do become
“employees” of our manager or our record label because they get to create our schedules and
hold us to them and we have little control over whether they are making right decisions for our
careers. So becoming your own boss makes a lot of good business sense. It gets things
back to a single point of accountability and decision making.
You have heard the joke that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. Well, a lot of
business are run by committees or group management teams and the problem is that nobody
on top has a vision for where things should go and the drive to make that dream come true.
When you are the boss, the one central figure that makes the decisions and is responsible for
every detail, you can assure that the vision for the label, the bands you represent or the
project at hand stays dead center to the effort and there is no compromise to what is really
important and that is the music and the experience you are creating for your fans.
The Rat Race? I Don’t Think So!
A lot of us have to work at a regular job until our music career gets going. Whether you have
had this kind of job or just seen how office workers live on TV, it can be pretty humiliating.
The idea of having to clock in and clock out at an exact time each day, that your boss gets to
tell you how long you get to go to the bathroom or have a break and those god awful cubicles.
How do people work in those things?
Well you can just tell that world of office drudgery good-bye and good riddance when you start
your own record label and you are the one setting up how your work place will function. Even
if you have some office workers such as a secretary or some folks to keep the books or the
computers, you have the chance to set the pace for how your business will run and how your
people will be treated. And if you want a creative place, a place where artists want to be and
a place where great music is the norm, time clocks, dress codes, cubicles and all of that “rat
race” junk will never screw up your business as long as you call the shots.
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It’s Party Time!
There are a lot of really great things about being the boss. You get the respect of being on
top, what you says goes and you get the satisfaction that a “sense of ownership” in your
record label can provide. But one of the fun privileges that come with ownership is that you
decide when you will take a vacation, not some arbitrary boss in the corner cubicle. And that
goes for breaks or when you decide to come in to work each day. No more time clocks or
worrying about whether you are “on the job” for your 40 hours.
The truth is, when you own the company, you live and breathe making it work so you are, in a
sense, always on the job. But if you are working along and in the middle of a Thursday
afternoon, you decide its “party time”, well corporate policy just changed and sure enough, its
“party time” until you decide its time to buckle down and work again.
Signing on the Bottom Line
Have you ever gotten that sinking feeling when you sat down with a big stack of
incomprehensible contracts from your record label and you got the distinct impression you
were being had? Its probably not true that all of the big record labels look out for themselves
at the expense of the artist but there are plenty of horror stories of when that did happen.
Even if you have your lawyer review them, when you sign on the bottom line, you always have
that nasty suspicion that you just signed your life away and something in that contract is going
to come back to haunt you.
Well it won’t be that way when you own the record label. You can make sure that all of the
contracts are fair and make sense and can be understood by the people who rise or fall from
them, the artists you represent. And by dealing straight with your artists during contract
negotiation, you will get a reputation in the industry as someone the artists can trust and that
will bring you the bets acts. More importantly, when you pick up a pen to sign those contracts
whether they are for record deals, tour agreements or the contract with the lawn service, you
will know exactly what is in there and that there are no hidden “surprises” in those contracts to
deal with later. That sense of relief and control may alone be sufficient reason to start your
own record label.
My Priorities are THE Priorities
It may seem intimidating at first that when you launch your record label, you are actually
starting a small business and are becoming a “business man” or “business woman”. But
shake it off and don’t let it go to your head or get you nervous. Lots of solid businesses have
been started by people who don’t have an MBA from Harvard and they do very well. You
already are showing the kind of common sense it takes to run a business because you are
considering starting your own label rather than continuing to put up with the frustrations and
problems of your current situation. In lots of ways it just takes good “business sense” to start
your own label and in plain English, that just means having good “common sense”.
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Part of your good business sense is that you don’t waste money and when you do spend
money, you get what you paid for. But when you work for a record label, they are spending
YOUR money because part of their “take” from your profits goes toward promotions, expenses
and their overhead. Well from now on, once your record label is calling the shots, you control
the money. No more wasted money on things that are not important and no more someone
telling you “no” for something you feel is important. And because of that, your record label,
although small will be run more efficiently and more profitably than the big conglomerates
which makes you rich, your artists prosperous and everyone involved very happy.
Opinions Count – Especially Mine!
There are some places, some venues or clubs and some cities that are just perfect for your
music. You know what they are if you have been in the business a while. It is so infuriating
when your label puts together your tour and half of the dates just don’t make sense. They
book you into a bar when you do better in nightclubs. They book you to a town where you
know your genre is not big. They book you to backup a band that is in no way similar to yours.
They book you to a festival that you don’t approve of. But you have to play along because
they make the rules and they call the shots.
Well, one of the exciting new things you will do as the owner and operator of the record label
is that you will have a vital decision making role in booking your band or the artists that work
with you so you can make sure you are booking dates that are going to be successful and
where your acts will flourish. That’s because you have been to the shows for every artist you
represent and you speak their same language and understand their genre and their spin on
that genre. The big guys either cannot or do not take the time to get to know their acts like
you can so that gives you a huge amount of control and leverage because your artists know
they you not only understand them but you understand the marketplace so when you book
them for shows or festivals or tours, those bookings with be right. Your “opinion” counts a lot
not just because you are the boss but more importantly, because you know what you are
talking about.
"I Don’t Like Your Face" is Good Enough!
One of the most uncomfortable events we all face when we begin to work with a record label
or one of the big corporate agencies in the music business is when we find ourselves forced to
deal with someone we don’t trust, don’t like or have reason to believe is not working in our
best interest. The culture of a band or the support crew of a performing artists is always
intensely supportive. An artist has to feel a bond, a sense of family about who they are
working through the creative process with. If they do not, then the craft of creating music is
So when you have to deal with a record label rep or agent that is not the kind of person you
can trust, the process of pressing and distributing your CD is damaged. This is another of the
great reasons to create your own record label is you have one hundred percent control over
who works for you and who works with your artists. You can bring in trusted friends from your
performing days and use them for your record label reps. You know them, like them and know
they have your vision for what this label of yours can become. And when you fire that smarmy
rep that you never liked in the first place, you can say with no guilt at all. “This record label is
mine, if I don’t want to work with you because I don’t like your face, well, that is good enough.”
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The Real America
There is a big word for what you are when you strike out on your own and start your own
business in your own record label. That word is “entrepreneur” and that is what everybody is
who has the guts and the vision to start something new, something theirs and something that
could be truly great. When you think about it, every big business started out as someone’s
dream, someone’s small business somewhere in this country. That is what is so great in what
we are as a people. When we see something wrong, we don’t just sit around and whine about
it, we roll up our sleeves and fix it. And if we see a system that is wrong or a company or an
industry, we might just decide to just do it ourselves.
You, by starting your own business are following in the great footsteps of all great
businessmen and women in our country. So be proud, stick your chest out and yes, even
though its corny, go ahead and feel patriotic and good about yourself because you are getting
out there and doing what a lot of people are afraid to do and because you have the guts to try,
the odds are you are going to be a big success with your new record label.
You’re fired?
When Donald Trump says, “You’re fired” on TV, it’s pretty amusing but in fact, it’s a pretty
upsetting thing to happen in real life. Whether you are working in a non-music job, in a
company related to the music industry or in a band, there is always some equivalent to being
fired. Even just being dropped by one of the big labels is the same as being fired and don’t
you get fed up with people dropping you or not understanding what you want to do and so you
end up “getting fired”?
Well when you get your record label up and running, the days of anyone firing you is over.
You are the boss and the decision maker and if anything, you will do the firing. This isn’t just
satisfying from an ego point of view. This means that you finally get to set the standards for
success, not live up to some corporate entity standards that are more about their board of
directors and stockholders than they are about your band. And when you set the standards,
they will be about music, about the quality of your recordings, about the artists and about what
you know deep inside is really important. And nobody, but nobody, gets to fire that.
The Time Clock Works for Me!
You know, the thing that someone on the outside of the music business would think is the
most crazy and out of control is often times the thing we love the most is the hours. We are
proud that we don’t punch a time clock. Because our “work” is often produced late at night
and into the morning hours, we work when the event occurs rather than around certain hours.
Well, even though your record label will be a bridge between the “normal business world” and
the sometimes late night world of musicians and concerts, it seems we always drift to the
musician inside us and relate to our roots.
How you organize the people that work for you can reflect your feelings about when work gets
done. You know you are going to get the best from people because a small record label is a
mission, a quest, a shared vision. So whether you are working at a club, in the studio, in your
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101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
“office” or at home in your bathtub, the time clock runs when the muse is striking you, not the
other way around.
Let’s Take a Meeting
We don’t deal with button down business people who have our people call their people. The
residents of the world of music are musicians, club owners, agents and as we discussed
above, people who march to the beat of a different drummer, maybe several different
drummers. And that is what we love about the music business. So if we need to “take a
meeting” with a band, the time they are ready to talk might be 4. a.m. at CBGBs rather than 9
a.m. in the boardroom of some stuffy office.
And because your record label is small, light on its feet and flexible, you can accommodate
those people when they are ready to make a deal, not when the business world is ready for
that deal. By the time Mr. Big Label Business Man gets around to that fast breaking artist at
10 a.m. the next day, you have already signed him because you were there when he was
ready to negotiate. That’s the fun, the excitement and the fast-paced world of an Indie record
label and the high-energy life of it is what makes it so tempting to start your own record label.
Slump? Schmump!!
Have you heard the news that the record industry is in a slump these days? Sure, we all
have. It’s all the water cooler talk about why they are like that. Whether it is the consolidation
of the industry, the rise of internet distribution and their inability to deal with it or the fact that
the marketplace has changed and the big behemoth record labels just can’t maneuver a music
market that is streetwise and quickly changing.
But that is the great thing about your new record label. Even if the record industry at large is
“in a slump”, that doesn’t have to affect you. Because you are lean and mean and close to the
action, you can make your moves, cut your losses and jump on a new trend as quickly as it
hits the streets so your record label will always be in the growth mode. Sure beats the heck
out of sitting around moaning that you can’t cope with change like the big labels do. Instead,
you change as the industry does which is not only very fun and exciting, it’s plenty profitable
for your little record label.
Building Your Empire
As you consider whether you are ready to start your own record label, it’s probably too early
for you to use the word “empire” just yet. But let’s not forget to be dreamers and aim for the
stars. All world changing ideas start with an dream, just like yours. At first, you may start your
label just to give yourself a vehicle to publish and distribute your music. Then it might grow to
include your friends and local bands. But don’t be afraid to dream big and if big success
comes your way, make sure you have given it plenty of room to move on in.
Because your record label’s “statement of purpose” is whatever YOU want it to be, you can be
open to new ventures, new opportunities and other lines of related business. As you become
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101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
an “institution” and get established as a business the profit making related lines will open up to
you like the doors of a magic kingdom. And why not explore the opportunities.
Sure, you want to produce records, get into distribution and promotion activities. But before
long, you might find yourself cashing it big on doing videos, managing music publishing,
publishing e-books, magazines, newsletters, the sky’s the limit. And each one of them brings
you more success, more fame, more money and more fun. So don’t forget to let yourself feel
that sense of adventure, excitement and potential of big big things happening to you once you
get your own record label up and running.
Stand and Deliver
There is something about doing business under the umbrella of an established business that
gives you credibility and expands your abilities to make deals that are important to your new
record label. But even when you first start out when all there is to your business is you, your
business name, a bank account and a dream, you immediately realize greater leverage with
vendors, artists and suppliers that you would not have had working as an individual.
As a business entity, you can enter into contracts with other businesses, lease equipment
such as computers or studio technology. You can even establish a commercial bank account,
accept credit cards once you get the right kind of payment gateways in place and do business
on a much more professional level than you could before.
There is certain self-esteem with being able to represent yourself as a business leader and
almost immediately, as the head of your label and the owner of a small business, door will
open for you to mix in a different circle of people than you could ever be with before. This will
accelerate your learning curve and take a lot of obstacles out of your way to getting your band
and the bands you wish to promote moving more quickly towards success. And that is the
reason you wanted your own record label in the first place, isn’t it?
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101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
Six Reasons by Staring Your Own Record Label Will
Make You More Money
That One Big Break
When you daydream about what your new record label will be like and what you want it to
achieve, what are the dreams you have for it? It’s good to encourage that kind of optimistic
thinking because everything good starts with a dream. Maybe it’s just the idea of being able to
extend your creativity on into the production and distribution side of the business as we have
talked about earlier. Maybe it’s the excitement of doing something new, taking on new
challenges or maybe it’s the sense of fulfillment of doing something good for your career, your
band and your friends in good local bands that need promotion.
It will be the day in day out fun of branching out that will make owning your own record label
exciting. But don’t overlook that at any time, you might get a hold of the next big thing. That’s
right, somebody was handling Buddy Holly before he became a legend and at one time The
Beatles were just one of many bands struggling for recognition. It will be a exciting as you go
to work each day to run your new record label that at any moment, you might get a big chunk
of the next big thing, that million dollar breakthrough artist or CD, festival or tour that will
change the course of music history and make the artists and their record label very very
wealthy. It’s good to dream because, especially in the music business, dreams come true all
the time.
You Deserve This
Every now and then, it is necessary to go and spend time with your biggest fan and that is
you. So when you look in that mirror at that good-looking guy or knock out lady looking back,
you know that you deserve to reach out for something exciting and new. Perhaps you have
been thinking about starting that new record label for quite some time. But now, as you think
about our 101 reasons, it might just feel right, now is the time to strike out, take the plunge,
dive into your new life and experience the joys, the challenges, the fun, the hard work and the
big rewards that will come from your new record label.
You deserve the chance at bigger and better things. You know you do because you have
worked hard and above all, as you watch how record labels are run and see the problems and
areas where mistakes are made so often, you often think, “I could do that.” And you can too
so now is the time to get out there and prove it. You were scared when you started your band,
first performed but you did it because your talent deserves to be noticed. So in the same way,
now the talent, the brains, the organizational and people skills you can use to build a great
record label deserve to be out there and used and on display for all to admire. And if wealth
comes your way as a result of the talents you will use when your record label takes off, you
deserve that wealth too. If anyone does, you do.
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The Money Trail
You always suspected that all the money you could be earning was not making it all the way
to you didn’t you? And even if the people at the record label are dealing honestly with you, the
overhead of the label takes its toll on your profits. So when you put your record label in place
so the money flows through you to your artists, you can account for every single penny both to
your self and to the artists you represent.
Further, as we have discussed, a small business is generally run more efficiently than a big
corporate behemoth. Whether they mean to set it up that way or not, big business have a lot
of “cracks” that money can fall through. From paying for that big corporate building with the
glass walls or throwing big parties and media events, the money just floods out of a big record
label. That won’t be the case for your record label because you are in charge and you can
assure that every penny is spent on something beneficial to the label and to your artists so
every dollar of profits comes to you and to those you represent. In that way, even if you don’t
generate more money than the big business labels, the money to do generate will be a lot for
you and most of it goes in your pocket, where it belongs.
Investing in the Future.
Probably one of the most satisfying things about owning your own record label is the fact, as
we have spoken of earlier, that the funds are totally managed by you. When you think of the
waste and the misdirected funds that happen every time you do a deal with a major label, all
of us react to that by thinking “if those funds were directed properly, our success would come
more quickly and more of the royalties would go to the people that deserve them, the artists”.
When an artist works hard for his or her music, the outcome is the art that goes between the
artist and the audience. But when so many people get in on the process and the funds that
come from the success of that music go to fund so many things you don’t see the need of, you
have that reaction that it seems wrong, those funds should either go to the artist or to advance
their career.
The difference between your small record label and the big corporate ones is because you are
local, small and have a dynamic relationship with your artists, you have that sense of family so
they know the money you get is part of the creative process and that you will protect their
interests. That trust of artist to record label is to be treasured and you will feel honored to be
part of it and fulfilled that you contributed to making the process better by being a good
steward of the funds that both go into making the recording or tour possible and that are a
result of the success of your work.
Your Fortune is at the Door.
There is one aspect of the coming and going of businesses that we don’t talk about openly but
is a very common occurrence that can bring big money your way. After you get your record
label up and running, you will see some success as bands sign with you that like your
approach, your concern for them and your ability to manage their careers You will land bands
that the major labels will want to get. It seems like a pipe dream but that is the way things are
going in the music industry today.
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What often happens to a small business when success comes its way is there is an
opportunity to sell the business for quite a profit. Now that seems like betrayal and you may
feel an ethical commitment not to do that. But remember the moral of never say never”?
There could be some real advantages to selling including
You could realize new investment capital for those next big steps you have wanted to make.
You could negotiate some continued control. It is very common for the owner to sell to a
larger holding company and continue on as the managing director so your artists and
employees continue under your tender loving care but with greater funding.
And probably the best benefit of them all – a huge windfall for you and a big salary as CEO
and operating manager of your new, not so small record label.
So never say never. Selling to a benevolent investor or larger firm has some real advantages.
You may face a similar crossroads if you are presented with the opportunity to go public and
sell shares of your label on the stock market. Look into it, get some sage advice and at the
proper time these financial maneuvers could make your record label bigger and better and
make you a very wealthy record label owner indeed.
Let Your Money do the Talking
There is a big word for what you
will realize once your record label
becomes established as a bona
fide business entity and that word
is “legitimacy”. Perhaps you had
this experience when you put
together your band, named it and
began to represent yourself as
that entity. So when people saw
you, they thought of you as the
individual they always knew and
loved but also as that band. It’s so common for the performer to become merged with his or
her corporate identity that it’s not uncommon for the performer to change their real name to
match the band name such as Alice Cooper or Prince.
In the same way, you will name your record label as you are putting it to together and for
some time, it will be your brainchild, a product of your imagination and fantasy. Then one day,
as though that project of yours suddenly grew legs and began to walk, your business will
spring to life and people will begin doing business with it directly, working through you as an
agent of the business. You become an extension of your label, not the other way around.
From that time forward, you can accept payments and negotiate legal and financial dealings in
the name of the label. This “legitimacy” is not a direct money making concept but once you
see it happen, your label will take off. And you will feel a deep sense of pride that the idea
that at one time was a pipe dream is now a real business, another corporate member of the
vast music industry and it is respected in that light.
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101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
Thirteen Reasons Why Starting Your Own Record
Label Is Good For YOU!
Its Easier Now than it Ever Has Been Before.
As we have seen, there are dozens of outstanding reasons to start a record label. From
creative control to legitimacy to unashamed desire to make money, the reasons just keep on
coming. But let’s not leave our subject before we discuss why starting your own record label
is good for you, your feelings about work, your self esteem and that career you put so much
into and care so much about.
The fact is, never before has it been so realistic that you can start your own record label. No
longer is the mechanics or the finances needed to get a record label up and running outside of
the reach of all of us. It seems that the idea of running a record label for so long brought up
an image of a huge business campus or towering office building run by the super rich and
financed by huge corporate giants like Disney or Microsoft. But we live in a day of the small
independent record label. When you begin to “test fly” the idea by friends and music industry
thinkers you know, you will be amazed how open they are to the idea and how much help
there is available. It isn’t just a pipe dream any more. Sure, maybe you don’t know every
detail of what to do first or how it will become a reality for you but those things will come.
There are abundant resources in courses, books and people who have gone down this trait
before you and are enthusiastic to help you succeed. So the only thing standing between you
and your dream is to get up and get out there and get the ball rolling.
So it’s just like the famous answer a mountain climber gave when he was asked why he
scaled the mighty peaks. His answer was “because it’s there”. So too a good reason to start
a record label now and not later may be best simply stated - because you can.
Release that Inner Genius
All of us have a deep drive that comes with us as humans to strive for the best in ourselves
and reach for the brass ring if our arms are long enough. When you start out in the music
industry, or in any job, just getting established is the task. But then as you get your “sea legs”,
the thrill of conquest subsides and is replaced with the pleasure of knowing the ropes and
being a veteran. But somewhere inside you is that ambitious youth who cries out “you can do
better, you can accomplish more, and you can be bigger than this.”
And you know it’s true. You know there are talents that are not fully tapped, intelligence to
spare to apply to a bigger goal and that “inner genius” who just needs a cause, an opportunity
and a project to be released. And once that genius is released, just think of the things it can
do. Your record label will be that vehicle to give you all the growth potential you will need to
really put your talents out on the road and “take it out and see what it will do.”
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Getting that “Insiders” View of the World.
When you read music industry magazines or fanzines, there is often a reference to “music
industry insiders”. When you hear that phrase, you imagine those movers and shakers who
are the ones who cause great tours or festivals to spring into being or the ones to birth a new
band or even a movement. You imagine they have maps to the labyrinth that is the music
industry and know where the alligators are and what magic spells open the castle doors.
While that is a whimsical way of viewing the music industry, it is true that it takes some
experience and exposure to know how to get things done as a “music industry insider.” You
have already started gaining some of that knowledge up until now but when you go to meet
with your future record label or your agent does, it’s an uncomfortable feeling to sense that
you are more a product than a partner to those who really make all the decisions.
So “for you”, getting your record label up and gaining the credibility and legitimacy that we
talked about earlier is going to gain you access to the kinds of people who will show you the
paths and magic words you need. That not only is terrific for you as a musician, its good for
you because you can walk tall among music industry insiders, not as a product but as a fully
recognized partner in the process of getting new music out to a hungry public. When you are
the decision maker and you are the “music industry insider”, your self-esteem will take quite a
boost knowing how much your friends, your family and those who depend on your record label
look up to you every day.
Fame, Fame. Fame, Fame
The one thing that makes a music industry person, particularly a performer tick is the need for
applause. When you put on a great show, and your audience responds so favorably, the
recognition is instant, gratifying and highly addictive. Whether on the local, regional, national
or international level, the allure of fame is well known. The love of fame isn’t necessarily a
bad thing. It drives us to greater achievement and to better performances and the payback is
being well known. If you have had that thrill the first time someone wanted an autograph, you
are hooked and it does a lot for your enjoyment of your work and your drive for greater things
because of the fame it will bring you.
Do people who produce, distribute or market records enjoy that kind of public adoration and
recognition. Well if the names Phil Spector, Brian Eno or Bill Graham are familiar to you then
the answer is yes. But even if you don’t achieve fame at a public level, your name on the door
of your record label will automatically cause you to become famous among those in the know,
among those music industry movers and shakers who you need to be able to influence to get
the kind of big things done you want done. And fame, besides the fun and ego of it, is capital
and influence that can be translated easily into accomplishments.
Follow the Leader
There is an old saying that goes “lead, follow or get out of the way.” That quality of leadership
is something that is so needed in our world and even in this industry we love, the music
industry. When you demonstrate the qualities of a leader, people naturally follow you. And
that’s where you feel your own potential being fully realized. You are performing the function
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that you knew you had, to lead others and be a role model to those are following your
Above all, because you have a vision for the future and the vision and courage to step out and
start your won record label, others will be inspired to follow you, support you and do whatever
they can to make your new record label a big success. And if you saw abuses in the
“leadership” of your former record label, you are not handling them by just sitting and
complaining, you are taking the lead to create an institution where those errors are not
repeated. Now that is truly being a good role model for your band, for your staff, for your
family and even for the music industry as you set a standard for others to learn from in how to
properly build and correctly run a good solid record label.
All of Your “Heroes” Paved the Way for You, Now
it’s Your Turn.
Can you remember before you even got started in the music business? You had some heroes
that you wanted to emulate and you always felt, if you could just “be like that performer”, then
you would have reached your goals. That’s natural. We all do that and even now, whether
you know it or not, others are watching you and seeing you as a role model for their future in
the music business.
Whether your heroes were in family, the local music scene or among the great names in
music industry history, those pioneers faced a crossroads one day, similar to the one you are
facing today. They had to make that decision, to step out and do something new, something
scary and something bold that will change how things get done. They laid the foundation of
how real leaders and music industry pioneers behave. Now is the time to live up to their
example, be inspired by their courage and strive to walk in their footsteps to fame and success
as you too, cross over that threshold and step out and start that new record label you have
been dreaming out.
It’s “Taking It to the Next Level” For Your Love of
Music and the Music Business.
Sometimes in romance or relationships we talk about “taking it to the next level”. By that we
mean, moving to the next step of commitment of sophistication and of complexity. We do this
in all areas of life all the time, even if we don’t know we do it. In sports, it might be running a
mile and a half instead of a mile. In school, each grade is that next level and most noticeably
when we move from grade school into high school and then on to collage.
In the same way, your progress in your music career can be marked by levels. When you
moved from part time performance to leaning on music as your career, that’s the next level.
And each new venture whether it’s touring, cutting a CD or performing at a festival or concert
level rather than in clubs takes it up a notch to the next level of professionalism. With each
level, that initial step is always both exciting and frightening. You want it very much but at the
same time, you have that inner child who wants to stay where it’s safe and easy.
Starting your own record label then is a big step forward in your progress as an artist, as a
professional in the music industry and as an influence over the music world in general. But at
the heart of your drive to higher and higher levels of sophistication and influence is that core
value which is your love of music, performance and your desire to serve your fans. This step,
starting your own record label takes your commitment to music and to your fans to the next
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level so you can do an even better job of assuring a quality product is produced and
distributed to those who support you and admire your work.
“Get Back to Your Roots”
Sometimes when a coach is working with a troubled football team, he gets them together for a
practice and takes them “back to basics” or back to their roots. In every career field, there are
fundamental reasons that the career exists and that is certainly true in the music business.
Unfortunately, when people who know better, the “music industry insiders” we have talked
about forget their roots and concentrate on other matters, that is when the industry suffers and
the ultimate ones who suffer are the fans.
As you have moved from garage band to touring band and into more and more success, the
“business” of the music business can easily take over and dominate your thoughts. If you
have meeting after meeting with record label people from the accountants to the lawyers to
the managers to the tour coordinators, so many details can overwhelm the artist that
sometimes they can become obsessed rather than their “roots” which is the music.
By starting your own record label, you can see to it that those support issues do not distract
you or your artists from what they are dedicated to, making great music for the fans. This is
the true value of a small record label and the reason why your artists will come to you and stay
with you. Since you are small, you do not have the overhead of huge departments and
complicated contracts and forms. You can keep to the K.I.S.S. system – Keep It Simple
Stupid and make sure that the affairs of business do not hurt the creative process for you,
your band and the bands that support your label. Further, because you are a driving force of
the label, not some distant board of directors, your passion for what you are doing is a
constant force in the operation of your record label. So your record label continues to be a
corporate extension of you, fulfilling your dreams and staying true to your ideals and goals for
the business.
You CAN Get Some – Satisfaction
When The Rolling Stones sang about not getting “no satisfaction”, they were talking about
romance but being able to feel a deep sense of pride and satisfaction in your work is a big part
of why starting your own record label is a good idea. We all know the feeling of working so
hard on your sound, your CD, your show and then when its time to put that terrific music
concept out there, you get bogged down at the record label level and so much of the joy and
satisfaction is replaced with frustration, delays and discouragement.
Nobody is kidding anybody, there is a lot of work to starting and running your record label. But
instead of turning over crucial details about that next big move for your music, career, you run
those things yourself when you produce, market, distribute and tour your music through your
own record label. You will feel that deep sense of satisfaction and feel that sigh of relief when
you finish up the last detail of your CD production or tour planning. And you will see that
satisfaction on the faces of your band members because they know the details of this
important step in their career is in the hands of someone they trust and who has taken the
time to be sure the job is done right.
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When Things Hit it Big, You Get the Credit!
There might be a few dropped balls along the way as you learn the ropes of running your own
record label. Hopefully the problems and lost opportunities will be few if you use quality
guidance and resources. But even so, view those errors as learning opportunities. Just think,
if something goes wrong, it will only happen once because you are the operator of the record
label and mistakes are not policy like they are so often with the big labels, they are things to
avoid next time.
But very soon after you set up shop, something is going to click and you will get a big win.
The CD will go through the roof, the tour will be the hot ticket of the summer or the airplay will
be premium because you finally got the system going your way. And when that happens, you
deserve the credit, the glory and the “thank you” from a grateful bunch of hard working
musicians, you being one of them, that benefited because you set up this record label to help
them and you and they have more success and more satisfaction in the growth of your music
You Can Have Your Family in The Business, In Fact
“Nepotism”. The word sounds almost dirty doesn’t it? Well, it is a word that means you are
giving the good jobs in your business to your relatives. In big business, it is frowned upon but
when you think about it, that’s strange because, who more cares about what happens to your
business than your family. These are the people you trust the most, that you are closest too
and who you know you can depend on to get the job done.
So when it’s YOUR record label, you don’t have to worry about some stiff from “corporate”
coming down and whining “you can’t hire your cousin, its nepotism and that’s against
corporate policy.” You ARE corporate policy and you can have on board anyone you feel
comfortable with. In fact, your family will be in there with you working hard to make this thing
fly so why not let them share in the success and the profits along with the hard work of
building a really terrific record label. And if it’s your wife or children bringing home the profit
sharing plans, you are just keeping it all in the family, as the old saying goes. Nothing wrong
with that.
Independence Day
That word “Indie” has become a hot concept in the new century both in film and in the music
industry. It’s a word that inspires something in us as entrepreneurs that is hard to describe.
To be an “Independent Record Label” has an excitement to it. The things you associate with
being “independent” are moving to the point of almost setting off your patriotic streak. And in
a miniature way, what you are getting ready to do is somewhat like when the founders of
America declare their independence form England. They said, “We can do this better and
even though it’s hard, we trust ourselves and so, we are now independent, deal with it.”
Well, maybe they didn’t use those exact words but that is the feeling you are grabbing hold of
when you begin the first steps of declaring your independence from the corporate machine
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and establish your “Indie Record Label.” And on that day, when you sign the papers, hang out
the proud sign of your record label name, maybe you will want to establish a tradition with your
friends, associates and family that the date your record label springs into existence is to you
and your band, truly your musical Independence Day.
Its Fun!
We saved the best reason to start a record label for you for the very last. But this one reason
is what got us into this business in the first place. You can use all the floury words and highsounding ideas, and we have thrown a few around in this essay but when you get right down
to it, the music industry is fun.
Well, that’s why our fans love us isn’t it? They come to the shows to have a good time, forget
their troubles or that they live in a troubled world and kick back and just have a good time. It’s
the fun that makes our music careers have fireworks in the shows, hot tracks on the CD and
good times even in long rehearsals. And when it stops being fun, its time to regroup and
recapture that. That’s why starting your own record label makes so much sense – for you.
Because you know how to work hard,. you also know how to have a great time. You are
assuring that even at the production, distribution and marketing level, you are going to
surround yourself with people you know you like and you know will put that smile on your face.
So go ahead, start a record label, for the fun of it.
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Sixteen Reasons to Get Off Your @ss and Do It Now!
Procrastination is a Terrible Thing.
So maybe now you are giving the idea of kicking off your new record label some really serious
thoughts. We hope so. We wrote this to show you why the reasons for doing it and doing it
now are so numerous that if you let yourself get excited, you could get past your fears and
worries and get out there and make it happen.
But now let’s talk about the last part of our goofy title, “Time to get off your @ss and do it
now!” If the reasons are compelling, the rewards are bountiful that lie just on the other side of
the divide between dreaming and reality. All you have to do it pick up the phone, log on to a
site, buy a book or talk it over with your family and band and the ball will be rolling. If we have
overcome the fears and concerns and replaced them with excitement and anticipation, well we
have done our job in this essay.
But that one enemy of all of our good intentions may still be trying to get you. That is of
course, procrastination. You may be saying, “Ok, I’m convinced, I’ll start next week”. Well that
little devil of procrastination may just steal the whole thing away. Tomorrow a new issue will
come up, this weekend you will find other interests and before long, you are back to square
one and your record label is just an idea. So take the first step today and put some fire under
yourself. Set up some deadlines with penalties so if you don’t get moving, you will regret it.
The first step is telling someone. Then when your spouse, your children and your friends get
excited, the momentum will already underway and the snowball will be rolling down the hill.
Give it a shove and jump on for the ride. It is going be a wild and fun ride.
The Music Industry is Ready for You!
We have talked several times today about the condition of the music industry. The changes in
the industry that have caused radio play, major labels and so many areas of music production
to be absorbed and consolidated into a few huge companies has backfired for the major music
corporations. The real art and the real marketplace for music is now on the street, in the clubs
and in the Indie record labels.
So now is a perfect time to get in there and get your record label up and running. If you wait,
the industry might change again and you will miss out on what the music scene is all about
these days. So use that for motivation to do your homework and get your record label on the
way to opening its doors. The industry is in perfect condition for your label and the business is
poised to come your way. Just do your part and get your label started.
It Won’t Get Started Unless YOU Start It.
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You have heard the old sayings. “Don’t put off
until tomorrow what you can do today.” And
“The journey of 1000 miles begins with the
first step.” Corny but true. You have the idea.
Maybe by now you already have the name for
your new record label. But this is your
brainchild. If you don’t get out there and start
making it happen, let’s face it, it isn’t going to
happen. Yes, you can expect others to jump
on the bandwagon and get excited and want
to pitch in. The community spirit your new
record label will inspire will be one of the most
fun things about it. But, believe it or not, this moment is the most dangerous one for your next
This moment as you sit quietly and ponder “to be or not to be” so to speak in terms of whether
you will make your new label “be” or just let it stay an idea, is the most dangerous moment for
your label because if you turn and go back to the status quo, the label will die in your mind.
Don’t let the baby go like that. Give it some life. Give it some of you in the form of your
inspiration, your hard work and your creativity. Nobody has the stuff like you do and nobody
will make this record label as great as YOU will make it so get going. You will never regret it.
It Can’t Be a Success Until It Has a Name.
Have you started thinking of the name for your new record label? Sometimes the name is
what comes first like it is looking for a record label to attach itself too. The name can do so
much to get your record label noticed. It can be funny, catchy or be a phrase that emphasizes
your philosophy or reason for creating the label.
But if you have a record label name bouncing around in your head that you just can’t let go of,
no doubt about it, you are ready to get that name attached to something real, something
exciting and something yours, a record label that will make a difference in the music industry.
Don’t sell that name short. Even if it’s a little silly, it could be the name on everybody’s mind in
just a few months once you get going and put a record label up to attach your unique name to.
You Can’t Build a House Until You Lay the
It seems when we dream about the success of our new record label, as we have been doing
some in this essay, we think about when it is up and running, active with many exciting and
innovative acts and networking far and wide in the music industry. But none of that will
happen until we take the first baby steps toward starting the label. The next step after reading
this essay is to get some help with how to start your label.
Our job here was to motivate you so if you are ready to make that first step, do some internet
research, and ask some of your friends and go see some people who have record labels or
work at an Indie label to find out what is needed to get the record label moving. Give yourself
some time with this step because your research now will save you tons of time down the road.
And use this research time to make those decisions about where you want the focus of your
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label to be and what you want to be part of the “infrastructure” of your business and what you
definitely do not want there.
All of this is still part of the “dreaming” phase but you are actually putting together the bricks
that will make the foundation of your new record label. It’s going to be work, no question
about it but use the enthusiasm you have today and that vision of your dream label to motivate
you to roll up your sleeves and get started. And never forget to buy yourself a cookie or a cup
of coffee each and every time you successfully make a step, even if it is just finishing this
essay. Every step takes you closer to the reality of your record label and believe it or not, you
are already on the way.
You Have the Confidence, Strike While the Iron is
Have you ever seen one of those sports movies where the coach gets his team aside at half
time when they are behind and he gives them that rousing “win one for the Gipper” pep talks?
Of course, movies are not real life but the point is that those athletes go out there when they
are full of confidence and excitement about their challenges and that helps them win big.
You may be at that high point in your confidence, your enthusiasm and your excitement about
starting your record label. We know the many good reasons to get moving and start our
labels and we have a vision for the really great things your record label can accomplish. But
time can have a way of stealing away our momentum so let’s get started right away, maybe
tomorrow, maybe even today and strike while the iron is hot to get our record label moving
toward that launch date hopefully in the very near future.
Change is Exciting and You Need the Change.
They say the one thing you can always count on is change. But of all the professions where
change is not just something to be anticipated but an essential part of our craft, it is the music
industry. Ours is an industry that thrives on a steady supply of fresh ideas, new artists, new
creative input and evolutions of genre’s and yes even now infrastructures such as record
labels to keep the industry vibrant and alive. If things settle into too much of a pattern, our
industry becomes stale and a sad oldies show of itself and nobody wants that.
So too you need that constant change and new excitement to make you feel alive inside and
keep you challenged in your career. This idea that you have of starting your own record label
is just the thing the doctor ordered to put new life into your career and give you not just a
mountain to climb but an entire mountain range to conquer. Its exciting, its fun and it will
benefit you because you will grow and stretch as a music industry citizen, an artist and yes,
even as a manager.
Doing It for the Kids.
The reasons for starting your own record label range from your unselfish devotion to art, music
and your audience to more self-centered reasons of wealth and creative expression but all of
the reasons are valid. There is no reason to feel wrong because some of the reasons are all
about you. You are the one who will be making those initial investments, doing a lot of the
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work and it’s your dream bursting into reality. There is no reason you should not enjoy the
benefits of the success that will come your way.
Even the “selfless” reasons we have discussed, the benefits to your band, the devotion to the
pure love of music and performing that you will preserve with your label and the benefits to
your community music scene, your staff and even your family, give you a reward as well.
There is a deeply felt sense of well being and self-esteem from doing something that not only
is fun and exciting for you but helps others and makes the production of your music and the
music of others go so much better.
Those who are forces in the industry understand this sense of value they get from “doing it for
the kids” but they keep it to themselves. But as you get your record label moving and see the
smiles on the faces of those you care about and enjoy working with, you will “get it” that “doing
it for the kids” is the most wonderfully selfish thing you can do because of the joy you get from
it, a rush you can’t get any other way.
Stop Dreaming
Can you remember being a kid and dreaming of being a big time musical performer? Whether
it’s wanting the Broadway stage or to swing out over the crowd like a wild rock star, it’s often a
dream of ours to do great things. Your dream to start your own record label no doubt is an
adult dream of greatness that has come as you learned more of the institutions that make the
industry tick. But just as there came a time when you stopped dreaming of a career in the
music industry and took the very real step into that life style, so too that time will come for you
to make your dream of your own record label a reality.
In fact, that time is now. Sometimes someone has to kick you in the pants and say, “Look
Sparky, stop dreaming and get out there and make it happen.” So back up into your own
shoes and kick your own pants and stop dreaming and go for it. Just as you found when you
became a musician, the reality will be a thousand times better, more fulfilling and more
exciting than your dreams of it could ever be so why delay any long. Turn those dreams into
gold and into a record label with your name on it.
Its Free to Try
When you are on the very edge of the diving board like this and everything has been done to
help you justify taking that final step out and starting your own record label, maybe you have
to think about what it is that is keeping you from taking that first step. You know if you just
start, get some initial contacts and research done, then the follow through won’t be nearly as
difficult as that “first big jump” off of the diving board.
One way to lesson that fear of the leap is that those first steps don’t cost anything. You don’t
have to get a small business loan, lease a building or rent a photocopy machine and industrial
strength Mr. Coffee machine just to look into it. The first steps are either completely free or
very inexpensive. As you begin to do your homework to learn what it is going to take to start
your label your first few dozen steps will be things that are virtually free including.
Taking to friends and family about the idea.
Making some contacts with people who have started their own record labels to learn what they
had to do.
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Making a list, in fact, making lots of lists.
Surfing the net, get a support structure for this big adventure
So you can see that cost and the fear of making a big investment you can’t get out of up front
should not hold you back. You can do the first dozen or so steps before you need to sign
contracts and step over that line where funds are dedicated and the business becomes a
reality. And the education process will lesson those fears and increase your excitement as
you get some tangible reliable advice and training and what to do, when to do it and who to do
it to.
Help is On the Way
As we mentioned above, much of the early steps you will go through to start your record label
are educational. The terrific news is that what you are about to do is not really unfamiliar
territory. Many people have faced this decision, launched out into the deep and started
independent record labels and become very successful dong so. That is the first piece of
good news, the road map already exists.
The second piece of good news is even better. You are not going to have to look very hard to
find the road map. As you have already learned from your years amongst musicians, people
who are “family” to the music business and consider you one of them are fiercely loyal and
ready to help a brother or sister take the steps necessary to have a terrific launch of their new
label. So many established Indie record label owners and operators have taken the time to
document what they did and what you should do to get your record label going. This news
alone should reduce tremendously if not wipe out your fears of that first big step.
Do some reading on what to be prepared to do. The Internet is awash with good resources
that can get you educated in a hurry very economically. Then look at it from another angle. In
addition to building a music industry institution, you are also starting a small business so you
can turn to the people who are funded and make it their business to make small businesses
work in this country. These people can help you learn the procedures you will go through to
establish the label as a small business. Your local small business association office will drown
you in pamphlets, courses, contacts and books, all for free, very inexpensive or available at
the public library.
There is tons of help out there for you. So before you panic about the huge size of the task,
dive in, network, surf the net, take the courses and get your learning curve behind you. You
will feel much better when you have “gotten smart” about the job that is ahead and confident
that you too can make your record label get up and go.
Well, if They Insist You be Rich?
If you took out a piece of paper now and made a list of the top five reasons that YOU want to
create a record label, that exercise would quickly surface your true motivations. It’s a good
exercise and then on the other side list your top five reasons why you are hesitant to take that
step and see how they stack up. Chances are you will come up with lots more than five
reasons to go for it and may have trouble finishing the list of worries.
The marketplace is calling for entrepreneurs like you to take this raw, new music marketplace
and bring it to the people. There is a vacuum in the music industry marketplace right now
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because the major record labels have not focused on the new, creative and innovative artists
of today as much as has happened in previous decades. But we know this. The record label
that fills that void is going to unleash two powerful volcanic forces. It will unleash the volcano
of music and creativity and new artists to fill the void and satisfy a huge public hunger for new
But the second volcano that will be released is a volcano of riches that will naturally flow to the
record label that can tap this untamed market. By opening your independent record label, you
place yourself in the perfect spot to fill that vacuum and unleash both of these volcanoes. You
know the gratification and excitement that will come from releasing the creative volcano. But
hey, if the volcano of riches have to go somewhere and just insist on coming your way, well
you wont fight off that flood very hard now will you?
Hit the Road Jack.
Isn’t about time to say, “Enough is enough” to the problems, the delays, the shell games and
the headaches you have had working with your current record label? So often we “put up”
with things that deep inside are driving us crazy about working with a company thinking that
maybe it will get better. But inside, in your private thoughts, that one concept keeps springing
up of “one of these days, I am going to find something better.
Well now is the time. You know what to do and you know how great it will be when you are
the one running the record label. All of those problems and issues can be dealt with in a way
that promotes the artist and the music, not just the corporate interests of an uncaring financial
institution. For every problem, there comes a time when someone has to put their foot down
and say, “Today things change”. And this is that time, today is the day and it’s your foot. So
don’t just tolerate mediocrity, step out and pull away from people who are not working in your
best interests and as the song says, tell them “hit the road, Jack. And don’t come back no
more, no more, no more, no more.”
The Time is NOW
In life, it is the coming of a big change that makes us consider doing things differently. It is
right before the birth of that child that we consider taking out insurance or maybe starting back
to church. We want to be prepared for the next big thing in our lives. So too, as you prepare
for the next big project in your music career, now is the time to consider change in who is your
record label and whether using this new project as the launch of your record label is a good
It is a good time to get moving on your new record label. You got tired of seeing your last
project hampered by that old system and you feel in your gut that it would have been a bigger
success if those problems had been handled differently. So use this time between projects to
do your homework and put the foundation in place to launch that new label. Then you can
proudly put YOUR logo and YOUR record label name on the next product of your band. That
sense of pride and feeling of a job well done will be a tremendous pay off to a successful
project that will more than compensate for the work that will be needed to launch the label.
The bonus will be that your label will be a reality then and ready to go for many more new and
exciting projects from you, your band and the artists you come to represent.
The time is now to get your record label going BEFORE you launch your next big project, CD
or tour. Use the excitement of that new project to get you off your chair and out there making
it happen.
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Only YOU can Kick Your Own Rump
When you raise children, you do a lot of the motivational talking to them to get up and make
something of themselves. But the truth is, even with encouragement from friends, peers or a
(hopefully) lovely booklet like this one to help you come up with 101 reasons to start your own
record label, nobody can motivate you like YOU can. Sometimes you are the only one who
can look at that good-looking guy or gal in the mirror and say “Ok, you, its time to get going
and quit making excuses.” And you will listen to that good-looking reflection because you
know he or she knows what they are talking about and knows exactly why you are
Let that reflection lay it on the line to you. Nobody can kick your rear like that person can so
let that fire in your belly grow and let those excuses that have been in the way for too long die
away. You know that YOU are telling you to do this so listen up and get moving so instead of
a kick on the rump, you get a pat on the back from the one person you really do want to
impress – yourself.
Now You Are Hooked!
It may be too late. You have already have the smell of the excitement that building and
running your own record label will bring in your blood. Just like when you started performing
and got your band you had worked so hard to prepare out there on stage. Once that audience
started applauding, standing, dancing, maybe even moshing, there was no turning back. It’s
like a drug, the thrill of success in the music business. Top name performers who know what
they are talking about say the rush that comes from hundreds or thousands of people
screaming your name is more powerful than the most potent drugs.
That excitement will be there when your record label takes root and starts to make things
happen. You will be the top decision maker for that record label so each and every success
will bring a rush of excitement knowing that you did that and all of the momentum of a band
that is racing up the charts, a CD that blows the lid off the charts or a tour that sets the music
industry on fire will be yours. You will get hooked on that thrill once you get your label going
and it will impossible to kick. No 12 step or rehab program needed here. You are a junkie for
success in the record industry and this is your chance to make your addiction permanent.
Once you have the taste of success from running YOUR record label in your mouth, you will
never let it go and you will never go back.
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101 Reasons Why as an Artist You MUST Start Your Own Record Label...
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If you have enjoyed this report, you may also enjoy a free copy of some of my other
resources such as:
1- “The 7 Golden Secret to Success in the Music Industry”: A free audio CD where a former
president of MCA records reveals what an artist in today’s changing industry needs to have an
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2- Also pick up a rough copy of my new online report “50 Free Ways to Get Raving, Loyal
Fans Who Will Buy Your Music” to get a free copy of this instantly sent to you just send me
an email to [email protected] (in the email simply say “I saw it in your free 101
reasons to start a record label report) (Valued at $12.99, yours Free)
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