If you’re thinking about starting a record label, whether you want to promote your own music or you approach it as more of a money making venture, the way your label is perceived is just as important as sound business practices. Creating a one-man label to act as a vehicle for your own music runs the risk of coming across as a vanity project, especially if you’re doing the majority of the promotion. On the other hand, starting a record label as a purely financial endeavor requires a substantial investment of time and money, making the risks and rewards significant. Whatever your reasons are, the initial steps are the same across the board, and the rest is up to you.
Your first order of business is to look at your resources. How much money can you invest? Do you have access to recording and mixing equipment? Has anyone agreed to help you out on your project? There are a number of grants and loans available to help get small businesses off the ground, so do your research. Now comes the fun part, choose five or six names that you think sums up what your label is all about, and remember to make it catchy and memorable. It helps to have a back-up if some of the names are already taken. Also, make sure you set up your website domain names under .com and .net to avoid confusion with another company with your name.
Once you’ve got your resources in place, take the time to write out a realistic business plan. Imagine describing your label to a stranger on an elevator ride; make it clear, concise and likeable. Now, it’s time to begin thinking creatively and decide on the type of music you want to feature on your label and the demographic that will most likely buy your records. If the market is already saturated, try looking at what’s not there. Where is there a gap that needs to be filled? Talking to DJ’s, record store owners and hanging out in local clubs is a great way to find out what’s going on, and is the perfect opportunity to find fresh talent to sign to your new label.