Deciding to release your own record is not only a good idea these days, it’s something you MUST do. As you read through the following questions, mark the ones that you can’t answer, and make an effort to find the answers. Answers to any of these label start-up issues are widely available on the Internet and in many books and blogs-in case you didn’t know that. So, get to work and find out what is involved with starting your own record label.
1. Why are you starting your own label? (What is your motivation?)
2. Why would anyone want to buy your music?
3. Is there currently a market for your kind of music? Prove it!
4. If you’re not releasing your own music, have you ever read a recording
5. Are you aware of all the traditional clauses that are in such 75–100 page
6. Do you know anything about copyright law?
7. What is a mechanical royalty? What is a performance royalty?
8. Have you heard of the Harry Fox Agency, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC? What do they do?
9. What do you want to achieve by starting your own label?
10. What do you know about the day-to-day business of selling music?
11. Will your new company be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a Limited
Liability Corporation? (Do you know the pros and cons of each?)
12. Have you trademarked the name of your company to be sure you can use that
13. Will you need recording equipment, office equipment, and supplies to run
14. Do you have a recording studio you can work with?
15. Do you know any record producers and/or engineers?
16. How much money will it cost you to start your label, record your records,
and market the recordings for the first year? Second year? Third year?
17. How will you raise the money you need to start and run your record label?
18. What local, state, and federal tax responsibilities will your label have?
19. How will you sell your records? (Live shows, Internet sales,streaming,mail
order, catalog sales, distributors, stores?)
20. What specific distribution and retail sales plans have you arranged so that
people can easily find your releases at retail stores?
21. Do you have the money, time, and determination to compete in an industry
that releases over 1,000 new records a week?
22 How much will it cost to manufacture your CDs?
23. What configurations-CD,CD singles,MP3-will you need to make/sell your
24. How many copies of your releases do you realistically think you can sell?
25. What deals are offered by manufacturers? Will you use their barcode or buy
26. Will you need to make posters, bin cards, or other materials for retailers?
If so, how many and how much will that cost?
27. Will you be making special novelty items like t-shirts, baseball caps, etc.
and how much will that cost?
28. How did you estimate the number of copies you needed to manufacture?
29. Did you count into your estimation the number of free CDs you’ll have to
give away for promotions of various kinds?
30. How will you go about finding other acts to sign to your label? Are you the
sole artist? Then how many new releases will you have every year or so?
31. How important do you think graphic design is in making your label’s logo and
cover art work for your releases?
32. Do you know any graphic artists with record design experience?
33. What information should go on the CD cover, back-cover, spine, booklet, and
34. What will your website look like? What online marketing and social
networking opportunities will there be for your fans to interact with you?
35. Do you know how to write a marketing plan, a distributor one-sheet, and
other promo materials?
Plus an extra question:
36. Who are your customers? If you think you know them, then describe them in
very specific terms!