So you want to start your own record label? What are some advantages and disadvantages of running an independent label?
• A good way to promote your band and other artists
• Need to sell fewer records to make a profit. Selling 5,000 records is considered “indie gold” as compared to 500,000 records for one of the major labels
• Low overhead costs
• Discover new talent and be on the cutting edge of new music
• Satisfaction of getting music out to the public that would otherwise go unheard
• More artistic control
• Good chance of losing money
• Limited access to traditional distribution and retail outlets
• Frustrating to be in competition with larger labels
• Doing everything yourself
Questions to Ponder
• Can you afford to lose a few thousand dollars (or more)?
• Do you have access to additional money if needed?
• A hit record could sink you. If a record is a hit and you get a large order, you need to be able to meet the demand. Otherwise your label will lose credibility.
• How will you get your product to your customers?
• Do you have physical space available to store records and supplies?
• How will people become familiar with your artists? Live performances? Internet? Radio?
• How will you market and promote your records?
• Do you want the label to be an ongoing enterprise, or is it just for only you, the artist?
• Do you want to be picked up by a larger label or remain independent?
Creating a Business Plan
One of the best ways to tell if you are ready to start your own label is to create a business plan. The business plan serves several purposes: it serves as a guide as you start and run your business; it introduces you to key players, such as lawyers, accountants and artists; and it provides investors with pertinent information. Sources that can help you create an effective business plan can be found at any public library or online. One good resource is the U.S. Small Business Administration.