With the advent of easily-accessible digital distribution channels, independent labels can more easily than ever place their artists on the market. If you’re an unsigned artist, it may be an idea for you to create your own label to which you can sign your act – and, with time, others too.
The advantages of doing so are many, but so are the caveats. If you create your own label, you will, effectively, have two careers to manage: your own and that of your new business – the label. And that’s not counting the day job.
If you do create your own label, however, you will find that certain things may become easier on the business front. Not only will potential release partners – and other artists – look upon you more seriously, but because you’ll dedicate your resources to seriously develop the business side of your artistic career, you’ll wind up with that much more knowledge and experience which will come in very handy as your artistic career takes off.
So on the assumption that you’re considering starting a label (or another type of music company) of your own, here’s a handful of beginners’ tips to get you started.
Before you even start, think of a good name. Make it something that attracts attention, provokes comments, is memorable. But also make sure it’s a name you’ll be proud to be associated with – and not just today, but also some time in the future. A name other artists would also like to be associated with. Once you hit on the right idea, search the web for similar names. Are there any other music labels already using it? If not, go to the next step.
Now that you have a good company name, file a Fictitious Business Name statement with you local registrar, in the state where your label will be based. They will search their database and make absolutely certain that no one else owns the rights to this name. In case they discover someone else, it’s a good idea to come prepared with a few alternative/backup names!
Next, you need to decide how you’ll incorporate your label for tax purposes. It might be sole proprietorship, a partnership or a corporation. Each has advantages and disadvantages, but sole proprietorship might be a good idea to get started. Finally, get a business license from the city or county business license office. You can even request one by mail. There will be a small fee to pay, but it shouldn’t break the bank and once you have a license – you can operate legally.
To finish off the first step on your music company formation, you’ll need to create a logo. Additionally, you’ll also want a logo for your artist(s) – yourself, if that’s the case – and take every precaution to ensure that it’s done professionally.
Not all logos are created equal and you don’t always get value for money – even from experienced designers. You should NOT attempt to design one yourself, unless you’re a professional designer with years of experience. You should not source a standard clipart logo either. You may save a few hundred dollars, but you’ll also get your company to a mediocre start.
Your logo will, with time, became a vital part of your corporate and artistic identities, so you really don’t want to penny-pinch or, for that matter, rush this process. So, as a rule, do yourself a favor and don’t go for bargain-basement graphic designers. You may spend$50, $100 up to maybe $300 and get something that’s full of compromises and that you’ll probably get tired of in a few weeks or months. A world-class designer, on the other hand, may be twice or even three times more expensive but, in our experience, unquestionably worth it.
There are a few things in your business – and artistic – life you really won’t want to cut corners on, and your logo is one of them. All your associations from this point on – starting with your logo – must be with the best people you can find. There is NO better advice in the music business, and possibly in business in general.
The quality of the company you keep will determine the outcome of your endeavours.
With all this in mind, go for consummate pros who will give you something of true and lasting value. We can recommend one such company with whom we’ve worked in the past and whose work is simply as good as it gets. They’re called Studio 54.
If you decide not to use them (but speak to them FIRST in any case), then DO use them as a benchmark when looking for other designers. Studio 54 offers full consultation and a thorough study of your requirements and delivers the kind of classy artwork that you’ll always be proud of. A great logo is one excellent way to give your artistic career an auspicious start.
And now sit down and write a business plan…!