A New Label Story - Part 1: How to start (and why you need a music distributor)
Due to the pandemic, almost all clubs are still closed and many concerts have been cancelled or postponed. As a result, musicians have lost much of their usual income without replacement. Fortunately, even though people are no longer dancing (this will hopefully change soon!), music is still being bought, streamed and listened to.
Today we want to share why running a record label is currently one of the few open opportunities for people to get involved in the music industry.
This guide should serve as a starting point for people who plan to start their own music label. With digital distribution, it is easier than ever to start a label. However, there are some important decisions that need to be made along the way.
Starting a label means that you will cover many different roles. You will eventually be a manager, promoter, agent, creative director, A&R and PR - all rolled into one. Here are some things to think about before you start your first release.
What is a music label?
A music label is a brand name for the distribution of musical works. Often, labels are found by people that share the same passion for music and who want to release the music they believe in and enjoy listening to. A label can consist of a single artist, but also a group of different artists. The core identity of a label can also change over time. As a head honcho, you are the main ambassador for your music - your passion shining like a beacon and contributing to your success.
The community and fanbase
A strong community and dedicated fanbase is important for the development of your label. Even if physical venues are currently out of the question, the internet offers many opportunities to network with like-minded musicians and labels. Especially in the beginning, it is helpful to ask experienced label owners for advice.
Getting your finances right
No matter how good your music is, it's hard to make a profit from the start. To publish something digital is not difficult and if you work with the right distributor you don't have to make a financial outlay right away. Another tip would also be to work with friends or acquaintances first, as this is usually less complicated. Nevertheless, you should expect to invest a little money to get started, to pay for things like artwork, promotion and label showcases (once they are allowed again)
Work smarter not harder
Never forget: a label needs a lot of time (like really - it’s a lot!) and effort to grow and prosper.
Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to decrease the amount of effort or at least make the most out of it.
A music distributor for example can take a lot of work off your hands and be a great support, especially when starting your label.
Distribution is the process where the music gets delivered to online shops and streaming platforms. A distributor has the resources and contacts to streamline this process. For example, you don't have to worry about signing up with Beatport before you can even think about sending them your releases. Or read through all the different guidelines on how a track and release has to be named, built and configured. Or learn the technical intricacies about databases, digital transfers and delivery formats. Or… ok, ok! You should get the point by now.
At dig dis! you can set up your release with simple tools that we have developed ourselves, after working for many, many years with all the platforms out there. Our philosophy is to grow with our labels, which is why we don't charge anything upfront for releasing music or setting up a label. dig dis! only takes a cut from the label's revenue, which ensures we do the best we can to help our labels grow - To put it clearly: we only make money when our labels make money. That’s why we never judge how successful or big a label is before they can join dig dis! - Everyone is welcome!
Use all the tools you can get
While dig dis! helps you out with some basic distributor stuff which is sending your music to the shops and platforms, this is not the end of the support you can expect - it’s rather just the beginning! With our sophisticated web-platform, submitting your music was never that easy (we’ll get to this in the next part of this series).
There are also a lot of various, free tools you’ll find helpful along your way, such as sending promotions for your releases, financial analytics, chart alerts and many more in just one place.
You’ll definitely need those tools to make the most out of your label business, trust us!
As you can see, running a label is not that difficult. There are a few things to keep in mind, but digital distribution in particular is easy.
We hope that this article about starting a label has helped you out!
So what are you waiting for? Create a label and sign up!
Stay tuned, in our next blog post we will tell you what to look out for in your first release and give you lots of tips as well.
Click here for Part 3 of our "A New Label Story", focusing on the promotion of your music.