Starting a record label requires the completion of several steps. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about starting your own record label, from registering your business to marketing your releases.
Here are the 10 steps you can take to get started on building your very own record label business.
10 Steps to Launching a New Record Label Business
1. Choose Your Type of Record Label Business
The first step in launching a record label business is to identify the type of record label business you want to launch. You might choose from the following types among others:
- An Indie Record Label: An independent record label, often shortened to an “indie” label, is a record label that operates without the funding of or outside major record labels.
- An Online Record Label: An online record label, also known as a digital label or an internet label, is a record label that distributes its music exclusively online.
2. Name Your Record Label Business
Give your record label business an identity so people will think of it as a well-known and respected brand. You can take the name of your record label business from your industry, focus on a geographical location, or use your own name among other options.
The main goal for naming your record label business is to make it sound appealing and trustworthy so people will want to work with you. Keep it simple, make it easy to spell and pronounce, and make sure the name is available as a domain name so you can build a website for your business.
3. Determine Your Record Label Business Model
There are several possible types of business models for a record label business including:
- An artist management company that signs and represents artists, helps them develop their careers, and markets and promotes their work.
- A music production company that creates and produces recordings for other labels or for its own label.
- A record label that signs artists, manufactures and distributes their recordings, and markets and promotes their work
No matter which model you choose, make sure that it aligns with your business goals and the products and services you offer.
Read more about choosing the right business model for your record label business.
4. Choose a Legal Form for Your Business
By incorporating your record label business, you will limit your liability. You can incorporate as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a C Corporation (C-Corp), or an S Corporation (S-Corp). Or you can operate as a sole proprietorship.
The business structure you choose for your record label business will determine the amount of taxes you pay and which state or federal tax forms you need to file.
Read our article comparing the most common record label business structures.
5. Write a Record Label Business Plan
All record label business owners should develop a business plan.
A business plan is a document that outlines the goals, strategies, and operations of a business. It can be used to secure funding from investors or lenders, as well as to guide the day-to-day operations of the business. The business plan should include information on the company’s products or services, market analysis, financial projections, and management team among other things.
When developing your record label business plan and strategy, you should think about the following questions your customers might have:
- What types of services do you offer?
- How do I become an artist that you represent?
- Do you have any previous experience working with artists and helping them develop their careers?
- What is the process for signing with your label?
- Who will be responsible for marketing and promoting my music?
- What are your plans for distributing my music?
- Do you have a budget set aside for marketing and promoting my music?
- What do you think my music career will look like after signing with your label?
- What are the long-term goals for your label?
- Do you have any other advice for me as an aspiring artist?
- Who should I contact if I have more questions?
- How can I get in touch with you?
- What is your record label’s website address?
- Do you have any social media accounts that I can follow?
- Do you have any other marketing materials that I can review?
Answering these types of questions in your business plan will give potential investors and partners a better understanding of your business and how it operates.
Read our article about how to write a record label business plan.
6. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses
There may be required licenses and permits you need to obtain before launching your record label business.
For example, if you plan on manufacturing and distributing your own recordings, you will need to register for a specialized identification number from the U.S. Copyright Office. If you plan on signing artists and representing them, you may need to obtain a talent agent license in some states.
You must also register your record label business as a legal entity with the state where you plan to do business. You can simply file an online form through your Secretary of State website.
Registering with the federal government is also essential so you can properly pay taxes for your business. You will also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which you can apply for at the IRS website, if you plan to hire employees.
Read our article about obtaining the proper record label business licenses.
7. Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed
In developing your record label business plan, you will figure out how much funding you need to start and grow your business.
If you have your own funds to invest in your record label business, you may consider taking advantage of that. In addition to your personal funds, other forms of potential funding for your record label business include traditional bank loans, SBA loans, credit cards, angel investors and family and friends.
Read our article about the costs associated with starting a record label business to help you determine if funding is needed.
8. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently
When you start your record label business, it’s essential to have the right technology in place to maximize efficiency. You definitely need a computer with Internet access, and accounting software for tracking expenses and revenues.
You may also want to invest in music software to help with the creative aspects of your business, such as recording and editing music. In addition, social media platforms and online tools can be extremely helpful in promoting your label and connecting with potential customers.
Read our article about the technology and software you need to run a record label business.
9. Market Your Record Label Business to Potential Clients
Before you start selling your products and services, you have to let the world know you exist. The first step is to create a website so people can learn more about your products and services and how they benefit them.
After you launch your website, start promoting it through social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Also consider networking with other people in the record label industry through social media and blogs so they can help share your business.
You also need to start gathering the materials needed to execute on your promotions strategy, which is your strategy for attracting new customers. Record label businesses should consider the following promotional strategies for which you should start getting prepared:
- Create a website and social media presence
- Network with others in the industry
- Make connections with potential customers
- Develop creative marketing materials
- Plan promotional campaigns and events
- Analyze your marketing efforts and revise as needed
Read our article about how to market your record label business for more tips.
10. Get New Clients & Grow Your Business
When you promote your products and services, you’ll start to get interest from potential clients.
Make sure you’re ready to serve these clients. Also, be sure to establish systems to ensure consistency and reduce costs. And be sure to find and train the right people to help you grow your record label business.
Read our article about how to effectively grow your record label business to learn more.
Starting a Record Label Business FAQs
There are many reasons to start a record label business. Record labels help artists produce and promote their music, which can lead to increased exposure and success. In addition, record labels can generate revenue through the sale of music products and services.
The outlook for the music industry is strong, and there is a growing demand for new and innovative music. As a result, starting a record label business can be a very rewarding and profitable endeavor.
To start a successful record label business, you need to have a passion for music and the drive to succeed. You should also be well-organized and have a solid marketing and promotional plan. Additionally, you will need to secure funding and have the right technology in place to run your business efficiently.
There are many ways to market a record label business online. The first step is to create a website and social media presence. You should also consider networking with other people in the industry and making connections with potential customers. Additionally, you should develop creative marketing materials and plan promotional campaigns and events. Finally, you should analyze your marketing efforts and revise them as needed.
Here are some tips for starting a record label business:
- Have a passion for music and the drive to succeed.
- Be well-organized and have a solid marketing and promotional plan.
- Secure funding and have the right technology in place.
- Create a website and social media presence.
- Network with others in the industry.
- Make connections with potential customers.
- Develop creative marketing materials.
- Plan promotional campaigns and events.
- Analyze your marketing efforts and revise them as needed.
- Get new clients and grow your business.
A simple checklist to use when starting a record label business is as follows:
- Choose Your Type of Record Label Firm: This should be based on what you are best at and how much experience you have. Remember to keep your interests, skills, and experience in mind at all times.
- Name Your Record Label Business: This should be done with care, as your brand is important for attracting the right customers. A simple, memorable name will go a long way.
- Choose a Legal Form for Your Business: Whether you choose to become a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation or another option will depend on your business. Ensure that you are aware of all the implications of each type.
- Determine Your Record Label Business Model: Determine how your business will make money. Will you sell products, services, or a combination of both?
- Write a Record Label Business Plan: Your business plan will also help you determine what your start-up costs will be and will provide a roadmap with which you can launch and grow.
- Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses: In most locations you will be required to apply for a business license and/or permits before you can begin operations.
- Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed: You will need to know how much money you have to spend on all of your business-related expenses before opening any doors. If needed, apply for a small business loan or other funding options.
- Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently: You need to have the right tools in place to succeed. Implement software that will help you manage your time, contacts, and business operations in general.
- Market Your Record Label Business to Potential Clients: A solid marketing plan will be crucial to your success. It should focus on attracting the right customers so that you can provide them with the products and services they truly need.
- Get Clients & Grow Your Business: Once you have a solid marketing plan, it's time to actively pursue and secure those who could benefit the most from your products and services.
Starting a record label business can be a very rewarding experience. However, it is important to be well-prepared before starting such a venture. Having a passion for music and the drive to succeed is essential, as is being well-organized and having a solid marketing and promotional plan. By following these tips, you can give yourself the best chance for success.