Why Do Musicians Starting Their Own Labels and What Key Challenges Do They Face. Reveal The Truth.

Why Do Musicians Starting Their Own Labels and What Key Challenges Do They Face. Reveal The Truth.

Things to remember before creating your own music label.

The music world has changed. Compared to the last decade, the release of music today has become much easier: anyone can download a track to iTunes, you don’t even need to leave home to do this. And probably you would like to know how to start a record label?

Preparing the release also does not cause problems: you can draw the design yourself, and various online services do a good job of mastering. With such an introduction, it is not surprising that many are beginning to learn how to create their own label.

Musicians are often haunted by the idea of ​​independence. However, organizing a label is not the same as making it work. The authors of the Native Instruments blog talked to self-signed artists and asked them how to launch their own label, why this is necessary, what it gives and what difficulties await musicians along the way.

Visualization Is Everything

Why do you need your own label? Hopes for deafening success and millions of earnings leave to someone else – all these are exceptions to the rules. If you are driven by the desire to assemble a team of talented musicians under one roof, then the main problem will be the creation of a recognizable name and a strong brand.

According to Daniel McPhee, an independent six impala label manager specializing in trap music and dubstep, creating an identity and building trust is the hardest part of any label. You will need a bright name, a unique cover design and much more that will create the desired image in the heads of musicians and listeners.

English DJ, producer and promoter Ben Gomori says that before you create a diy record label, you need to understand that starting just for money is stupid. A few years ago, unhappy with the way the label signed it to promote creativity, Gomori created the independent record label Monologues Records. “At some point, I realized that I could do all the work myself,” says Ben, whose label today unites artists in the deep house genre.

How to create a label without a bright name? Choosing a name is one of the biggest challenges. It should be simple and memorable. “The name carries a message about the label,” says Scottish DJ and producer Nightwave, who works for Heka Trax. “This is a marketing tool and a common ground between performers and listeners. The name of the label becomes synonymous with how music is curated. ”

At the beginning of the path, the label should stand out visually, so the development of a unique release language plays an important role. The cover is the first thing the listener sees in the catalog window. “You can’t copy other people’s developments or follow trends. You need to create our own unique style, ”says McPhee. According to the producer, visual aesthetics distinguishes labels from competitors and serves as an additional element of promotion.

There is no point in releasing music without a bright wrapper. No matter how high-quality and interesting it is, listeners attach great importance to the design of releases. In the era of digital services and streaming, the saying that they are greeted by clothes has become more relevant than ever. According to Ben Gomori, promoting music with a vibrant “appearance” is much easier than trying to do it without it.

New labels need to clearly prioritize. At the very beginning of the path, it is better to shift priorities from earnings to promotion. For example, most six impala releases are free.

McPhee claims that now it is much more important for him: the label was launched in January 2018 and so far its goal is to maximize recognition, and not get rich on sales. “The market wants free and affordable music, so our strategy is to saturate the market with what it needs,” says McPhee.

Music Subscription

Selling music is the same market or marketplace, so release of releases is not possible without distributors. Ben Gomori says that he interviewed all his friends in order to find an adequate distributor on their recommendation. It is not necessary that this be a person in the state – there are plenty of music distribution services today, you just need to find suitable conditions.

According to the musician, the contribution of a good distributor to the promotion of music and getting into the charts is invaluable, and it is better to entrust the “search and selection of sites where music will live and generate income” to those who understand this. Of course, the distributor will take a percentage on sales, but also collect all the data on how many times the track was listened on different platforms, how much they paid for it, how it was used.

In addition to statistics, the distributor will also collect all earnings from the release and pay them on time. Ben believes that removing the boring statistical and analytical burden from the shoulders of the label’s leader is worth sharing the percentage of sales and paying more attention to the development of the company.

Nevertheless, Gomori notes that giving the music to the distributor and skimming the cream will not work – to promote the release, you need help from the label itself. Without appropriate support and various actions to promote the release, it will be more difficult for a distributor to sell music to listeners, no matter how high-quality and interesting it may be. In addition, do not forget that digital distribution through special services is not the only way to distribute music.

“The streaming industry is truly huge. It’s no wonder that using sites like Bandcamp [to distribute music] is becoming increasingly popular, ”Nightwave shares his thoughts. – “Do not let distributors fool themselves, sometimes such self-made releases bring more advantages [in comparison with distribution in music stores and streaming services through distributors].”

Daniel McPhee label six impala relies on the Stem service to distribute music. According to McPhee, Stem distinguishes itself from its competitors as “an easy and straightforward download process and a simple and understandable contract system, which makes the release of the release quick and efficient.

In addition, there are distributors such as DistroKid and TuneCore, whose policy is very loyal to DIY labels – all earnings remain in the label’s pocket. Bandcamp’s ability to make money on its own music has made the service the most popular tool among independent publishers, but do not limit the distribution channels – there are distributors on the market that offer wider platform coverage and especially favorable conditions for cooperation.

“Launching a page on Patreon has become for us, as a small music outlet, a difficult decision,” says McPhee. “However, it was the right decision. We don’t have the opportunity to live and develop only through deductions from sales, so the subscription model suited us perfectly. ”

Today, fans can contact six impala directly through Patreon, where content is accessed through a subscription model. Having paid a small monthly “donation”, people get various bonuses: for example, early access to label releases. This approach allows the label to receive sufficient financial support and put the proceeds back into the company for further growth and development, McPhee concludes.

Independent labels are not debited from the highly popular Spotify. “It is believed that music needs several hundred thousand listening to bring any kind of income. It’s possible that it is so, but even in such a reality, Spotify, without a doubt, generates a good income from music, ”said Gomori.

The appearance of earnings from releases inevitably raises legal issues related to the conclusion of contracts with performers. For musicians and the label, the contract is the only guarantee of mutually beneficial cooperation. Drawing up a contract is a real headache, so studying all the legal issues here will be very useful. “Contracts take time to develop,” says Nightwave.

“Find as many contracts as possible on the Internet, study them all, identify the most important. If you can’t do it on your own, contact a lawyer to help him correctly compose documents. The sooner you focus on this moment, the easier it will be in the future. ” McPhee agrees with Nightwave’s opinion, for which contracts, registration of copyrights and trademarks, as well as all kinds of taxes and fees, have become one of the biggest difficulties in developing your own label.

Royalty, Vinyl and Mastering

Another important point that beginners forget about and that the organizers of independent labels note is royalty and financial management. The first successes should not obscure the mind: for a new label that does not have a large supply of funds, it is extremely important to redirect the proceeds back to the label for its further development.

McPhee says that with every dollar he made, he invested more and more actively in the work of the label: he ordered better design, invested in promotion, distribution and even mastering of releases. The words of McPhee are echoed by Ben Gomori, according to whom the label’s primary goal is to provide listeners with the best music and the highest possible quality. To achieve this, Ben is actively investing in mastering tracks: mastering every six impala song released costs around £ 20-40, but Gomori is ready for such expenses for the highest sound quality.

The importance of mastering is also noted by Nightwave, who does not skimp on this procedure, especially if the release is published on vinyl. Nevertheless, the musician claims that working with vinyl for a beginner label is too costly and problematic.

“I love vinyl, but release in digital only is much simpler and cheaper,” she said. – “The trouble is that it is pointless to refuse it – for independent artists and labels, every release sold, in any form, is important.” The words Nightwave confirms the fact that in the pursuit of the greatest possible audience reach among independent labels, the so-called “cassette labels” like Good Morning and Lazy Tapes are gaining popularity. These companies publish and sell music on compact cassettes, which, in the wake of a revived love for retro styling and the 1980s, gives good results.

For whatever purpose you run your own label, the most important thing at this point is your willingness to work hard and give more than receive. “This is a huge amount of work, time-consuming, requiring large financial costs. In addition, you need to truly love what you do, ”says Nightwave. The girl warns everyone who thinks to launch their own label, not to rush and not wait too much from the launch, especially if everything is done alone. “Not every musician needs his own label. Sometimes it’s enough to just be an artist, ”she concludes.

So, how to start a record label with no money? Use these advices from industry players and move your own way. We won`t be telling you one hour nonsense advices on how to start a diy record label, but instead, will show you a picture with major steps.


We have been on artist side quite long and there is a real difference between BE an artist and PRETENDing to be. Doing business as a music label is a whole different world and if you plan to release your music on your label only, you will be dissapoint. It is a hard work that costs money and managing team, so you can`t go alone far.

Information partly taken from: Native Instruments Blog


We hope this article helped you to see music label creation under other angle.

And we would’d like to hear what you have to say:

Which area seems the most hard part for you?

Did you ever tried to create your own label or risks are too high?

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