It will (never) work without a Record Label

Pardon? Haven’t record labels come out of fashion and isn’t the internet a sure-fire success? Hold the horses. In fact, you do not need a record label to sell your music these days, provided you know the alternative and put it to work. And that is…?Do it yourself. It’s correct when they say you do not need a label today, but this often gets misinterpreted. While you do not have to polish door knobs today to be successful in the music business you cannot let the work slide. Do all the work a record company would normally do. Be the label.

There would be artist development. As a DIY musician you develop your own style and image and refine all of it so it matches the demands of your target audience. This may sound trivial at first, however, after careful examination, many artists actually ignore this part and just lean back with a too simple “Let’s just see where it takes us” attitude.

If you do not have a label on your side, then money will have to be raised by yourself. This is not unusual as far as production costs are concerned, however, there will now be disc manufacturing, marketing, sampling the media or hiring a promoter on top.

Labels are usually divided into several departments. Bands with many members will have a rather easy job assigning certain tasks to each person while solo musicians cannot help but handle everything themselves.

So you will not be able to get around your own promotional department. That means you will have to build and maintain a network of relevant media contacts, design promotional campaigns, sample your contacts and monitor your marketing efforts.

Of course, you will need distribution. A content aggregator will handle your digital distribution plus accounting so you can be sure your music will be available in all major download stores around the world. Considering the high demand for physical product in the underground music scene, though, you will also want to take care of physical distribution. Get your discs on Amazon and other similar retail sites, especially dedicated mailorder shops, even abroad because you will be having fans in other countries too.

Especially distribution requires your attention as this is where money is being made. Proper accounting and taking inventory is very important if you want to make sure you are being paid properly and you can send more copies to your outlets on time. Even on the digital side some extra monitoring will be necessary e.g. in such rather new fields as Youtube monetization.

If you even add booking tour organisation to a label’s tasks then you have yet another job to do and start compiling promo materials and get familiar with cold calling.

And now who still wants to tell us that Facebook heals all wounds? There isn’t an autmated system that sells your music while you are sipping margaritas at the beach – or what was the name of that latest “get rich with music” email marketing scheme for $97,00, only $47,00 if you order within 24 hours?

You have no other choice but to become active. Be your own label and do the work.

Speak German? Read all about this year’s MusicBiz Madness Conference here.

To your success – Julian Angel.

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About MusicBizMadness

Julian Angel is a chart-noted songwriter and film musician with Hollywood credits. He has successfully released six (physical) records by himself. MusicBiz Madness started as a business conference in Germany and keeps sharing hands-on advice for musicians and people in the music industry.
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