Starting your own record label is often driven by something quite specific. Many of the successful labels around have an interesting story about why and how they came about.
Maybe there are certain tracks you love or a desire to release your own music, maybe it’s just something you’d like to try. Either way it’s almost certainly always for the love of something.
I’ve put together a few possible concepts you can use for your new record label.
Labels tend to be driven by the owner’s desire for something, and these are some of the reasons you might want to start curating releases yourself.
You’re super hyped about dub-trap (I can only imagine, some fusion of traditional dub elements, fused with hyper-fast snares and 808 booming bass kicks. Sounds pretty good, right?) and you want to start tracking down music that fits that niche to release.
It’s a great way to begin to define a particular sub-genre, and it’s often a nice starting point to develop from.
You may be from somewhere that doesn’t have much of a reputation, either locally or internationally, and you’d like to put your local producers on the map. Nothing wrong with that!
You should consider compilations with the locality mentioned in the title, or at least in the subtitle, and retain a sense of what makes the music in your area unique.
I always feel like compilations are a good way to start, but there’s nothing to say a strong string of EP releases all from local producers isn’t going to boost your area’s reputation.
Maybe you feel like music is more valuable than the artist’s status behind it, so you decide to put out releases from anonymous artists.
Maybe you feel like music that supports a certain viewpoint doesn’t get enough attention, and you’d like to release tracks that say something about society.
I’ve seen labels that only release on USB dongles, and there are loads that do cassette only releases.
I’ve seen labels that release music and visuals together as digital packages, and some that have set out targets for the amount of releases they intend to do.
There may be labels that only intend to release Native Instruments’ new STEMS format. There may be some that only release MIDI. I considered starting a label for producers that released tracks, alongside their component parts for budding remixers.
The format and bundle may be the USP you’re looking for. If you have something unique enough, it might just be enough to entice people to get involved.
Maybe you have a radio show, and you’d like to start supporting the tracks you’ve been playing even more.
Perhaps you’ve been running a successful night and you’d like to brand out into music releases.
Maybe you’ve been blogging like mad, and it’s now time to show further support for the tracks you’ve been championing with your writing ability.
Maybe you have a venue, a bar or club, or anything from youth projects to perfume brands. If it’s a successful enterprise, and you’d like to develop a label on the side, there might be a way to make it work.
You want your own music to be heard, and you’d like to stop having to rely on other people to sign it.
Maybe you’re sick of sending out demo material.
This is one of the reasons you may start your label, but it could also apply to others. Maybe you’d just like to support artists who you feel deserve to have their music released by a label.
After all, if you can release your own music, why can’t you release other people’s?
A small caveat here is that, bear in mind you may have not had much luck with other labels because your production may not be up to the standard they’re looking for.
This is a hard thing to notice, and an even harder thing to come to terms with when you’re starting out.
With time, comes the realisation that you’re constantly improving, so don’t jump to the conclusion that your music *is* good enough to be released, just because it *can* be.
That said, who am I to tell you what you can and can’t release?! If you want to, and you can, then maybe you just should!
Don’t let me hold you back.
Maybe you don’t need a concept. Maybe it’s just about releasing what you feel is “good music”. And that might be enough.
One thing I should emphasise though:
You should not start a record label to make money.
Don’t set out with the intention of making stacks and stacks of cash or building some self-sustaining profitable organisation, because you’ll be getting into it for the wrong reasons.
You may make lots of money from your label, but it should *not* be the reason that your label exists.
A label driven by money and a desire to make it will forget about the love for the music. It will forget that there is someone’s artistic credibility at stake, and it will focus more on just bashing releases out one after the other.
Customers can sense whether your output has a story. They can sense the love, the struggle, the reasons, the ambition. Do not underestimate this.
Make sure you retain a sense of your non-financial goals when you start your label.
It’s free, and I won’t sell, rent or spam your inbox.
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