How to Start A Record Label: 10 Essential Tips

Posted: 10th of October 2017 by Francesca Confortini

Entering the music business world and launching an independent record label can be as rewarding as it is challenging in 2017. 

Why? Well, with the rise of digital music, streaming and changes to copyright legislation alongside traditional distribution models, the industry's landscape is ever evolving. It means aspiring music industry moguls are often confronted by a constantly changing set of obstacles and opportunities. 

The road of record label management is a path taken by ICMP music business student and Payne Records CEO Miguel Tello. Inspired by his time at with us, Miguel has been busy tinkering on the mechanics of setting up the imprint and working towards releasing new music in 2018.

He was also among six candidates shortlisted to stand for election as an independent representative to the BPI Council. Although, Miguel wasn't successful in his bid to join the council, he's still well placed to provide plenty of insight into what's needed to set up a label. Check out his top tips for success below...

Seek advice from your networks

I believe you need to be surrounded with people that can give you the right advice about setting up a label at the right time. In my case, Ditto Music was really helpful in setting me off on my way.

Look after your business

Initially you need to have your label registered with Companies House, PPL and have your business bank account. Then you can start to give shape to the label, the music and the aesthetic.

Establish an ethos for your label

Our label wants to be a home for the next generation of artists.

We want to give a voice to all the people that have difficulties in developing themselves as artists. We're looking into those we believe have with a special talent but are as yet undiscovered. 

Think about distribution and how music fans are going to discover your music

We are living in a world where our industry is all about digital and streaming services. So we have decided to collaborate with Ditto Music. They offer an exceptional service where all our releases are distributed through every relevant online platform.

Make the most of new technology

We market our acts mostly through different apps as the young generation spends most of the time on their smartphones. So we're in the process of organising different events and activities through these platforms, especially with the streaming services, to target these potential fans.  

We are using Station Head, a new app which allows you to create your own live radio 24 hours, playing music from a Spotify Premium Playlist. Every time that song is played on the app, the artist is paid as one stream. It means that if there are a considerable amount of listeners for that song, the artist is in a great position to boost their streaming revenue as well as grow their fanbase. At the moment, its only available on IOS and Spotify but it will be very soon available across all devices and platforms.

Know and care about your artists

It’s very important for us to know the personality of the artist, what they need, what they're looking for, and give the artist enough freedom to be themselves.

Indie music is in good health ... although more work could be done to support new acts

There is a wealth of ideas, perspectives in the indie industry. At the same time, I still believe that there is too much work to do. We still need to give support to unsigned talent and artists that haven't yet been recognised.

Use playlists to market your music

Fans don't buy physical records as they used to. It means most of the activity in the official charts comes from digital music, particularly streaming. I guess this makes everything easier for fans to access their favourite tracks. So I think it's fundamental to market artists to these listeners using playlists. You can highlight the release that you are promoting, then follow it up with different tracks. You can also try and include the track in the more popular playlists that the platform offers. 

Make no mistake, it’s tough

When you are inside the industry, and you start to have meetings with managers, artists and different clients, you start to realise how tough it is, and how difficult is if you want to be taken seriously. Only time and hard work can give you that recognition. 

But it is possible to make your dreams into reality

Music has always been my passion since I was a child. One of my dreams was to work as A&R, find talent, develop and help artists to release music.

ICMP was an incredible inspiration for me last year and I want to give special mention to one of our incredible teachers, Yannis Iliopoulos. His lectures were really inspiring and made me realise that it’s possible to make a dream a reality.

Visit the Payne Records Facebook page to find out more about Miguel and his label. 

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