Posts Tagged ‘Independent Record Labels’

Record Labels

Sunday, June 14th, 2009
Johan Nickson asked:

Setting up a record label isn’t an easy task. One of the things you have to remember is that there are thousands of people every year who have a huge interest in music, trying to set up there own record label and have little success.

The absolute most important part of a record label, the one thing is can survive without is salable artists. Many people are so caught up in making there label look trendy, with flashy websites, witty banter and fashionable image, that they totally miss the point. Your artists are without doubt the most important thing on your list.

Small independent record labels should do there absolute up most to keep there signings happy. That way when the suits from huge mega corporations like Sony and EMI come along to try and sign your now moderately successful artist for there next album, they will be less likely to risk the move. Dance music record labels are usually slightly different as they don’t usually sign there artists to sign contracts for albums. The Dance music industry revolves around singles.

One question you will have to ask yourself early in the process of setting up your label, at least in the time before your first release; is whether or not you should be a digital only label. That is for example, not to sell CD’s or Vinyl but only mp3’s or m4a’s. While this is great for singles, the industry as a whole has found people tend not to buy the full album anymore, cherry picking the songs they’ve heard or like of the radio.

One for the recent changes within dance music imparticular, is the shift from vinyl to CD. With the massive lurch towards the digital age, dance music has embraced the CD deck. The majority of DJ’s I know only use CD’s now. They are lighter, less cumbersome and less easy to damage. However the good new to mp3 labels is the fact that is very easy to burn off a CDR full of mp3 and stick it into a Pioneer CDJ. Not many people have a vinyl cutter in the bedroom.

One of the problems with mp3’s is they are far easier for people to pirate. However I believe this is not the problem that media will have you think. Some of you reading this article will remember back to when the said the cassette tape would kill the music industry. Yet here we all are still having fun listing to great music.

Unfortunately for many of you, the time maybe too late four you to start your dream carrier. It all depends on your chosen style of music. If you’re a pop fan, which I’ll assume most of you are not. You will never compete with the likes of EMI, so put the idea out of your head of setting up a pop label. I also think the same should be said about indie. There are plenty of independent labels out there who focus on indie music (that’s how the genre got its name) who are a lot more established, and have a good reputation.

Your best bet is to build your label around a niche market, and try to embody the sound. Like what Factory Records did in the 80’s in the UK.

So I’m off now to set up my afro-gabba-funktastic-trance-tro label see you on the other side.

Starting an Indie Label: Not As Hard As You Think

Thursday, June 4th, 2009
Ty Cohen asked:

Independent record labels have been around since the beginning of records themselves. The biggest problems in the past, when figuring out how to start an independent record label, have had to do with funding and the generation of profits. “Indie” labels more recently though have exploded on the music industry scene for many reasons. Over the next few minutes, we are going to go over how to start a record label and why it is not as hard as your think.

Learning how to start and run your own record label is not an impossible feat by any means. In fact, the whole process has become much easier with time. Up until the 1990’s recording equipment and products were gigantic and quite expensive. But now they have not only shrunk in size but the price has shrunk as well. This has made things much easier for all those out there who were trying to figure out how to start an independent record label with very little cash flow. So, that solves your equipment problem. Now, where to put it…

Once you have the equipment, you are going to need some sort of make-shift studio. Some people may have the luxury of starting this business at home. But this all depends on where you live and the set up of your home. Deciding to start an independent record label from home can cut your costs tremendously. If this is not an option for you, then a rented space can be surprisingly cheaper than you would think. If you just want to test the waters before totally committing, then renting a pre-stocked ready-to-go studio for around $100/hr. is another option to consider. Remember, you are just starting out so you don’t have to go “all out” in the beginning.

Now you can see that there are many options for those contemplating how to start a record label. The Indie record label market is on the rise, so what exactly are you waiting for? As you can see, the cost of starting up are minimal and believe me, in the long run, the profits can be great.

Starting your own label can be risky business but risk is something that every entrepreneur has to take at some point. With proper guidance and the right amount of determination, learning how to start and run an independent record label should be no problem at all.

Independent Record Labels Need To Be Counted

Thursday, May 28th, 2009
Robert Benson asked:

With vinyl record sales up more than fifteen percent over last year’s totals (858,000 ‘units’ bought in 2006 versus 990,000 in 2007, according to Nielsen Soundscan), has the comeback of this historical audio medium reached its pinnacle? No one can say for sure, but one thing is certain, these sales figures are not a full indication of just what is happening in the ‘vinyl world’ and how many records have truly been sold.

These sales figures may be underestimated and under represent the exact sales figures because they don’t always include the sales at the smaller ‘indie’ record shops where vinyl does the best. I spoke with Virgil Dickerson, owner of one of these ‘indie’ record shops, and Vinyl Collective (based in Denver, Colorado) about what he is noticing about the trend to go back to vinyl records.

“Certainly, my CD sales have dropped off, and I have seen an increase in the sales of our vinyl records. People want a tangible product to go along with their music. The record album artwork and the great sound of vinyl are also factors in the resurgence,” detailed Virgil. “Digital music lacks the ’soul’ of a record and there is almost a therapeutic ritual when you experience playing vinyl, the act of physically playing the record, the smell, turning the record over to hear the other side- are all factors as to why people are in love with the format.”

But, is the vinyl resurgence just a passing fad, what do you see for the future of the vinyl record?

“Some of our customers are what I term as ‘lifers,’ people who will buy records whether they are popular or not and may even have an extensive collection of records. And then there may be some that are just jumping on the ‘vinyl bandwagon,’ buying records to be cool or because they are popular now, but there will always be a place for vinyl within the music community,” said Virgil.

As previously noted, Virgil is the owner and operates Suburban Home Records, a record label that signs and releases music from bands from all over the world as well as Vinyl Collective, a unique vinyl friendly web store. And with such an eclectic array of musical genres to choose from including punk, alternative country, heavy metal, rock and roll and just about anything in between, his customer base is as varied as the musical styles that they offer.

We discussed some of the vinyl record formats that are being manufactured, including audiophile vinyl, picture discs, limited releases and colored vinyl.

“With regard to colored vinyl, we do it because we want each pressing to be distinctive. Colored vinyl is more prevalent now than, lets say, ten years ago and is highly sought after; people want it, so we appease our customers by releasing it,” explained Virgil. “We have some that are just one color, clear vinyl and we have added some with speckles and swirls.”

“Picture discs are also highly sought after as well, but are much more expensive per unit to manufacture. They are usually released with no jacket (they are kept in a clear re-sealable package) so that helps to reduce the cost. And the sound quality can fluctuate from good to bad depending on the pressing plant that is used. Audiophile records are more expensive as well, manufactured as 180-200 gram records instead of our norm, which is 140-160 grams,” said Virgil.

We also discussed the difference in sound quality between audiophile records and the normal standard vinyl releases.

“Audiophile records have a better sound quality because a higher grade of vinyl is used and the grooves are cut deeper into the vinyl, producing a much clearer sound. I would think that they are also less susceptible to scratching and scuffing and withstand the normal wear and tear that a record gets form use, because of their thickness,” related Virgil.

We talked about ‘limited releases’ and why these are not only popular, but profitable as well.

“Well, instead of pressing, let’s say, 5,000 copies of a particular recording, we may only press 500. This helps to keep our costs down and collectors love this type of release; they will own an uncommon or rare record, which can affect the resale value of the record, depending on various factors such as the artist, condition etc.”

What other marketing ploys are utilized in the record business?

“We are starting to sign up bands for a 7″ ’split’ series. We will do a pre-order for each 7″ and have several artists already committed to the project including Chuck Ragan/Tim Barry, William Elliott Whitmore/Josh Small, Fake problems/Look Mexico, Rocky Votolato/Chad Price (of Drag the River), just to name a few. The artists will do a cover of a song that has influenced what they do today. We not only have our own artists from Suburban Home Records, but other record labels and artists as well. And this is not so much a marketing ploy, as it is a unique opportunity for artists to be heard by other fan bases that may have not heard of the artist before the split and may also introduce the listener to another kind of musical genre that they may not listen to. With luck, we hope to have customers be interested enough to collect the whole series,” detailed Virgil.

We have just met the man behind the scenes at Suburban Home Records/Vinyl Collective, one of hundreds of independent record labels that produce quality vinyl records and allow independent musicians to be heard by the masses. Why these sales are not tabulated with the ‘big box’ record stores or major labels is food for thought. But if Suburban Home Records/Vinyl Collective keeps releasing quality vinyl records, it is just a matter of time, before they too, will become a “major label” and be counted, as the sale of vinyl records continues to move upward.