How to Start an Independent Label

by Brooke Hart; Updated September 26, 2017

If you are in the business of making music, there are several ways that you can build your own career. One is by starting an independent label. Knowing which steps to take will allow you to begin to record music for artists and to begin distributing it from your own label.

Building Your Studio

Step 1

Get the space. The first thing that you will need to do is find a recording space for musicians. You will want to have something with enough room to record more than one person at a time. Think about whether you will be recording a band or an orchestra before investing in the space. It is also a good idea to have more than one room, one which can be used for the mixing and the other which can be used for the recording.

Step 2

Get the equipment. Even the smallest studios that are designated as independent recording labels need equipment. You will want to start with software for your computer. Some recommended choices for professionals are Pro Tools, Vegas, Fruity Loops or even Adobe Audition. You will also need to get a mixer with enough tracks to record the band. This should be combined with studio microphones and any professional band equipment that can add onto the sound of your studio.

Step 3

Connect everything together correctly. Before you decide that your studio is complete, make sure that you didn't miss a step. For example, if you will be using a mic, make sure that you have compressors if you need it. If you are going to have acoustic instruments, make sure that you have foam around the walls to deaden the sound. These simple additions to your studio will allow you to get a more professional sound that will be better for every recording project you have.

Build Your Business

Step 1

Get a plan. Having nice equipment isn't enough. You will need to build a business and marketing plan in order to implement your independent label. This should include not only the vision of where you see your independent label, but also the types of music you want to record and what types of artists you are interested in working with.

Step 2

Get your designation set up. Making sure that you understand the step by step plan to how you will record, release and distribute music is the core of your independent label. Make sure that you are set up with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC for publishing and licensing rights. You will also want to look into places such as Harry Fox and online distribution areas for other publishing rights. As a business, make sure that you register with the IRS as a recording label.

Step 3

Know the steps to follow. Once someone comes in to record, you will mix and master their music. You will then want to get duplicate copies of the music with your independent label as the recording artist. After you have your designation, make sure that you find a way to duplicate the artists copies. You can work through affiliate programs or invest in your own CD duplication program.

Step 4

Distribute the music. Once everything is set up, you can begin to market the music through online and physical areas. Places such as CD Baby or CD Bathtub can help you to set up online areas to sell downloads and CDs. By doing this, you will begin to grow your independent label portfolio and will be able to find other musicians and artists to work with.

Tips

  • Show other musicians what you have. Often times, independent labels start by putting their own music on CD, then using this to distribute others music. This is a good way to start working your way into the industry.

Warnings

  • Don't miss out on royalties, licensing rights and publication rights. Know what yours are and tap into the resources that will help you to benefit from how you can earn on every musical piece that is being distributed.

About the Author

Brooke Hart has been writing since she learned how to read, focusing on developing stories, poems and screen plays. She continued this with studies in English, receiving a Bachelors and creative writing to obtain a Masters degree. She has been writing for over five years with her own business, Orion Information Services.