How to Start an Independent Record Label in Florida

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Major record labels have historically held a vast advantage over independent record labels. With significant control of primary lines of marketing, promotion, distribution and retail outlets, major record labels effectively locked independent record labels out of the business. With the advent of the Internet, online music, downloading and streaming music, independent record labels can now compete on the same global playing field as major labels. Starting an independent record label in Florida offers a wealth of opportunities for those interested in a career in the music business.

Starting an Independent Record Label in Florida

Starting with only one or two artists will allow you to dedicate your start-up resources in specific areas.
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Define the type of independent record label you want to start. Issues such as genre of music to cover, number of artists you want to sign, hardcopy vs. online-only distribution and sales and target market are important questions to consider before taking the next step. This information will assist in developing the identity of your new independent record label and will make future decision-making easier.

The Jacksonville, Florida area has long been a popular spawning ground for southern rock music.
Fountain and Jacksonville, Florida skyline image by Matt Ferrell from Fotolia.com

Determine the best Florida city to serve as a base for your new independent record label. The genre of music you intend to cover may help answer this question. For example, Latin, reggae or pop record labels may work better in the Miami area, while heavy metal labels may find the Tampa area a better fit. Locating your new independent record label in an area where your selected genre is popular will help with finding new artists, developing a base market for your releases and find promotional opportunities.

For independent record labels, plush office spaces may not be necessary or practical.
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Set-up shop by locating office space and completing the legal process required to do business in Florida. For most start-up, independent record labels, a home office or professional office suite will suffice. A permanent address is necessary to set up many business services such as bank accounts and business licenses. The Florida Department of State can help with information related to setting up your new independent record label.

Small clubs and coffeehouses are a great place to find new and undeveloped talent.
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Locate and sign artists to your new independent record label by auditioning artists within the local Florida music scene. This is the best resource for finding artists for your label. This process will also allow you the opportunity to experience the artists live, as well as get a feel for their popularity and audience support. These factors can prove invaluable when it comes time to sell music.

Many personal computers come with basic recording software preloaded.
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Record and distribute music from your signed artists. Since recording budgets for start-up independent record labels are usually low, many artists utilize home recording studios. This can dramatically reduce the cost of the recording process.

Streaming and music downloads offer unlimited sales with no production costs.
CDs, mp3 and music image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com

Release and distribute your new recordings. Online music retailers are the best place to start, as the initial cost is typically small and they can offer a global distribution market. Once online, promote the music via live concert fliers, social networking and other Internet resources.

Tips

  • Purchase artist and distribution contract templates from a lawyer to ensure proper documentation.

    Community-radio station disc-jockeys are a great resource for information on new and upcoming local bands.

    For traditional CD sales, independent record stores may offer the best opportunity for success.

Warnings

  • Never pay artists money in advance without a signed contract.

References

Resources

About the Author

Jeff O'Kelley is a professional photographer and writer, currently based in the Tampa, Florida area. His images and words have been featured by websites and publications such as CNN, Creative Loafing and Tampa Bay Times. O'Kelley holds associate degrees in telecommunications and website design from St. Petersburg College.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images