Starting a Music Label

Music Label

Music labels are companies that oversee the recording careers of artists. Their staff includes experts in marketing and press relations as well as radio pluggers, account departments and more.

They have an expansive network of contacts that enable them to fund artists worldwide. Furthermore, they connect artists to producers specialized in forging their art and send tracks off for mixing/mastering by professionals full-time.

Record Deal

Record deals are the traditional exchange between record labels and musicians. A record deal gives labels exclusive rights over an artist’s recordings for an agreed upon term and territory (term/territorial), in exchange for which artists receive both monetary advances as well as royalties payments.

A comprehensive recording contract should include provisions to protect copyright ownership in sleeve art and hire photographers and designers as needed, while protecting an artist’s right to have their name or likeness used for promotional purposes and address potential sources of secondary income through recording exploitation such as sync fees paid for use in commercials and films or album sales in countries without distribution capabilities from their label.

A strong recording contract should cover all responsibilities of both artist and label, including promotion and personal appearances by them, copyright guarantees from them, recoupment of expenses related to production like producer advances through royalty income; this can help avoid situations like Mariah Carey v. EMI in court 37 years later over accounting practices!

Due to digital media’s proliferation, musicians frequently pursue record deals solely for distribution purposes. But this may not always be necessary or even desirable; with proper knowledge it may be possible to achieve professional-sounding distribution without signing an exclusive record deal. Furthermore, some recording companies now provide label services deals whereby they provide similar distribution, marketing and support as a conventional label without taking over master ownership or deducting from royalty shares.


Once all the legalities have been addressed, it’s time to get down to business. The first step should be acquiring the necessary equipment for daily label operations. This could include both music recording equipment and computers and smart devices to enable team members to complete their work efficiently. Depending on the nature of your label venture, additional studio space could also be included for recording musicians.

Setting up an accounting system for your label is also vitally important, helping to keep track of finances, catalog management, musical works released for release or special events, special events and much more. Reprtoir provides an all-in-one software solution designed specifically for labels that enables you to oversee these aspects from a central platform.

Although many labels remain viable sources of talent discovery and development, more artists are opting for independent career management instead. This has forced record labels to reconsider their place within the industry and determine how best they can remain relevant.

One way for labels to do this is by focusing on their niche. It is vital that labels understand exactly which genre(s) of music they will promote – for instance, one that specializes in acoustic guitar instrumental music could better suit an artist like Phoebe Bridges than one specializing in pop and R&B songs.

Staying relevant as a label requires focusing on diversity and inclusivity. Music represents people of all backgrounds; labels that put more effort into this aspect will find themselves drawing in audiences that are more diverse.

As the record label industry evolves, it’s crucial for artists to understand what roles and responsibilities a label entails so they can assess if working with one is suitable. While some renowned musicians have built empires without assistance from record labels, many more artists have found that teaming up with a record label helps reach wider audiences while expanding their brand.


Beginning a music label can require hard work and late nights, but its success can bring great rewards: witnessing an artist take off on launch day is simply priceless! Once launched, marketing of the label will fall under the responsibility of those in charge who should devise a plan of action and set goals to reach. An investment in promotional tools such as music recording equipment and studio space would prove immensely useful in creating promotional material for the label itself. Promoting your label by setting up pages on popular social networking websites such as Myspace and Facebook for all of its artists may also help. Hosting concerts that promote your label and its roster of bands can help sell tickets while giving fans a chance to see firsthand the talents of each artist on display. Concerts provide a cost-effective means of marketing the label and its artists; encouraging bands on your label to bring CDs or vinyl for sale as well as catalogs or pamphlets can add even further depth of marketing efforts for them and your label.

Finding new talent that resonates with its target audience is at the core of any record label’s work and this task falls to its A&R department or artist and repertoire division. Here, people in A&R listen to demos from aspiring artists while attending live shows, monitoring industry developments, keeping tabs on breakthrough artists, networking, etc. to discover potential candidates.

Once an artist is signed by a label, the contract they receive will detail their deal type, any restrictions and the length/term/duration as well as percentage of royalties to be distributed. Furthermore, record labels often employ teams of people that assist in publicity and promotion activities on behalf of performers gaining media coverage or merchandise sales at stores/venues.


Distribution deals enable music companies to market and distribute their releases into music stores, online platforms and other retail locations where people can purchase artists’ music. Labels rely on this revenue stream as it helps cover costs associated with studio recordings sessions, marketing initiatives and promotion for the artists they support.

Launching your own record label can be an exhilarating, yet daunting, endeavor that takes plenty of enthusiasm and determination. To increase the odds of success, join a trade organization for music labels to work alongside peers in your field and gain knowledge and perspective about this particular business, while accessing literature that can aid growth.

Manufacturing and Distribution Deals (M&D) were once an integral component of label operations; however, due to streaming services and digital downloads they have become less critical. M&D deals allow distributors to pay the manufacturing costs up front before recovering those initial investments through sales.

Physical distribution may seem intimidating, but it’s an integral part of how labels make money from their releases, and should be taken seriously by all musicians. A sales and distribution department will handle orders from retailers while working to ensure there is enough product produced by production without running out prematurely or overproducing.

If you want to launch a music distribution business, first register it as a legal entity. Depending on the size of your operation, sole proprietorships or LLCs might be preferable depending on whether smaller operations need sole proprietorships for tax reasons while larger ventures might prefer an LLC structure. In addition to registration requirements and insurance requirements that will vary based on its scale of operations.

If you opt for digital distribution, bulk distributors like CD Baby or Tunecore can assist in placing your music into online stores and other distribution platforms. Furthermore, Bandcamp allows you to set up an online store which enables listeners to purchase and download directly.

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