Saturday, January 16

Starting a Record Label 101

Whether you're a member of an unsigned band or just an avid patron of local music, starting your own record label is a great way to get the unheard music you love out to the public. Here's how.

Step 1 - Choose a name for your record label. It should be something catchy that you would be proud to be associated with. Also consider choosing a name that fits with the genres of music that you intend to release.

Step 2 - Search the Internet once you've chosen a name to see if there are any other record labels or companies with the same name.

Step 3 - File a fictitious name statement with the secretary of state or registrar of deeds in the state where your record label will be based. This will give you the right to do business under your label's name, and they will perform a search of their database to be sure that no one else already owns the rights to the name. For this reason, it might be a good idea to have a couple of label names as backup so you don't waste a trip.

Step 4 - Decide on what form of business your label will claim for tax purposes. There are basically three forms to choose from. The first is a sole proprietorship, which is a single owner who accepts the responsibility of all of the profits, losses, risks and liabilities of the label. The second is a partnership, which is usually started by a duo or band that wish to share all the control and responsibility of the record label. And finally you could choose to form a corporation, which is a separate legal entity that protects the owners (known as stockholders in this case) from the brunt of liabilities associated with the label.

Step 5 - Obtain a business license from the city or county business license office, or request one through the mail. There is a small fee, but the license will allow you to legally operate your new record label as an official business.

Step 6 - Create a record label logo and start thinking about how you are going to market your image. Ask what you have to offer bands that are willing to sign to your label, and be prepared sell yourself at a moment's notice.

Step 7 - Convince artists and bands to sign to your label. Approach your favorite local bands and tell them why it would be in their best interest to join your label.

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