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record label - The W1nners' Club

Here’s how to say ‘unemployment’ in some of the most random languages we can think of:

  • Gortsazrkut’yun = Armenian
  • Bēkāri = Bangla
  • Nezaměstnanost = Czech
  • Werkloosheid = Dutch
  • Senlaboreco = Esperanto
  • Bērōjagārī = Nepali
  • Kubasa = Shona
  • Arbetslöshet = Swedish
  • Ho hloka mosebetsi = Sesotho
  • Diweithdra = Welsh
  • Ukungasebenzi = Zulu

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, you’re going to have to remove the above from your life by finding yourself a new job.

Have you ever considered setting up your own record label?

If you manage to sign the next Rihanna, the cash should be half decent.

If paying for wiry indie kids to arse about in a recording studio for six months trying to become the next Radiohead sounds like it could be a blast, here’s what you’ll need to do to become successful:

1.    Pick a genre


Def Jam, Tuff Gong, Rough Trade, Acid Jazz – all of these legendary record labels are associated with a particular genre of music and you’ll need to do the same in the early days. You’ll also need to consider whether you want to release your artist’s music in a physical format or as downloads only. The last thing you want is to have 2000 copies of your first signing’s greatest hits rotting away in your mum’s basement whilst you struggle to convince anyone to buy a copy (trust us – it’s no fun).

2.    Name your record label


All the best record labels throughout history have always had great sounding names. There was Delicious Vinyl, Tommy Boy, Death Row, Metalheadz and er – Factory. The point is, having a cool name for your fledgling record label will help to convince the punters that the bands you sign are cool as well. We suggest you flick through the dictionary and pick the first two words you come across, then stick them together. We’re going to have a go now to prove our theory, so here goes…………Annual…………Leave – which in our opinion is quite ironic given the subject matter of the article.

3.    Get a logo designed


You’re going to want the fans of the music your label releases to be able to identify your brand whenever they’re in a record shop or browsing online. You’ll therefore need an eye-catching logo to remind them that the cool track they’ve just heard is one of yours. Try to keep it relevant to the style of music you’re selling eg. don’t use a skull and cross bones if you’re a label that specialises in Choral recitals or a Zulu Assegai if you’ll be releasing Alt-Right death metal.

4.    Build a website


Don’t listen to the naysayers who think it’s all about social media these days. Whilst it is indeed important to have a strong social media presence, hosting your own site will give you the capacity to sell your tracks directly to your audience and will also provide them with relevant information to help you promote your artists.

5.    Get your music sounding completely awesome


Sometimes, the difference between a hit track and a dud can be how you arrange and mix it. There’s no point spending a ton of money on recording if you ultimately end up with something that sounds like the aural equivalent of an afternoon spent picking the fluff out of a 70 year old man’s belly button. Recordings that stand up sonically as well as creatively will be necessary for you to hit the top spot with your artists. You should also consider investing in quality mastering as this will give your tracks the necessary ‘shine’ that is required to prick a listener’s ears up.

6.    Generate some publicity


It’s time to summon your inner Malcolm Maclaren and generate some hype for the bands that you’re working with. There are many ways to market new acts these days eg: Facebook, Soundcloud, Youtube, Twitter and even Myspace accounts. The key thing is to make sure that your content is worthy of the attention of the masses. By that we mean, you need to engage your audience and build a relationship with them so that they get interested in what you’re offering. It’s a bit different from the days of The Sex Pistols, but if you do decide to release a sarcastic song about the monarchy, doing a photoshoot outside Buckingham Palace might get you a bit of extra hype.

7.    Make sure you have contracts in place


As much as a man’s word should be his bond, these bonds can easily be broken once a bit of cash starts flowing. You therefore need to make sure you have contracts in place between your company and your artists to avoid any ambiguity when you pay them 5% of whatever you end up making. Make sure that the terms you have agreed are clearly set out in a document that is printed and signed by you and the artist in question. Please note: Vanilla Ice is rumoured to have signed away his publishing rights to hip-hop mogul Suge Knight after being dangled from a hotel balcony by his ankles – something to bear in mind if the negotiations prove trickier than initially anticipated.

8.    Get them out on the road


Playing live is arguably the most effective form of publicity for fledgling artists because there’s a good chance of it leading directly to record sales. Make sure you constantly plug your website and also consider setting up a stall with merchandise such as, CD’s, T-Shirts etc. when your artist is out on tour. If album sales are doing particularly badly, you may also want to consider selling drugs as well to pay for the tour bus.



9.    Collect your royalties


You’ll need to sign up with the relevant collection societies so that you can register your music and collect royalties from sales. PRS is the collection society that looks after song publishing and MCPS is responsible for collecting the royalties for the recordings. Bear in mind that there can sometimes be a significant time lag between accounting periods (usually 6 months minimum), so this should be taken into account when deciding your release schedules. As a record label owner, you’ll also be responsible for any issues that arise as a result of sampling, so think it through carefully before you attempt to release the world’s first track that is made entirely of uncleared samples as a publicity stunt – you’ll get the publicity all right, but it’ll be as a case study in an issue of The Good Prison Guide!

10.  Keep on top of your taxes


That’s right, even David Geffen has to file the odd tax report now and again. They say the only things in life that are guaranteed are death and taxes, but the inland revenue is only concerned about one of the above. They also have a lot more people on the payroll than death to chase up errant payers – so bear that in mind if you have a hit record and are thinking of doing a ‘Ken Dodd,’ or ‘Lester Piggott.’

Good luck!


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