Electronic Musician asked if I would write a feature on how to start your own record label. My response to the amazing editor was, ”Is a one word article too short? If not, how about ‘Don’t.’”
Of course, this is like a math teacher joke – it’s not really funny, and yet we chuckle. And yet we will continue to make music and music businesses, new ones popping up everyday year round. I myself was running my own “label” and was not planning on quitting, so I took the article theme on with gusto.
I was leaving a full-time day job, working for the GRAMMY Awards in San Francisco, when I got asked to write the article. For six years, I worked full-time in the industry amongst the gatekeepers – people who are supposed to have the answers and keys to success. So I would technically have the answer to how to be successful in this task of starting a label, right? Heck, I’d been to the first ever SF Music Tech as a guest. But most of the answers I had to share had actually come from my side job, working to develop my own music projects into successful businesses and money makers. [and of course creative excellence!]
While in the job, I was able to meet hundreds of artists, songwriters, and recording professionals. Some with names like Ben Harper and MIA. Others eager to make their big break. There still was no simple shortcut to success!
There just isn’t the same kind of roulette money of selling a record-then tape-then CD-then MP3. As a songwriter and entrepreneur in the business, I still believe in opportunity, so I decided to write a different angle to the piece. I drew from the many lessons I’ve learned (from googling questions, asking experts, calling the information lines at companies, making mistakes and fixing them, and ultimately, finding what I’m good at – inspiring people to get involved in projects and making them come to life.)
If you’re interested, check out the piece on starting your own Media Company in music. Master Class: Choose Your Own Adventure.