Listen to today’s Music Business Poochcast™
Successfully Operating an Indie Record Label
By Professor Pooch
© 2010 David J. Spangenberg
Previously I’ve covered the benefits of owning your own Indie Labels,
and the Legal/Contractual ends,
and The Ways You Make Your Money,
Ahhhh, the Dilemma of actually trying to run a successful Indie Label – while simultaneously being “it’s Artist”:
On one side, you’re an Artist, where you must keep in mind, without Great Songs and Great Recorded and Live Performances; you’re wasting a lot of time. Therefore, you should be working on your writing, arranging, producing, practicing, playing shows, recordings, multimedia – while, simultaneously, making, and keeping, the necessary close connection with your fans – or everyone’s wasting their time.
On the other side, someone has to take care of the day-to-day, as well as ongoing projects, etc., that is, the Business Side – that is, if you want it to be more than just a hobby – and you’re interested in at least, if not becoming a GaGa or a Bieber, still earning a living…
The following responsibilities would each take more than 1 blog to describe, so I’ll just list them here with a few comments…
1. Management duties: That is, you need someone with a Music Business Background, at the minimum, if at all possible, responsible for guiding the Artist, as well as running the operations necessary, including coordinating all of your and the business’s activities, including all of the rest of the responsibilities, but not limited to …
2. Record Company Duties: physical and digital “Manufacturing and Distribution”, as well as “Artist Development” [which the Majors don’t do anymore – but it’s still essential].
3. Music Publishing duties: A big source of your income from mechanicals, to airplay, to synch licenses – all separate from your Artist income
4. Agent-type work. For Performances/Booking, and product placements, etc…
5. Making Contacts for any and everything and everyone you need to make things happen.
6. Promotion: To let fans know you even exist… You can be the greatest and most creative performer, with great songs, and great recordings, but if no one knows you exist…
7. Public Relations: Is responsible for putting you and your products in a “good light” to your fans, business, etc. Never forget, as unglamorous as it may sound, You, the Artist, technically as well as actually, are a “Product”, and how you come across to them, is very important.
8. Legal and Contract Work: I’ll just say, ignore this, and you’ll probably get ripped off…
9. Accounting – keeping track of your finances, your money, in and out; and you don’t want the IRS on your tail…
10. Miscellaneous – but important – items and responsibilities, including: artwork, photography, videography, mailings, manufacturing of products [including merchandise]…
11. And the inevitable, “Where’s the money coming from to make this all work?”
Now normally, up until the last year or two, if you were “just an Artist”, and were going through a Major Label or a large Indie, a lot of the responsibilities I mentioned would be handled by the Label. However, Companies have been pushing many of the responsibilities onto the Manager, anyway, so having the right Manager could be a big step.
To me, the ultimate Manager who would be “running my show” would be able to advance my career by having amazing contacts, great-overall music business knowledge, and a lot of money to invest in me… I wouldn’t care of it was a known Management Company, or group of people who had all that was necessary to advance my career in a way that I was happy with.
[Of course I would’ve first handled everything in my “Before You Sign With Anyone!” article in my “Free Library” to make sure I retained ownership and control of everything, so as to keep or use for leverage in making the best deal]
If you can’t find that type of person or company who would be interested in being your Manager, then the alternative would be finding the right person or people to handle the Management role. It’s a fact: SOMEONE has to make decisions – and keep everyone going in the same direction, without duplicating contacts and efforts.
No matter what, if at all possible, you want all your people, not just the manager, who fit this description: “It’s just as important to be Creative on the Business end, as You are [or your client, is] on the Creative end.” All the while Staying up-to-date on all formats and ideas, and networks, etc., and a step ahead, also!
It’s also possible, if you start out on your own, and you are happy where you are, you may decide you’d like to stay where you are – with your own company. Or, meeting the situation half way, you may be able to align your label with a larger label where they will do certain particular things for you, such as manufacturing and distribution [often called a P&D deal], for example.
Well, that’s it for today, but you can more information on what I just covered in the 1st 3 articles in my “Free Library”, or get totally detailed parts of everything I covered, in my Book & Courses available on my site, professorpooch.com.
Also remember, if you have any questions, or need my help in any way, please email me at email@example.com…
Tune in for the next episode…