Starting and running a label

DIY clubs, gigs, fun
Post Reply
User avatar
RITH
Posts: 3355
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 08:35
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/RITH
Location: Almere
Contact:

Starting and running a label

Post by RITH » Fri Jul 18, 2008 09:51

There are quite some indiepop label owners on anorak and I'm sure there are more people like me who sometimes secretly dream about starting their own. But how? What to do first? What does it cost in both money and time? What are the risks? How to arrange things legally? What kind of deals do you make with how many bands? Et cetera.

Maybe I should ask more specific questions, but for now I'm just really interested in your stories of how and why and when. My little dream will probably always stay only that, but it's still a fascinating world I want to know more about.

User avatar
crystalball
Posts: 5197
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2007 18:04
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/felters
Location: That London
Contact:

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by crystalball » Fri Jul 18, 2008 13:23

It's not that difficult, Dennis! I can tell you what we do but we only release limited edition vinyl seven-inches and not very often, so that might not be what you're looking for. What formats are you looking at?

Vinyl is great but you must be prepared to lose some money. If you do it slowly like us then it won't be huge amounts. Releasing cds and cd-rs is cheaper and you're more likely to not only make your money back but also make some profit which means you can release loads of stuff very regularly because you've got the cash. It really depends on what you want to do with the label. Roque, Mattias and other people on here will be able to tell you more about that.

All my favourite labels got started because someone heard something they were desperate to release. That's what happened with us too and it's a great motivation. It's a big leap into the unknown, and you're never prepared for the amount of work that goes into a release but it's so much fun that it's all worthwhile. I've spent hours upon hours queuing at the post office, emailing, stuffing envelopes, filling spreadsheets, designing websites and inserts, photocopying, cutting, pasting, folding, sitting at merch stalls, burning cd-rs for promos and so on, but it's a fantastic way to spend those hours. I wouldn't have it any other way! Hearing something amazing and being able to do something about it is just about the best thing ever. Apart from the basic stuff, like replicating discs etc., everything else you can do your own way, exactly like you're imagining something should look like.

I don't know how things are in the Netherlands but over here there's not much legal stuff to do. Nothing at all in fact and I guess that's because what we do goes under the radar. It's just too small for anyone to notice and profits, if any, are minimal. In terms of copyright, all the copyrights on Atomic Beat are with the artists. It helps to work with nice bands because things like that are much easier to sort out if there any problems. In terms of money and deals and things, these are all dependant on the labels and the artists - it's not standard. In our case, bands retain the full copyright of their recordings, they get copies of the records to sell (apart from the Parallelograms who fell victims of the mad success of their split with the Pains of Being Pure at Heart*) and we try and make some money back so we can release another record. You know how me and other people go on about how great it is to be part of the indiepop community and all that and we're being told off for being to self-satisfied? It's not about self-satisfaction at all. To me, the fact that you can release some records without stupid contracts or any crazy hassle between the label and the bands regarding royalties/money etc. is like a miracle. As long as no-one takes the piss, everyone is happy. I hope. :)

There's so much more to say. Ask questions and I'm sure me and other people will answer. I hope you do it!

*The Parallelograms ended up releasing the split songs on Cloudberry - whee!

User avatar
Tomb
Posts: 1263
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 12:53
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/tomb242
Location: Legra
Contact:

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by Tomb » Fri Jul 18, 2008 13:43

Well put Marianthi. I would also add don't expect to make any money form 7" single releases. There again this isn't a money making exercise for me and is about releasing the music we love.

As well as Lost Music I am also involved with Sounds eXPerience and have just been listening to the new two singles we are going to release. A spilt between Esiotrot and Foxes and a single from Olympians (ex Bridge Gang). All I can say is wow which in itself is a good reason as any to set up a label!

Like Marianthi we license the recordings so they remain the bands property. We also give them copies to sell as they wish. We do however own two releases and retain copyright because we paid for the recording sessions but that was the bands suggestions not ours!

User avatar
Trev
Posts: 6877
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 10:56
Last.fm: lostmusic
Location: Cardiff
Contact:

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by Trev » Fri Jul 18, 2008 13:51

Top post Marianthi. Top topic RITH!

Kinda fits with why/how Lostmusic Records came about and if you are interested in 7" records be prepared to lose a little cash along the way. I can't really disagree with your take on the legal side either - we're so small as to not to matter. Only work with people/bands you like. It makes it easier to sort stuff out and less chance of nasty hassles.

Getting records into independent stores is fairly simple. Contact the stores you are interested in - they decided whether they want any of the singles that you have released. Then you send'em off - sale or return. Getting money from the shops that took some singles to sell has been a little less than easy though. You'll often find that a distro (like Cargo) aren't interested in a small low volume start up.

I find the kindness of friends and strangers helps if you're not so good at artwork or design or whatever. It then somehow comes together - not always to time - but it's a thrilling experience to see something you've worked on come out and be appreciated. As hobbies go it's the best one I've got - just wish I had the money to release more records as there is so much out there and we're having to turn bands away at the moment.
not really here

User avatar
RITH
Posts: 3355
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 08:35
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/RITH
Location: Almere
Contact:

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by RITH » Fri Jul 18, 2008 14:15

Thanks guys! And of course I'm not at all thinking about making money from this... just not losing too much of it either. If I would get this off the ground, the intention would be to start and probably keep it very small. Hobbies are fine and fun, but shouldn't go take over my life completely.
Trev Lostmusic wrote:As hobbies go it's the best one I've got - just wish I had the money to release more records as there is so much out there and we're having to turn bands away at the moment.
Is there any kind of indication possible of how much a release costs? I know this depends on lots of factors, but you know... an broad estimation? I mean, before you sell anything, the initial investment to make it happen.

User avatar
crystalball
Posts: 5197
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2007 18:04
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/felters
Location: That London
Contact:

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by crystalball » Fri Jul 18, 2008 14:39

For 7" vinyl, if you're pressing 300 copies with colour covers and colour labels, it should cost something around £700.

User avatar
Tomb
Posts: 1263
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 12:53
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/tomb242
Location: Legra
Contact:

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by Tomb » Fri Jul 18, 2008 14:54

Trev Lostmusic wrote:You'll often find that a distro (like Cargo) aren't interested in a small low volume start up.
Cargo are pants when it comes to small labels who I feel they just don't care about. They still owe us money for a 2006 release!

As for costs we (sounds eXPerience as I let Trev do the talking for Lost Music Records in this thread) use the Gz Vinyl place in the Czech Republic. Costs about £839 for 500 copies with full colour artwork.

Agree with Trev about being a good hobby. Money prevent us doing all what we want with Lost Music Records but we should have two releases minimum this the year.

User avatar
Trev
Posts: 6877
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 10:56
Last.fm: lostmusic
Location: Cardiff
Contact:

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by Trev » Fri Jul 18, 2008 15:48

Lostmusic - costs for our first two were with a place in Hackney £800 for The Manhattans (single colour label/sleeve) and £900 for The Fischers (full colour label and sleeve)- both 500 runs.

Our current one (Pete Green!) is being done by the people that emerged out of the company that Atomic Beat Records (name escapes me!) used to use before they went bust - we're getting them a lot cheaper as we're attempting true DIY with home printed sleeves and whatnot. I think 300 is coming in at around £400-£450 for the vinyl and white inners only.
not really here

User avatar
RITH
Posts: 3355
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 08:35
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/RITH
Location: Almere
Contact:

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by RITH » Fri Jul 18, 2008 17:18

That does sound expensive but somewhat reasonable. As long as you sell quite a couple, I suppose. Is it in your cases the label (you) that pays for it all? No risk involved for the bands?

User avatar
Pavlunka
Posts: 19
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 21:49
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/tweeasfucknight
Location: London
Contact:

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by Pavlunka » Fri Jul 18, 2008 18:06

This is SO helpful! Thanks :)

And I love how so many 7" get made in the Czech Republic - represent! xx

User avatar
Trev
Posts: 6877
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 10:56
Last.fm: lostmusic
Location: Cardiff
Contact:

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by Trev » Fri Jul 18, 2008 18:26

Pavlunka wrote: And I love how so many 7" get made in the Czech Republic - represent! xx
The Czech republic place - GZ - is one of the few vinyl places left in Europe isn't it?

I am sure a lot of the small UK firms use it for their pressing needs as well.
not really here

User avatar
Tomb
Posts: 1263
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 12:53
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/tomb242
Location: Legra
Contact:

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by Tomb » Fri Jul 18, 2008 18:36

Pavlunka wrote:This is SO helpful! Thanks :)

And I love how so many 7" get made in the Czech Republic - represent! xx
The empire carries on building. Are you starting a label Pavlunka?

That GZ is the biggest pressing plant left in Europe.

User avatar
Pavlunka
Posts: 19
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 21:49
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/tweeasfucknight
Location: London
Contact:

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by Pavlunka » Sat Jul 19, 2008 16:08

Maybe :) There's a lot of songs I'd love to put out, but will have to see if we can afford it etc. Hopefully one day! xx

gofelt
Posts: 519
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2007 14:24
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/bachelorkisses

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by gofelt » Sun Jul 20, 2008 03:37

RITH wrote:There are quite some indiepop label owners on anorak and I'm sure there are more people like me who sometimes secretly dream about starting their own. But how? What to do first? What does it cost in both money and time? What are the risks? How to arrange things legally? What kind of deals do you make with how many bands? Et cetera.

Maybe I should ask more specific questions, but for now I'm just really interested in your stories of how and why and when. My little dream will probably always stay only that, but it's still a fascinating world I want to know more about.
For us (Atomic Beat Records), this is about releasing the music we love! Love for pop music made by fabulous people who are our friends! In the little insert inside our latest single (The Pains' "7) we kind of explain why/how ABR was born i.e. amazing popshows, dizzy indiepop nights, lovely friends, meeting new ones, listening to the songs that made us cry and the songs that saved our lives, love for small things in life that make it worth living ... I guess you get the idea

And like Marianthi said above, this is not about making money. In fact you have to be prepared to lose money (and sometimes all of it).
But we don't care about it. We already know that our next release might not be that popular as the Pains' single but we don't mind because we love this music.

You should definitely make your little dream come true! Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
I slice the surface here beside you/Lungs filled liquid yell I love you/Sound moves further underwater
Deep and dark my submarine bells groan in greens and grey/Mine would chime a thousand times/To make you feel okay..

User avatar
RITH
Posts: 3355
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 08:35
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/RITH
Location: Almere
Contact:

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by RITH » Mon Jul 21, 2008 15:08

crystalball wrote:It's not that difficult, Dennis! I can tell you what we do but we only release limited edition vinyl seven-inches and not very often, so that might not be what you're looking for. What formats are you looking at?

Vinyl is great but you must be prepared to lose some money.
Of course vinyl is the ideal. I know from my own experience that all I do with a CD nowadays is rip it onto my computer and put it away. No matter how cute those little 3" CDs look. So yes, I was fantasizing about vinyl, and most likely 7 inches only.
crystalball wrote:All my favourite labels got started because someone heard something they were desperate to release. That's what happened with us too and it's a great motivation.
This is actually my main concern. I'm not at all in a 'scene' here in the Netherlands. I don't meet these people at shows and I feel like most music I hear has already found its place on a label. Perhaps I'm wrong because I've never really looked at that until now! Of course there are many artists I would like to hear more from though. Do you feel like there are 'rules' about asking a band for a release? Should you for example first ask the label they've had previous releases with if it's ok?
crystalball wrote:I don't know how things are in the Netherlands but over here there's not much legal stuff to do. Nothing at all in fact and I guess that's because what we do goes under the radar.
I don't think that if I'd got started it would grow very big either. It's meant to be a hobby!

I've been thinking about some potential names and then Googling them... to find out they're already taken by some crappy store/band/label. Frustrating. But fun too!

User avatar
crystalball
Posts: 5197
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2007 18:04
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/felters
Location: That London
Contact:

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by crystalball » Mon Jul 21, 2008 15:42

RITH wrote: Of course vinyl is the ideal. I know from my own experience that all I do with a CD nowadays is rip it onto my computer and put it away. No matter how cute those little 3" CDs look. So yes, I was fantasizing about vinyl, and most likely 7 inches only.
That's great, Dennis. Twelve-inch vinyl is not wildly more expensive but it's really prohibitive when it comes to posting it because of its size.
RITH wrote: This is actually my main concern. I'm not at all in a 'scene' here in the Netherlands. I don't meet these people at shows and I feel like most music I hear has already found its place on a label. Perhaps I'm wrong because I've never really looked at that until now! Of course there are many artists I would like to hear more from though. Do you feel like there are 'rules' about asking a band for a release? Should you for example first ask the label they've had previous releases with if it's ok?
Very few bands are signed to labels these days. The best way might be to contact the band and see if they'd like to release something on your label and if they agree, contact their label to say "hello, I'd like to do that. Is it OK?" and, if they're nice (and they will be) they'll say yes. The likelihood is that the band you contact will already know what the deal is with their label anyway. I'm not sure how things used to be the olden times but nowadays most bands are really happy to release records on different labels. It's the way indiepop is right now: slutty. :)

Good luck finding a name. That's the most exciting bit! Well, apart from contacting bands. And getting the masters. And receiving the vinyl.

User avatar
Trev
Posts: 6877
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 10:56
Last.fm: lostmusic
Location: Cardiff
Contact:

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by Trev » Mon Jul 21, 2008 16:12

crystalball wrote: It's the way indiepop is right now: slutty. :)
Hee Hee. That's how we got our mitts on the lovely Pete Green!

Agree - most bands don't sign deals with small labels as such - they're happy to tout around each single to labels they want to work with.
not really here

User avatar
RITH
Posts: 3355
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 08:35
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/RITH
Location: Almere
Contact:

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by RITH » Mon Jul 21, 2008 23:02

I found a name! So now I could start a website, claim a domain, think about design et cetera. Step #1! I fear I may never come to step #532 which should be celebrating a fantastic first release... but it's a beginning.

Please send all those undiscovered masterpieces my way.

I know I should and probably will make my own mind up about this, but I'm curious: do you just ask a band for a contribution no matter which, or do you ask for a specific great song that you've heard?

A completely different question for much much (much) later: what kind of 'master' and other material is needed to send to the 7" factory?

Oh, and websites... how much is reasonable to pay for a domain? And what does a little label need (bandwidth and so on)?

I'm going random from start to finish, between and back again, but I promise I'll structure it all nicely in my head for when the time comes.

Oh, and ehm... this thread is not named: 'help Dennis start a label'. If you just have nice stories or questions, forget about me for a bit please!

User avatar
Trev
Posts: 6877
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 10:56
Last.fm: lostmusic
Location: Cardiff
Contact:

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by Trev » Mon Jul 21, 2008 23:08

a few answers.

We let the bands have a lot over control of the songs they wanna release. It works out, in the end, if they're nice people. As they need to be happy with what they are releasing. If there is one song you really want, ask nicely, and see how they take it. It's just chatting with people who want the best for their songs and if you're a good label you'll want the same as them. I'm rambling, now.

websites - hosting and storage and bandwidth is mega cheap. I use http://www.zzhosting.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; starts at about $4 US a month. Domains cost as little as £5 for 2 years - sometimes more depends on which .com or .whatever you go for.

Masters. That's a dark art. 3 releases in, I still find it all a bit baffling. Take advice from musicians and other labels.
not really here

User avatar
Tomb
Posts: 1263
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 12:53
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/tomb242
Location: Legra
Contact:

Re: Starting and running a label

Post by Tomb » Tue Jul 22, 2008 08:11

Dennis - have a look at the GZ vinyl site which has guides for all the technical specifications relating to a vinyl release. It's baffling at first but even I get it now.

As for mastering we get all ours done for sounds eXPerience at Turan Audio once we get a CDR full of wav's from the band. Maybe a bit pricey (£82 for 2 tracks) but they are very good as well as being very helpful.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest