You might not know it, but some of the most influential institutions in music started with a couple of frustrated musicians taking things into their own hands. This especially applies to the ever-expanding world of independent record labels. But forming your own label is no easy task, and most musicians are probably better off looking to team up with an already established one to help bring their music to listeners. If you’re considering starting your own label, here’s a few pros and cons to consider:
Pro: Creative and financial freedom
The biggest advantage of releasing music under your own label is that you don’t have to answer to anyone. Everything from the sort of music your label chooses to release to marketing tactics to financial details are 100% within the sphere of your control. In addition to being able to release any kind of music you want, you’ll also be able to have a complete say in what happens with your finances.
Con: New independent labels often lack vital resources and connections
If you’re considering starting your own label, a good question to ask is what the difference will be from simply self-releasing your music. Sure, you can call yourself a label, but what does that really mean? Do you have money saved up to invest your releases? How about close connections with booking agents and press and media contacts? Forming a label doesn’t mean that the world will start taking your music more seriously. The music industry isn’t naive and simply calling yourself a label won’t give you or your music legitimacy. If you’re thinking about releasing music through your own label, first figure out what your goals and resources are. To make it worth it, you’ll need a plan.
Pro: Forming a label helps musicians get familiar with the business side of music
Most musicians never stop to think about what things look like from a business perspective when it comes to their music. Things like profit margins, market demographics, and royalty payments become major considerations when you’re running your own label, and these are things every musician should be thinking about. Creativity and artistic expression should be the main driving forces behind the work of any musician, but not having a solid grasp on the business behind music can be detrimental for artists. Starting a label forces musicians to get familiar with the financial particulars of the industry.
Con: Running a label is a ton of non-musical work
If you love making music, then forming and running your own label is going to be a huge amount of work that will probably distract from your work. Whether it’s booking shows or promoting a release on social media, most artists have to do some non-musical work from time to time, but these sorts of tasks increase exponentially when you’ve got your own label. For musicians who hate this sort of work and aren’t particularly business savvy, starting a label isn’t going to be worth their time.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.