10 things a record label should be doing for its artists
As the previous articles show, Loving Music is ambitious, but running a label is not an easy business. We've set up a short list of things we consider to be vital for running a proper record label with potential. As such, it can be seen as a small guide for ambitious artists aiming for a career in music on what to look for in a record label.
A record label should:
1. Promote your music
Captain obvious - sales don't generate themselves by having your track on iTunes or Beatport. A label should try and reach beyond their own network. Cherish early supporters and stimulate them to share the music with their like-minded friends. Be present on all social platforms and engage the audience to create awareness.
2. Recognize the long term potential of its music/artists
Most labels are in it for the short term. It is easier to make sales with fresh music, yet after an initial release, artists can be quickly forgotten. A label needs a long term strategy to increase their brand as well as the artist's brand. A label should therefore keep in touch and not treat artists as a number. Work together on optimizing the relationship and build your brands together.
3. Have a website
Not everyone is a webdesigner or programmer, nor do they need to be. Websites can be interpreted in its broadest sense here. A record label needs to have a page where people can view their artist roster, releases and additional information. It can be one on Tumblr, Wordpress, Facebook or any other platform, just make sure people can find it. It is important that a record label does not defeat its purpose, it should add value to the music it sells.
4. Expand their reach beyond DJ's
This one seems to be a tough one to grasp. Pretty much every underground label aims their products towards DJ's. It makes sense since they're the easiest ones to sell to - they're always on the lookout for new fresh tunes. However, things really become interesting as soon as you can take it 2 steps further. Beyond the DJ's we have the underground/niche enthusiasts, and, the ultimate goal, the mainstream audience. If DJ's are the primary (read: only) market your label succeeds to reach your music might have a lot more potential being signed to a label that knows how to reach the enthusiasts or even the mainstream.
5. Think like a consumer
A follow-up of #4. It is fairly simple; Internet puts the consumer back in control. There's a gazillion outlets to obtain music from. Legally and Illegally. If a song is not available at the consumer's preferred webshop, chances are they won't buy the track or obtain a copy from an illegal source. Hardly any consumer checks more than 1 online music retailer and Google often finds a free download quicker than you would obtain the legal copy through a webshop. A record label should make it as easy as possible for all their(potential) clients to buy a copy. Implicitly this means that releases exclusively bound to a single platform (often at an increased price) are a big nono. Release a track on all platforms at the same time.
6. Strive for social engagement on a personal level
This is one of the highest possible achievements. People like a response to their question or comment. It is important to stimulate your audience to like/share your music. Social referrals are way more efficient than companies spreading their own message, plus, sharing means your reach increases exponentially.
7. Tap into alternative revenue resources
The music industry is tough as it is. There are plenty ways to earn an extra buck or 2 without that much effort. Think in advertisements, licensing and social possibilities.
8. Stand out
You don't want to be another gray mouse like the rest of them do you? Choose a label that clearly and positively distinguishes itself from the rest yet still fits the personal image you're looking for as an artist. Whether it is their brand, sound, marketing, communication, their ambitions; it can be anything. Don't bet on a gray mouse.
9. Obey their contracts
Unfortunately not all labels obey their own contracts (albeit not necessarily intentional). Some labels (even some quite big ones) do not send their artists the statements they are promised on paper at all. It requires perseverence and patience from the artist to get a copy of the statements months late, let alone get paid. An average gray-mouse online record label does not sell much. Payment are about 100$ for the first 2 months after the release. You could sue and try to null the contract, but is that worth the time, money, effort and frustration? For 100$? Wouldn't it be easier and more fun if the label would actively send you your statements on time - without having to remind them?
10. Have short and long-term goals
As said earlier, a lot of labels are seemingly in it for the short term gain. They want to grow but do not have the know-how or ambitions on paper. If they do, most of them do not communicate ambitions or relevant developments towards their artists or audience, which we think they should! Most of the gray-mouse house music record labels are ran by a single person in his free time. They're just about publishing great music and having fun. Of course music is fun, but also a serious business. Wouldn't it be great to be part of a label that thinks a few steps ahead, that invests time and money in online platforms, communication or future business? A label that aims to expand their reach and improve their (and your) business?
These are just a few of the key things Loving Music wants to stand for. This is only scratching the surface of what we intend to do. Of course more insights will follow later on. Would you like to add something to this list? Leave a comment!