You Are The Label

© 2009 Vinny Ribas

For many years, the top of the mountain for any recording artist was a major label record deal. And for some, it still is. However, many others are finding that the independent road suits them better, and for various reasons. For some it is the idea of controlling all of their songs and not having to give away the publishing. For some it eliminates the risk of putting all their eggs into one basket – the record label – with no guarantee at all that their music will ever be released, let alone climb the charts. And for others, it is knowing that they are in complete control of their own careers and don’t have corporate executives telling what they should and shouldn’t do, sing, wear etc.

If being under contract to a record label, small or large, is not your chosen path, but you still want the same kind of lucrative career as an artist, then there is something you need to realize and take seriously. By default, YOU ARE THE LABEL!

Over the years, record labels have developed a proven system of recording an artist, branding them, marketing them, assisting them in touring, selling their music, then repeating the process. As an independent artist, your path to success lies in duplicating that process to the best of your ability. That means that you need to treat your career like a business. What does that look like in real life? Here are some thoughts:

  • Just as record labels are made up of several different departments, so too, your music business requires a team. You can recruit fans (street team), friends, family, find interns, hire professionals etc. There is a solution for every budget if you just get creative.
  • Record labels spend a lot of time shaping what an artist will look like, sound like, act like etc. They insure that there is consistency in every touch point that the artist has with the public. You too need to develop your own unique and well-publicized brand.
  • Record labels hire top producers, engineers, session musicians and singers to insure that they are releasing consistently high quality recordings. You too need to research to find the best recording team that you can afford so that your CDs also are of consistently high quality. This is one place that you don’t want to skimp if possible.
  • Record labels have a marketing department. That department studies the artist, surveys his or her fans to find out who they are and why they like the artist, then develops a strong marketing plan to target market that demographic. You too need to know who you appeal to the most and why so that you can spend your marketing dollars wisely. You also need to be aware of and take advantage of all of the appropriate marketing opportunities that reach your fan demographic.
  • Record labels market and manage the artist’s music sales. You too need to market and manage your music. Music is not a ‘build it and they will come’ business. You need to strategically manage your online presence and where you are selling your music. Your need to manage your back-of-the room sales, know your inventory, know how much in CD and merchandise sales you can expect to generate per 100 people you perform for.

Record labels are big on publicity. They make sure that their artists are on the late night TV shows, doing radio interviews, making public appearances, appearing on talk shows, getting positive press and much more. You too need to use publicity to your advantage. Learn how to write a press release or hire a publicist to announce CD launches, major appearances etc. Make yourself a household word.

About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.