By Leonie Junge
Do you want to start your own label, but don’t actually know where to start?
A few weeks back we hosted our monthly “School Of Paradise” Session on How to Build a PRO Label with the PRO+ ambassador Rainer Scheerer, founder & CEO of Springstoff, a Berlin Music label and administrator for around 12 associated labels. This session brought key insights and steps to go, when you want to seriously start building your label.
Start with asking yourself some questions…
Why am I releasing music? Why do I promote music?
Get your motivation clear and know why you are spending time, money and energy into building this. This builds the base of your brand identity.
What exactly do we want to do here? What story do I want to tell?
Write specific goals for yourself, be aware of what you want to achieve and what your brand identity is. What stories will I be telling with my releases? What music do I want to work with?
How will we work on it?
Last up, find a way of working. How to organize yourself is a crucial part and base for all the releases you will be doing. Also be clear with the artist on how you want the relationship to look like and clarify what is expected from both sides.
Get Your Set Up!
With your aim & goals in mind, get your basic set up. Have an idea of what genres you want to work within, which formats you want to release (f.e. a series of singles or EP’s). Start building your own databank & structure for releases, allocate your budget, start building contacts that will be needed in the release process (graphic designers, sound engineers, Curators, Magazine & Radio contacts…) and have a basic legal set up.
If you don’t have legal knowledge, just do some research on your own, reach out to your friends or other artists & labels you know. Attention: Contracts are also protected by copyright, so do not just copy someone else’s. At the beginning, you also don’t need to have the fanciest contract, it is just about a basic agreement you can also refer back to. Be sure to know your contract and are ready to answer all questions about it!
Get Your Artists & Music!
When you have your base sorted, start looking out for artists. Depending on your taste in music and the way you listen and get in touch with it, you have to find your own way of reaching out, whether that is at the studio, events, clubs or just within your friend or work group. Another helpful approach is to use SubmitHub, where you can open up your page to music submissions from around the world. All in all, there are many ways to find artists out there, but to make the right decision, ask yourself the following questions:
Will it benefit the label? Will it benefit the artist? Will it make me happy?
If you are answering at least one question with YES, you are on the right track, and ideally, you tick all three. When you have found a match and signed a contract, make sure to get the mix & mastering ready, before you start the release process. With late changes on the music further down the release timeline, things just get hectic.
For the artwork, a good method to spend time, at least on electronic releases, is to have a label template that you can easily adapt & change for each release and that has the look & feel of your brand. For other genres like Hip Hop, R&B, Pop more individual artworks work better normally. Either the artist comes along with it already or you have to reach out to a graphic designer.
As mentioned earlier, make sure to build a network with the people you need further down the line, so you always know the people to go to when it is time for the above steps.
Get Your Strategy!
When to start the planning process…
When the basics are on the table, it’s time to kickstart into release Strategy. When the master is on the table, you can normally set your release date 8 weeks from that point. This gives you enough time to plan everything through & in time. Of course, every release is individual, so it might also be two weeks or two months of planning sometimes. With physical releases you definitely should plan ahead way more, to make sure the product is well promoted and ready in time.
Why are you releasing this single? Why are you telling this story? Why is it part of your story as a label? And why are we promoting it? What makes it special?
Answer all these questions for yourself and you have the base of your release. Make sure it aligns with the sound, the artist look & feel, cover artwork and visuals. Best thing is to have this written up in an existing Press Text, that you can use for the next step.
What is the goal of Promotion?
In the past days of Music Promotion, 5 - 10 years ago, it was common to do a lot of promotion before the release, trying to create pressure before the release by playing it on radio, in clubs and getting the song known, so that on the release date everyone is running to the stores or to iTunes, buying the music. The whole goal was to get it into the charts, to get a lot of pressure on the first day of the first week.
Maybe you want to have an agency doing that or you have an interesting idea on how to create momentum & hype on Social Media.
Whatever way you go, it’s important to start some weeks before the release to start thinking about it & make a plan. Is the label, an agency or the artist themselves doing that? Is there in announcement date? Or do we just start promoting on release date?
…Are just some of the questions you should talk about.
The promo tools you can use are Inflyte, where you can send out your music to your DJ List; or Chartmetrics, a helpful tool to overlook the traction of your artist & releases. Both are included in our PRO+ offers, so make sure to check it out here! You can also read up on how to build your own Media & Radio Database, in one of our recent blog posts.
Here is a graphic that might help you to have a clear idea:
Hand in your Marketing Drivers!
You should ingest your release around 5-6 weeks before release date, so it can be pitched in time. We as your distributor, use our own power & contacts to pitch the release before release date to the different service providers. The Marketing Drivers are here for you to communicate your story and more info (f.e. followers, territory, ad spend...) to Paradise, so we can make sure to communicate it to the DSPs. The earlier you hand this in, the more pitching opportunities there are and therefore the higher your chances to make it to an editorial playlist.
A release frequency of one release per month is always a recommended number to keep your consistency up, but two months is also fine. Read up on the best times to release within a year in my last blog article. For an artist, releases in a 6-8 weeks frequency work well.
Now it’s up to you to build and organize your own process. Have Checklists on what you need to do, have a databank where you can find everything regarding your releases fast and most important: Have fun & passion!