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Music Related Businesses

How to Mean Business in the Music Industry

How to Mean Business in the Music Industry

A Guest Post by Symphonic Distribution

The music industry is over saturated and retailers such as Beatport, Trackitdown, and others have 30,000+ record labels on their brand sites. Each and every day new content is ingested from distributors like us and others around the world and each record label is comprised of hard working individuals that love the art form of music but also want to do something special in the music industry and want to work as hard as possible to release and market material from artists.

We are honored to work with many record labels and often times give them three short sentences as a piece of advice. Of course, we stress consistency with each and every one of these sentences but we will work towards keeping this as simple as possible. Be Smart. Be Original. Be Business.

Be Smart

So you are a record label. That’s great! But are you doing things the smart way? First, it is VITAL that you have an agreement with every single artist you deal with. From remixers to featured artists to original release artists, put things in writing and make it clear but also protect yourself as well as the music you are releasing. It doesn’t stop here though. Being smart is not just about having a contract with an artist, it’s ensuring that what you receive from an artist is not something that will land you in a heap of trouble.

Let’s say an artist sends you a song and is excited. You get excited, and we as your distributor, we get just as excited to be distributing this product! To “Be Smart”, you should really query the artist in terms of how the material was made. Was it from sample packs? Did they purchase samples off a “DJ Tools” section? Is the material 100% original? You should make a list of questions to ask an artist and remixer because unfortunately, with the industry being as saturated as it is, many samples are found online and just because it is available for purchase via a “DJ Tools” section, it does not mean that an artist can take that sample (that may be owned by another record label or artist) and simply release it. BE SMART, ensure that you are releasing original product.

The same above goes for artwork. Believe it or not, if you just take a stock art from Google Images and/or you use an image from an artist without their permission, that is truly not being smart and we have seen cases before where artists’ work and photography is copyrighted and has been illegally used by record labels and artists. A top to bottom query of everything is KEY for success and protection. Do you really want a cease & desist to ruin your day?

Be Original

If you are smart and do the above, then you will be ORIGINAL. If you are careless and just release music that you are sent through Soundcloud or Sendspace then my friend, unless you are 100% sure that it is original, you just may be making your brand less original and less relevant. Let’s start with the music.

There was a sample pack by the name of “Vengence” that every producer and their Grandmother had their hands on. We couldn’t tell you how many songs we heard with the word “Vengence” and how many songs contained the same vocals from these packs in their productions. What we can tell you is that it was literally hundreds! (Even some big name talent were also guilty of this). What does this do? Well, the law is being broken because they are cleared packs however, there is nothing original whatsoever about it and you have just fallen in the overcrowded haystack that is the music industry.

There are thousands of songs released every day and you are not standing out from any of them if you’ve done what so many have already done! In terms of releases, that also applies. There are record labels out there that their focus is to literally just license music from other record labels, re-release them, and then even re-license licensed songs. What a clusterf*$&! Not only is it a mess because the artists’ music is being spread to areas of which they may not know, it makes that label look completely un-original and fills the industry with the same music that has been heard 1,2,10,20 times! If you want to do a compilation…. think about it, it’s not always a sure shot way to superstardom.

There’s tons more you can truly say for being original but record labels that are reading this: Release original music. Don’t re-release. Do what was mentioned above in terms of screening the catalog. Be selective. Be creative. If you haven’t done something and/or you don’t truly believe anyone has done it, then that is originality.

Be Business

We always tell our clients that they should treat their record label like a true business entity. Businesses have many challenges and some have many ups and downs. At the end of the day, it’s business and you cannot have the mindset that just because you release music from artists, you are P Diddy or Jay Z. You have to truly work very hard at “making it” and even expect to never make it but never truly give up your passion.

In terms of being business however, that goes for your attitude as well. You can sell without having to brag. Instead use words such as “I have a great tune from this artist that you may or may have not heard about.” That already is making you appear more professional just because you show humility.

Next, being in business is that you run your record label like a business. That is, you wake up and you fulfill your responsibilities of running that record label. If you are the type that checks email once a week and/or doesn’t respond right away then you are just a Soundcloud account with a logo on it. Nobody said running a record label was easy but it’s like a business, with its ups, downs, challenges, rewards, and ambitions.

How can you run a label like a business you ask? BE CONSISTENT! Check email daily (multiple times a day if you have to), seek out new artists daily, release quality music, ensure you have your ducks in a row financially and legally, and truly, work hard as hell! You may not succeed right away but we’re very fortunate to work with thousands of hard working record labels that are doing just that, being consistent and being responsible business owners.

In closing, these are all opinions and you may agree or disagree with them but you must admit that there are things here that are truthful. Just because you make music and/or release it does not mean you will be successful. There are other aspects to running a successful brand but what we have just said here comes up quite a bit. We completely understand the challenges record labels face as many artists don’t want to work with record labels unless their is a payment involved up front and even worse, the big namers that were once dreamers act like Donald Trump asking for ridiculous advances for something they can do in 2 hours. We get it. It’s not easy but everyone (including Symphonic Distribution) can do whatever they can and can work as hard as possible at achieving goals by Being Smart, Original, and Business.

By Jorge Brea

CEO & Founder of Symphonic Distribution

Symphonic Distribution was launched in the winter of 2006 by a Music Producer from Tampa, Florida. The company was launched with the intention of providing new and established record labels cost effective digital distribution to retailers such as iTunes, Beatport, Rhapsody, Amazon, and more with a strong emphasis on customer satisfaction. By the end of 2007, the company struck agreements with over 250 record labels, and improved its offerings to include additional services such as Mastering, Marketing, Label/Artist Development, and more.


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