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Be Your Own Record Label: Everything You Need to Know About Distribution

Photo by Barry Blackburn via Shutterstock

When I started my record label in 2015, I didn’t really know what I was doing, and it’s been a series of trial and error ever since. However, I'm repeatedly reminded of something Kurt Ballou (of Converge fame) said in an interview with Party Smasher Inc. about making one’s own opportunities: “Pretend you know what you’re doing until you do.”

If you want to start a label, or do a label’s functional job for your own musical project, just start doing it and figure it out as you go. Here are some things that I'm doing as a label owner that might help you and save you some time if you choose to take this path as well.

I’ve decided to split my year’s worth of knowledge into two sections: distribution and promotion. This segment will be about distribution. (Note: this is the step you typically take after pressing a record. For more on pressing a record, see my last Sonicbids article here.)

The Ultimate Guide to Pressing Physical Copies of Your Album: Vinyl, CDs, Cassettes, and More

Image via opendoorrecords.org; used with permission

Pressing an album is something that everyone wants to do, but it’s hard to do it effectively. Having physical copies of your music is important and rewarding; listeners like having something in their hands, as it represents ownership, and there’s really nothing like holding your own record. While digital downloads are probably a better way to get your music to people’s ears, physical copies are memorabilia for showgoers. Moreover, if they like your live set, they’ll be more likely to buy your record.

That said, there are a lot of ways to get your record into people’s hands, not via just their iTunes library.

7 Reasons Your Band Should Release Music on Cassette

Image via wall.alphacoders.com

This article originally appeared on Performer Magazine.

 

If you're an indie musician, there's a good chance you're interested in making physical product of your recordings. Although CDs and vinyl are positioned as the standard for physical media, and are certainly valid depending on your audience, demographic, and/or region, they may not be the format that would serve you best. Maybe, just maybe, you should be considering making some tapes. Yes, you read that right. Audio cassette tapes are still manufactured today, and many plants that make vinyl records and/or CDs still manufacture the good ol' cassette. These are some of the reasons you might consider making tapes.

Mixtape vs. Album: Which is More Important for Aspiring Hip-Hop Artists in 2015?

Image via chanceraps.com

In a contemporary world of digital music consumption, mass piracy, rising DIY careers, and free music, hip-hop artists are releasing both albums and mixtapes to gain fans and profit, but the line is blurring. Which is more valuable for an aspiring rapper: a mixtape or album? Fans or profit? And, maybe most importantly, at what point can an artist begin to profit?

How to Press Vinyl for Your Next Release: The Ultimate Guide

Women package the Beatles' Rubber Soul, 1965. (Image via inthegroovereview.com)

If you missed part one, click here to determine if pressing vinyl is the right choice for you and your music.

 

"I've never not had a turntable, and my records have never been packed away," says Record Store Day co-founder Carrie Colliton. "I really like the ritual of it, how you have to pay attention to it when you're playing a record, and you have to interact with it."

Vinyl is back in a big way – and both artists and consumers are excited for the same reasons: vinyl, despite its limitations, gives the listener so much more, reveling in each nuance, discovering new nooks and crannies in the larger-than-life sound, and decoding the masterpiece of your choice with the aid of liner notes and cover art. "The frequency range of a record closely mirrors that of what you can hear," explains Jay Millar, marketing director of Nashville's United Record Pressing. "But even in situations where I know something is sourced digital, there is a certain unexplainable sound that can only come from the needle physically interacting with the media."

There's a lot of work that goes into getting a record pressed. In part one, I touched on some things that you'd want to consider before even striking out on such an endeavor. Here's what you need to do to get things moving. A few points will be reiterated and expanded upon because, well, they're important.