Tag Archive for: picking a label

Starting a label for the right reasons (Part 2)

Our last post was about deciding on the right reasons to start a label, and before you go on reading this post on starting a label yourself, I’d invite you to go back and read the first part of this series. If Part 1 was a bit of a reality check for you, or perhaps was a bit of a disappointment, Part 2 will be more positive and help you get in touch with your entrepreneur-self.

So, let’s get things straightened up and go over the “I want a label” checklist.

The name of the game is networking

If there is one thing that is essential to run a label, it’s to know the right people and to make good connections; this alone will make a tremendous difference. Believe it or not, I know a few people who have previously decided out of the blue to start a label because they had access to all the resources online to do it, but no network; no surprise then that the outcome of a these endeavors were very few sales.

But how does one network?

I’ve discussed this previously in past posts; I believe it starts on Soundcloud, where it’s important to connect with people who have similar tastes…these people will be supporters of your projects if you connect with them. People will be interested if they see some action on your music and profile. If you don’t mention, like, or reshare anything you’re going to be caught in a downward spiral.

Other ways to network include:

  • Connect with local DJs, clubs.
  • Follow labels you love and release music like you want to release. Connect with the artists.
  • Leave comments on podcast and music you like.
  • Go out, try to attend festivals and be social. Making physical contacts is incredibly empowering and important.
  • Tip: Investing 1-2h per day in networking will bring huge benefits down the road.

Be present

A long time ago, I read an article stating that humans get curious or engaged after a series of 3 notifications prompting them to buy a product. In other words, you need 3 ads or 3 different sources to get people’s attention or a sale. This article was current, but I still believe there’s some truth to that. This means that for your music, you want to get people’s attention multiple times so they get interested enough to listen to you. However, people are constantly submerged with solicitation so a no-solicitation approach might even be better. This means you want people to talk about your music but you don’t want your approach to be “Hear me! Buy this!”, but instead a “This is a great track!” kind of comment. People are way more likely to be curious if there’s no “call to action” to do something. This means that you need to be present, and have a web of contacts to share the news for you; this will only happen if your network is solid.

Have solid contributors

You can’t expect to have a solid label if you can’t consistently release great music. To do that, you need some solid artists and releases. You need a balance of new artists mixed with known artists, either through remixes or full releases. But to get artists on board, you need to create a safe ground and attractive platform to have people wanting to jump in.

But once you have artists on board, you need to keep them. Having ways to keep them stimulated such as with label nights in a club, a podcast series, or pushing their music to get reviews, promoted, etc. – these things are very exciting for anyone.

TIP: A new label will have a hard time getting a PR agent to do publishing and advertising but this is something you can slowly do yourself. Perhaps we can discuss that in a future article.

Think of your branding

Branding is also exciting for an artist, but also for fans. People love finding a community that makes music that speaks to them. That’s probably the most difficult part of starting a label because a branding will stick with you until the label’s over. You need to be sure of what image, values, sound, aesthetic you want to project. You’ll attract people in as a consequence.

TIP: You can totally find someone on Fiverr for a logo.

Be innovative

Innovation is about watching what trends are happening in the music world, and trying to fulfill the needs of people who support what you do. If people prefer to buy music on a certain store, try to focus your promo there. Nowadays, the main trend is to go through Bandcamp for selling and promoting the music. But you might want to work with an aggregator to have your music be on 100+ online stores plus streaming sites. There are many aggregators out there you can work with. They all do the same things, but have different fees so you might want to shop around.

TIP: Start small, grow as you go.

Be ready to invest

Running a label has nothing to do with making money out of it, seriously. Trust me, you pay to have a label and sometimes, there are moments where you get some money back in the process.

If labels don’t really make money, why start one?

Starting a label opens doors. It will become your platform of expression, a hub to connect and attract people who share the same tastes as you and who can grow together into a place where you can all spread the music you believe in. Running a label is not about doing anything yourself. I’ve started enjoying running my own when I started delegating tasks to people who wanted to participate in helping doing something they liked doing. To surround yourself properly takes time but is also fun.

To finish up, starting a label also requires some technical items. You’ll need to cover these if you want your label to be selling.

  • ISRC codes. These are necessary for selling and are a way to create a single number for each song.
  • Have a website, a Soundcloud account, a Facebook fan page, and a Paypal account for payments.
  • Create a Bandcamp account.
  • Get an online shop aggregator.
  • Have someone do artwork if you’re not good at it. You can find someone on Fiverr and use Canva for little needs.

Getting signed to a label

One of the things I notice most from the artists I hang out with is how obsessed they can be about getting signed to a label.

But one of the main reasons people fail is that they’re doing it wrong.

You probably already know how to send in a demo, but do you know how to pick a label? Just like when picking a reference track, you need to find all possible references of the label you want to work with. You need to do your homework.

Don’t get me wrong. Even when I make a new track, there’s always that little voice at the back of my head saying, “Oh, this might fit this or that label.” And if I’ve been contacted recently, then I might if you're having trouble getting signed to a label, you could be targeting the wrong peoplealready have a lead, which makes it easier. Admittedly, at my stage I have a lot of contacts and receive a lot requests, plus I run my own record label, so the question of where to publish my music isn’t as much of an issue. But still, sometimes it is.

If your approach isn’t succeeding in getting you signed, it could be that you’re poorly targeting the labels you’re submitting to. In other words, labels don’t always sign artists for their music only.

They make decisions based on a number of considerations.

Does your approach match how they think? Getting to an A&R (the “artists and repertoire” division of labels) is not easy. You need to find who picks the label’s music so you can submit your music to them. Forget writing to random email addresses or messaging Soundcloud profiles. Trust me, it doesn’t work this way. Instead, try reaching out to an artist who’s already on board to find the right contact. If you can meet them in person, it’s always the best thing to do.

Do you share the same networks? Are you friends with artists on the label? Are you following the same artists on Soundcloud? Is the A&R friends with some of your friends on Facebook? Being socially close to them can really help.

Does your profile answer a need? This one is crucial. Each label has its own ways of doing things and is carefully building up its catalogue just like a DJ prepares their set for a gig. If you’re a DJ, you know that you want certain tracks in your set. You’re avidly searching for a specific sound or rhythm, or a particular song structure, mood, or tone. A label owner has musical needs too. They usually follow trends partly, but they also flow from past influences. It helps to refer to the label’s past releases, but it’s even better if you’re up on what they’re into now. This can be a game-changer.


One of the biggest challenges is to find the perfect match between an artist and a record label The biggest challenge nowadays is to find the perfect match between a label and an artist. Exactly like love, there’s a perfect match for you out there, but how to find it is something that technology has yet to achieve. So, how do you find your label?

Well, first let’s examine a little scenario to give us some context. Let’s say you finished a track based on a reference track by X artist. That reference track is your biggest lead for whom to send it to. But if you’re not yet well known or have very few releases to your name, then sending it to the best or biggest label out there — even if your reference track is released with them — is a very bad idea. Not only are huge labels swamped with demo submissions, but they’re also super picky. The fact is that your reference track likely had to follow a winding road to get that label. So let’s investigate.


Finding your label match takes time, patience, and lots of research. Here are a few cues of where to start.

Soundcloud. The holy grail of every possible kind of music, from unreleased to released, and featuring every possible label out there. Have a close look at your potential labels, and check out who they follow and who follows them. Dig, dig, and keep on digging. Give attention to who leaves comments. Those guys can be really useful because they might like various labels/artists you’re investigating.

DJ sets. Listen to DJ sets to find who plays music like yours. Get the track lists to find out what they play, find what other tracks DJs like to mix those with, and then investigate the artists similar to you and see what labels they’re on. Mixcloud also provides tracklists for DJ sets.

Beatport is a great tool for researching music and labels


Charts. Once you have a track list, go on Beatport to find charts and recommendations. You can find a bunch of labels there, so check out their back catalogues and investigate some more.




Discogs. Browse the discographies and look at past releases. When you select one, Discogs will offer you album suggestions, which in turn can point you to more labels. You can really dig deep that way.

Discogs is another way to discover new music and record labels

Spotify also offers new music recommendations, which will help you find new labels to submit toSpotify. This is another way to find new music. When you select an artist, it will give you suggestions. Note how whenever you swap from one to another, the algorithms will formulate new recommendations.


Think away, do your homework, and plan carefully before submitting your demos. Our label gets so many demos that we can allow ourselves to be very picky, and it’s the same for many of them out there. It’s about much more than presentation at this point — it’s about being spot on with who you target, and then selling yourself with a push from someone they know and respect. You’ll have a much harder time if you try to go it alone.

SEE ALSO : Besides music, labels are searching for these traits