How to start a record label with no money

How to start a record label with no money
How to start a record label with no money

Trying to figure out how to start a record label with no money?

Kind of a tall order, don’t you think?

But the universe listened, because here we are.

Let’s approach this from a couple of angles, because not all methods will be right for you. But hopefully you can find one that makes sense based on your goals.

Using Other People’s Money

When starting a business, there is ALWAYS the opportunity to use other people’s money.

But as you may have guessed, unless you’re a slick pitchman with a killer slide deck (and a team of Zuckerbergs), you’re not going to tease any money out of venture capitalists or investors. They’re going to laugh you right out of the room!

And unless your bank statements are looking mighty good (and I mean GOOD — know what I’m saying?), no bank in their right mind is going to lend you any money.

I’ll be perfectly honest — if you’re coming from the angle that you’re poor, desperate, or cheap, you’re not going to be able to reach into anyone’s pockets and liberate them from that excess surplus in their wallets, okay?

With that in mind, if you ditch the desperate, starving B.S. and begin looking for win-win propositions, you’ve got a real chance at this. Let’s look at your options.

Crowdfund Your Way to a Label

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Since you can create incentives for your backers (win-win), crowdfunding is a great way to leverage other people’s money to establish your record label.

Indiegogo is my platform of choice (because you keep whatever money you raise), though you could always check out Kickstarter and others. There are plenty of them out there.

Just remember to review the terms of the platform. If you do something you’re not supposed to do and get banned, don’t come and tell me I didn’t warn you.

Now, I make absolutely NO promises about any of this being easy. I successfully raised $15,000 for a local jazz artist a few years ago using Indiegogo, but I was partnered with another marketer, and we used every digital marketing trick we knew. We worked almost every day leading up to the campaign and while the campaign was going, and we even had backup plans just in case we couldn’t raise the full amount on Indiegogo.

And once your campaign is done, you’ve still got to deliver on the incentives you promised your audience, which is naturally going to come out of the money you raised.

Look, you can’t get something without nothing.

As you’re surely starting to see, crowdfunding is NOT a money-making scheme, contrary to what some bloggers out there are saying. It’s a way to build a relationship with the people who are willing to support you and make your dreams a reality.

Borrow from Your Rich Uncle

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Before you call B.S. on this, know that I’m not necessarily referring to your literal uncle. We don’t all have rich uncles, right?

But if we’re willing to look, we’ll typically find there’s at least one person in our lives who believes in us and wants to see us succeed.

By no means am I saying go and take advantage of them. PLEASE.

But maybe you could get into conversation with them. Share your vision. Discuss a partnership (again, a win-win proposition).

I have someone in my life like this. I DO NOT take advantage of them. I couldn’t possibly express more gratitude for them, and one day, I plan to bless them.

But can you see how that might make me endorsable? Can you see how it would be easy for someone to trust me with their resources?

That’s the kind of person YOU want to become, if you want to borrow from your “rich uncle.”

Leverage to the Hilt

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This is the WORST idea. No, I’m serious.

Going into debt to start a business? I mean, sure, it’s still other people’s money if you put it all on your credit cards, but at some point you’re going to need to pay it back, and lenders usually want it back sooner (MUCH sooner) than later.

The only reason I even bring up this option is because you might be able to use it as a supplement to other sources of funding.

But here’s an important point — no matter what path you choose, some (or all) of the funding you get won’t be yours to own. You’ll need to pay it back, in installments, or in lump sums, faster than you would probably like to.

Use credit cards if you must. But as much as possible, be calculated and sensible in your approach.

Take the DIY Approach

The DIY approach is this. Are you ready to be shocked?

Today, as of this moment, you ARE a record label.

Forget about websites. Forget about business cards and logos. You don’t need contracts. You can even register your business name later.

Cut to the core of the matter. What does a record label do?

It works with artists. It promotes their music and plans tours and publicity. Usually, it identifies as many revenue streams as possible and exploits them. Sometimes, it goes to bat for artists in legal disputes.

Some of this is technical and you might not be able to do it until later.

But can you begin making connections and working with artists TODAY? Yes.

Can you promote the works of the musicians you begin working with TODAY? Yes.

So, what exactly are you waiting for? Are you waiting to be given permission to do the work you were put here to do?

You don’t need permission! You just need to start doing it.

This is exactly what CD Baby founder Derek Sivers would tell you to do (have you read his book Anything You Want? It’s killer!).

You don’t need to spend a dime on anything right now. Reach out to your social network, find artists you like, build a relationship with them, and offer to promote their music for pennies on the dollar. What artist in their right mind could resist such an offer?

If you think you need legitimacy, street cred, or some fancy website to get started, you’ve got it all backwards.

GO AND DO THE WORK. Then you will know for sure that this work is for you.

Bite the Bullet

If the above answers aren’t enough for you, or if you’re still balking at the idea of getting to work (starting a record label might not be for you), then I have one last suggestion.

Bite the bullet.

You can start a record label for a few hundred dollars. And most of the work is already done for you, especially if you take advantage of a product like Record Label in a Box.

I get this may not be want you want to hear, but even artists put good money into their careers. There’s a reason most are working a day job.

Maybe changing your mindset would change your approach. And maybe changing your approach would lead to more opportunities.

If artists are willing to put money into their careers, ultimately, you should be willing too.

How to Start a Record Label with No Money, Conclusion

If you’re serious about starting a record label with no money, there’s a way to do it.

The keyword there is “serious” in case you missed it.

If you think money isn’t going to come into the picture at some point, you’re deluded. Sooner or later, your business will require your full commitment.

But if you want to start working with artists today (literally today), there is a way.

Did you find this helpful? Any other questions? Let us know in the comments below!

Originally published at https://www.musicentrepreneurhq.com on October 2, 2020.

Written by

Founder of Music Entrepreneur HQ. Download your free guide: https://www.musicentrepreneurhq.com/join

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