Starting a Record Label Company

Columbia Phonograph Company "Grand Prize" 78 rpm License Label, Undated (April 1906?)

Are you getting nowhere with your efforts to “get signed” to a major record label? Consider starting a record label company.

In today’s age of digital recordings, digital distribution and digital marketing, the time is ripe for eager musicians, songwriters and bands to start thinking of alternative ways to reach your audience.

How To Start A Record Label In 4 Easy Steps

Step 1 – Determine the name

The first step is to determine the name of the company. Consider names that are unique and make sure that it is not already in use. A fast way to determine your company name’s uniqueness is to do a search for it online via search engines. If you find the dot com is available, register it for ownership. GoDaddy is a good resource for this and it’s very inexpensive. (www.godaddy.com)

Step 2 – Check to see if the name is already trademarked

The second step is to check the US trademark office (www.uspto.gov) to ensure the name you’ve chosen has not been trademarked. You do not have to register your company with the trademark office… yet. This comes after you have created a logo…. or a “mark.”

Step 3 – Register with your state

The third step is to check with the Secretary of State for the state where you are planning to have your headquarters. The state’s offices are also online and easy to find. In Ohio, check, www.sos.state.oh.us. In other states, use the same format except replace the “OH” abbreviation with the two letters for your chosen state.

Before you register the company name with your state, consider the type of business entity that you desire. You may want to discuss this with your accountant as to weather you would prefer a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a corporation. There are various risks and tax advantages depending on your selection.

Once you have determined that your company name is available and the type of business, register it with your state. This process involves sending a check and then wait a few weeks. You state will send you the confirmation that you are indeed registered as a business.

Step 4 – Obtain your Employer Identification Number

At this point, you have only to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the Internal Revenue Service (www.irs.gov). This is easily done online. The IRS will supply you with a specific ID number that you will use on your tax forms.

The Employer Identification number supplied by the IRS will be required when you open your company’s bank account. So, open a bank account. With the bank account, you can now accept payments for your recordings whether at your merch table, or online though various services such as PayPal. (www.paypal.com). If you acquire a debit card from your bank or credit union, your monthly statements will be a good way for you to keep track of your expenses as well as your income.

OK… so now you are a record company executive. Do you have a plan for success? Many entrepreneurs have failed because they don’t have a business plan. Don’t make the same mistake. There are sample business plans online. I recommend finding one that is specifically focused for record label companies.

So, remember: starting a record label company is only a few easy steps and a fast way for you to get your music to your audience. Forget waiting for the “deal”. Forget the anxious moments of rejection. Focus on releasing your own material on your own label. If you do it right, the big boys will come knocking on your door. Who hold the power then? You do.

For more information about starting your own record label, go get the book “Forget the Majors… Launch Your Own Record Label” by John Latimer.

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