In the age of digital music, the barriers to entry in the music industry have never been lower. Gone are the days when starting a record label required significant capital, a physical office, and connections with distributors. Today, with the rise of streaming platforms like YouTube, anyone with passion, determination, and a little know-how can launch their own label. And the best part? It doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
The Illusion of the Music Industry
Macklemore, the Grammy-winning artist known for hits like “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us,” shed light on the music industry’s inner workings in a recent interview. He said, “because this whole music industry is like just fabricated… it’s perception. They just want to make every artist seem like they’re popping so then you buy into the brand and start listening to them.”
This perception game is not new, but what’s changed is the democratization of tools and platforms. Today, an artist or a small label can create the same perception without the backing of a major label. When a label signs a budding artist, even one with as few as 400 followers, they employ tactics to boost their visibility. Macklemore explains, “they start putting them on blogs… so their followers just slowly grow.” It’s all about repetition and visibility. “You may not click the first time, the second, all the way to the tenth time, but that tenth time, you’re like okay, maybe I’ll check out his IG page and his music.”
Leveraging Streaming Platforms
YouTube stands at the forefront of this revolution. As the second-largest search engine globally, it offers unparalleled exposure. By uploading music videos, behind-the-scenes content, and engaging with fans directly, labels can build a loyal fanbase without spending a dime on advertising. Monetization through YouTube’s Partner Program allows labels to earn from ad revenues and YouTube Premium subscribers.
Offering Music For Free Can Make You Millions
The YouTube channel NoCopyRightSounds makes an average of $100K per month by offering license-free music that anyone can use as a soundtrack for their own YouTube video, movie or TV project. It’s an ingenious concept that gets millions of streams a day. With a YouTube pay rate of $.003 per stream, their 35 million subscribers only have to listen to one license-free song for the channel to make $105,000 per month.
Diversifying Revenue Streams While streaming platforms are a game-changer, it’s essential for labels to diversify their revenue streams. Here are some avenues to explore:
- Live Performances: Organize tours, gigs, and live events. Even virtual concerts have gained traction in recent times.
- Merchandising: From T-shirts to vinyl records, merchandise can be a significant source of income.
- Licensing and Sync Deals: License your music for use in TV shows, movies, commercials, and video games.
- Music Publishing: Collect royalties when songs are played on radio, in clubs, or even in public spaces.
- Digital Content: Start a podcast, blog, or vlog discussing music trends, interviewing artists, or offering tutorials.
- Affiliate Marketing: Collaborate with brands and earn commissions for promoting products or services.
- Sponsorships: Partner with brands for album launches, music videos, or tours.
- Music Workshops: Organize workshops or masterclasses on songwriting, music production, or the business side of things.
The Road Ahead
Starting a record label today is not just about music; it’s about building a brand. It’s about storytelling, connecting with fans, and offering value beyond just songs. With platforms like YouTube leveling the playing field, the power is shifting from big corporations to individual artists and small labels.
Macklemore’s insights remind us that in today’s music industry, perception is everything. But with the right strategies, even a label with limited resources can create a perception that resonates with audiences worldwide.
In conclusion, the dream of starting a record label is more attainable than ever. With passion, persistence, and the power of digital platforms, anyone can make a mark in the music industry. As Macklemore aptly puts it, it’s all about “guerrilla marketing.” And in this digital age, the world is your playground.