Our forthcoming book The Label Machine is a practical guide to starting, running and growing your own record label. Here author Nick Sadler explains how he came to write it.
My publisher, Colin at Velocity Press, who has been absolutely brilliant to work with and made the process super easy and smooth, asked me to write a blog post about why I wrote this book. For me, the question boils down to, “what’s the point of it? Why should anyone give a fuck about reading this book?”
Well, first of all, if you’re reading this and you’re not in the music scene, then unless you are looking to get an in-depth understanding of how the modern music industry works, this isn’t for you.
But, if you are a musician, producer, manager, or aspiring music entrepreneur then no matter what stage you are at in your music career, simply reading my book will enable you to become more successful in all the music industry’s essential business elements.
What do I mean by business elements? Before I answer that, let’s wind back the clock.
When I started Never Say Die Records with my business partner we didn’t know how to run a label. I had a little experience with music publishing through getting a few of my tracks in video games, and my partner had experience building his career as a breaks DJ and producer.
As we knew so little about starting and running a record label, I researched a lot. I bought and read all the popular music business books on Amazon, read endless blogs on the music industry, filed hundreds of Internet bookmarks, and wrote massive lists of what we needed to do. We met with other record label heads to ask them for advice. And as we slowly built the label and learned what we were doing, I compiled all this information into operating manuals or what we called ‘Bibles’. We named these bibles after biblical texts. The Koran was for merchandise, The Torah for social media, etc. etc.
These bibles became the template for Never Say Die Records, Disciple Recordings, Get Hype Records and No Tomorrow Recordings. Five years later, and with over a million record sales, I had a pretty good grip on how to set up and run record labels.
We also started an artist management company, which I still run to this day, a PR company, a publishing company, and we even had our own merchandise printing machines. Some of these ventures worked, and some didn’t, and we certainly learnt a lot!
I also got to see it from an artist’s perspective, releasing music as Mobscene and more recently Kyries. I worked with some incredibly talented artists such as The Freestylers, The Prototypes, Foreign Beggars, Three Laws, Memtrix, and Skrillex, who name-checked our label when he won his Grammys, which was a proud moment for me.
And while many of my past experiences have been in running electronic record labels, more recently I have been working with label owners from all genres of music. I have seen that the fundamentals for you to become successful in all of the music industry’s essential business elements don’t really change between genres.
So back to the original question, what do I mean by business elements?
By business elements I mean the elements that allow you to make money from your music, such as distribution, marketing and music promotion, fan growth and management, and managing multiple royalty streams.
In recent years, I’ve seen a growth of music gurus, music success masterminds, and online music courses that teach different ways to do each of the elements. Some of them are great. Some of them even say you don’t need to be with a record label anymore. And they are right.
We are living in a world where you don’t need to be with a record label in the traditional sense. You don’t need to ‘sign’ to a record label. You can do it yourself. However, if you want to build a successful music career, you need to make sure you have your music business elements in order.
These business elements fall under the services and responsibilities of one particular entity in the music industry. The record label. Both traditional and modern-day record labels are structured to provide these business elements.
So with every artist looking for a solution to market and sell their music successfully, and with so many modern-day apps and services promising to give them the success they want, why reinvent the wheel?
The record label framework ensures all your important business elements work together in harmony giving your music the best possible chance of success.
Another reason I wrote this book is that I found that there was no comprehensive resource relevant for the last ten years of the music industry that puts everything you need into one place for artists wanting to set up and run their own record label. There wasn’t anything that covers every detail and gives practical information on how to do it all. No roadmap, so to speak.
Whether you are looking to launch an independent record label or launch your own music career professionally, this book is for you. By looking at the business of music through the lens of a record label, you can learn how to use a record label blueprint to build and grow your professional music career.
So, how do I go about approaching this massive subject in my book? I’ve broken it down into four parts.
The first part is explaining how all of the different parts of the music industry work together, such as artist managers, booking agents, distributors and publishers, and how everyone works together to create successful music careers.
Part two is a deep dive into the different types of copyrights in music and how to register and collect all of your copyright royalties as both a record label and as an artist.
Part three is the meat of the subject, and deep dives on the three music pillars, business, branding and distribution. The difference with this book compared to other resources is that I’ve given super detailed examples on what exactly you need to do, such as giving the exact wording you use in emails to music influencers, over fifty different types of marketing strategies, and a review of every major distribution platform available.
So while I’ve aspired to create the ultimate guide to starting, running and growing your own music label, this book is really for anyone who works in or is interested in working in the music industry. If that sounds like you, then I’m sure you’ll find this book invaluable.
Throughout my whole career, all I’ve ever wanted to do is help people archive their goals and I’m so proud to be publishing this book with Velocity Press to provide another resource to help the many.