Taking the step from Artist to Record Label Owner is a dream for many musicians. Getting involved in the process of releasing music can provide another layer of depth and engagement with the music you’re passionate about and lead towards a more fulfilling music career.

Liveschool team members DJ Plead and Roza Terenzi have both taken just that step – Plead with his Sumac imprint and Terenzi with her newly formed Step Ball Chain label. With such expert knowledge under our noses we asked the each artist for a few thoughts about running a label

PURPOSE

While Plead’s label Sumac started as an outlet for the artists own music, as the label has progressed a deeper motivation has emerged.

I originally started the label as a platform to release my own music. Very soon after that Tom Smith and Jon Watts joined the label and have really been crucial in forming its identity. Now looking back, it turns out I have released very little of my own music on Sumac. So far it’s mostly been releases by friends and people we feel have not gotten the attention they deserve. – DJ Plead

Sumac’s transformation from an outlet for one artists to a more community based label is a typical trajectory for many new labels. And while there are many forms a label can take, Terenzi stresses that the underlying ethos is something that should be well considered.

Its important to have some kind of focus, not necessarily based around genre etc. More like why do you want to put out music and what are you trying to say with it. I think going into the label having a clear idea of what it represents and how you want to do that is the most important thing. – Roza Terenzi

CHALLENGES

But it’s not all smooth sailing. The music industry is a complex system with many moving parts, learning to navigate the ins and outs of releasing music is a massive task. Every label will present its own unique set of obstacles to overcome.

Be prepared for things to go wrong! Delays, mastering etc.. be patient and communicate with the artists you are working with!  – Roza Terenzi. 

Depending on the approach you take to a label, more specific challenges can arise. If you’re working with newer artists there can be challenges in keeping artists on track with their creative process. With Sumac, Plead has taken on a more traditional A&R role – guiding artists through the process of creating a release from scratch.

One of the biggest challenges has been getting artists across the finish line. We take a curatorial approach and want to help sculpt a release (often the first release by an artist, e.g. Logic1000) so it’s a complex process and often takes months or years in some cases to execute a release. – DJ Plead

GETTING TECHNICAL

While running a label can be enjoyable and a great way to connect with other artists, it’s important to keep the legal side of the label in check.

Making sure all parties know where they stand with regards to royalties, publishing and copyright issues is one of the most important aspects to avoid issues further down the track.

Even though it’s all just for fun, something I find can help is to write contracts for releases. This helps give everyone peace of mind. You never know what can happen with the music you release. – DJ Plead

GET OUT THERE!

With the proliferation Bandcamp and streaming services, its easier than ever to get a label happening with low up front expenses. The dream of releasing your music or music from a group of friends is well within reach of almost everyone. Do your research and share your voice with the world!