Indie labels are booming right now. But how do you start a record label? We’ve gathered a few tips.

Dreaming of starting your own record label? Good news: there’s never been a better time.

The accessible age of music streaming means setting up a label is no longer an expensive, complicated dream. But whilst starting a record label online may be more attainable than ever, it does take careful planning.

So start today. Let’s explore what steps you need to take to start a record label company.

Building a record label – getting inspired

Being a good record label is not just about selling records to fans. First, spend some time thinking about the basics: what kind of label would you like want to run? The joy of not being part of a major record label is your brand can be whatever you want it to be.

Perhaps there’s a particular genre of music you’re passionate about, however niche; you might want to sign artists on a location basis. An indie record label can also simply consist of you releasing your own music as an artist label, with the bonus of having a professional brand set up to sign other artists in the future.

What should I name my record label?

Start researching record label name ideas and start considering the branding for your website and social media. Look into the legal process behind contracts and performing rights organisations.

Then you can register your company, which sounds complicated, but in most cases can be set up online and there’s a wealth of free information available to help. Fees will vary depending on where in the world you are. You’re starting a business, so consider hiring an accountant.  

How to sign an artist to your label

Time to gather your artists. Start small – approach musicians, producers or bands you’ve met locally or online, and your musical friends.

You need to make signing to your label an attractive proposition for artists. After all, you’ll be taking a cut of their royalties, and at a time when distributors like RouteNote can put unsigned artists’ music online for free without the need of a label, you’ll need to offer something that the artist can’t achieve alone.

Artists need to know they’re joining a dedicated, professional team who will back them all the way. They’ll need to pull their weight promoting their music, but they’ll want to be convinced you’ll give them enough time and creative space to make music whilst you handle the paperwork.

How do labels distribute music?

Once you’ve signed your artists, you need to start releasing their music. There’s many ways for indie labels to release music, from vinyls and CDs to the biggest market of all – getting their music out online. By that, we mean out everywhere, onto as many streaming sites and stores as possible; onto YouTube; across social media sound libraries for people to use in their TikToks and Reels.

To release music online, you need a good digital music distributor. Enter RouteNote.

Best music distribution for labels

Beware of distributors with hidden fees and extra charges for things like adding new artists or allowing access to YouTube Content ID. No matter how many artists you have on your books – three or three hundred – and how many stores you upload music to, RouteNote won’t charge you a penny more.

RouteNote offers unlimited distribution for independent record labels, worldwide, from Spotify to Kanjian. We offer free YouTube Content ID to protect your music on YouTube. We’re an independent distributor passionate about helping artists get their music heard online – lots of us are musicians ourselves.

You keep total control of your music. Check out RouteNote’s distribution options here. When you’re just starting out, our Free tier might be the best for your label. Yep – completely free. We keep 15% of revenue and make the remaining 85% easy to split between you and your artists with free Revenue Sharing. You can divide earnings from each track into whatever percentages you’ve agreed on between yourself, your artists, and the artists’ teams, taking out extra admin.

We also offer Premium distribution, giving you 100% of revenue, in exchange for an upfront fee and small yearly cost. If you’re sure you’ll get a lot of streams Premium is a great option, and you can switch between Free and Premium at any time.

For established labels there’s the potential to sign up with RouteNote All Access, which adds priority support, pitching assistance and dedicated account management to the Premium plan. Get in touch with our friendly team to discuss further.

Good luck on your indie label journey! We’d love to be a part of it – so sign up to RouteNote today.