With iTunes Sales rocketing to the moon and continuous clips of Lady Gaga, Pitbull, T-Pain, Katy Perry, Adele etc… playing on your TV set day in and day out its hard not to be influenced in being part of the fun and wild Music Industry. You have the talent, you have access to a recording studio and you have learnt a thing or two about uploading your music to your Youtube page. This nowadays is not enough, we show you the BluePrint formula used to create a Successful Record Label.
Think ahead. Although many successful record labels started off with someone winging it, there are many that fail for that very same reason: poor planning. Creating a record label is a business and a full time job. Consider the following before you start one:
Cash flow. Do you have enough money to pay for manufacturing? What about promotional materials? It’ll be a while before you get any money back from records selling (if they sell at all). You might need a grant or a loan to hold you over. Some labels raise extra funds by putting on club nights or gigs. It’s recommended that you don’t quit your day job.
Business plan. Independent record labels can take off without a business plan, but you’ll need one eventually, so why not write one now, when it’ll benefit your business the most? You’ll definitely need one if you want to apply for grants or loans, and it’s a good idea to have one if you ask people to invest in your business.
Licenses and forms. Think about how you want to structure your business: sole proprietorship? partnership? corporation? Get a business license and file appropriate tax forms. Register with any relevant organizations (e.g. Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society). You may also need a retail license if you’re selling records directly to the public.
If you decide to work with a partner or partners, ideally you will want to work with people you can rely on, trust, share and receive information with and most importantly people you can get along with. Working with friends is great but remember and remind them it has to be as professional and timely as possible, especially in the beginning stages because this is where a company can fall apart and end altogether. Having fun is always great for the job setting but there has to be a line in the sand which all parties cannot cross.
Office space, you can get by with just a post office box and a business phone number, or you could establish a complete office, if you have the funds. You can build your own studio or pay for studio time somewhere else.
Choose a name. Brainstorm 5-10 good names that you feel will fit your business. You need to tell people who you are and the type of music you produce. In short your business name should say it all. The reason for choosing a number of names for your record label is that if one is taken you can still fall back on the others and not have to waste time rethinking your names.
Go to a domain name registry and see if any if these names are already taken. Try for .com and .net as these are the most popular and visitors will be familiar with them. This quick check will let you know if anyone has the names already online and will help you with your ultimate choice.
Consult local government (the State Registrar in the US) to check if any offline businesses have these names. This will ensure that you are the sole user and nobody can infringe on your rights. It also stops you from any unpleasant lawsuits later on if people contend your rights to use a business name.
Select one unique name. Choose the best name from among the ones that you are left with. Remember it needs to be one that is appropriate for your business and music. Register a domain name for your upcoming website. It is important to do this quickly before it gets taken by someone else. When you register your domain name, always get both .com and .net so that nobody can have a similar name to you and leech off your marketing efforts.
Register the name with the appropriate authorities. This will make sure that this is exclusively your own business name and will protect your rights. You may need to file for a DBA (doing business as) license so you can identify with your label’s name when conducting business (accepting and making payments, for example).
Design a logo. You might also want to print stickers, posters, stationary, business cards, etc.
Corner your market. Choose and study your genre. Sit down, either alone or with your partner(s) and think of the style(s) you want your record label to be. It would be best if you picked a style that you are very familiar with and have extensive knowledge about. Musicians don’t like being forced into a box, but choosing and sticking with a particular genre helps a record label know their market (who buys that genre) and build contacts with people who deal with that genre (record shop owners, DJs, journalists, etc.). Research your genre, and find out what it’s missing. Observe and predict trends. You need to fill a niche. Talk to local promoters, studio owners, music shops, distributors, journalists, and anyone who can offer insight about what’s hot and what’s not. Who is your target audience? How old are they? What are they buying? This is also good research for a business plan.
Find talent. Scour the local band scene and find bands who you think will earn your label a good reputation in your genre. You can’t compete with the big record labels, so you want to go for interesting records that slip under their radar but will be a hit with your specific market. After you find a band you feel is a great fit for your label, talk with the band or the band manager and offer a contract signing them to your label. The key word here is “sign”. That means you should have a contract for every artist, drawn up by a qualified lawyer. If a track or an artist gets big and you don’t have a contract, things can turn ugly, and your label might get the short end of the stick. Some labels don’t do contracts if there are one or two singles at stake, but insist on contracts when there’s an album deal on the table.
Record in a studio. If the artist doesn’t have a recording and you don’t have a studio, shop around. Look for an engineer who has experience in your genre and an owner you can work with. You might be paying for some or all of the studio time. Ask about lower rates if you block book time for two or three projects. It’s a good idea to have a producer there (you or a musician you trust) to make sure everything turns out well (and your money isn’t wasted). It can cost $150+/hour. If you pay for a portion or all of the recording, then you can withhold earnings from the band until you make back all the money you put into the recording, and you have more of a say in how the album sounds. This needs to go in the contract, though.
Promote the music. Your goal here is to do everything you can to chart locally. Make enough copies of the music to promote it as follows:
Contact local college radio stations – push to get your music played.
Send recordings to independent magazine and newspapers – hope for favorable reviews.
Put on great performances. The members of the audience will go home and tell their friends about your fabulous show.
Print your website address on the program so that you can attract your fans to the website and they will buy more.
Sell copes at the show. Make note of the songs that your live audience love and record them into a DVD or album of your greatest hits.
Sell them from your website and allow a sample to be downloaded from your site.
Make use of MySpace and YouTube to promote the music on a larger scale.
Give away free tickets to your upcoming concert.
You can even pitch the music for televisions shows, commercials, cell phones, video games, but get legal advice before licensing the music.
Press the product. Get the recordings mastered before sending them to a manufacturer, if at all possible. An experienced mastering engineer will know how to make the final product sound like an album rather than a collection of songs, making it more commercially viable. Ask around. Get quotes. The more copies you make, the lower the cost per copy. When choosing packaging, think about how retailers will display them. Ask distributors for advice.
In the US, each release will need a catalog number (usually a 3 letter abbreviation followed by the numbers, i.e. CJK415) and a universal product code (the barcode on the back of the product) to be seriously considered by distributors.
Sell the music to distributors. To get as much product on retail shelves as possible, you’ll need to convince distributors to help.
They will want to see that you’ve established some success on your own (charting locally, selling product on consignment, live shows, mail order and other direct sales methods) before they even consider carrying your music. Here are some questions you will want to have answers for before you even contact a distributor:
Has the artist had any success with established mainstream labels?
Does the artist have a following, if so, how well known are they?
If the artist is unknown, what specific promotion ideas does the label have?
Are there any well known “guest” musicians on the recording?
Does the recording, and artwork meet the standards of the musical genre?
Is there any current airplay on commercial or non-commercial radio?
Will there be independent promotion on the release to retail and to radio?
Has the artist hired a publicist, and/or what is the publicity campaign?
Will the artist be touring in support of their release, and is there a schedule?
Does the label have the financial resources to provide “co-op” advertising, in which the record label and retailer split the cost of media ads?
Does the label have the financial resources to press additional product?
Does the label have a salable “back catalog” of proven sellers?
How much product from the label is already out in the stores?
Does the label have other distributors selling the same product?
What are the next releases from the label, and when are they coming out?
Product is sold to distributors for about 50% of the list price, and is accepted on a negotiable billing schedule of 60 – 120 days per invoice. The label usually pays for shipping charges. Most national distributors require that they are the only distributor of a particular product. You might also be required to pay for advertising on the distributor’s monthly newsletters, and/or update sheets, as well as catalogs (costs subtracted from invoice).
You’ll also need to give them a negotiated number of free copies for promotional purposes, along with “Distributor One Sheets” (fact sheets with promotion and marketing plans and price information) and “P.O.P.”s (Point of Purchase) items, like posters, flyers, cardboard standups etc., for in-store display.
Distributor One Sheets should have the following information on a single sheet: label’s logo and contact information, artist name/logo, catalog # and UPC code (barcode), list price (i.e. $15.98) of each available format, release date (to radio), street date (for retailers, if different from release date), brief artist background description, selling points (discounts, marketing, and promotion plans).
All promotional product need to have the artwork punched, clipped, or drilled” to make sure that they aren’t returned to the distributor as “cleans” (retail product).
Keep your fingers crossed. In the music industry, it’s often hit or miss. Hopefully, the music will connect with your market and sales will take off, but some of your music, sooner or later, will bomb. Try to make it so that the big successes cover the losses, with extra left over to pay for operating expenses (and your own paycheck, so you can keep doing what you love without starving).
Industry Tips & Advice: Jay-Z talking to Travis Smiley about running a record label and founding Rocawear
3 Areas You Should Focus on to Become a Great Leader
Having listened to all of our stakeholders and being fully aware of the situation, spring is a good time to conduct a quarterly review to see exactly where we are in order. This helps us have a clear starting point to re-adjust our goals for the coming year.
One of the main problems tends to be that we look back at the things we haven’t done and where we didn’t get the results we intended. Because of this, we get ourselves in a state of anxiety which is hardly a resourceful state for setting positive goals.
A better approach is to be nice to ourselves. Have a look back over the last three months and check all the things you have achieved. Give yourself a treat for all of the things you planned to achieve and did. They may be something as simple as maintaining a to-do list or smiling more.
Afterwards, think of all the things you achieved which weren’t planned and congratulate yourself on your flexibility and creativity; for the person with the greatest flexibility of behaviour controls the outcomes.
For those results that weren’t as you intended, remind yourself that we all make the correct choice at the time we make it. We don’t deliberately make the wrong choices and whatever the outcome, there’s always a positive intention. There’s no failure, only feedback, and we learn more from our failures than we do our successes.
“Be good to yourself. Listen to your body, to your heart. We’re very hard on ourselves, and we’re always feeling like we’re not doing enough. It’s a terribly hard job.” – Marcia Wallace
Look to yourself
It is vital, especially for sole proprietors or owner/managers, to manage themselves in order to be fit, healthy, and relatively happy. Evidence points to a clear relationship between our moods and assorted aspects of job performance such as decision-making, creativity, teamwork, negotiation and leadership.
While success may put us in a good mood, an organisation that sees the glass as half full rather than half empty, stands a better chance in these difficult times.
Depressed individuals will always see the glass as half-empty and even rapidly emptying. This attitude saps energy and leaves those affected feeling worthless, helpless, and hopeless. In its worst case, depression can impair the ability to communicate and it’s not hard to see the organisational parallels.
Below are three elements within all of us that need to be taken care of:
1. Your mind
The key to a healthy mind is variety, so take an interest in other people, things, events and current affairs. Adopting an open and curious mindset allows us to see future possibilities and hence be more empowered.
2. Your body
A healthy body requires a solid routine. Ensure you eat and drink healthy products (especially water) and get plenty of rest and exercise. Knowing our own limitations and taking action to stay within them ensures we operate at our best.
3. Your spirit
Much has been written about feeding or maintaining the spirit but I believe there is one simple rule. Believe in something that is true to you and spend time each day with your true beliefs. Solitude is the nurse of enthusiasm and is as needful to the imagination as friends are to our character.
“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” – Dolly Parton
Beyond individual performance, there are broader issues at stake. None of us are islands, happy in our own little depressed world. Moods, good or bad, are infectious and some people or positions can have a greater ripple effect than others. If a shy apprentice has a gloomy outlook, few may notice. But if people like the owner/manager are wandering around looking like the end of the world is coming, that can directly affect team spirit.
Water bearer or well poisoner
So what can the organisation do? Firstly, as individuals, we must show a positive and upbeat demeanor. That’s not easy and faking it will easily be spotted as the deception will be transparent. This isn’t unauthentic, but merely an attempt to empower ourselves.
Congruent leadership offers the means to put into words what it is you are experiencing with the person in order so your behaviour is consistent with your own values and beliefs such that you always appear to be what you desire to be.
Your mood as a leader then is highly contagious. Even though leaders or opinion formers aren’t always in leadership positions, they’re at the centre of informal networks. They have charisma and magnetism, possess strong opinions, and express them forcefully. Therefore, they have considerable social power and can have a direct effect on morale by being a water bearer or well poisoner. Which are you today?
What resonated most with you about this article and leadership? Share your thoughts below!
The 6 Step Process for Delivering Critical Feedback in a Constructive Way
We have all been in the position where we knew we needed to have a difficult conversation at work that involved delivering constructive feedback. Maybe a major deadline was missed, there was a clear decline in performance, or someone blatantly dropped the ball. Most of us avoid delivering the feedback, and the conversation can get pushed back again and again, wasting valuable time and money.
Delivering constructive feedback is challenging, and uncomfortable for most people, even highly trained leaders. Yet, delivering and accepting feedback is one of the most important keys for success. So why do we avoid these conversations? Because we never learned how to have them.
Open, honest, direct communication is not a skill we are taught in school. There is no “How to Have Tough Conversations” 101. As a clinical psychologist that specializes in couples work, I see just how important communication is in maintaining thriving relationships. I understand that good communication is the foundation of every successful relationship; both intimate relationships and your work relationships.
Below is a 6-step guide to providing constructive feedback:
Step 1: Clarity on the Goal of the Conversation
The first step is to get clear on the goal of the feedback conversation. Are you planning to see a change in performance, simply communicate how you felt, or receive an apology? Get clear on what you are hoping to get out of the conversation. Be honest with yourself about what you need, what is most helpful to the relationship, and what is most helpful to the organization. Getting clear on the goal also ensures you are speaking with the right person.
“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk
Step 2: Invitation
Set up a time to talk. Feedback conversations are not meant to be had in the hallway. It is important that both parties can set aside adequate time and have the space needed for dialogue. Additionally, there must be respect for both parties’ need for time to process information. For example, if you are delivering feedback, and the receiver needs time to process the feedback before responding, setting up a subsequent meeting will be most helpful.
Step 3: Ownership
Own the role you played in creating the situation. When you model ownership of blind spots, failures, or missteps, you set the stage for the receiver to do the same. For example, you may acknowledge that you were not aware of how to support your employee and not aware of the problem until x situation occurred. Equally important as owning your role, is owning your emotions. Own your emotions using “I” statements. For example, “I felt disappointed when I realized your sales performance had substantially declined”.
Step 4: Open, Honest, Direct Feedback
Feedback that dances around the problem does not do anyone any good. It only increases anxiety on behalf of the receiver, and potentially causes the feedback to get totally lost. The conversation needs to be open, honest, and direct. For example: “I felt concerned when you did not attend the last two strategy calls this month…It brought up questions for me about your commitment to the company.”
Step 5: Listen, Validate and Accept
When providing feedback, it is important both parties maintain an open mind, and respond in a way that communicates validation and acceptance. As soon as an individual gets defensive, feedback cannot be taken in, and the value of the conversation dramatically decreases. When providing feedback it is important to listen, validate, and accept your receiver’s viewpoint. Notice, I did not say agree. This looks something like saying: “I can see why X led you to commit Y , I understand you were under a great deal of stress/dealing with a personal situation/frustrated.”
Step 6: A Clear Plan for Moving Forward
In providing feedback, the magic is that now things can change! If feedback is never given, relationships end, things will stay the same, businesses will die, and money will be lost. If you have gotten to this step, that means you did the hard work, and now you get to put change into action. A clear plan includes an acknowledgement from both parties regarding what they will do differently to prevent the situation from occurring again, and how they will stay accountable in making the change happen.
The good news about delivering feedback is that the more you do it, the easier it gets. Remember, giving and receiving feedback is one of the most surefire ways to open yourself up to massive growth.
As a giver of feedback, it is your job to model openness and a desire for growth, so that the receiver may take in the feedback and make the necessary changes. Exceling at feedback delivery will help you set you apart from others and enable you to achieve extraordinary relationships, in both your personal and work lives.
Here Are 4 Reasons Why You Should Have a Podcast, Youtube Channel or Online Show
Confidence comes from a place of strong understanding of self. After close to three years on radio, I’ve grown from a shy introvert to a shy introvert with an extrovert persona. When the mic is turned on, I can channel a version of myself that some say is attractive, strong, and of course, confident but it wasn’t always this way.
What I want to share with you is what I discovered on this journey into broadcast that you can apply to your life, your ventures, and your personal development. This doesn’t require any fancy gear. It does require a leap of faith on your part because once you go down the road of media; it can change your life.
1. Perceived Expertise
When you go to a doctor, you expect their knowledge will guide them to a solution to your problems. When you have a show, you become your listeners’ doctor. For all the multiple thousands, maybe millions, of YouTube channels, podcasts, and user-created content in the world, each person that gets behind a mic takes a position on their passion, their opinions, and their themes.
They challenge the status quo for the benefit of their listeners in hopes to entertain and educate. With consistency on your side, those fans place you on a platform and give you permission to influence them.
2. Global Acknowledgement
One of the benefits to increasing confidence is when you receive thank you notes from people you may never meet. The feeling of enriching someone’s life from halfway around the globe, provides validation you’re enhancing someone else’s life with your wisdom and your wit.
The very first time I was told I was making a difference in someone’s life in a country other than my own, I felt like I caused massive impact that transcends my circle of influence. When you experience just how much you can cause impact and it comes back to you, it’ll change your worldview.
“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.” – Zig Ziglar
3. Backed By Numbers
One of the most exciting ways to measure success is to quantify your growth. It’s not enough to just broadcast. Having subscribers and downloads helps to know, numerically, how well you’re doing. Word of caution. This can be a way to set yourself up for distress because of number envy but if you understand what the numbers mean; you can control the narrative of the numbers.
The major number that makes most people smile is 10,000. I’d advise it to be 1. Here’s why. As you grow in your industry, so does your reach. If you learned that the one person that subscribed totally changed for the better because of you, wouldn’t that be worth the effort?
4. Effective Communication
While it’s not talked about much, having a show is documentation. You create a dynamic account of your life, your industry, and the pulse on what’s important simply by having a show. When you find a channel to improve your communication skills, you demand attention and people will listen to you. You become more trusted as a leader and people will follow you once they believe you can lead them to their wants and needs.
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” – Tony Robbins
These insights have helped many people become leaders and, ultimately, move others to their best selves. It’s worked for me and I hope it works for you. At the end of the day, it’s all about showing up and showing out.
Have you ever thought about having a radio show? If so, what would you talk about? Let us below!
5 Essential Skills to Drive Success in Every Niche
There are many people who don’t have the courage to launch a business in a niche as they think they don’t have the right skills and experience to obtain success. While there are specific skills which determine the success in every niche, there are also some general skills which ensure success in any business you would try.
Below are 5 essential skills you need to drive success in every aspect of your life:
When you launch a new business, you need to be prepared for difficult moments such as fighting the competition and winning your target audience. Moreover, if you follow some successful entrepreneurs, you should keep in mind that they also faced difficulties and continue to experience them. So, how does a successful entrepreneur get over all the difficulties?
The essential skill you need to possess is called ambition. Set small and clear milestones in your development plan and use your ambition to go over each difficulty and finalize what you had in your mind. It doesn’t matter how hard the path is going to be. Visualize your target and put in all the efforts to achieve it. Staying organized and scheduling each step to get things done are some of the techniques you can use to achieve success.
2. Listen to those around you
While listening to your instincts is necessary if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, this is not enough. As your business develops, you will have an entire team to manage and lead to success. Therefore, you cannot be a successful leader and have success in every niche unless you learn how to listen to the people around you.
You should listen to your employees and discover what they are expecting from you. This is the way to follow if you want to keep your team motivated and help them give the best of themselves.
On the other hand, you will need to listen to your customers to improve your products and services and provide excellent customer support. By listening carefully to the voice of your customers, you will be able to stand out of the competition and ensure their loyalty towards your brand.
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” – Jeff Bezos
When you decided to become an entrepreneur and build your own business, it means you are a courageous person. Courage will help you harness the power of creativity. Don’t be afraid to take risks if you feel a specific action will bring more success to your business.
Apart from doing intensive research on your ideas and developing the exact steps you are going to follow, you will need the courage to implement them. Not all the ideas will turn out to be successful.
Regardless, you will have something to learn from each success or mistake and this will help you move your business even further. When you have the courage to follow a path which is not very familiar to you, this is going to be the moment when you will widen your horizons and exceed your limits to achieve success.
4. Creativity and imagination
If you already implemented your idea and you see that it works, you most probably think that you don’t need to change anything to achieve more success. You need to keep in mind that customers’ preferences change and your competition is waiting for your mistakes to “steal” your clients.
Therefore, you need to use your creativity and imagination to improve your products and services to meet your customers’ expectations. What is more, creativity can also mean that you are open to talk to new people and use their experience to improve something in your business.
“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” – Steve Jobs
5. Continuous learning
If you want to drive success in every niche you will need to show a willingness to learn. You need to stay updated with what happens in your niche and what your customers expect from you.
Education is not only something for school. It is a lifelong process, and you should be open to seek knowledge and improve your skills with every opportunity. An efficient trick is to stay close to people who are already successful in your industry, ask their opinions on various subjects and learn from their experience.
The above five essential skills will help you build a successful business in every niche. A true leader is ambitious, knows to listen to the people around him, and is always open to learning from others.
No matter the size of your business, you will need to be creative and use your imagination to improve your products and services. These skills will help any leader develop new skills, stand out of the crowd, and strengthen his position on the market.
What skill do you think is most important to be successful in life? Let us know below!
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