Independent Record Label

Startup Costs: $10,000 - $50,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? Yes

If you've always wanted to be in the music business, but you can't sing a note and your instrumental talents are limited, take heart. You can do the Dick Clark thing as head of your own record (or more properly nowadays, CD) label. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, music influences every culture on our planet to the tune of $38 billion annually, with the U.S. recording industry accounting for a full one-third of the world market. As a recording whiz, you'll locate talent, choose the songs, style and format for your first album, then do everything the Capitol Records execs would do--rent a studio, hire an engineer and producer, have the tracks mixed and mastered, arrange for cover art, and have your CDs pressed. You'll also be the advertising and marketing department, working with distributors, getting your band gigs on the road, and making sure your CDs and posters are displayed in stores. Then you'll turn around and do the whole thing over again with your next album. The advantages to this business are that it has a definite cachet and sounds not only glamorous but way cool. If everything goes right, you can make a sizable amount of money, and, of course, you get to be in the music biz every working day. This is entrepreneurship of the first order--you'll need to be a major go-getter, willing and able to carry out every aspect of getting your CDs from gleam-in-your-eye to on-the-charts reality. You should have a good working knowledge of how the music business operates. And you'll need the innate ability to recognize talent when you hear it and to know what will appeal to a significant listening audience.

The Market

As with the book-publishing industry, you generally don't sell directly to the ultimate consumer, the person who pops that CD into his player and cranks up the sound on a sunny afternoon. Therefore, you'll need to work out a deal with distributors. Some smaller record labels do sell directly to listeners at flea markets and swap meets and through mail order. And even if you go through a distributor, you can sell directly to music stores as you canvass your territory, making sure they're carrying your album.

Needed Equipment

You'll rent the recording studios and hire out production, mixing, mastering and pressing, so all you really need are your own abilities and plenty of chutzpah.

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