Just so it’s clear, these are my opinions from my personal experiences releasing music on vinyl. I’m sure other labels and producers (Particularly those in the northern hemisphere) will have different experiences and access to resources that are not viable down here in Australia.
Here is what I consider to be they key points.
Firstly – have a job or at least a few grand. You need money first before you can release anything. You can’t just start a career as a solo record label without coin.
Have an amazing product. If you are the artist yourself put in that work and make your release of an international standard worthy of the vinyl format. Spend all the extra time you need to get it right. I may spend 5-6 hours a day for 3 or 4 months on a project that may be only 8 minutes long. You have to be patient and you will get quicker and more efficient the more you do. Think global – 90 per cent of my customers are in UK and USA.
Do as much as is humanly possible by yourself. The less people you have to rely on to get your releases out there the better. This is the golden rule for me.
If you cant do something yourself, build great working relationships with people that can do the work for you. I outsource my design, my mastering and my record pressing and I’ve had experiences with several different parties in each field and its taken me a few years to get the right people who work for me. Shoutouts to Heptune aka Dopeman my designer and Cris Stevens my mastering engineer.
Things you need to sort early on before your first release (or learn on the fly whatever u like)….Branding, logo, business cards, record mailers, post office postage rates, digital scales to weigh packages,stickers, overseas distribution channels, local distro channels and record stores, a great online store, bandcamp. Social media needs to be very on point.
Did I mention buying digital scales –I got some for 12 dollars from Aldi. It has saved me probably $1000 by now in postage making sure packages are not just over weight if they don’t need to be.
Don’t go the hard sell all the time. Let the people know u dropped something but be a bit subtle and don’t post on other peoples sites –let your customers do that for you.If you have a dope product it will promote itself.
Don’t be afraid to give out at least 20 free copies of each release to bloggers, websites, dj’s and people in the biz that can help promote your release.Send to these guys a couple of weeks before you even put your thing for sale…You want the reviews to coincide with the release date for max sales and exposure.
Form great relationships with your post office staff… This is important if things get returned to them for any reason or if your package weighs a couple grams over a certain bracket you can maybe sweeten things easily.Get a business account at the post office if your sending lots of international mail.
Have all the time in the world for customers and potential customers. Reply to every single message and order enquiry as humanly possible and go the extra yard to throw in an extra piece of something if a customer is nice to you. They will be ready for your next release with cash money.
I tend to do my work in chunks –so if I’m in the studio creating and mixing I’m probably packing records and at the post office only once that week. Once the release is finished and I have the wax I can go back into business mode and pack and distribute hard. Get all your orders out super fast too –customers appreciate a quick turnaround. This builds the hype if the people are all getting it around same time too.
Don’t be tight ass. Don’t try and get crowd funding from your friends for a release. Save up and do it properly.
Now go buy my stuff lol….
DJ Bacon aka Scott Barker
My new store is therealdjbacon.com
My bandcamp store is therealdjbacon.bandcamp.com