I'm trying to start my own record label/company, someone help?

Asked about 2 years ago - Saginaw, MI

I'm trying to get a understand how to setup my record label. I was looking at Wikipedia.org definition of "Record label" it stated "A record label is a brand and a trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos."
So what Wikipedia just told me, I have to get a logo (brand), trademark it, and place my logo out there to get attention, right? So a record label isn't a real company basically!

Attorney answers (8)

  1. Bruce E. Burdick

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    9

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Relying on Wikipedia to formulate legal conclusions is very risky. Terms like "label" can mean many things.

    To entertainment lawyers, "label" often refers to one of the top 4 music recording companies. EMI/Capitol, SONY/BMG, WEA or UMG. Those labels are very real companies, and very big and powerful companies. The labels each have a bunch of record labels they have created or acquired. See for example the lists at http://www.lacostamusic.com/record-labels/recor... You are not about to set up a major label with less than about a billion dollars, although you might get big enough as an independent that one of the big 4 takes notice and thinks it useful to swallow you up and make you rich, but that is a real long shot.

    What you are talking about is what entertainment lawyers call an "indie" or "independent", the largest of which currently is Curb (MCG). There are thousands of indies since modern technology allows a high quality studio cutting DVDs in a small basement for an investment of a few thousand dollars. Some make money and most make little or no money and require the support of someone with another source of income.

    At any rate, if you want to join the herd of new independent labels, you first need to get a trademark/servicemark clearance from a good trademark, IP or entertainment lawyer. There are many listed on Avvo. You can find several even in Michigan - MOTOWN was once a top label. Of course, many of the top ones now congregate in the Hollywood/Burbank, Nashville, NYC, Las Vegas, Orlando or Branson type entertainment meccas as that is where much of the big money in entertainment is and lawyers follow the money.

    Do not try to set up a label on your own. Get competent legal help. Your question shows you are in over your head, but you are smart enough to know you need legal help. Don't ignore that voice in your head, and our voices, telling you that you need an attorney's help.

    So far, this is free to you. Until you pay a fee, I am not your lawyer and you are not my client, so you take any... more
  2. Ray Beckerman

    Pro

    Contributor Level 12

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . Correct that a record "label" is not necessarily a company, but a brand. The same company may have more than one label. However, if you don't have a company, and your business will be acting as one or more record labels, you should set up a corporation or llc.

  3. Michael Charles Doland

    Contributor Level 20

    7

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Your question indicates a lot of experience and enthusiasm. That's great. Your questions also indicates that you will be in way, way over your head if you do this without an attorney. Corporate formation, contracts, copyright ... there's a lot. By the way, Wikipedia gives great general information (with some exceptions) but not legal information.

    The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advise" but analysis, and different lawyers may... more
  4. Adam Gregory Masserang

    Contributor Level 12

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . A record label is a company. It owns the brand and trademarks and helps the artist(s) distribute and market their music.

    Depending on how you do it, starting a company can be simple or it can be difficult. A corporate law attorney can help you create a company, or advise you on other routes to get where you want to go (including other ways to organize your business).

    If you want a more personalized consultation, send me an e-mail.
    adam@fw-pc.com

    For a consultation, e-mail adam@fw-pc.com to set up an appointment. This answer is provided based on limited... more
  5. Christopher Nunes

    Contributor Level 9

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Please see my previously posted Avvo guide "Steps to Forming a Record Label" posted below.

    Because this is a general question and answer forum, this answer may not necessarily be specific enough to address... more
  6. Daniel Nathan Ballard

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Books have been written on the subject. Read a few: http://goo.gl/H73Dk

    The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and... more
  7. Michael Alan Shimokaji

    Contributor Level 12

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I would agree that a record label is driven by its brand, as opposed to the services/products it sells. But it can still be a company.

    To market a brand, it is not a requirement that you have a logo. You might successfully market your label by just a name (as opposed to a logo design)..

    Both a name and a logo can be trademarked.

    Michael
    www.accessipgroup.com

    The answer provided is only for general information purposes and does not constitute legal advice.
  8. Maxwell Seaton Felsheim

    Contributor Level 12

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I believe that the answers below answer your question as to how to set up a record label. But I think the bigger question is "Why do you need to set up a record label." I often get clients that come in and say they want to set-up/start a record label. When I ask them why they want/need to set up a label, they really have no answer, or say something along the lines of "That's how X made their money."

    A good attorney will help you analyze if starting a "label" is even necessary. I estimate that 8 out of 10 clients that tell me they need to start a label need some other form of assistance, and starting a record label is not the answer.

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