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

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

Posted

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.

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Asker

Posted

I have my record label setup as a LLC. So all I do is coordinate the artists and artist managers works via contracts? And by doing this wont my label be the copyright owner of the artists work that i will be coordinating?

Posted

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 facts and does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor should it be relied on as legal advice. It is only a generalized, cursory examination and is not a substitute for retaining a licensed attorney.

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Posted

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/recorddistributormajorlabellist.htm 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 free advice at your sole risk. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

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Posted

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 analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.

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2 comments

Gordon Philip Firemark

Gordon Philip Firemark

Posted

Further to what all of my colleagues have said, consider whether you have the knowledge and understanding of the music business required to make a go of it as an independent label. This means having a business plan, a marketing plan, a distribution arrangement, and a budget for not just recording, but also for promoting, advertising, and publicizing your product.

Gerry J. Elman

Gerry J. Elman

Posted

Good points, Gordon.

Posted

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.

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Posted

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 your exact situation. You should not rely on it as your sole legal advice. Please contact me or another lawyer directly for more information and to ensure that your rights and responsibilities are being adequately protected. My contact information may be found here: <br><br> <a href="http://www.chrisnunes.com ">www.chrisnunes.com </a><br> <br> If you believe that this answer was helpful, please consider VOTING IT UP using the button below to help other people find it.

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Michael Charles Doland

Michael Charles Doland

Posted

Very interesting guide. Ultra-reasonably priced services.

Posted

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 should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.

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Posted

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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2 comments

Michael Charles Doland

Michael Charles Doland

Posted

1) Welcome to Avvo. (2) what a great, common sense answer, and (3) love the photo. PS. If you "agree" with other attorney(s)' answers you get 2 points, they get 5. It's a long way to 100,000 points (level 20)!

Maxwell Seaton Felsheim

Maxwell Seaton Felsheim

Posted

Thanks Michael. I just figured out the "agree" feature right before I got your comment. Time to level up!

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