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!
Copyright Infringement Attorney
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.
5 lawyers agree
Estate Planning Attorney
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.
For a consultation, e-mail email@example.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.
Intellectual Property Law Attorney
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.
9 lawyers agree
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.
7 lawyers agree
Intellectual Property Law Attorney
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.
The answer provided is only for general information purposes and does not constitute legal advice.
Please see my previously posted Avvo guide "Steps to Forming a Record Label" posted below.
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4 lawyers agree
Intellectual Property Law Attorney
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.
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.