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What major should i major in if i want to own a record label?


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Sandra’s Answer

Hi Delorian,

I worked for a year and a half for an independent Canadian record label and Artist management company for successful Canadian artists. It was honestly one of the greatest professional experiences.
My day to day work involved, managing artists' schedules, work on the release of their albums, work on their tour budgets and logistics, build a marketing plan for album releases, organize their press schedules, organize traveling calendars, work in liaison with touring agency CAA, work with PR team.

This field touches a broad range of skills. My biggest recommendation in terms of courses, degrees that could help you pursue this career path are:

-Marketing
-Business Management
-Project Management (which you will learn about budgeting, agile...)
-PR
-Music Management

Hope this helps!


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Chris’s Answer

Hi Delorian. More power to you for wanting to be a music entrepreneur! If sounds like you are in college as an undergrad, or maybe planning to be soon. As an aspiring musician and performer in the late 80s and early 90s, I wasn't really planning on having my own record label, but like so many then and especially now, I started my own label after not being able to secure a "deal." When I was getting started it was the end of the pre-internet era, so deals with labels were the norm for new artists, with some exceptions like Joan Jett who famously started her own label, and there are certainly other examples. But most people then who had their own labels (like Frank Sinatra or Herb Alpert) were already successful artists in their own right who later created their own labels (or subsidiaries of larger labels) to have more control and ultimately revenues and residuals of course.
Now the game is so different. ANYONE can have their own "label" and publish music online. At least on a baseline level. Now getting traditional airplay, sync licensing, tour support, 360 branding opportunities and so many other things is the real trick and deep pockets can certainly help. Of course, the music has to be "quality," but as in all artistic endeavors, quality is an intangible.
If I can give some advice about your studies, see how well your musical "lemonade stand" can do on a small scale. Even before you decide to get a business license, form an LLC, do trademark research, set up a publishing company with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC, investigate Harry Fox, and all the myriad relationships and partnerships with industry folks you will need to have over time... see how well you can do with your music, or your friends' music in whatever town you are in: shows, youtube spins, selling merchandise. Every label has it's own identity and some of the best indie labels, Sup-Pop, Def Jam, Kill Rock Stars, were formed with a strong musical mission and sense of community. What makes your label different? What makes your music and artists accessible? And THE BIGGEST QUESTION FOR ANY BUSINESS OWNER... "Why does anyone care enough about what you are doing to pull out their wallet?" This is way more essential that what you are studying in college.
Now if things start going well for you, you have some acts that are getting reviewed by Pitchfork or whomever, acts that are filling local, regional, or national rooms, I bet you will have to drop out of college to commit all of your time to running the label and related companies! Until that is the case or it takes longer to get your label running (my little label Lightstone Records or 20 years, by the way, has never turned a profit and has been a vehicle for my own Val Holler and Kanude projects), study whatever you enjoy. Certainly do your best to at least get an undergrad degree BA or BS, under your belt, in the event you need to hit the job market so you can command a decent salary. And if you really have a knack for business, consider getting an MBA graduate degree which will serve your business acumen in any area. I'm kinda sorry I never got one! But at least my BA in English is coming in handy with all this writing I am doing today. Best of luck in your endeavors, and hey... send my some music to listen to! #music #entrepreneurship #college

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