10 Ways To Kill It in 2018
New year, new start: an opportunity to implement the many changes that are going to transform you into a fitter, happier, more productive person. At least that’s what you tell yourself for the first month, before falling back into the same old habits that got you to this point of self-reflection in the first place.
For the more motivated among us, however, these changes can have a lasting positive effect that completely transforms you into a shadow of your former self. The same theory can be applied to your label. The year stretching out ahead of you is a blank canvas to really make a name for yourself in the industry, as long as you know where to focus your attention. So with that in mind, here at Label Worx we’ve put together a handy guide for best label practices for 2018. Or in far less wordy terms, here are our 10 Ways to Kill It in 2018.
01. Plan ahead We cannot overemphasize the importance on this one, which is why it’s first on our list. The biggest single thing that hampers a label’s success – after the quality of the music itself – is not giving yourself enough time to properly set up your releases. Why spend a year negotiating, tweaking and perfecting your label’s big release of the year only to fire it out a couple of week’s after it’s been delivered? Always have the next three months worth of releases planned out, giving yourself, artists, PRs and anyone else involved enough space to really get behind the releases. That’s not to say that if someone drops a shit hot record in your lap you can’t move things around to accommodate it, but setting a schedule – however loose – will pay dividends.
02. Keep It Consistent This is especially important for brand new labels. The industry is now flooded with so many labels, that to establish yourself properly and get yourself noticed you need to employ a certain level of consistency in the music you release. This is the surest way of building a loyal fanbase who will hopefully come back every time you release a record. That’s not to say you have to put out half a dozen carbon-copies of the first record in the same year, but establishing yourself with a certain sound, or within a particular niche gives you an identity, which can be invaluable. Even established labels that release varied music have some consistent thread running through their catalogue, so for labels breaking into the market tt’s an absolute must.
03. Now, Streaming It’s now 2018, and any semblance of an argument against getting on board with streaming has disintegrated. Embrace it even more than ever: your audience is almost certainly using streams as their main method of listening to music. The vast majority of Beatport, Traxsource downloads come from DJs, and if you just relied on them for your music sales, you would be in trouble very quickly. And make sure you’re delivering radio edits to streaming platforms and Shazam wherever possible.
04. Get Social Keeping your socials fresh without pummeling fans with ‘check out my tune’ posts can be a delicate balance, but it’s a really important one to get right. Your socials and artwork are your storefront, so you have to be sure you don’t neglect them: nothing says ‘I don’t care about this label’ like a Facebook page that hasn’t been updated for a month. In fact, it’s better not to have socials at all than have ones that are rarely updated, although going down this route is risky and opens up an entirely different debate about best marketing practices. For further advice on this, check out our Social Worx tool.
05. Play Nice As much as you might want to be the biggest, most popular label out there, music is not a competition. Rather than comparing yourself to everyone else, it’s far better to work with other labels and artists, whether that’s discussing best practice methods in promotion or sharing each other’s music in playlists and DJ charts. There’s strength in numbers: everyone’s facing the same difficulties when it comes to selling music, so talking to other people rather than seeing them as the enemy is what we would recommend.
06. Keep Your Artwork Fresh While as a label your focus should absolutely be on the music, the artwork can help you build a strong identity and help fans easily identify your releases. Simply changing the colourways on a single design, while convenient, isn’t all that interesting, and we know from experience this is something stores hate. So while there should absolutely be a common theme running through the artwork for your releases, try to avoid just using the same template over and over again.
07. Don’t Ignore Demos We get it: demos can be the bane of a label’s life, especially if you’re one of the better-known ones out there. Who wants to spend another morning trawling through sub-standard tech house records when you only release disco? An occasional diamond in the rough however can make it all worthwhile, and any A&R worth their salt will have at least one story of the first time they heard a record in their demos inbox that made them grin like an idiot and immediately sign. Again, we’ve got a handy tool for this, so check out Demo Worx if you’re struggling to stay on top of it.
08. Pay Up Trust us, you want to keep your artists happy. Without them you literally don’t have a business, so make sure you pay your artists is a timely manner and get up to speed with royalty accounting. Our Royalty Worx tool is perfect for this, so make sure you check it out if you’re not already using it. Even if an artist has earned nothing, making sure you deliver statements to them will show them how professional you are and hopefully make them want to continue working with you.
09. Look Behind You While you should always be looking to innovate and move things forward with your label, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with considering what’s worked for you in the past. What was the most successful record you released last year? Go back over the campaign you ran around its release, see what you could potentially apply to upcoming records, tweak if necessary, and see if you can repeat that success.
10. Break The Mould Having said of all the above, arguably the best chance you have of really making an impact is by doing something no-one has done before. It’s tricky, but in this digital age the possibilities of music promotion are pretty much limitless, and as long as you have a creative mind they don’t have to cost you the earth. So while you should absolutely take inspiration from people doing good things, try thinking about the things they are not doing as well. Often this will be for good reason, but you might just stumble across some gold. So there you have it: 10 ways to give your label a fighting chance of having an excellent 2018. Good luck!
Words By Alex Powell [Label Worx]
Zone Magazine Issue 012