Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Façade

When I first started my label one of the things that I wanted to do was to look as professional as possible. I knew I was competing with real labels and if it didn't have the same look then I would not be taken seriously.

This worked the way I hoped, but it also had consequences that I never expected. In trying to create the façade of a big record label many of my listeners figured that there was more to my little label than there is.

I can't tell you how many times people have confessed to me that they think that my label is located in a really big building---that I have a staff and of course am selling enough recordings to pay for all of this.

The truth is much different...

My label is not located a big building, it is my 800 sq foot apartment. It only has one employee, me. (Sometimes I'll ask a friend of mine to answer emails and help with order fulfillment, but most of the time he's out of the country backpacking in western Europe... [sic])

My label is an artist owned label. All that means is that the artist, in this case me, owns the record company. And with that comes all the work of running any company. Not only am I the sole artist on the label, I am also the order taker, order processor, stock person, complaint department, driver, agent, tour manager, roadie, customer service, web designer, cleaning crew (I suck at this part), accountant, purchasing department, and a bunch of other things I can't remember right now. But most important I also pay the bills: rent, electric bills, heating or cooling bills in the studio, maintaining my recording equipment, gasoline during touring, shipping product, website hosting, equipment for live gigs, and, the most costly, paying to have my recordings manufactured so I can sell them.

This doesn't include food, and all the other day to day stuff we all have to pay for

There are many artists out there nowadays who own and run their own record company. In fact in the world of New Age music and its sub genres, most of the artists are doing it themselves. Which means they, too, are paying the same bills.

In order to make money to pay the bills we have to get out and make footprints. Performing, giving workshops, lessons, whatever it takes to get our music out there. But mostly we try and sell our recordings.

Now I realize that a lot of people don't want to hear this, but the truth is that every time you make a copy of your favorite artist's CD to "share" with a friend or family member, that "copy" you just made is a sale that we won't make. It is income that we lose. The loss of which will make it harder for us to pay the bills that need to be paid to make the music you like in the first place. This is especially true for Indie artists as we have to come up with the capitol in the first place to make it all happen. We are not using the resources of a record label.

For those of you that will point to the low costs associated with the manufacturing of digitally downloaded music, in later posts we'll look at how that way of selling music, even without the associated costs of manufacturing physical product, is in truth making it harder and harder for all recording artists to make a living.

For now let's look at what the real cost of a CD is.

© 2011 The Musical Disconnect (TMD)


  1. That person that just copied your CD and gave it to their friend just opened up the potential for a new fan. The potential for future album, ticket, merch and other sales. I cannot tell you how many bands I became of fan of solely because a friend shared a cd or some tracks over the interweb- bands that because I liked them and because they were good, I went out and bought albums.

  2. You don't have a clue about how this works do you?

    I have never had a person come up to me and say they bought albums from being turned on to a bootlegged copy of one of my discs. Due to the nature of my genre (small), most gigs don't have tickets, they are free and money is made only from CD sales. My "fans" are mostly over 45, again part of the genre, and they don't buy merch and "other" sales.

    I'm sure you enjoy working for free in hopes of being paid later. What? You don't work for free? Of course not.