Originally Posted by Lunar Satellite Brian
So lately I've been thinking a potential career in music, I was just wondering if anyone could give me a run down of how to
A. How to protect your music and keep the rights for it when starting out?
B. Produce a decent sounding record without going bankrupt without a record label?
C. How would one actually go about producing and distributing said album for sale?
Any and all comments will be appreciated.
All this stuff goes together, so I'm not going to separate my answer out into A, B, and C, but bear with me please.
Don't worry about anyone else stealing your music but your bandmates. Work out between yourselves how you are going to divvy up the rights to your music (equal share, writer gets everything, etc.). If you're serious about it you can register yourself and your music with a PRO (performing rights organization) such as ASCAP or BMI. To get a decent sounding recording, you must learn everything you can and practice! There's a great thread on the Reaper forums you can start with: http://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=29283
Once your music is through the mastering phase, your recordings should have what are called ISRC's (International Standard Recording Codes) on them, this is a crucial but often overlooked part of amateur recording and publication. The PRO's will need an ISRC to tie to the original record of your intellectual property. When your final master is done it will need to be applied to a disc along with final proofs of the disc artwork, etc. (at which point you will check and double check to ensure that you're comfortable sending this out as the finished product). If you decide it's worthy, you duplicate that disc either with your own machine or with a professional service and then distribute it.
This is the "reader's digest" version of my response... there's a lot to it that I didn't mention but it's very doable. The information is out there for you if you search around. Much of it is even free on the internet and much digital ink has been dedicated to its discussion. Good luck!
P.S: By "distribute" I don't just mean get CD's out there in the marketplace. If it were up to me, I would publish online and have hard copies for those few physical sales, but primarily for archival purposes. Check out bandcamp.com. You don't need a record label at all anymore since it is so cheap and easy to record and distribute your work nowadays. Any promotion a label would do for you, apart from print advertising in major music publications, you can do yourself, for free, on the internet. The business model of "practice and record a few demos until we get signed by a label to get our music out on a national level" is all but dead and gone. That being said, (only if you are very serious) I would form a label with my band or on my own for some representation as a legal entity that extends beyond you as an individual. To do this properly costs at least several hundred dollars in the United States, so it may not be worth your time or money yet