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  #1  
Old 01-07-2013, 04:29 AM
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Lunar Satellite Brian Lunar Satellite Brian is offline
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Default How does one actually begin to produce albums for sale as an indie label?

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.
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:09 AM
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Default Re: How does one actually begin to produce albums for sale as an indie label?

A. in the USA, copyright forms are pretty easy to obtain.

B. Really, it's about the person's ability more than the gear. That said,people with that ability tend to know it and charge a lot, and getting to that level of skill is a lot of work.

C. CD baby lets anyone who can make music put out an album. Through them, you can get physical CD sales, get on itunes, spotify, and 100 other sites I've never even heard of. One one hand, it's awesome. My last band is every where, on every site, and shows up in places I never knew existed.

The reality is, even with the band on itunes, and spotify and 1001 other legal download sites, every 3-6 months, that equals out about a $20 check. At this rate, I'll have covered the cost I spend on having a professional mix the album in about 80 years. LOL.
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:41 PM
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Default Re: How does one actually begin to produce albums for sale as an indie label?

checked out CD Baby, that does indeed look like just about the greatest website ever known to man, but I guess if you really wanted to be "successful" in sales you will still have to pay for your own advertisements.

As for recording am I right in assuming you just rented out a local recording studio? or bought the equipment yourself?
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:31 PM
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Default Re: How does one actually begin to produce albums for sale as an indie label?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunar Satellite Brian View Post
checked out CD Baby, that does indeed look like just about the greatest website ever known to man, but I guess if you really wanted to be "successful" in sales you will still have to pay for your own advertisements.

As for recording am I right in assuming you just rented out a local recording studio? or bought the equipment yourself?
I converted a garage into a studio, purchased Protools, a good computer, and some mics.
I recorded everything myself, then took the files to a professional mixer at his studio.

And yes, you have to do your own advertising if you want to be successful via CD baby.

On one hand, current technology is awesome because anyone can put out their own album without spending 5 or 6 figures. On the flip side, selling tracks online means you get cents per download.

I never expected to make money on that last album, because the point was to hit a small niche market. We had some pretty mind blowing success right out of the gate, but unfortunately, life got in the way of capitalizing on that success. So while I wasn't thinking of getting rich, I didn't quite expect to miss breaking even by such a large margin either, but what can ya do.
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:50 PM
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Default Re: How does one actually begin to produce albums for sale as an indie label?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunar Satellite Brian View Post
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.
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:59 PM
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Default Re: How does one actually begin to produce albums for sale as an indie label?

ISRC coding is the most overlooked part, as NerfLad says. If you're serious about selling your music you absolutely must get this looked at. Royalties are usually distributed using the ISRC code of the track being played because it identifies that exact version of the song - even if there are multiple versions in existence. ISRC codes are encoded onto CDs using the Red Book standard so it's important if you are selling CDs seriously to make sure everything is encoded properly and the ISRC numbers are registered.

With the Red Book encoding, you're almost always better off getting the record mastered and encoded by a professional. What you produce from your computer's CD burner is unlikely to meet the standards required by professional bodies within the music industry - even if the sound is absolutely right. There's more to it than that!
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:26 PM
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Default Re: How does one actually begin to produce albums for sale as an indie label?

For an overview, Read the recent book by David Byrne. "How Music Works". There are six methods to make/market your music as described in one of the chapters. The 'old' model (advance up front) is going the wayside, and ripped off most artists anyway.
Different pros and cons of each.
As to the legal stuff you'll have to research that as it varies by country.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:43 PM
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Lunar Satellite Brian Lunar Satellite Brian is offline
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Default Re: How does one actually begin to produce albums for sale as an indie label?

Thanks for all of the responses, especially Drumeatdrum and Nerflad, I am glad to see that it is relatively easy to record/manufacture CD's as an indie band now, because I certainly didn't want to sign to any sort of label, being fully aware that practice is practically dead as it should be.


My one remaining question is if I were to release a few demo's using the equipment I have, being a 24 bit recorder, mic.s ect and released them unofficially at a small scale(say 400 copies and maybe a name your own price sale via the internet) would I be safe selling them on CD'Rs burned from my computer?

Someone told me that if you post the songs on a website such as Youtube/Soundcloud you can protect yourself using those as a reference point, since they keep the dates of when your song/video was posted, no one could claim ownership because you have proof you owned it before they did. Which was essentially was what I planned on doing to protect sale of demo's.
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Old 01-08-2013, 06:22 AM
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Default Re: How does one actually begin to produce albums for sale as an indie label?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunar Satellite Brian View Post
Someone told me that if you post the songs on a website such as Youtube/Soundcloud you can protect yourself using those as a reference point, since they keep the dates of when your song/video was posted, no one could claim ownership because you have proof you owned it before they did. Which was essentially was what I planned on doing to protect sale of demo's.
Don't rely on an outside party. What if Soundcloud or Google went out of business and took their sites down (HA!)? Of course they're not going anywhere anytime soon, but a string that says "Uploaded Date" isn't close to enough. ISR codes are what you want.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunar Satellite Brian View Post
released them unofficially
I thought you were trying to avoid this? If you're doing it under the table, you'll have to live with the fact that your options are substantially more limited when it comes to protecting your IP. Don't get involved with the wrong people and it isn't as much of an issue (your bandmates could be great, I'm just saying).


I have never put ISRC's on a record and I am not registered with a PRO. I'm sure it will happen but thus far the need has not arisen. I'm letting you know what your options are; ultimately it's your judgement that will decide if it's worth going through the trouble. My advice is this though: If you are serious about building a brand and a career around yourself and your music, it's worth it to start doing it the right way as early as possible (on the business end, I mean). This stuff is a lot easier to do on the front end than it is after the fact -- when you've forgotten dates, your ex-guitar player turned arch-nemesis demands partial writing credit, etc.
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:53 PM
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Lunar Satellite Brian Lunar Satellite Brian is offline
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Default Re: How does one actually begin to produce albums for sale as an indie label?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NerfLad View Post

I thought you were trying to avoid this?.
Well, yes, but until I can get the time and space together for an official release I want to unofficially release some home-recorded style demo's to sell at some local shows or whatever, that's essentially what I was going to use the "Broke man's" copyright method I brought up.

As far as my bandmates stealing my music that shouldn't really be an issue, being as the main project I'm working on now is a solo project type thing and I've basically been writing and recording everything myself, however I will keep that in mind for some other band projects I have going on.

Anyways, thanks for all of the advice, I think with a little more research I'll have just about all the information I can get, without experience at least. Hopefully I'll have some music to sell with the near* future.
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Old 01-09-2013, 04:48 PM
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Default Re: How does one actually begin to produce albums for sale as an indie label?

The classic "poor man's copyright" is as soon as possible after you've finished production, mail yourself the recording on a CD, the lyrics and maybe even a short little "all rights reserved" kind of statement, and then don't open it. If a dispute ever arises, the court will sometimes honor this method. It actually usually doesn't hold up, but it is an option and it's better than nothing. Even if you don't go to court, it could be used for private dispute resolution between you and a collaborator.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poor_man%27s_copyright
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:32 PM
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Default Re: How does one actually begin to produce albums for sale as an indie label?

Yes, CD baby is cool.
And after you've spent thousands on your recording, you can look forward to getting a statement like this;

Quote:
$0.14 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.14 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.13 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.13 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.11 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.11 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.11 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.08 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.08 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.07 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.07 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.07 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Rhapsody
$0.07 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.06 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.06 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.06 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.05 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.05 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.05 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.05 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.04 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.04 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.04 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.04 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.04 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.04 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.04 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Rhapsody
$0.03 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.03 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.03 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.03 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.03 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through iTunes Match - Americas
$0.03 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.02 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.02 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Rhapsody - Mechanical Royalties
$0.02 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Rhapsody - Mechanical Royalties
$0.01 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Last.fm
$0.01 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.01 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Rhapsody - Mechanical Royalties
$0.01 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Rhapsody - Mechanical Royalties
$0.01 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.01 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Last.fm
$0.01 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Spotify
$0.01 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through Last.fm
$0.01 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through iTunes Match - Americas
$0.01 for DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION SALES through iTunes Match - UK
All those pennies add up....to maybe a the cost of a snare drum head and a pair of sticks. LOL.
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