6 – Should I want to sign with a label?

As with many questions these days, those asking this question don’t have quite the up-to-date awareness they should have.  What can a label offer you?  support, advice, distribution, marketing, expertise?  Maybe, and all at a price usually.  The way larger labels recoup this money is quite vicious.  

So what next?  Small labels have less of everything including money, expertise and professionalism although there are some that are great.  It is all about relationships – if you work closely with a label, they will understand you more and be able to do more for you.

It may come down to starting off with self-release.  You have control over the product from the writing and recording stage through to the dissemination.  You get to make all the decisions and that’s the drawback.  It requires hard work to develop a business plan and that means knowing where you want to be by such-and-such time and discovering the tools and resources that will help you to achieve your goals.

The Internet doesn’t solve all the problems for ‘unsigned’ artists, it merely provides a set of tools that will enable you disseminate your work without having to press thousands of CD’s.

What to do next:

1 – Draw up a list of things you want to achieve in 1, 3 and 5 years (or short, medium and long term if you prefer)

2 – Decide what resources you might need i.e. manager, money, luck, training etc.

3 – Network – and that doesn’t mean attending stand-up meetings with bad warm white wine, but a place where you can meet those people that could help you advance your plan.

4 – Now go do.


1 – How does copyright work?

There are 3 kinds of copyright in a piece of recorded music.

1 – The author/composer/songwriter copyright

2 – The recording copyright

3 – The performer copyright

1a – If you write a song, then the copyright lasts for 70 years after your death.  You can loan it to someone (assigning) via a publishing agreement or similar.

2a – If you own the recording copyright, it lasts for 50 years after the year of production.

3a – If you perform on a recording as either a featured or unfeatured performer, it lasts for 50 years after the of production.

Your music activity can earn you money called royalties when someone uses it.

1b – MCPS/PRS collect royalties for the first copyright when a piece of music is sold, covered, performed or otherwise used in public.

 2b – PPL – collect royalties for record companies when a recording is publicly used.

3b – PPL collect royalties for performers when a recording is publicly used.

MCPS/PRS – www.mcps-prs-alliance.co.uk

PPL – www.ppluk.com