...or any merch, really, at a show some months ago and the band I loved had none. It's an expense for a band - and a shame - as fans, particularly metal fans, seem to want merch, especially vinyl and t-shirts.
So I decided to actively pursue a longstanding "wouldn't that be cool?" dream and see if I could start a record label. Here's where I've gotten so far:
• First and foremost, a band. I am actively working out an agreement with a local act I love and we are verbally on the same page, just hashing out the translation to paper.
• The paper. I would love to do this with a handshake but want to protect myself and also assure the band that their creation is not abused. I am keeping this as simple as possible and will share what I hope will become the standard house agreement for a one-off record (not currently seeking long-term commitments) as soon as it gets all legalized (expense #1).
• The record. This will involve fronting some studio money, could include artwork and will include pressing, packaging and all the usual associated necessities (expenses 2, 3, 4....).
• The rest. I need all the required State stuff (name registration, vendor's license). I need a separate bank account, PO box, dedicated space to store product and work from. I need a website to sell the record. I need a design for the site. I need a reliable checkout process. I need to be able to accurately predict fees, shipping, packaging - everything needing built into the cost of the vinyl to ensure that, if I can sell it, it's not at a loss. I want to be able to cut the band a check and then press more. I need to hone a marketing plan that includes consignments, advertisements, collaborations, fan involvement and more.
• The best. All of this is fun. Good people who I have met via this blog have stepped up and offered invaluable insight and assistance. I'm networking with other small labels, bands, independent record stores and people who genuinely seem happy to help. Accounting-wise, I will lose money on this. Initial estimates of expenses will likely triple in reality. Personally, though, it is turning out to be one of the most rewarding endeavors I have ever pursued.
More to follow soon. I'll share the bits and pieces as they fall into place and, ideally, eventually hopefully build some half-assed DIY roadmap of mistakes, successes and lessons learned along the way.
(all apologies re: formatting here or lack thereof. Recent storms in Ohio have killed Web access, seemingly indefinitely, and I'm working solely via smartphone, proceeding as best I can)