Are You Already A Record Label?

Original article –

What Makes a Record Label?
A colleague and I recently had a discussion about whether selling exclusively downloadable music constituted being a record label. Which got me to thinking about the subject.

For example, say you’ve signed an artist or group and are selling individual tracks, or groups of tracks, from your web site, or perhaps additional music sites such as iTunes, eMusic, Rhapsody, Napster, etc. Can you really call yourself a record label if there’s no actual physical product such as a CD available? Is it the selling of CDs that nowadays legitimizes your existence?

In the many years before downloading capability became possible, the only music you could sell was actual, physical product — 78s, LPs, 45s, 4-tracks, 8-tracks, cassettes, and CDs, and in the case of songwriters and composers — printed sheet music or scores.

The advent of the Internet has changed the situation in various ways. Not only has it given us many new techniques to inform the public about new music and new artists, but it has also provided lots of methods to market and sell music. Who a few years ago would have thought how helpful and meaningful a site such as MySpace might be for promoting music of heretofore unknown acts? Who would have thought that you could buy just about any book or record in print from an at just the click of a mouse. Who would have thought you could market your music to fans by merely putting up a really good web site in what’s essentially a non-existent, or at least, non-physical space?

You Are What You Think You Are
I, for one, think that if you’ve got two or more artists whose music is available for purchase — either as bits (downloads) or atoms (CDs), then you’re probably a record label. Or, if you’re an artist with more than just a handful or tracks available for sale, why then you, too, are probably a record label — especially if you think you are.

Part of this is mind-set. You’re a record label if you think you are.

On the other hand, there’s no real question that if you have physical product available, if only at performances, then you’re a record label, or very close to it. And if you offer CDs for sale from your website, or CD Baby, or, then I would think you’re a record label.

The time has come when making CDs or other physical product available for sale at retail outlets such as Tower (what’s left of it,) Borders, BestBuy, or local mom and pop record stores no longer determines the status of being a label.

To a great extent, what constitutes a record label is very much in the mind of the begetter, and/or beholder.

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