Starting an independent music production company requires technical skill, business acumen, industry contacts, knowledge of the music business, marketing and trends and an “ear” for musical detail and talent.
Most music production companies are independent, as very few are owned or operated by record labels or parent companies. Many production companies do not own recording studios either, leveraging their business finances by outsourcing recording, manufacturing and distribution functions to contracted companies.
The primary function of a production company is to locate artists and facilitate the recording, manufacturing and distribution of musical product.
How to Start an Independent Music Production Company
1 . Obtain training and experience by taking classes in music production and related business classes at a music college or specialty school. Training and experience may also be attained through interning at a recording studio or music production company.
2. Educate yourself on every aspect of the music business, management, legal and production duties to hone your skills and increase your knowledge-base. Read trade magazines, subscribe to reliable websites, go to music trade shows and don’t be shy about asking questions of others in the business.
3. File additional paperwork with your secretary of state if you choose to operate your business as a corporation or limited liability company. Many small music production companies operate as sole-proprietorships until business growth warrants the extra expense, taxation and paperwork required.
4. Obtain a local business permit and state tax license from your state’s department of revenue. You will need to be registered as a legitimate music production company in order to take advantage of special industry rates on products and services, and you are legally required to register as a business for tax purposes. No specific licenses or permits are required other than those of non-regulated businesses.
5. Make a list music industry contacts or purchase a list from a reputable music industry information provider. Contacts should include recording studios and engineers, music managers, agents, attorneys, radio stations, performance venues, other music producers, CD and DVD manufacturers and distributors.
6. Buy marketing materials from a local printer to use in the marketing of your music production company. Endeavor to buy locally to support local businesses.
7. Obtain music business contracts from an entertainment attorney or purchase them from a music business supplier. Contracts are used in the everyday operation of your business, so you must have them on hand, and know how to legally modify and use them.
8. Contact local recording studios, engineers and manufacturers to alert them of your music production services. Partnering with these businesses will help establish relationships, gain referrals and may result in special rates.
9. Search for local artists to record and produce, or record your own music at one of your partner studios. It will take awhile to gain customers, as you will need to prove your value by the quality of your recordings and business knowledge.
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