Rob Eakins

Contributor: Rob Eakins
Rob Eakins set up his label Ultimate Fake Records in 2007, and released his first single later that year. He has a Master’s degree in Music Industry Studies from the University of Liverpool. Rob has been involved in a variety of business support projects on Merseyside, including working with start-up creative industries businesses and as a mentor on a programme for new music industry entrepreneurs.

Tip1 Get a good lawyer. Contracts are the foundations on which you build your record company. Find a lawyer you can trust, who will take the time to explain which contracts you need and what your obligations under them are.
Tip2 Work with musicians you know and like, both personally and musically. Your relationship with them will last beyond the signing of the contract, and your chances of success are entwined with theirs, so find people you can get along with.
Tip3 Look at the costs – carefully. This is true for any enterprise. You need to be confident you’ve got enough money behind you to get you through whatever activities you have planned. If for example you have enough money to record an album but not enough money to promote it, you’re unlikely to recoup your investment.
Tip4 Learn all you can. The music industry is complicated. You might be planning to set up a label because you “love music”, but that’s not enough to ensure success. If you don’t know the difference between PPL and PRS, or you ignore copyright laws, you’re likely to get into difficulties.
Tip5 Find a mentor or a business adviser, or join a suitable network. Even if you’re a self-starter and determined to succeed, it can be really helpful to have someone independent to talk through your ideas with and to help you set targets for yourself and your business.
Tip6 Cheaper isn’t always better. Work with suppliers who go that extra mile for you, and help them out in return. Recommend them to others if they do a good job for you, and make sure they know you’ve done so. In this way you build a network of people who might help you out if you get stuck.
Tip7 Unless you have a load of time and money available to you, think carefully before you work with musicians that need developing before they’ll be ready to release anything worthwhile. This can be a tough decision when you see people you think have potential, but if you spend all your money and have nothing to show for it your label is finished.
Tip8 Don’t release rubbish! Not even if it’s your best mate’s brother’s band and your best mate is begging you to sign them. If the songs are no good or they’re badly played then no one but your best mate is going to buy them. Keep your budget for someone with a bit of talent.
Tip9 Make sure your tracks are produced to a high standard. Advances in technology mean that recording music is easier than ever, but you don’t want your releases to sound like something the kids next door whipped up in their shed. Demo quality isn’t good enough for a serious label, and will greatly reduce your chances of making extra income from licensing and synchronisation opportunities.
Tip10 Enjoy it. Taking into account all of the preceding points, if you’re not enjoying this venture, which is no doubt eating up all of your cash and filling every spare moment, then you’re doing it wrong.
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