How To Register And Start a Record Label with Little Or No Money In Nigeria
In this guide, we’ll be taking you through a step-by-step guide to start a record label with little money in Nigeria.
The entertainment business is the de facto “gold mine” of the world today, and the music industry is practically leading the charge. Today, the industry has evolved, as you can now set up a record label and enlist artistes, without having to spend a fortune; an impossible feat some years back.
This, to a large extent, has been made possible by the rise of social media as a business frontier. With the social media, average individuals with passion for music production are now able to promote their skills and attract clients to themselves, at the comforts of their homes.
Not to burden you with too much talk, let us go straight to the focus of discourse.
How to Start a Record Label with Little or No Money In Nigeria
Starting a Record Label Checklist
Below is an outline of things to consider before starting a record label.
Most record labels today are multi-genre in nature, which is not ideal for an upcoming record label, with no portfolio or star artiste to boast of. Hence, as a newbie in the game, select a music genre that you can relate to, preferably the one you have adequate knowledge (or experience) about.
In a country like Nigeria, however, it is also important to consider the types of music in vogue. Hence, select a popular genre, which could be Afro-pop, Hip Hop, Reggae or any other.
As the saying goes – “a good name is a prerequisite to good fortune”. So, create a good brand name for your new setup. Creating a name may look somewhat crude, but in reality, it is not. You may have to carry out some research to gather relevant information about the trends in the industry and tailor your name to suit this.
The world is not a vacuum; hence, you need to get your brand out there. And to do this, you’d need a set of media tools. As a startup with low budget, you can get a website built on WordPress, which would come at a relatively cheap cost.
Also, establish your presence on social media by creating business accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Luckily, you can create all these accounts for free.
For better penetration into the media space, try and create a logo. You can hire the service of a graphics designer or simply use a designer software (like Adobe Photoshop or CorelDraw), if you have the requisite skills to use these tools.
Recording Studio & Production Team
A recording studio is the heart of music production. Therefore, as a record label, you’d need a recording studio. However, to save cost, you can liaise with small recording studios in your area, whose charges are relatively affordable.
Normally, as a startup with little capital, you can’t possibly put together a standard production team, which typically includes a production/music engineer (or music producer), publicist(s), promoter(s) and even an entertainment lawyer among others.
So, you may have to ride on the platform of another, until you’re able to afford your own production team, or better still, hire freelancers to do the job, at flexible rates.
Once you have a name and media presence, you can start promoting your business. As a startup with low budget, you can maximize the use of social media for your promotion works (persistence is key).
Here, you can work with good upcoming artistes in your neighborhood. A mutual contract should be agreed and properly documented (with necessary legal binds).
Furthermore, you can solicit assistance from established record labels, and if you’re lucky, strike a collaborative deal(s) with them.
Starting a record label, irrespective of the scale, requires money. To obtain some of the items and services above, you’d need to dole out some cash and grease some palms.
Basically, you can solicit financial assistance from friends and family, who believe in the project you’re trying to create.
How to Register a Record Label In Nigeria
A typical record label is a business venture, which requires an operating license/certificate, before commencing operations. In Nigeria, every business is mandated to be registered with the Corporate Affairs Commision (CAC). Therefore, ensure to register your new record label with the commission, and obtain the necessary licenses.
Registering with the CAC is not free. On average, you’d be required to pay between 20,000 and 50,000 Naira (could be more) to obtain an operating license. And all you need to do is visit any CAC branch close to you, and do the needful.
By getting your record label registered/licensed, you are protected by law to give and take contracts. More importantly, every agreement between you and your artistes/partners/clients is legally bound. And if your label is not operating as a legal entity (without requisite license/certificate), such agreements and contracts are null and void.
Furthermore, networking would go a long way in promoting your new venture. So, if there’s any association or music group in your locality or state, ensure to reach out to them and enlist your label, as appropriate.
How to Start Your Own Record Label Online Free
Well, as started earlier, starting a record label requires money. However, with the ongoing trend today, you can create a “virtual record label” and upload your songs/albums/EPs on prominent online music hubs like iTunes, Spotify and others. Together, these hubs have 100 of millions of subscribers.
In Nigeria, however, starting a record label online is near-impossible. This is because, getting your songs on the aforementioned music hubs is a big deal on its own, even for the established record labels. So, unless your songs are able to generate some significance locally (within Nigeria), you may be wasting your time.
More importantly, there are only few (if any) music distribution firms, who would work and commit funds to your project (as a rookie label owner), without having some sort of physical contact with you and/or your artistes.
Nevertheless, it wouldn’t hurt to try; fortune may just smile on you. So, to start a record label online, you can follow the guidelines:
- Get a brand name.
- Get a virtual workstation; preferably on a laptop.
- Create social media handles (especially YouTube) and a website (or blog).
- If you have artistes already, fine; otherwise, you can reach out to some upcoming artistes online (or in your neighbourhood).
- Register with a music distribution firm (local and/or international) like RouteNote and strike a deal with them.
- Register on local forums like Naijaloaded and Nairaland.
- Send out your songs.
- And start earning!
Despite setting up online, much of your operations would require boots on ground, as you’d need a studio for your artistes to produce their songs, and you can’t possibly depend solely on a virtual music workstation. All these would come at a price, which may not be cheap.
Furthermore, you may have to register your online record label, as you make progress. This is because, there is currently no stringent law binding online businesses in Nigeria. So you are free to operate without a license. However, should you decide to make your record label a bonafide one, with physical presence, you’d need an operating license.
Also, it is important to note that all your operations (as an online record label owner) are at your own risk, as every contract and agreement you make is not bound by the law. So, to avoid stories that touch, get your online music firm registered/licensed from the outset.
How to Run a Successful Independent Record Label
Starting a record label is one thing, running it is another. Like every new business, you need to consider a lot of things, prime among which is how to reach your target market – those who would buy what you’re selling, which, in this case, is music.
Also, while you’d need money to start, you’d need even more money to run the label, particularly in the area of music/video production and promotion. So, be ready to spend some money, as your artistes would be looking onto you for this.
Summarily, below is an outline of some essential things to consider and put in place, to run a successful independent record label:
- Get a good studio; a standard music studio (with necessary equipment) does not come cheap. Hence, you can outsource and produce your songs at stand-alone studios (they are littered around the country), who charge per track, albeit at affordable rates.
- Get an entertainment lawyer to vet all contracts before putting pen to paper.
- Stick to a genre or a group of related genres; it would be counterproductive, in the long run, to have artistes across multiple genres. In fact, it may cost you more money, as each genre requires a unique set of expertise and equipment to produce beats.
- Promotion; this is practically the most important work of record labels. An artist can record his/her songs by himself/herself, but a record label generally handles the promotion of the song. Your success in the game often depends on this. So, make use of every tool (including the social media) at your disposal to promote your artistes’ songs.
- Liaise with distributors; to handle the distribution of your albums and EPs. You can’t possibly do this alone.
- Keep your artistes happy: The greatest threat to any establishment built on trust is greed, which often leads to mistrust. So, ensure your artistes get a fair share of their returns, as stipulated in their respective contracts.
How to Start a Hip Hip Record Label
Well, starting a Hip Hop record label is no different from starting an Afro-pop record label. The template is the same, only the contents differ. And as the most popular music genre around (in Nigeria and everywhere else), most record labels are Hip Hop-focused.
To start a Hip Hop record label in Nigeria, see the first section of this article – for the checklist of things you need and things to consider. Also, you can go through the previous section to get enlightened on how to run your new record label to success.
For more business ideas and suggestions, visit NaijaGists.com Creativity Column.