5.2 Having Your Recorded Music Released by a Label
Just like a publisher, a label will offer you a whole package of services. This usually includes making a recording of your music (unless a pre-existing recording is used); editing the recording and producing a master; designing artwork for the cover; manufacturing CDs; distributing the recording in digital (download) and in physical form (CD) to suppliers, national and international; registering the works on the recording with the collecting societies; and promoting the recording.
Whilst having a recording of your music released by a label gives you major kudos and credibility as a composer, it might not generate substantial income. Depending on the label, you might be paid an upfront fee or you might only receive a percentage of the mechanical copyright royalties once your CD is on the shelves. Labels have substantial costs, including
manufacturing the CDs as well as packing and distributing them, and some labels will propose a deal whereby royalties will only be paid to the composer once the costs have been recouped.
If you are keen to have your music released by a label, research which labels are closest to you aesthetically. There are many different types out there, from British-only label NMC and electronic music specialist Warp, to big classical companies which have a sideline in new music. If there is somebody in your network who has had work released by a label you are interested in, quiz them on their experience and, if possible, ask for an introduction. Alternatively, give it a try with a speculative approach.