How it began
How did you start the label, when and why?
The label was created about 2 and a half years ago. It started pretty randomly when I was releasing my own album and got asked often if I have a label I’m releasing it with so I decided to write a name of a made-up label on it, half as a joke and half to have a validation I felt was needed. Soon enough people started asking me about it as if it’s a real thing and ironically enough it became real. I used to work in the past as a promoter, as a sound technician, as a booker and playing shows and DJing so I had some background working with other artists and it was an organic process to get to the point of having a label.
I know it’s not coming naturally to everyone and some people are great at creating while others are good at promoting that creating but I think with the current state of the music industry it’s essential to understand how it works, so I try to get our artists involved as possible and some of them are also naturally good at it themselves.
Are you doing it alone or you have employees/friends with you in the label?
My best friend Paz joined me after that first release and we’ve been running it together since then. Paz is great with all the visual parts and makes many of our artworks and all of the events posters and videos. We have a similar vision when it comes to music or almost anything else, we try to ignore the idea of what labels are “supposed” to be. For example, one of the first steps we did as a label was to create a youtube playlist of things to watch when you’re stoned and made a fantasy list of bands that we would sign. We share a major lack in getting how capitalism works or why release numbers have to be chronological. It’s just the two of us but since our first steps we were lucky to have a bunch of amazing friends, labels and venues we collaborate with.
What was the first obstacle?
On our first official meeting we just made a list of all of our fears and hesitations, and then we made a list of answers for each one of those. I think we were afraid of not being taken seriously, so being in that zone of taking ourselves seriously, but not TOO seriously sort of helped.
What is your favorite experience with the label or with an artist?
Last year we got to curate a stage in Synästhesie Festival, and also had a series of parties funded by Musicboard. It was great to offer our bands bigger shows and to get to know a bunch of new people through those events. Also we just really love our artists, we know all of them personally and they are all hard working, creative and sweet people
Adi Kum blabla
Tips on promotion
How do you manage the vinyl or cd pressing?
It’s 2020, so obviously we mainly do cassettes! We got our own machines so it’s very DIY, but when an artist wants to have their release on CD or vinyl- we have few contacts and we help them with that.
How do you manage the media/press/radio of your artists?
We have zero professional experience with that but we just try to learn as we go.
I make our press releases and send it to a mailing list I got, and we kind of bomb our social media with incoherent but hopefully entertaining content. Some of our artists are pretty good at doing PR themselves and helping with that, and sometimes we get approached by media people who are interested in our artists or events.
Digital Music Distribution
Can you tell us more how the digital distribution is with Baby Satan?
Since our first release (and way before I started working for iMusician!) we were always releasing digitally via iMusician. Digital music world is constantly evolving and there is a lot to learn, starting from how to build artist profiles or how to submit to playlists, and I’m super keen to know more so I could pass it on to our artists and that they could do it by themselves.
In general I think that artists often want to just create and have this fear or just a turn-off from everything around distribution or PR, but all the platforms at the moment are made in such an accessible way that I think each artist is able to learn how to do it.
Is the playlists important to you?
I’m obsessed with making playlists and listening to playlists, and I often let the Spotify algorithm show me what it thinks I would like. It’s disturbing in many ways but I also enjoy it too much. As for being on major playlists - it could actually be one of the best and free exposure options out there right now.
Where, personally, do you listen to artists (Bandcamp, YouTube, Spotify…)?
I like the layout of Bandcamp, and it’s the best way to support smaller bands because you could buy their music directly. But the rest of the time I listen to spotify and I like to exchange playlists with people, and also listen a lot to podcasts. At the moment I’m into “Slow Burn” which is a great podcast about Watergate, and I listen often to the playlist of “Light In The Attic”, which is for my opinion one of the greatest record labels of all times. I watch YouTube sometimes because I love music videos.
What’s the top 3 releases you would recommend people who don't know Baby Satan to check out first?
Probably just recommend to start with one of our 3 eclectic Compilations and to take it from there, or one of my personal favorites “Avishag Cohen Rodrigues- One Winter, One Hunter” - Who is a super talented friend, based in NY.
What tips do you have for artists who look for a record label.
I would suggest finding a label that has similar artists (musically and with artists in a similar stage in their career) , to send a release after mixing/mastering stages, writing a personal email (not DM in Instagram! haha) and the most important is - not to take it personally if it doesn’t fit or if no one replies, you could always just make your own label instead!
From budget to legal advices: the step by step to start a label
Researching about the evolution of record labels and the changes in music consumption would be a good start to start your own label to understand a bit more about the options, about what you are able to offer and to visualize what could come next. To find a few artists you truly believe in to start with (or your own project) , to have a solid idea of what the vibe is, to go one step at a time.
How did you start the label (in an administrative way) ? Was it an association ? If company, what legal status did you chose and why ?
To be honest we never registered as a legit business cause we are never really making money. We invested what we sold from tapes back into making more tapes, stickers, or taking part in label markets which were great for exposure in our first year.
Did you start off with physical (cassettes) or digital distribution ?
The first release was pressed on vinyl (only 30 copies) by a small company of friends who made them one by one. It was fun to have it made but obviously it was not economical in any way. It was also the first digital release we’ve made.
Why did you choose iMusician and how has it helped you ?
I’ve met a couple of lovely people working for iMusican , they knew the label and told me about iMusician. When we just started we were wondering how we could get distributed, cause it seemed like we would have to be a solid label in order to work with a distribution company, so releasing via iMusician was way easier than I anticipated distribution would be.
Besides the accessibility, one of my favorite things was the tutorials for how to create an artist profile or how to submit to playlists.
How did you finance the label ? What would you advise someone who wants to start their own in terms of budget ? (crowdfunding, own money, investors, start with no money...)
We are super DIY so we always invested whatever we could from our own pockets, and sometimes even the income from our band went straight to the label. Luckily for us, the lo-fi look really suits the general vibe so it’s half intended and half from circumstances.
For our events we got some support for Musicboard Berlin
What types of contracts do you sign with your artists and why ?
The closest thing we ever did to a contract was when we approached a band (Palm Squirrel) after their gig and asked them if they wanted to be on the label, they said yes and we all licked our palms and had a good handshake, but that was pre-covid19!
We don’t really have contracts, the artists own the rights to their music and they also pay for their own physical copies. We usually pay for the number of copies we want to have with us for sale/give away and for the digital distribution. Some of our releases were also shared with other labels, we are pretty open and flexible to whatever suits each artist.
Did you get any help on the legal/business stuff or did you learn on the job ?
Not really, just talked with some other label owners for advice, and listened to some podcasts and read interviews by labels we liked. I think we came to terms in an early stage it’s definitely not gonna be an income source. But that’s also why we make events and make T-shirts, it balances up.
10 steps to create your own record label
Adi's take on the label creation process.
Come up with an idea- name, look, vibe
Make an imaginary list of all the bands (dead or alive) that you would have signed if you had a chance. It helps to visualize what you are looking for.
Make a list of everything you could offer to artists based on your skills and resources: design, videos, digital and physical distribution, recordings, PR, mental support, booking, artistic involvement.
Collect a few artists around you that are devoted and invested in their work, who represent your vision for the label, and check with them which of your skills could be beneficial to them.
Social media: like most people, I have a hate-love-hate relationship with those platforms but if you use them wisely and cynically - they could be super helpful and enjoyable. We’re personally into making content that is trashy/ silly/ gory /romantic cause that what fits our music.
Events are a huge promotion opportunity for a label. During the pandemic time it’s obviously more complicated or impossible but think of creative ways to express your taste as posting DJ sets by artists, having live-streamed shows, or making playlists by artists
Do whatever you are able according to your budget and free time, but only start if you are truly committed.
The music industry is constantly changing, so it helps to get rid of the idea of “what is normal to do” or “how it usually is”.
Make a timeline of your first releases and plan when and how to promote them before and after.
It’s supposed to be fun (:
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