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How I Destroyed My Record Label and Broke Even!

80% of the viewers on this channel do not want to tank their record labels on the first go-around. However, if you follow my initial steps, that's exactly what will happen. Here's how I did it:

  1. Put your music out with no promotion plan.

  2. Blow all your cash on recording with no marketing budget to spend.

  3. You will not have a record label within 12 months of starting.

The problem is your vision is skewed about how this business works, which is why you’re excited to jump the gun! But if we’re practical, we should plan a little better, right?

Little Cash, Lotta Credit

I didn’t have much money, but I did have a few credit cards. I wasn’t afraid to bet on myself, but I was horrible at making great bets. Because I was shortsighted, I couldn’t see how this would lead to me running out of cash in just 12 months. In hindsight, I needed at least $10,000 in cash and a lot more credit to keep pushing the car down the road.

I Didn’t Know How to Make a Play

Knowing how to make a play is slang for executing a strategy. The only strategy I had was to get shows for the artist, release music on Spotify, press up CDs, and release promotional content around the album on Instagram. I didn't even have a content plan because social media wasn't defined as a dominant media source in our minds and for a lot of the general public, it was an alternative. So, you can see how short-sighted this was. This left us vulnerable to seeking a record deal as a bailout.

Little Education

I didn’t have much education about the business. I only knew how to upload music to Spotify and network with industry people. I knew about BMI and ASCAP, but beyond that, I had no clue about anything else. The little education I had allowed the artist and me to release our music, make content on Instagram, sell a few CDs, and hope for the best. I didn’t even know how to collect all the money. We just had drive!

Wearing Too Many Hats

I was the producer and engineer. If you don’t know, you are the artist's first love because you are the first person the artist meets who believes in them. If you do, they will grow comfortable with you. I soon became the manager, sound guy, record label, publisher, partial investor, and camera guy. This is too much for a two-person operation. You can see why things went south.

We Need More Money! For What? I Don’t Know!

After running out of money, we knew we needed more, but because we didn't know which way was up, we didn’t know what to ask for or where we would spend it. I was out of vision, strategy, and options. Within 12 months, I spent all the side cash and had no available credit to use. This caused a pain point for me, and I exited the operation with my tail between my legs.

The Wrong Crowd

In addition to running out of money, we were also speaking to the wrong crowd. A female rapper with an East Coast sound isn’t going to work in the South when Atlanta is just hitting the stride of trap music. However, the streets did give us some honorable mention awards. They noticed our work ethic and wanted us to do more shows, but for FREE! They offered support because they saw us working hard and offered up opportunities in everything but the favorable positions we wanted to be in. Simply put, we did not efficiently find our niche by doing market research. We just hit the streets, and the streets hit us back!

How Did We Break Even?

The only part of the process that broke even was the CD sales. The connection with the few fans and supporters we gained allowed us to make enough sales to recoup all the money used to press the CDs and then some over a 70% profit.

How Hard Does an Artist Have to Work to Sell a $10 Product?

Extremely hard! For a fan or supporter to dig into their wallet and pull out cash, it takes a connection. We related to the small cosmopolitan market that loved different types of music in Atlanta while getting drowned out by all of the trap music. They saw how hard we were working in the streets, and though we weren't telling a story intentionally, we had enough going on at the time that when we did post in the early days of Instagram, you could tell that a story was unfolding. This allowed us to sell all of our products within the first year.

How Much Did You Make from Streaming?

We’ve only made 40% of the money we received from CD sales through streaming services since 2015. However, in 2015 we flipped all of our CDs. So go figure. Keep in mind playlist promotion wasn't even on the radar back then. We were living in the last days of standard promotion.

Check This Out!

If you're a music creative or executive looking to build your label or publishing company in 60 days or less, grab the 60-Day Record Label Course and get it done today! You’ll gain the ability to get real funding, avoid contractual pitfalls, and keep the middleman out of your pockets. Click the link below to get started now! If you’re skeptical, grab the free guide, "10 Ways to Increase Your Record Label Profits," which comes with a free split sheet download.

3 Ways to Get This Right

  1. Have an investment plan for your cash and credit.

  2. Find your market.

  3. Develop a doable promotion plan that doesn’t waste time or energy.

3 Ways to Get This Wrong

  1. Spend your cash and credit as you wish.

  2. Play to every market.

  3. Promote everywhere.


If you are worried about destroying your label before you make any money, let me be a prime example for you! By learning from my mistakes, you now have the means to build a more successful and sustainable record label.


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