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Advice on starting your own record label

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Advice on starting your own record label

Postby Scramble » Sat Mar 31, 2012 2:58 pm

Okay, seeing as all the joking around killed the last thread on this topic, let's start afresh with a new thread, not just for the benefit of RAWNUM83RZ, but all here (including me) who are releasing their own material. Offer general advice, books to read, links to other resources, recommendations, personal experience, etc.

The first thing I will say is this. Two books often get mentioned in this context (including by me). They are 'Music: The Business' by Ann Harrison (UK-centered) and 'All You Need to Know about the Music Business' by Donald Passman (US-centered). I think they are both excellent books, and the sorts of things you should have read. But it needs to be pointed out that they are both very limited in their scope -- they are really written for musicians who are looking to be signed to serious labels, and it tells them about the legal stuff, contracts, percentages, etc. I always thought Passman's book should have been called 'All You Need to Know About the Legal Aspects of the Music Business'. That stuff is all an extremely important part of the business, but only a part. Those books don't tell you much about all the other stuff you need to know. So just be aware of that. There are plenty of other books that talk about the other stuff. (I've read quite a few, but none stood out for me as worthy of mention. I'm going to try The Indie Band Survival Guide than Sthum mentioned).

A really great UK resource for newcomers is bemuso.com -- try bemuso.com/musicdiy/ and bemuso.com/musicbiz/. Again, there's lots of issues which aren't covered here (nothing about getting gigs, getting managers, etc), but it's a good place to start learning.

Here are a few links to SOS articles on starting your own record company and related issues:

A Guide to Contracts for Producers

Recording Contracts Explained

Start Your Own Record Label

Thunder - The Band as Business

Running Your Own Record Label Part 1

Running Your Own Record Label Part 2

Running Your Own Record Label Part 3

Running Your Own Record Label Part 4

Running Your Own Record Label Part 5

Running Your Oen Record Label Part 6

Running Your Own Record Label Part 7

Designer Label - Mike Paradinas & Planet Mu

Nigel Shaw Independent Musician
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Mar 31, 2012 6:14 pm

Thanks for your very considerate efforts, Scramble. I hope they won't be wasted...

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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby RAWNUM83RZ » Sat Mar 31, 2012 10:32 pm

Wow thanks for the shout out but I think you took the last thread and ran with it without getting all the details or what my real question was. No worries I got this though.
Thanks for all the "HELP" tho!!!!
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby Scramble » Sun Apr 01, 2012 6:24 am

Raw, if I was you I would start a new thread with some more specifics on your own particular situation. Let's leave this thread as a more general advice thread.
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby feline1 » Sun Apr 01, 2012 9:08 am

yeah. although the info on PPL in those articles is more a fantasy in practice
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby shufflebeat » Sun Apr 01, 2012 9:18 am

Great work, Scramble, and perfectly timed.
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby sthum » Sun Apr 01, 2012 3:49 pm

Thank goodness for Scramble.... Well done sir/madam.. and if i may say so an excellent example of how to properly reply to a question!

No need to start a new thread.. this should now be looked upon as a model thread for anyone needing advice on the subject and dare I say it.. maybe even a sticky one at that?

I prefer the name of this thread too.. what with the use of capitals and all..
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby blue manga » Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:03 pm

Well said Andrew !
Great stuff
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby blue manga » Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:03 pm

Also of course ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS - refer to

http://www.bemuso.com/
https://twitter.com/#!/bemuso
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby * User requested deletion * » Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:28 pm

sthum wrote:Thank goodness for Scramble.... Well done sir/madam.. and if i may say so an excellent example of how to properly reply to a question!

No need to start a new thread.. this should now be looked upon as a model thread for anyone needing advice on the subject and dare I say it.. maybe even a sticky one at that?

I prefer the name of this thread too.. what with the use of capitals and all..


Why do you always send a thread off-topic Andrew? Are you doing it for a bet or something? Can we please just focus on the essence of Scramble's excellent post without getting sidetracked by your posting etiquette directives?

Thank you.
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby * User requested deletion * » Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:34 pm

blue manga wrote:Also of course ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS - refer to

http://www.bemuso.com/
https://twitter.com/#!/bemuso

Absolutely. Bemuso rocks! Should be a first point of call for anyone requiring music biz info.
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby * User requested deletion * » Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:35 pm

Scramble wrote:Okay, seeing as all the joking around killed the last thread on this topic, let's start afresh with a new thread, not just for the benefit of RAWNUM83RZ, but all here (including me) who are releasing their own material. Offer general advice, books to read, links to other resources, recommendations, personal experience, etc.

The first thing I will say is this. Two books often get mentioned in this context (including by me). They are 'Music: The Business' by Ann Harrison (UK-centered) and 'All You Need to Know about the Music Business' by Donald Passman (US-centered). I think they are both excellent books, and the sorts of things you should have read. But it needs to be pointed out that they are both very limited in their scope -- they are really written for musicians who are looking to be signed to serious labels, and it tells them about the legal stuff, contracts, percentages, etc. I always thought Passman's book should have been called 'All You Need to Know About the Legal Aspects of the Music Business'. That stuff is all an extremely important part of the business, but only a part. Those books don't tell you much about all the other stuff you need to know. So just be aware of that. There are plenty of other books that talk about the other stuff. (I've read quite a few, but none stood out for me as worthy of mention. I'm going to try The Indie Band Survival Guide than Sthum mentioned).

A really great UK resource for newcomers is bemuso.com -- try bemuso.com/musicdiy/ and bemuso.com/musicbiz/. Again, there's lots of issues which aren't covered here (nothing about getting gigs, getting managers, etc), but it's a good place to start learning.



I have to say, superbly researched Scramble.
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby shufflebeat » Sun Apr 01, 2012 5:03 pm

+1 for sticky.
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby Scramble » Sun Apr 01, 2012 9:23 pm

Paperwork:

Question: What paperwork or legal stuff do you need to start a record label in the UK?

Short answer: None.

Longer answer: Of course there's lots of things you will need to do when releasing your own or other people's material as a label. But in regard to what you need to do to *officially* start your own record label, the answer is none. There is no official permission required. There are no forms to fill out. You can burn a CD of your own music, and print up a piece of paper for the inside of the CD on which you print (or write in crayon in big letters) 'Released by Big Ron Records'. There. You've just stared Big Ron Records.

However, bear in mind that you are subject to UK tax law (and contract law, and all the other laws). If you start making money from selling your CDs, then the taxman will want a cut. And if you have a turnover of £73 000 or above (note: turnover, not profit) then you have to become VAT-registered and add VAT to your sales, which you have to send to the taxman (though you can subtract VAT you've had to pay yourself). So then it all gets complicated and full of paperwork after all. But if you just sell a dozen copies to friends after you spent £20 000 to make the album, then the taxman won't be an issue because you didn't make any money. What you have -- like many of us here -- is an expensive hobby, not a business. But you can tell everyone you have a record label if you really want to.

There's also the issue, if there's more than one of you starting the label, of whether you register as a proper company, or a limited liability partnership, or a partnership. (These are the options in the UK; different countries have different rules on such things). This issue also applies to bands as well.

If you do nothing in regard to setting up a company or LL partnership, then you and the others will probably be classed as a partnership if it ever comes down to it. There are two main potential issues with this. The first is that you could be liable for debts the others run up in the partnership's name. The other is that if you haven't written out a partnership contract then if it comes to a dispute going to court then the court may well assume that everything gets split equally, even if you're the one doing all the work and you assumed you'd be getting most of the income. And even if you had a verbal agreement to that effect.

Of course, lots of partnerships work well on the basis of trust, with no basis other than a handshake, and sometimes may even work better than they would have done if there had been a signed agreement (sometimes you hear people say this sort of thing). But these issues can arise when things turn sour and it goes to court.

A limited liability partnership involves the partners signing a contract where they explicitly set up as an LLP. This is like a company in that it allows each partner to avoid being held personally liable when, for example, the partnership collapses with big debts. The contract will usually also set out how the partership is to work, splits, voting methods, etc. Unlike a company, though, an LLP does not have to declare its accounts publicly, and it isn't registered with Companies House.

A company also has limited liability protection, but it also involves you having to officially set up as a company with Companies House, and this makes everything more complicated, and involves more expense and regular paperwork and extra tax issues. Also, your accounts will be available to the public. You can convert a partnship (of either sort) into a company if the partners want to do so.

Getting further free advice beyond these basics about what is best for you to do is pretty hard. I don't offer any -- I could do with some myself. There's not much free advice about, I guess, because these are legal and financial matters and you have to be careful with what you say. And the lawyers and accountants who know best about these issues are loath to give out free advice because it's, well, free. Also, it very much depends on your circumstances. So talk to a lawyer and/or an accountant for further advice.

If anyone can add some more -- or correct any errors or infelicities made by someone who has no great knowledge or experience of these matters -- then please do so.

Note: if you are starting your own record label and releasing other people's material then obviously there will be further contractual/legal issues that arise. I haven't said anything about that (because it's an area I don't know enough about).
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby Scramble » Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:54 am

MCPS and the Notification of No Claim:

Before you can use a professional CD manufacturing firm to manufacture your CD, they will need some info from MCPS (the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society, who collect royalties for songwriters when the songs are reproduced on record, CD, etc). You have to fill out a form with MCPS. This has to be done once you have finalized the tracks on the CD, and once you have chosen a CD manufacturer. It will take about a week or so for MCPS to issue the approriate paperwork.

What you have to do is go to the MCPS website and fill in an AP2 form -- see here.

There are general FAQs on the AP2 here.

You don't need to be a MCPS member. You just have to tell them what songs are on the album, and who wrote them (note that author means lyrics, composer means who wrote the music), and a few other details. There's help on filling out the form here. You'll need this, because some things aren't clear first time around.

Now, if the songs are all your own work, or your band's work, and none of you are already in the MCPS then you will be issued a 'Notification of No Claim', which means the MCPS won't be seeking any royalties from you. This will be sent to your CD manufacturer. This is the least complicated scenario.

If, however, you are doing a cover of someone else's work, and that work is in the MCPS database and liable for royalties, then things become a lot more complicated, and you have to pay royalties in advance. I've never been through that, so I can't tell you what actually happens.

I also don't know what happens if you are covering someone else's work and that song is in the MCPS database, but that writer is happy for you to bypass MCPS. Perhaps someone more knowledgable could fill us in here? The MCPS site, although it has a few FAQs on it, doesn't cover everything it should.

Finally, I don't know what happens if you do the AP2, get a Notification of No Claim, and then join the MCPS. I'm thinking of joining myself, so would like to know. (I have e-mailed them to ask, but have got no response yet).

If you are a label releasing other people's work, then things are also more complicated. Can't help you there.
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby Scramble » Mon Apr 02, 2012 10:03 am

ISRC codes:

ISRC codes are numbers that can be used to identify a particular recording (it's an international standard). This has various uses, one of which is that it is supposed to make it easier for royalty payments to go out to the owner of the sound recording. So, for example, if a radio station plays your work you should get a (tiny) royalty from it, and using an ISRC code makes this process easier (and in some cases the royalty may not happen without the ISRC code).

So it's a good idea to put an ISRC code on every track you release. This is easier than it sounds. Most mastering programs, even the cheap ones, will allow you to easily enter these codes along with the title and the other track info. If someone else masters for you then they will include the codes; you just have to give them the codes.

But where do you get the codes from? In the UK you get them from PPL.

To find out who issues them in another country look here:
www.ifpi.org/content/section_resources/isrc_agencies.html

PPL stands for 'Phonographic Performance Limited', and they handle performance (not songwriter) royalties in the UK where these involve recorded music (but not live peformances). You need to contact PPL and tell them you want to join and you need some ISRC codes. They will quickly send you out some alphanumerical characters with instructions on how to generate codes from these (for all the criticism they get, they are quick with this).

Basically, you get 3 digits which represent your record label, and that's all you really need. (I say 'digits' but it may include letters). What you do then is you generate from this, for every one of your tracks, a 12 digit code -- see here.

If you're in the UK, the first two digits are 'GB'. (If you're in another country, this will be different). The next three digits are your label's code. The next two are the year of release (so for this year it's '12'). The last five you assign yourself -- the general idea is that you start at 0001 for your first track, and then starting going higher.

So for example, if your were unlucky (or lucky) enough to be assigned the label code XXX, your first track this year would get the code GBXXX1200001. You start again at 00001 next year (so next year your first track will be GBXXX1300001).

Sometimes the ISRC code is written with dashes between the segments, so:
GB-XXX-12-00001

Some software will allow you to include the dashes, it will strip them out itself.

You do need to join PPL to get the ISRC codes and to make use of them, but unlike the other collection agencies this doesn't cost any money.

So it's not that hard to get these codes and to use them. The hardest thing is the process of joining PPL and getting your tracks onto their system, which can involve some hassle. (Their system has been criticized as unreliable; they are currently using a new online system, after a similar attempt to go online last year failed).

Note that you don't have to bother with ISRC codes if you're just releasing for friends and family and to sell a few at gigs and you really can't be faffed with all this and don't want the hassle of joining PPL. For non-established artists the royalties will be zero or peanuts anyway. But if you intend to run a serious record company releasing other people's tracks then this is the sort of thing your acts will expect you to do on their behalf.
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby Scramble » Mon Apr 02, 2012 10:22 am

Barcodes:

Short summary: You’ll need a barcode for your CD if you want to sell it in shops or through web retailers. You can buy one from places like www.barcode1.co.uk/CDs.htm or CD Baby. You either get a UPC (12 numbers) or an EAN (13 numbers) barcode. UPC is mostly used in the US, EAN elsewhere, but both work worldwide. When you buy one you get a number, and the artwork that you digitally paste onto the back of your CD.

More detailed info: It's not compulsory to have barcode on your CDs. But unless you're just going to sell a few copies to friends, it's a very good idea to have one. And these days it's relatively easy to get one -- you can buy them off the web now, for example from CD Baby

The reason you want one is that most shops these days prefer or, more usually, *require* you to have one. You will have noticed that the number of shops around these days that sell unbarcoded products is getting smaller and smaller. So realistically you do need a barcode to sell your CD in shops. And any web-based shop like CD Baby or Amazon will definitely require a barcode, as will download sites. Barcodes do make it easier for everyone concerned to keep track of products and sales.

Two Aspects to the Barcode
There's two aspects of a barcode: the number, and the vertical lines on the back of the CD that get scanned. The really important bit for you is actually the number. The vertical lines are just a way of encoding that number for easy scanning so the number comes up on the shop's system (well, that's an important matter too, but not so much for you). When you buy a barcode what you're really buying is the number. You'll usually get an image of the barcode as well, but what you're really paying for is the number (the image can be created for free by any number of websites).

What's so important about the number? Nothing, except that it's guaranteed to be unique (ie. it won't have been sold to anyone else for barcoding purposes). That's all. That's all a barcode number really is. A unique number of the right length.

But, you might think, as I initially did, aren't you paying to be a part of some huge official international database that includes the details of your CD? Nope. You're not. There is no such database. You're just paying for a unique number.

Then how, you might ask, do the details of your CD get associated with that number? How do those details get into a shop's computerized stock system? The answer is that each shop enters your barcode number, and then enters the details of your CD under that number.

(Actually, there are some databases around that have such info which some shops may use, but these are not in any way 'official' databases. There is no such thing).

One good thing about this for you is that you don't have to worry about having all the details of your CD finished when you buy the barcode. You can buy it even before you have a title.

Note that the barcode number you buy from these sites will be yours forever, and will be good forever, or for the forseesable future at least. You don't have to worry about what the numbers mean either. As far as you're concerned they're all random (they're actually not really random, but you don't need to worry about that).

Types of barcode:

There are a few different types around, some used for different sorts of products, but there are only two types that concern you: UPC and EAN (or, more fully, UPC-A and EAN-13).

UPC (Universal Product Code) was the original barcode format, and is still the main barcode format used in the USA. For CDs you use UPC-A, which has 12 numbers. (UPC-8, by contrast, uses 8 numbers; it's only used for small items).

EAN (International Article Number, originally European Article Number) is a newer format that the rest of the world now generally prefers. EAN-13 is the one for CDs, it uses 13 numbers.

The only real difference between UPC and EAN, as far as you're concerned, is that one uses 12 numbers and one uses 13. Which should you go for? You can go for either. US releases usually have a UPC barcode, and releases in the rest of the world more usually have an EAN code. But plenty of CDs are sold outside the US using UPC, and plenty of CDs are sold in the US with EAN. Remember, there's no official databases of these things, so no separate databases of UPC products which doesn't include EAN products, and vice versa. All that matters is that the scanner can read your barcode, and the shop's system can handle your number of digits, be it 12 or 13. All EAN systems are set up to handle the earlier UPC standard (they just add a 0 to the start of the UPC number to create a 13-digit number). And most UPC systems these days can handle the 13-digit EAN standard.

So it doesn't really matter which you choose. The only thing that might sway you is that there will still be a few old shops in the US with ageing UPC scanning systems that don't read EAN, but there won't be many of those and the number will be diminishing all the time.

Note also that there is no need to have different barcodes for the US and the UK. Whatever you choose you can use in both places, so you don't need to print two lots of CDs with different barcodes.

Where to Buy:

So where do you buy barcodes from? You can buy them from various sites on the web. They'll all be instantly available, and only require a one-off purchase (no renewal fees). Anyone can buy one, you don’t have to be a company.

I bought mine from CD Baby. Think it cost about $25. You only get UPC with them, though, and I think you have to also be registering your CD with them to sell as well, which costs more money (but that's a good idea anyway).

A popular UK web shop is:
http://www.barcode1.co.uk/CDs.htm

They sell EAN barcodes and artwork for about £23.

They also have some really useful info on barcodes, which is where I got started:
http://www.barcode1.co.uk/faq.htm

Some CD manufacturers will also do you a barcode and even stick it on your artwork for you.

Avoid the official supplier:

There is actually an offical barcode supplier, GS1 (previously UCC). In the UK the address is:
http://www.gs1uk.org

You don't want to use them, though. For one-off jobs or small numbers they’re very expensive. And they expect you to pay renewal fees every year to keep using the barcode. Note that they don't like you buying from third-party suppliers. In the early 2000s GS1 tried to stop third-parties from re-selling numbers that they had bought from GS1. There was a court case about it, and the original re-suppliers won the right to keep selling these numbers, though companies that bought numbers off GS1 after that can’t re-sell them. So don't be put off by anything that says you can't use barcodes from the third-party places (assuming the site is legit). You can, and tons of people do.

There are also some sites (including some CD manufacturer's sites) that say that you shouldn't buy from third-party barcode suppliers because some of the numbers in a barcode are supposed to represent the original purchasing company, so if you use one of these you'll be in effect assigning your product to that company, so you need to get your own barcode from GS1 instead. Ignore this advice. It is true about some of the numbers being supposed to refer to the original company, but in practise this doesn't get used and has no legal significance anyway. Those numbers never have been and never can be used in any way that means that the originating company can suddenly claim all your products as theirs.

One other thing to say in regard to the official supplier. There are a few stores in the US that won’t accept barcode numbers unless they come from the official supplier. These include Walmart. But if you manage to get Walmart to accept your CDs you’ll be able to afford to buy a new barcode from GS1 anyway!

Images:

If you don’t like the barcode image you have bought – perosnally I found CD Baby made the numbers too big for my liking – then there are free websites that will generate a new image for you if you enter your number. Enter 'barcode generator' into Google to see a few.

The official size for a barcode is 37mm x 26mm. It can be resized, but the usual advice is to go no smaller than 20 x 30mm. However, you will notice that many barcodes these days have been cropped vertically. But best to stick with what your CD manufacturer recommends.

They don’t have to be black and white, but using any other colours risk the barcode not working, because it relies on contrasts.

The barcode image you buy will usually come in various image formats. Vector images are supposed to be the best because they can be resized without any loss of resolution, but you may not be able to work with them unless you have fancy graphics software and know about vectors, so you might have to use one of the bitmap-style formats (like jpg).

However, some CD manufacturers will replace your bitmap barcode image with a vector image of the same size (using the same numbers) free of charge.

Misc:

Some mastering programs will allow you to enter your barcode number so that it gets added to the CD-Text. This never seems to get used, but you might as well do it in case it does ever come in handy.

When doing this, some mastering programs will ask you to enter a 13-digit barcode number. If you have a 12-digit UPC-A number, just add a zero to the start and enter it. (UPC-12 is now considered to be a subset of the EAN-13 numbers. Any UPC number can be converted to EAN-13 by adding a zero to the start.)

I expect you’re aware that your barcode number (be it 12 or 13 digits) is the number printed below the vertical lines. This is what the cashier types in if the scan doesn’t work. Note that you don’t need to be concerned with the fact that some of these numbers may have different sizes, and some are spread further apart from others. As far as you’re concerned, your barcode number is all those digits put together without spaces.

Duplication: apparently some duplication of numbers has occurred in the past, due to such things as companies using random number generators. Obviously not a good thing. The reputable places like barcode1 guarantee no duplication.
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby Scramble » Mon Apr 02, 2012 10:36 am

Catalogue numbers:

It's a good idea to make up a 'catalogue number' (or 'cat number') for your album. The idea here is that this is the number your record label uses to refer to this release. The main reason it's good to have one is that CD manufacturers like to have one to refer to your CD by. Also, it looks professional, and it may help with your record-keeping purposes if you end up releasing a lot of stuff. If you're releasing other artist's material then they will expect it.

Note that this is not the same thing as the barcode. It's a completely different thing (although some record labels these days like to include part of the barcode in the catalogue number).

The catalogue number is usually made up of some letters representing the label's name, and some numbers at the end. So if your label is 'Big Ron's Records', then your first CD might get the catalogue number BRR00001. I don't know how you work out whether a catalogue number has been used before other than trying Google -- I used the whole name of my label to avoid this problem. But duplication here won't matter in the way it could matter with a barcode number, because catalogue numbers generally aren't used by retailers.

You might want to use extra letters to distinguish between formats. So your first CD might be BRRCD00001.

Some CDs have the catagloue number printed on the spine, while other CDs have the barcode here instead.
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby feline1 » Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:33 pm

Scramble wrote:MCPS and the Notification of No Claim:
Before you can use a professional CD manufacturing firm to manufacture your CD, they will need some info from MCPS
Really? I think this is a fantasy when you're dealing with small duplication runs. Most duplicators will not give two hoots about an AP2 license.

Scramble wrote:You have to fill out a form with MCPS.
Or, for the past 12 years or so, you can use the "one stop shop" for submitting data to PPL, and they will also send it on to MCPS for you.

Scramble wrote:It will take about a week or so for MCPS to issue the approriate paperwork.
There's no "paperwork" any more: they'll email you an invoice.

Scramble wrote:You don't need to be a MCPS member.
Not an MCPS songwriter member, no. But you do need to have an account with MCPS, as a record label.


Scramble wrote:Now, if the songs are all your own work, or your band's work, and none of you are already in the MCPS then you will be issued a 'Notification of No Claim', which means the MCPS won't be seeking any royalties from you.

Not quite. If you are a songwriter member of MCPS, you can apply for an "AP2 Exclusion" in respect of your own record label. MCPS will then not collect mechanical royalties for you any more from that label (and except you to collect them yourself

Scramble wrote:If, however, you are doing a cover of someone else's work, and that work is in the MCPS database and liable for royalties, then things become a lot more complicated, and you have to pay royalties in advance. I've never been through that, so I can't tell you what actually happens.
It's not complicated at all. You (as the record label) submit an AP2 license application (either via PPL, or directly on MCPS's website). MCPS then send you an invoice for the mechanical royalties that are due. You ring them up with your credit card and pay the invoice. TMCPS then issue your AP2 license. It's straightforward.

Scramble wrote:I also don't know what happens if you are covering someone else's work and that song is in the MCPS database, but that writer is happy for you to bypass MCPS.

Songwriters who join MCPS have assigned the rights to MCPS to collect mechanicals on their behalf - they can't decide to opt out. The scenario you describe icannot exist in practice.

Scramble wrote:
Finally, I don't know what happens if you do the AP2, get a Notification of No Claim, and then join the MCPS. I'm thinking of joining myself, so would like to know. (I have e-mailed them to ask, but have got no response yet).

Nothing will happen, unless you as a writer member pursue a backclaim against yourself, with doubtless 'Aleisha in the faffing around team' will be working on for about 2 years.
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby feline1 » Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:55 pm

Scramble wrote:
ISRC codes are numbers
No, they're 12 character alpha-numeric strings

Scramble wrote:
But where do you get the codes from? In the UK you get them from PPL.

As (to be fair) you discuss later on, what PPL give you is a 3-character "registrant code", that identifies your label. They don't actually give you a code for each of your tracks: you assign and keep track of those yourself. (A Excel spreadsheet or similar is handy to keep track of what you've assigned)

Scramble wrote:You do need to join PPL to get the ISRC codes
Strictly spreaking, no you don't need to join PPL to get them to issue you a 3-character registrant code. (Although as it's free to join, and they then collect free money for you, I can't really see why anyone wouldn't want to join as well)

Scramble wrote:The hardest thing is the process of joining PPL
They do give you lengthy forms to fill in. Last time a friend of mine attempted to join, it took about 10 months, during which they lost one set of filled in forms, then decided the replacement they'd sent him was an out-of-date edition, and he had to fill in and sign a 3rd set?!
The membership applications have to be "approved" by the "PPL Board", which presumeably takes place around an enormous polished oak table and involves them drinking a glass of port for each applicaton put before them, so inevitably they may pass out or vomit over them before they get through them all.


Scramble wrote:
(Their system has been criticized as unreliable; they are currently using a new online system, after a similar attempt to go online last year failed).

This year's relaunch is the SAME system they tried to launch last year. I don't know what bugs they think they fixed in the intervening 12 months - most of the ones I saw last year are still there, with a fair few new ones. I found a load of issues within a couple of days' use - total alpha-ware. Dunno what they think they're playing at... but then it is "free"... ahem.


Scramble wrote:
For non-established artists the royalties will be zero or peanuts anyway. But if you intend to run a serious record company releasing other people's tracks then this is the sort of thing your acts will expect you to do on their behalf.

PPL primarily collect for BROADCAST - that means radio & TV play. And also 'streaming media' on the interwebs. If you're getting airplay, then you should be getting PPL money. Personally I have seen numerous instances where such airplay has happened, and PRS have paid the songwriters for it, but PPL haven't paid anything. I have yet to receive a satisfactory explanation for this... although ifor payments to *performers*, a lot of it seems to be due to very dubiously set-up systems with have about "gotchas" whereby they declare the data isn't quite right and so they ain't paying you (despite them making the data like that in the first place)
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby feline1 » Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:01 pm

Scramble wrote:Catalogue numbers:

To be honest, catalogue numbers are now a quaint relic from the past, and there's no actual need for them at all: UPC/EAN barcodes tell online stores and the stock control systems of physical stores all they need to know - they're unique identifiers, and 'machine readable'.

Humans, meanwhile, use a combination of the artist name and album name to identify the release.

Catalogue numbers are really just 'for tradition'.
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby * User requested deletion * » Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:12 pm

Dear Hugh,

Could we possibly arrange for Feline to have his own column in SoS? His in-depth knowledge of the industry never ceases to amaze me.

Thanks
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby feline1 » Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:15 pm

Scramble wrote:ISRC codes:
. But if you intend to run a serious record company releasing other people's tracks then this is the sort of thing your acts will expect you to do on their behalf.

If you actually look in the PPL repertoire database,
you'll see that most record companies have been woefully poor at registering their recordings properly, particularly when it comes to listing who-played-what on them (which they are supposed to do). Pick a random selection of recordings, try and look up who played what on them - mostly there'll be no-one listed. PPL in fact decided that the performer PPL account numbers typed in by labels was so often wrong that they were no longer even going to use it any more (it would be treated as "informational").

However this had not been helped at all by PPL's various incarnations of the system, which have made changes to the database scheme, data validation and which fields were considered mandatory on several occasions.... meaning that a lot of the data which was previously 'valid' is now 'invalid' and won't get any royalties paid on it until someone fixes it. Also, PPL decided the
A cynic might speculate that this saves PPL a great deal of money in not having to pay out to labels and performers whose data is now 'invalid'...


It's completely ahine.
Imagine if a factory was employing workers, and when workers joined, they gave the HR dept their bank details so they could be paid... but the HR dept typed them in wrongly so often that the accounts dept decided it was just too much of a mess and decided to never pay anyone unless the worker went to a tribuneral demanding their money?
Meanwhile everyone spent ages clocking in and out of shifts with a swipe card system, but then the factory decided half the data wasn't valid because you initally used the 12 hour clock when clocking in but now they'fd changed it to 24 hour and so you couldn't be paid
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby Scramble » Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:22 pm

feline1 wrote:
Scramble wrote:MCPS and the Notification of No Claim:
Before you can use a professional CD manufacturing firm to manufacture your CD, they will need some info from MCPS

Really? I think this is a fantasy when you're dealing with small duplication runs. Most duplicators will not give two hoots about an AP2 license.


Maybe. I haven't tried that.

feline1 wrote:
Scramble wrote:It will take about a week or so for MCPS to issue the approriate paperwork.
There's no "paperwork" any more: they'll email you an invoice.


Yes, it's digital, but you can print it out if you want and then it becomes paperwork!

feline1 wrote:
Scramble wrote:You don't need to be a MCPS member.

Not an MCPS songwriter member, no. But you do need to have an account with MCPS, as a record label.


I didn't have to register as a label. I just filled in the AP2 form (perhaps they have now registered me as a label on the basis of that, but I've not been told that.) There was no separate 'label registration'.

feline1 wrote:
Scramble wrote:Now, if the songs are all your own work, or your band's work, and none of you are already in the MCPS then you will be issued a 'Notification of No Claim', which means the MCPS won't be seeking any royalties from you.


Not quite. If you are a songwriter member of MCPS, you can apply for an "AP2 Exclusion" in respect of your own record label. MCPS will then not collect mechanical royalties for you any more from that label (and except you to collect them yourself


Thanks for that info.

feline1 wrote:
Scramble wrote:If, however, you are doing a cover of someone else's work, and that work is in the MCPS database and liable for royalties, then things become a lot more complicated, and you have to pay royalties in advance. I've never been through that, so I can't tell you what actually happens.


It's not complicated at all. You (as the record label) submit an AP2 license application (either via PPL, or directly on MCPS's website). MCPS then send you an invoice for the mechanical royalties that are due. You ring them up with your credit card and pay the invoice. TMCPS then issue your AP2 license. It's straightforward.


By 'complicated' I meant that you have to pay royalties in advance for every pressing, but I'm glad to hear that it isn't too much more taxing than that. (You also have to tell them what the price of the record is -- what happens if you change this?)
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby Scramble » Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:31 pm

feline1 wrote:
Scramble wrote:
ISRC codes are numbers
No, they're 12 character alpha-numeric strings

Er, yes, as I made perfectly clear later on. Not sure what the point of this comment was.

feline1 wrote:
Scramble wrote:
But where do you get the codes from? In the UK you get them from PPL.

As (to be fair) you discuss later on, what PPL give you is a 3-character "registrant code", that identifies your label. They don't actually give you a code for each of your tracks: you assign and keep track of those yourself. (A Excel spreadsheet or similar is handy to keep track of what you've assigned)

Again, I explained all this.

feline1 wrote:
Scramble wrote:The hardest thing is the process of joining PPL
They do give you lengthy forms to fill in. Last time a friend of mine attempted to join, it took about 10 months, during which they lost one set of filled in forms, then decided the replacement they'd sent him was an out-of-date edition, and he had to fill in and sign a 3rd set?!
The membership applications have to be "approved" by the "PPL Board", which presumeably takes place around an enormous polished oak table and involves them drinking a glass of port for each applicaton put before them, so inevitably they may pass out or vomit over them before they get through them all.

I found it a bit of a faff, but not this bad! Got approval pretty quickly.
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby Scramble » Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:36 pm

feline1 wrote:
Scramble wrote:Catalogue numbers:

To be honest, catalogue numbers are now a quaint relic from the past, and there's no actual need for them at all: UPC/EAN barcodes tell online stores and the stock control systems of physical stores all they need to know - they're unique identifiers, and 'machine readable'.

Humans, meanwhile, use a combination of the artist name and album name to identify the release.

Catalogue numbers are really just 'for tradition'.

Yes, as I said, you don't need them for retail purposes, and the only real reason to have one is that some manufacturers will ask you what your catalogue number is (as well as it looking good). Not that it matters if you don't have one and can't tell the manufacturer; he'll cope without one!
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby feline1 » Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:40 pm

Of all the dozens of unsigned bands and music peeps around the land that I've known, pressing up small runs (50, 100, 200...) of their CDs (I say "pressing" - I mean "burning"), I've never known any duplicator give two hoots about MCPS forms. If you're getting a big load glass mastered then maybe, yes...

Regarding MCPS having to register you as a label before you can get licenses - well, they do have an "account" for you if you have purchased licenses... I think maybe it's only if you're submitting the data via PPL that you have to agree with them up front that you will be submitting data by "registering" with them....
Put it this way - more than one label I know eagerly joined PPL, submitted their first release via the PPL CatCo system, and ticked the appropriate boxes expecting MCPS to send them an AP2 license automatically..... only for none to arrive..(cue much worrying that the CD duplicator would be cross and refuse to press their discs ... but as noted above, they didn't care!) .... anyways, when the label rang up MCPS to chase the license, were told "oh you have to set up an account first before submitting via CatCo will work" /much facepalming ensued/
Quite why MCPS could contact the label to get this sorted, I do not know.

Scramble wrote:
By 'complicated' I meant that you have to pay royalties in advance for every pressing, but I'm glad to hear that it isn't too much more taxing than that. (You also have to tell them what the price of the record is -- what happens if you change this?)

lol Well you are thinking too logically. MCPS will of course never check your retail prices... unless very pedantic songwriter insists on an audit of the whole pressing and everything... in which case it will doubtless be referred yet again to Aleisha in the Faffing Around team, who, if she takes enough years to not sort it out, will then go "lol sorry, we can only backdate things by 5 years so it's too late now!"

Note if you are a BIG LABEL, you can get an AP1 license, which means you don't pay up front when you press discs, but instead account to MCPS quarterly on your sales.
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby Scramble » Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:46 pm

>MCPS will of course never check your retail prices

So could a company just put a really low number in?
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby feline1 » Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:47 pm

Scramble wrote:I found it a bit of a faff, but not this bad! Got approval pretty quickly.

My two labels' joining was quicker than this (about 4 months each?)

However they managed to c0ck it all up again when migrating from their paper-based membership filing to the new online accounts in the MyPPL portal, and lost one of my accounts in its entirety (!?!?) and VERY CONVENIENTLY also "lost" the bank details for another one, which coincidentally was the only one of 5 which was due to be paid that month.
(it had the same bank details as the other four).

They couldn't contact me to tell me they'd lost my account details because they'd "lost my address" (which is odd, because it was showing on the account) and strangely they'd been sending 3 sets of paper AGM forms to it every year for the past half a decade too.

Mind you, we've sorted it all out now...
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Re: Advice on starting your own record label

Postby feline1 » Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:47 pm

Scramble wrote:>MCPS will of course never check your retail prices

So could a company just put a really low number in?

that would be bad and wrong
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