Thinking about starting a record company?

Unhappy working for your current record label
and want to create your own?

Need help with any or all of the necessary procedures
required to take on such a task?

If you answered “YES” to any of the above, here's the solution...


The Complete Guide to

Starting a Record Company
by Keith Holzman
3rd Edition—Revised & Updated for 2012—Now Available

This book is essential for anyone starting a new record company, and is a very well-worded refresher course for the experienced industry person. I highly recommend it!


— Clay Pasternack, Consultant and former Co-Executive Director, AFIM

Keith Holzman has written the definitive guide that takes you through all the steps of starting your own record label. He is an experienced music industry veteran with almost forty years as a senior executive at record companies large and small, as well as ten years as a management consultant specializing in indie labels.

The Complete Guide to Starting a Record Company is a primer that takes you by the hand and guides you through what's involved in building the independent record label of your dreams. It contains vital advice —retaining lawyers and accountants, what to include in your business plan, how to construct budgets, what to look for in an artist and how to sign one, the ins and outs of artist contracts, what to seek in a distributor, and how to develop a marketing plan that can market your music effectively. It’s the essential guide to what you need to know and what you must do to start your own record company.

3rd Edition Revised and Updated for 2012 —
Now Available!


The Complete Guide to Starting a Record Company is absolutely the best place to start when considering the plunge into the music business. Keith's style is fun, friendly and informative, making the book an easy read. I only wish Keith had published this book 10 years ago when I started my label!

 — Carl Caprioglio, President, Oglio Entertainment

Table of Contents, with Information about each Chapter

1. Introduction — a brief background on the independent record business...asks questions you need to think about and answer honestly to help you decide what kind of label to build.

2. First Steps — what to look for in a lawyer and accountant...legal structure...suggested books on music business law...label naming...domain name and registration...logo and letterhead...UPC bar code.

3. The Business Plan — its purpose...what to include...what should be in the budget “numbers” section.

4. Raising Start-up Money — who to approach and how to raise capital.

5. The Art of Acquiring Talent — how to find artists and what to look for.

6. Understanding Artist Agreements — common, and not so common, deal points.

There has never been a finer book written about starting a record label and operating successfully in the record business. I wish The Complete Guide...had existed when Alison Brown and I started Compass Records. We were still finding our way through some of these methods and strategies five years into the process! What a blessing it would have been.

Garry West, Compass Records

7. An Introduction to Music Publishing — why it’s a good idea to become a music publisher...what it entails...music publishing rights.

8. Staffing Possibilities — essential staff for small, medium and large labels with typical “reporting” diagrams.

9. Setting Up Your Office — space...furniture...office equipment and services...computers... indispensable software.

10. Planning the First Project — what to look for in a studio...the producer and engineer...how to budget a recording...includes a sample recording budget form.

11. Recording the First Project — a look at what happens during the recording, sequencing, and mastering process...ISRC codes.

I LOVE Keith Holzman's new book....I only wish that I had it BEFORE I started our own indie label in the late 90's. Keith's book skips past the hype, smoke and mirrors of most industry books and arms you with the real information you need to set up a real label that will work and last; the kind that pays royalties, keeps books and sustains careers. Don't just buy it though, put it to use!

— Justin Goldberg, CEO, Indie 911, and author of
"The Ultimate Survival Guide to the Music Industry:
A Handbook to Hell"

12. The Ins and Outs of Pre-Production — what to look for in pressing and printing plants...role of production and design people...packaging...how to keep track of all the details...what goes where on a typical package...manufacturing...inventory matters...mechanical licenses...includes production charts and calendar...bill of material and photo release forms.

13. The Lowdown on Distribution —what to look for and what to avoid when considering distributors, domestic and international...digital distribution...suggested deal points...production and distribution deals.

14. The Complexities of Marketing — how to construct a marketing plan and what should be included...marketing budgets...the role of sales, radio promotion, publicity, artist tours, advertising, video, street teams, and the web...timing of releases...artist development...the one-sheet.

15. Post-Production Basics — the many tasks to be done after a release is shipped...SR form...royalty accounting...protecting masters.

16. Follow-up Marketing — staying on top of marketing...artist tours and in-store performances.

17. Ancillary Income — the many ways to make additional income by getting the most out of your efforts...licensing...publishing...non-traditional retail...compilations...AARC...Sound Exchange™.

A. Recommended Reading
— extensive list of some of the best books and publications on the music industry, and business in general.

The book includes many specially constructed charts, forms, checklists, and summaries, a complete index, plus more than 100 useful resources, agencies, and businesses, with URLs.

Click here to download the introductory chapter
in PDF form

3rd Edition Revised and Updated for 2012 —
Now Available!

Updates will be made available to purchasers via a special code that provides access to hidden pages on this site.

For anyone considering taking the plunge into CD commerce, investing in Holzman’s Guide will be money well spent.

— John Michel, American Composers Forum Sounding Board


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