Why Debt Free Records Is My Number 1 Rule

13510403_sThe reason I created Be Your Own Record Label was to help fellow musicians build a sustainable recording career.

Key to this is breaking the idea that we must go into debt in order to create our music.

There is already a dominant culture that musicians should be happy to play for the sheer joy of it rather than in exchange for money. This concept of the starving artist is one that makes me pull my hair out.

That’s why I created Be Your Own Record Label to be the business bible for your success as a recording artist.

So you can imagine what I think about great musicians having to go into debt to make music!

The entire mainstream music industry is built upon recording artists being lumbered with debt.

When you get a record deal, you are immediately in debt. The advance they give you isn’t free. It’s just a loan you have to pay back. All the money they invest in you is really a debt that you have to pay off before you see any money.

Even when you’re successful, you are still typically in debt. Ask Jared Leto from top selling band 30 Seconds To Mars. His band sold two million albums, yet were still in $1.4 million worth of debt.

It’s crazy. I’m wanting another way for you.

There are a number of ways you can go into debt to make music. Some of them seem more friendly than others – but none of them are.

Here’s the 3 most common ways that people get into debt to fund their records:

  • get into debt with their bank
  • get into debt on their credit cards
  • get into debt with family and friends

By going into debt, you’re putting a ton of pressure on yourself and your record. The worst case scenario is that the record doesn’t sell as well as you hoped and you’re left with a big debt to pay off.

The problem with debt is the interest. By the time you pay off a big debt, your album will have cost you a lot more than the original loan. That’s how banks and credit cards make money.

This is hardly going to create a joyous feeling in your mind when you think about recording again. You can’t build a recording career based on that sick feeling in your stomach that debt brings.

Also, once you’re in debt, it makes your next record less likely, because you have to pay off the old debt before you can record again.

Even if your record does well, you’ll likely be putting all the sales revenue into the payment of the debt. This doesn’t feel great either. A hit record yet you don’t see any of the cash. How demoralising!

Lending from friends and family might seem a better option. It isn’t. In many ways it is worse. When you lend from friends and family, your relationships are at stake. You’re promising that you will give them this money back.

But if sales aren’t great, you’re not simply disappointing some corporation and its bank manager. You’re letting down the people who most trust you. They need that money back for their own lives, and you can’t deliver.

Really, it’s just not worth it.

The point is to make money from your records. The money you earn then makes the next record happen.

It creates a momentum and that creates a sustainable recording career.

As an independent recording artist you are now free to make your own rules. Let’s not recreate the exploitative world of the big record labels. Debt sucks and it limits your artistic output.

The methods I promote here at Be Your Own Record Label are about never using your own money, never going into debt, and always funding your records creatively with other people’s cash.

The result? You’ll be in profit from your very first sale.

When you make profitable records, you can make records forever. It’s the only safe and guaranteed way to build a recording career for the rest of your life.