Self Releasing/Starting Labels

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MiseryEngine
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Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by MiseryEngine »

Surprising nobody started this one yet but I figure I have some questions so here we are.
Let’s talk about self releasing, starting and maintaining a label, the financial and etiquette concerns associated with doing these things and so on.
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MiseryEngine
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by MiseryEngine »

I plan on self releasing a couple of things this year and while I grasp the concepts of duplication shipping selling physicals etc. i have absolutely no idea how to properly lay out a j card.
I have gimp and I’m pretty inept at it. Can anyone advise me or give me some help?
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33033
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by 33033 »

Gimp can be useful but it's not everyones cup of tea. I love it but the learning curve I found was tough. Krita was another one that I found similar.
I am also not inclined toward drawing, etc, pretty hamfisted but you can use a lot of the centering tools on Gimp. I'd look up a few tutorials. There's also ones on layering, which is hugely important IMO. Ask a few graphic design folks if you know them IRL. Or outsource to folks too. Offer cash or trade (or liquor!).
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Vast Field Magnetism
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by Vast Field Magnetism »

In regards to J-cards: Would you prefer to edit/lay them out via digital or analog means?
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Remi
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by Remi »

Hah, making jcards and layouts on a computer is so mysterious to me.

My only piece of advice is NO PRE-ORDERS. If you have to do a pre-order to release 25 copies of a tape, you're more than likely not ready to run a label.
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by urall »

concerning jcards - most duplication places have templates you can download. So if you want to do it fully analog, print out the template and see if your jcard layout fits their template. Digitally do the same, but then i use the jcard as the top layer (make it transparent to see 'through' it) to recurringly check if everything is placed right.
Make sure the digital file you send is at 300dpi.

Gimp is indeed quirky, but i layed out all (that's not so much tbh) my recent artwork in Gimp. I had an issue with layer transparency once though - so check if your downloaded version doesn't have that if you're gonna need it.
And print out your end result at home to doublecheck the size and stuff.

Advice wrt running a mailorder/label :
* don't reserve stuff for people you don't know at all for a long time. The times i ended up with people not getting back in contact to pay up..
* don't trade if you're not remotely sure it's with something you gonna sell. Personal copies are fine - but if you're trying to do a break even it's not cool to end up with other peoples shitty stuff nobody wants.
* don't forget to calculate Paypal fees when selling
* expect to loose money anyway
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Exclusionzonedayton
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by Exclusionzonedayton »

With j cards, I had to mess around with the layout and print / cut to check fit several times. Once I got it right, I used that copy as a template for future covers. I recently went to GIMP from a lite version of photoshop that’s not supported on my computer with the new os update. I had to increase the savage of the file to make it work after using it in GIMP.

Also, if you’re releasing music by people no one really knows and printing / duplication yourself, don’t make too many if you can easily make more. I’ve been left with way too many copies that no one wants. Even good material. Doing this, I’ve also had to quickly make more but that’s a good problem to have. Doing them DIY like that you can make them and still ship in a day or two.

As others have said, plan on losing money. Best case breaking even. Plan on being discouraged because stuff doesn’t sell. It takes time. My stuff moves slowly. My stuff on a known label moves faster but the self released stuff, being on my label that no one knows moves slow. Just part of it.

It is interesting though, some unknown people’s labels have taken off like a rocket. Not sure why or how. It’s not luck. I think online presence can make a big difference in these cases. Who knows. More power to them!
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by leuksi »

If you're dubbing tapes yourself, first read a bit about cassette mastering. Here's a good read about that: https://sonologyst.com/2018/05/19/maste ... ette-tape/
There are free online mastering services like BandLab that do tape masters, but I have no experience with them. Might be worth the shot tho'. Paying a pro to do it is almost always the most secure way.

Other things you wan't to do:
- Clean the heads often enough with isopropyl alcohol.
- Dub a test tape first, listen to it thoroughly. If there's something wrong with the sound you can always adjust that.
- Go through every tape you dub. Listen to a few seconds here and there, check that L/R channel levels are fine. Tape decks are old hardware and might play tricks on you, even if fully serviced.
- Service the decks, if that hasn't been done recently. Unless you are absolutely 100% sure you know what the fuck you are doing, take it to a pro.
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by adult human »

Quick thing on image editing tools. I use Photopea which is a fairly convincing online clone of Photoshop. Far from perfect or without problems but it's free to use and, in my fairly basic experience, operates enough like the real thing that I don't yet feel like I'll need to get Photoshop any time soon.
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chryptusrecords
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by chryptusrecords »

my advice is don't do it. if you have people willing to release your material i dunno why you would self-release anything except a demo to bring to a show or something.
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Vast Field Magnetism
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by Vast Field Magnetism »

chryptusrecords wrote: Wed Feb 02, 2022 9:09 am my advice is don't do it. if you have people willing to release your material i dunno why you would self-release anything except a demo to bring to a show or something.
Most people don't get the luxury of having others release their work.

Gonna have to disagree heavily on this one.
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chryptusrecords
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by chryptusrecords »

yeah but if you DO then you should get other people to do it, that's exactly my point. Misery Engine has done seven tapes in two years all on other people's labels.
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by -NRRRRK- »

This is not aimed at Misery Engine in particular but some general thoughts.

Doing your own releases can be a lot of fun and has some advances. You have unlimited freedom of doing whatever you want. You can do whenever you want. Doing 12 tapes in the next 6 months? Why not.
You are in control. AND you are responsible at the same time. So make sure that tapes are dubbed correctly, layout is looking like you want it to be, tapes are ready when they are going on sale etc. Just do it right.
Doing trades of your own release is an excellent tool to get in touch with others (be it labels, distros or artists) and tbh I know no other scene where there is so much open-mindedness towards doing trades with new faces as in noise. Most of the people are super friendly and really easy get along. Trading can be so much fun and is a great way to explore new artists.

Having a label release is a great way to work too. First, someone else is doing all the (boring) work for you, while you can concentrate on the fun stuff (a.k.a. making noise). For me, having something release by somebody else is also another layer of quality control. Before I submit material for a release, I ask myself: is this really good enough for someone else to spend time and money on to release it? Which may in return make me push myself a little harder and create "better" (whatever that may be) material.
Downside is: you may find yourself in the situation that the label and you have different opinions on certain aspects of the release (be it artwork, the material itself, content or concept etc.) and you'll have to work something out to get the material released. And you will not have as much a say about distribution as if you released it yourself, so you may not get in contact with people that are into your material as easy.

So: both can be great methods to get ones material out there. Both can be a lot of fun. Which is the "right" way of doing this cannot be answered but by the artist in question. It is a highly personal choice. No need to limit oneself to only one way though, both can coexist nicely with an artist having some releases on a label and some released by him- or herself.
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Tribe Tapes
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by Tribe Tapes »

Key question to ask. what is your goal with the label? Are you starting this mostly to self-release your material as Misery Engine and other aliases, or are you looking to mainly issue other artist’s work?

If you’re just self-releasing your own work, then all calls are off on “what” and “how” you should do it. Number one thing is quality control. Self-releasing opens a lot of doors, but no doubt you already know this. Even if it’s a small edition, make sure it’s one you’re proud of.

If you’re releasing for other artists, do the best job you can. Go to FedEx, get your inserts printed there. Don’t do small editions — strive for at least 50 copies of each release, and be generous when it comes time to mail artist copies. If you do a good job on someone’s release, they will recommend you to more-established artists now that they’re confident that you do solid work.
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Remi
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by Remi »

Tribe Tapes wrote: Wed Feb 02, 2022 12:08 pm If you do a good job on someone’s release, they will recommend you to more-established artists now that they’re confident that you do solid work.
That's true. And so is the opposite. The noise scene is both wide and small at the same time. If you fuck up, people will know. Labels that stay at the top of the game stay there for a reason.
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by 33033 »

Remi wrote: Wed Feb 02, 2022 1:00 am My only piece of advice is NO PRE-ORDERS. If you have to do a pre-order to release 25 copies of a tape, you're more than likely not ready to run a label.
IMO pre-orders are okay if you have everything paid for and it's in transit to you, although I did this last December and it was a fucking nightmare. Don't release anything in December.
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MiseryEngine
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by MiseryEngine »

chryptusrecords wrote: Wed Feb 02, 2022 9:25 am yeah but if you DO then you should get other people to do it, that's exactly my point. Misery Engine has done seven tapes in two years all on other people's labels.
I definitely meant to start this topic as a general discussion for anyone interested. I plan to do a couple self releases just because it’s something I want to do, not necessarily that I plan on running some label operation all the time. As far as costs/breaking even, etc. this is not a scene anyone should be in if they think they’re going to make money off of it. I completely recognize that anything you do here is purely for the love of the game. That being said I mainly just need some help figuring out how to do jcard layout as I want my self releases to be totally DIY if possible without looking like dogshit (not a diss on DIY, more of a reference to my lack of experience).

Also, thanks for noticing hahahaha I’ve been fortunate enough to get a solid foothold in the scene and I’m forever grateful for the support from everybody but once again by no means do I intend to self release everything or even a large part of what I do in the future. I have some dungeon synth and dark ambient stuff that I felt would be cool to do self releases for and maybe a ME or PD tape but honestly it’s purely for fun and if it expands to anyone or anything else it would only be because it had gone well and I have the time.
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by housepig »

GIMP is perfectly capable for layout work. Second what was said above - get a template file from NAC or wherever, import it into GIMP at 300dpi (or better if you have higher resolution printers available to you, but 300dpi is generally fine.
Add a transparent layer above it (usually at the lower left corner of the screen, or Layer->New Layer, or Shift-CTRL-N .
Hover your mouse in the ruler area at the edge of the canvas, if you left-click and drag, you can pull a guide line into your image and align it with the template to define creases, bleed areas, print-safe areas, etc.
Start adding graphic & text elements as appropriate. You can add as many layers as your computer will handle, items on each layer can be treated semi-independently so you can move one element without moving others (or lock layers together and move them all at once).
If you get a lot of layers going, it's helpful to name them - right-click on the layer name, choose "Edit Layer Attributes" and you can type in a new name of the layer (ie "logo", "credits", "front cover", "inside spine", etc).
Saving as an XCF file will preserve all your elements separately, so you can go back and re-tweak. When you have something you like, you can Export to jpg, png, pdf, whatever format you like.
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Mattias Gustafsson
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by Mattias Gustafsson »

-NRRRRK- wrote: Wed Feb 02, 2022 10:23 am Doing your own releases can be a lot of fun and has some advances. You have unlimited freedom of doing whatever you want. You can do whenever you want. Doing 12 tapes in the next 6 months? Why not.
You are in control. AND you are responsible at the same time.
A very good point here. And you can also have a release in print for however long time you wan´t. Since your artist copies will sell out sooner or later.
Some releases is meant to be limited but some other maybe not.
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raato
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by raato »

Exclusionzonedayton wrote: Wed Feb 02, 2022 7:18 am With j cards, I had to mess around with the layout and print / cut to check fit several times. Once I got it right, I used that copy as a template for future covers. I recently went to GIMP from a lite version of photoshop that’s not supported on my computer with the new os update. I had to increase the savage of the file to make it work after using it in GIMP.
yeah, finding a good template is key in easily producing j-cards. also maybe start out with simple cover art/layout designs if you're learning stuff from scratch. most important thing is the dimensions and placements of the folds. a good basic rule is that the height of the j-card should be exactly 4", after that it's mainly about the folds!

i've been using gimp for several years and doing j-card layouts regularly for almost 3 years now. i can try to help with gimp-related questions! i can also share the template i've edited for myself, it's made for j-card with 1 extra flap.

one more thing comes to mind. if you're planning on keeping it diy and doing it as a sort of hobby, remember not to take it too seriously. you don't have to pretend to be a professional business if that's not what you want! just be respectful and fair to the people you work with and do business/trades with and most importantly have fun :)
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W.K.
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by W.K. »

People are still using Gimp? Jesus Christ.

Using Gimp for artwork is like using Audacity for a audio project with multiple stems. Do yourself a favour and save up for something like Affinity Photoshop or something that's at least not as archaic as Gimp. Yeh you can learn Gimp but it will save a lot of headache and frustration.
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by housepig »

W.K. wrote: Tue Feb 08, 2022 4:46 pm People are still using Gimp? Jesus Christ.

Using Gimp for artwork is like using Audacity for a audio project with multiple stems. Do yourself a favour and save up for something like Affinity Photoshop or something that's at least not as archaic as Gimp. Yeh you can learn Gimp but it will save a lot of headache and frustration.
I used Photoshop for years, but I'm not going to maintain a Windows box just to use Photoshop, nor do I want to get sucked into the perpetual subscription loop of never actually owning software, just renting it.

I'm curious, what functions do you need to put together a j-card that are so impossible with GIMP?
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raato
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by raato »

housepig wrote: Tue Feb 08, 2022 8:04 pm I'm curious, what functions do you need to put together a j-card that are so impossible with GIMP?
exactly. it's not anything fancy or special graphic design work, just making sure the dimensions (and irl size especially if you're printing them at home, but many printing services seem to appreciate that as well) are correct and that's as easily done with almost any software more advanced than ms paint.

i do as much design work out of computer as i can anyway, it's a personal preference based on workflow and aesthetic preferences. if a program gets the job done it's as good as anything else.
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by housepig »

and I'll follow up with this, about any tool - use what you're comfortable with, and what provides the least amount of friction between your brain and what you want to create. If you find GIMP to have a difficult learning curve, or just isn't comfortable for you, use Photoshop! If Audacity doesn't do what you need (and I'll agree with the post above, I use Audacity for simple editing and cleaning up wave files, but the idea of doing anything multi-track on it makes my eye twitch), use Reaper or Logic or Tracktion or Pro Tools or a Zoom recorder or a Tascam 4-track or whatever.

The best tool gets out of your way. 99% of the audience doesn't care what tool you used to make the art, they care about how it affects them. I'm just surprised at how much vitriol there seems to be aimed at GIMP; no one is forcing you to use it, and some of us work in it just fine.
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turbonasty
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Re: Self Releasing/Starting Labels

Post by turbonasty »

you can look at it with plenty of pros and cons, but self releasing something before going on a tour was one of the big pros for me. you're able to to retain all copies of whatever edition you think is appropriate, not just leave with a few artist copies of the material - especially if it is the material you are actually touring with.
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