How to start a Record Label in South Africa

Learn how to start a Record Label in South Africa. It can be extremely hard to start a record label in South Africa, particularly if you are not familiar with how the industry works in South Africa. This guide will walk you through some of the most important aspects when starting a record label that you need to look at.

A record label in South Africa invests in musicians and expects to return the money in the long run. Via royalties, they make this cashback; selling merchandise, streaming, radio play, licenses, sponsorship or selling live show tickets. Record labels in South Africa need to find these musicians, mentor them, direct them and use their money and influence to set them up for success.

Things to know when starting a record label in South Africa

You need to bear in mind when starting a record label in South Africa that you are in it for the long run. Your target should be about 5-10 years to begin to see a large amount of progress. It’s not a simple task to get an artist off the ground, there are millions of songs released in a year and millions of artists coming through. One of the most daunting aspects is making the artist stand out.

The money does not come back right away even when the artist breaks out it may take a lot longer to start seeing returns. It’s possible that you won’t make much money in the short term, so you’re going to burn money to support and drive your artists.

How to start a Record Label in South Africa

A brand and a name are the first things you need and the name doesn’t have to be well thought out. Any name is all right, the public does not know most record labels in South Africa. The name doesn’t have a direct effect on a record label’s success, it doesn’t take that long to get a name.

The position does not hold the same weight as it was a long time ago. Back in the days; in order to make it in the music business you had to travel to major cities, that’s no longer the case. Now, most things are digital, from recording an album, correspondence and meetings, almost all can be done online. Inexpensive cities, don’t go hunting for expensive accommodation.

  1. Choosing a music distributor in South Africa – You need to have a chosen distributor, to receive all the royalties and assist with Sportify submissions and all the admin personnel you need from the distributor. Make sure you have good ties with your distributor because all the money is going to come from them and they are the heart of the business in essence.
  2. Record label equipment – You would need to have equipment that your musicians can use for producing music while setting up a record label in South Africa. Alternatively, the studio can be leased. The equipment checklist for a record label is here; Computer,  DAW,  Audio Interface, Microphones, Headphones, Studio Monitors, Cables, Microphone Stands and Pop Filter.

Signing the artists to the record label in South Africa 

When signing an artist in South Africa, a record label should be very cautious. You need a good water-tight contract that will save you from being abandoned by artists until they blow up. Most musicians, if they get a better offer and can leave the deal, are trying to advance their careers and make money; they will. For a deal, attorneys can ask a lot of money; you do not have to go through them. There are hundreds of decent online models that charge much less, which are free or online services.

How much you take away from the royalties of the artist depends on you and the artist. If you get an artist who is satisfied with a 50 per cent contract, it’s cool, most labels take royalties of between 15 and 30 per cent. It should be well stipulated in the contract what you are going to give the artist. This involves how much and the timeframe you’re going to spend. This also refers to the artist; what they’re going to do to honour the deal.

Most of the time, the record label would give an advance (money) to the artists and enable them to record music with quality resources. The label also continues to support this music, taking full responsibility for the artist’s success. Don’t be fooled by their Instagram profile, most of them buy followers and like to make themselves look bigger than they are. Spend your time finding the right artist.

How to work with an artist as a record label in South Africa

It can be a really hard thing to collaborate with an artist as a record label in South Africa. You need to find the tracks that will work and that will be published. You need to have complete approval, but don’t destroy the imagination of the artist. The best artists know what they want to release. It would also make them uncomfortable and one-hit wonders by forcing musicians into a different genre than they are used to.

Around this artist, you need to set up the right team, stuff like having the right marketing businesses, social media businesses and proper PR. Your primary aim is to get the best out of the artist.


When beginning a record label in South Africa, there are many things you need to be mindful of. A summary of the most significant aspects has been given in this report above. If you have questions, leave them in the comment section below or contact me and subscribe to my YouTube channel.

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Keith Rainz

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