This week we’re starting a series that profiles some of the labels that use TuneCore. Up first is DFTBA Records. DFTBA, which stands for “Don’t Forget To Be Awesome,” is an independent label representing artists who all developed their fanbases through YouTube. Alan Lastufka, DFTBA’s president and co-founder, took the time to speak with us about the label, how TuneCore fits in, and he gave some great insight into how DIY artists can better work toward their goals.
For a list of some of the artists on the label (plus their YouTube links!) scroll down.
Can you describe your label (genre, number of artists signed, how long you’ve been operating, etc…)?
DFTBA Records–an initialism for Don’t Forget To Be Awesome–was launched in late 2008. We currently represent over 30 artists. Each and every one of our artists built their audience on YouTube, so genres vary from singer/songwriter to comedy to rock and pop.
How did you get your label up and running?
Back in 2008 I noticed a lot of unsigned artists building very loyal fan bases on YouTube. But every time someone asked where they could buy the artist’s song, they didn’t have an answer for that fan. So I partnered with my friend Hank Green to create a label that would sign and produce albums and other merch for these YouTube musicians.
What does TuneCore provide for you as a label?
TuneCore provides an easy digital distribution hub for all of our releases. While we usually only focus on iTunes and AmazonMP3, it is nice knowing the other store options are there when artists request them. And most releases have been smooth to push to the digital marketplace for those who prefer the instant listening experience over the physical media listening experience.
How do you use the monthly sales information in your account?
We use the monthly sales information to pay royalties. Because reporting is two months behind [Editor’s note: that’s because stores report sales approximately 2 months after they happened.], we can’t really use it to determine how new releases are doing nor where we might want to focus more promotion for a release that may be lagging a little.
When one of your artists has a new release coming out, what do you do to promote the release, and what do you expect the artist to do?
We work a bit different than traditional labels, both indie and major. We work more on a distribution model for artists who already have built-in audiences and simply want a service that takes care of the distractions like design templates, restocking merch, mail order fulfillment, customer service, etc. Because of this hands off approach, we’re able to pay royalties six times higher than the average major label, at 60% of retail price for most albums.
Our artists, on the other hand, are natural born marketers, and that’s why they have the audiences that they do. A typical release will involve new music videos, possibly local or national tours, twitter and tumblr campaigns, and usually footage from the studio and mixing rooms before the album’s release to give a behind the scenes type look at the album.
Alan Lastufka of DFTBA Records
What are the most important tips you would give to a DIY artist trying to achieve his/her goals (whether it be getting signed to a label or not)?
It takes time. And a buttload of talent. There is certainly no lack of opportunity out there, but you have to be persistent and consistent. With the tools available now there is no excuse for bad sounding demos, or poorly taken promo pics, or burned CD-Rs with sharpie written on them. If you want to be taken seriously, act seriously. Music is a business. Before you contact the next label, or next manager, or next venue, ask yourself if you would hire you based off that one email, or phone call, or mailing. If you hesitate for even a second, take a second look at what kind of image you’re putting out there.
Check out these DFTBA artists on YouTube: Alex Day, Dave Days, Meghan Tonjes, Driftless Pony Club, Rhett & Link, Charlie McDonnell, Smosh, Nice Peter, ALL CAPS, Venetian Princess, Hank Green, Tom Milsom, Eddplant, Laurena Segura, & Alan Lastufka
More on DFTBA Records @ dftba.com.
On Friday, October 19th, look for words of wisdom from Comedy label aspecialthing‘s Matt Belknap.