Even if your stuff looks like this...
Let’s take a few moments to break down what has to be saved for your business and what needs to be saved from a historical point of view.
This is the easy part:
- Save at least the last three years of your tax records, as well as any receipts connected to them. (Really, you should be saving those suckers for as long as you possibly can.)
- Save all contracts and legal papers. Don’t throw them away -- they fall under the category of being business and historical.
- Save your formation documents (if you have any). As with number 2, they serve a dual purpose.
That’s about it. Wasn’t that easy?
Now comes the hard part...
Whether your label is deemed successful (in our eyes, you’re all winners!) or just plugs along, you need to think about your historical output. Your label could be the first stop for bands that eventually become nationally (or internationally) known. So you need to think about saving your stuff for the long term, especially saving items that tell your label's story. One day, you might be in the position to donate your business archives to a university or other type of archive. The work you do now can cement your place in history (and help future researchers, if that appeals to you).
Here’s what you should try to save:
- The music, duh
- Memorabilia (T-shirts, tickets, posters, marketing fliers)
- Images (pictures of the work you do, document the business, the bands, etc.)
- Media clippings
- Documents that show what your label does
- Video (so long as it’s relevant)
Does this mean that you should save 50 copies of every flier, or 10 different iterations of that flier in your computer/hard drive? No, just follow the Rule of Three: if you have paper documents, save three of them. If you have digital items, save three of your final draft in different places. (We’ll cover this in more detail later on.)
Your next step is to actually go through your stuff. Take a day or two (or five) and assess your collection. Figure out what needs to be saved and what needs to be pitched. If you haven’t been saving much to this point, start thinking about whether you want to save the history of your label or not. No one's going to do it but you.