Careers in the key of C (suite)

With the music industry less artist-friendly than it once was, many savvy musicians are starting their own record companies. We talked to five musician-CEOs about the challenges of being both management and labor.

Van Dyke Parks
musician ceos van dyke parks

Parks, best known for his masterpiece Song Cycle and writing lyrics for The Beach Boys' Smile, can now add label head to his CV. This former Warner artist recently founded Bananastan Records, by necessity.

"I couldn't find a reputable record label in the States to distribute my product," says Parks. "So I created my own to release my records, like (May's) Songs Cycled."

He also got business-smart, knowing when to get professional help for certain tasks.

"I found myself a CPA, who does the books," he says. "Plus, my wife, Sally, has her input. Ultimately, I decided to release and sell singles, because they're less expensive. Remember, you must have a site! Regarding the people who work with me, I believe in 'delicate strength.' Surround yourself with people you admire. Then let them have their way. Without Bananastan, I wouldn't be able to get my music out. But this stuff will come out and is actually selling. Because now I'm in charge."

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated March 13 2013 02:23 PM ET
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