I’ve seen the tape come and go, vinyl get pushed out of everyone to only deejays, and the birth and near death of the cd. I have also seen the rise of several independent record labels and fewer and fewer artists getting signed by record labels.
I’ve seen artists get signed and blow up and I’ve seen them go separate and blow up. So which is better: Going independent or getting signed? Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at a few.
The advantages of becoming signed could be huge. . .if you got the right things in place. Generally for signed, you want a marketable demo, an 8×10 head shot, a bio, and a good deal of hustle and patience. This is typically not an overnight process. Based upon your budget, it might take months to finish your demo package. With today’s technology, lets say it takes you two months.
You’re going to need a place to produce your music and if you don’t have your own studio you have to construct one or find one to document. You also need to find a great photographer for your 8×10 glossys. The final significant step is writing a persuasive bio about your group. This is just the start!
As soon as you’ve got that done, you will need to have the ability to reproduce it and solicit it to different labels and A&R’s. I remember sending out countless demos. An artist might easily get discouraged at this time. However, if and when you get a record deal there’s still more work to do. Now you’ve got to really negotiate your own deal, promote your record, and hopefully make some money at the end of the day. Its a simple process but not a simple one.
A good label will offer promotions and marketing bucks for your project(s), distribution and reasonable accounting so that you can keep up with your sales, costs, Squirrel Poop and true profit. You may even get tour support for your record. Sometimes artists get improvements for the expenses and they often have to be repaid or recouped. These fees must be paid back to the tag before you as the artist see your profit.
So how will independent differ from getting signed?
Well, generally as an independent you don’t have the major budget that a big tag has but you should definitely have more creative control over your career and business. That is not to say its simple. Its not. Once again, simple but not easy. To me the independent route is better for several reasons however:
Easier to build a niche following
You control distribution of your music
You can sell your individual label for gain in the future
You can create strong strategic alliances
Different tax benefits, etc..
The list could go on.
However, and being real, it is a really rough road. For most independents, there are no overnight success stories. It helps to have some written goals so you
Know where you’re going. The music business is a business. You should study businesses in the music industry as well as other industries to help make your business better.
Still, this knowledge doesn’t guarantee success but it helps you get closer to being successful in the future than someone who doesn’t know.
And a few of the measures for being an independent will be the same as the steps for getting a bargain.
Recording 10 to 15 good songs, pressing them up on a cd or downloadable mp3, and marketing your work are almost the same things that will need to be done when buying a deal.
With today’s technology its not difficult to do these things. Why don’t you press some up to market and still shop for a deal? This is the best way to generate income and still look for other opportunities?
And even though you are handling business, you still have to make sure you are creating songs. Don’t stray away from being creative.
Whether you’re going the independent route or shopping for a record deal, the best way to success is to research the business. It has the potential to bring you many benefits. Much success!