So, what do Major Labels really offer an artist?

Discussion in 'Music' started by Matthew Brown, May 14, 2003.

  1. Matthew Brown

    Matthew Brown Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 1999
    Messages:
    781
    Likes Received:
    0
    This question has left me perplexed for a very long time. The only answers I could possibly come up with is distribution, possible airplay on Top 40 stations, and advertising. Of course there is always the lure of potential millions if you have a hit.
    Why am I perplexed? Because it is quite possible to be on a small, independent label and have everything but the Top 40 airplay and promises of lots of money. Sure, the artist won't see their faces on billboards in Time Square, but many independent labels are savvy enough to smart bomb publications that reach their target audience. Air play is usually limited to college stations but videos sometimes wind up on Mtv.

    I am sure that every band on an independent label isn't making a great living and may even have to work day jobs if they aren't constantly on tour. You might have to fork up the money to produce your first release, demo or whatever but it's really not difficult or that expensive if the people can actually play their instruments and know how a song goes before recording.

    Is this being too naive? I have a very do it yourself type view of these things. Maybe it's just the type of music I am involved in where the potential of being a household name just isn't all that appealing. Maybe the Punk community is a little more helpful in getting information out on these things if somebody is looking for it. Fanzines for years have said how you could put out a vinyl single, CD, whatever. One publication comes out once a year with a guide book called "Book Your F***** Life". This contains everything you would need if you are in a Punk band, literally. It lists recording studios, CD makers, distributors, T-shirt makers, even places to eat when you are on tour.

    Just a side note, I know I mentioned "Punk" but I don't want this to be thought of as meaning that recording quality is sacrificed to be cheap.

    Matt
     
  2. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 1998
    Messages:
    5,584
    Likes Received:
    0
    Prestige. To some, being able to say they are on a major is a token of success. It also gives the artist more clout when it comes to radio or video rotation, but not as much as they would make out. Distribution really isn't the issue, since most of the indie labels have some sort of tie in with the majors for distribution anyway.

    For non mainstream music, indie is a far more advantagous situation. Better to be a big fish in a small pond. Also, the smaller the label (and assuming they have the financial resources in place to back it up), the more likely it is that the artist will be made a priority, rather than the shotgun approach used by the majors for determining who will get the push.
     
  3. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2000
    Messages:
    4,694
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    Knocksville, TN
    Real Name:
    Rachael Bellomy
    Indentured servitude...?[​IMG]
     
  4. TedT

    TedT Second Unit

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2002
    Messages:
    422
    Likes Received:
    0
    With big risks, you can get big rewards. You're not going to have the chance to make millions of $$$'s if you don't go major. (You could argue "What about the Offspring?" Well, the Offspring actually made Epitaph into a major label by selling so many records. So essentially, they ARE a major label band.) If Green Day stayed on Lookout, they'd be nowhere near as popular or financially set as they are now. Green Day is one of the few bands that I know of that made the jump, sold a bunch of records, and were able to not suck.

    Indie labels lack the major promotion that majors have.

    Indie labels also lack the distribution that majors have. (though the internet is changing that!)

    Majors can also offer tour support which many bands can't do because they got to keep their day jobs and tour around them when they want to play live to their fans (or potential fans). I think everyone in a band would like to at least make some sort of living off their band so that they can concentrate on their music. Majors let them have that chance (well... the band does have to eventually pay back the majors, but at least they have the chance to try and make a steady living at what they do). Again, moving to a major is a big risk, but the rewards can be great.

    I do personally know bands who've made the jump to major and then back to the indies and have told me they have made way more money on the indie circuit than the majors. So they CAN make a living at it, but they're nowhere close to being financially secure. A few of the members work as bartenders in order to make ends meet while not on tour.

    By the way, I don't care if a band is on a major or indie, as long as it rocks.
     
  5. Matthew Brown

    Matthew Brown Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 1999
    Messages:
    781
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ted -
    I agree with you about Green Day. While Lookout couldn't give Green Day as much exposure as a major label, I think Green Day could have done for Lookout what the Offspring did for Epitaph. I was a Green Day fan before they made the jump and still have all the original albums in green vinyl. They remained true through the years I think it's funny that the song that broke them out "Longview" is the least "Green Day" sounding song they have. When I got the Album Dookie, I knew Longview would be the song that go the airplay because I liked it the least on the album. They had a song from their second album on it, too, which I thought was odd.

    Both labels started extremely small so I am happy that they have prospered through the years.

    Matt
     
  6. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2001
    Messages:
    6,189
    Likes Received:
    73
    Location:
    Livonia, MI USA
    Real Name:
    Kenneth McAlinden
    Usually An unrecoupable advance if they should fail out of the gate. Moderate sales success may be the finacially most undesireable outcome, in fact. [​IMG]

    Regards,
     

Share This Page