Major Labels vs Indie Labels

This week we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of major and indie labels. Which one is best for you depends on the type of music you make and the sort of benefits you want from it.


MAJOR

Pros: 

  • Major labels open you up to huge amounts of funding. You will have high quality production and worldwide distribution networks at your disposal as well as a budget for world tours and worldwide promotion. On top of this you will potentially receive a large personal advance.
  • Major labels can provide you with invaluable connections within the industry at large.
  • The size and reputation of the major labels means they have clout within the music industry and gives you opportunities not available with an indie label e.g. magazine interviews/features.
  • Major labels have specialised departments. You will have a promotion department, a distribution department etc working for you, all experts in their field.  

Cons:

  • If your record isn’t a success, chances you’ll be dropped. The majority of artists are dropped from a major label after the release of their first album (that is to say of you even get as far as having your record released!)
  • You will usually have to assign your rights to a major label and lose creative control. They want to shape you to be commercially viable.
  • Because the label is taking the huge financial risk, your royalty rate will probably be smaller.
  • A major label is a business and you are a product.   With a major label you could be in danger of losing your artistic integrity.
  • The staff may not even like your music and, even though you have a specialised department working for you, if they aren’t an expert on your genre they may handle you and your fan base the wrong way.

 


INDIE

Pros: 

  • You retain the rights to your music so have the opportunity to do what you want with the song.
  • The label signs you because they’re fans of your music and have faith in your artistry, allowing you to retain your integrity.
  • Due to a smaller staff-base and roster, closer personal and working relationships are more likely to occur than on a major label.
  • The contracts usually have terms that are attractive to you.

Cons:

  • Indie labels have much smaller funds than the majors. This means you may have a smaller recording and CD manufacture budget and a smaller personal advance. Also, many indie labels don’t have their own distribution networks and must use others e.g. Metal Blade distribute through Sony.
  • The fact that all the label’s work happens under one department means you don’t have experts working for you in sectors such as marketing, distribution, promotion etc. 
  • The fact that indie labels are smaller in the industry than the major labels and have less clout means you may have a smaller chance of getting your voice heard so extra promotion may be required from you.

Hopefully these ideas will help you consider whether your music is best suited to a major or indie label. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of both can help you decide where your music is best placed in the market.
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More updates coming soon! 

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3 comments

  1. Paul · May 19, 2015

    In your opinion, are record labels more or less relevant in todays industry? And, what are your views on DIY practices?

    Liked by 1 person

    • bdmellis93 · May 22, 2015

      I’d say they’re definitely still relevant. They’re great for promotion and contacts and getting your music to a wider audience. However, it’s getting harder and harder for them to take a chance on new artists because they just don’t make as much money as they used to. I think that’s contributed to DIY practices becoming commonplace along with the fact we can produce decent quality demos and recordings at home now.

      Hope that helped. Just out of interest can you let me know how you found the blog? Cheers

      Liked by 1 person

      • Paul · May 22, 2015

        Hey Music Business Basics, thank you for getting back to me. It’s definitely an interesting debate due to the rising accessibility of home recording devices and online marketing techniques. Thank you for sharing your insight on the topic.
        To answer your question, it was through Facebook. The “Bands, Promoters, Gigs UK” page to be precise.

        Like

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