The Indie Revolution: Death Of Major Labels

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In this age of digital media and social networking, the grip of major labels and their control over recording artists music distribution has become less and less important. With artists able to distribute their music on a global scale thru digital outlets without having to sign a contract with a traditional record company in order to have their music available to the masses, what purpose does a major label really have anymore?

It used to be that in the past artists would seek out a “record deal” in order to have their music manufactured on vinyl, cassette tapes, cd’s , etc., but now those forms of media are as obsolete as 8 track tapes and VCR’s due to the convenience, popularity and cost effectiveness of mp3 downloads. Music fans no longer have to go to a physical record store to buy music which is why you can barely find a traditional record store that is still in business. Even the world famous Rock & Soul in NYC closed its doors for good a few years back. It used to be we needed record companies to service these outlets but those outlets don’t exist anymore and fans can simply download music directly to their computers and smartphone’s now, so that role is no longer a viable reason for artists to seek a record deal.

Artists can now reach their fans by cutting out the middle-man and directly dealing with a digital distributor to get their music to the masses and also not having to relinquish the majority of their profits to do it. A traditional record company contract would only offer artists anywhere between 10-18 points or % of the net profits from the sale of their music and the label usually owns the master recordings of that music forever, whereas artists who have digital distribution situations set up can retain 80-85% of their profits generated from the sale of their music only paying a small distribution fee to the digital distribution outlet and keep ownership of their own master recordings. This is huge for the artists, putting the power into their hands where it belongs.

Now don’t get me wrong, successfully distributing your music digitally isn’t an easy task. Artists still need money for marketing, advertising, touring, etc. but even that’s become easier with the use of social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and others. If you have the right business plan, funding, team in place and some creative marketing savy, you can be extremely successful and have ownership of yourself and your creative property instead of a label owning you and everything you create. Just ask any artist that has had success on their own digitally like Drake, Maclemore, Troy Ave and many others who all gained their popularity by going digital first. Even if they do wind up signing with a major label eventually, the dynamics of their deals are totally different and in favor of the artist as opposed to those who labels sign directly that are usually locked into 360 deals where the artists own nothing and are liable to give the label a piece of everything including money from touring. It’s no coincidence that artists indie mixtapes actually sell more than albums distributed by major labels.

My message to recording artists in this new digital era is this; weigh your options, organize your own business, build your brand and create a music distribution situation for yourself using the tools and technologies that are readily and easily available to you instead of just selling your soul to a traditional record company whose goal is not to be in your best interest but is to rape you in their best interest.

– Editorial by Corey “Drumz” Banks

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Posted by TheBanksBrand

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3 comments

  1. The monopolistic structures are collapsing under their own weight. Think of all the majors listed in this graphic. Now, consider that to save costs, minimize loss and increase market leverage, they’re all consolidated into 3 conglomerates.

    Universal: Geffen, Island Def Jam, Motown, EMI/Capitol, Verve, Decca; many legacy labels not listed, like MGM, Mercury, A&M and Polydor. The EMI deal brought them a whole company, with all their subsidiaries and the indies they swallowed up: United Artists, Liberty, Imperial, DCP, Veep, and a bunch more.

    Sony BMG (actually, Sony Music Entertainment): Columbia, RCA, Jive, Arista; some of their old labels include Ariola, Okeh, Bell, Date, Millenium (the disco-pop version of the “Star Wars” theme by Meco), and Colgems (except for the Monkees, where the rights are controlled by Rhino, the Warner-owned reissue label).

    Warner: Warner, Atlantic; not listed, Elektra, Asylum, Reprise, Rhino (as mentioned above), Maverick (an artist label originally set up for Madonna), Parlophone (which they bought from EMI, except for the Beatles recordings. Parlophone was the label that originally signed them). Ask Prince about Paisley Park. He thought it was his label, distributed through Warner, but he didn’t count on how tightly Warner would squeeze his nuts over masters and song copyrights ownership.

    Also worth considering is how many of the labels have traded artist contracts like baseball cards in a schoolyard, and how many of the corporations have board members who are executives that actually work for “the competition”!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Consider also that most of the majors had their own manufacturing plants for pressing vinyl. Capitol, RCA and Columbia had such high capacity, they pressed records for most of the independents, and started “record clubs” to keep the pressing plants going; it would have cost too much to shut them down, then power them up again. The Motown “GW” studios in Detroit (taken over from a competing label, Golden World) used engineering consultants from RCA during construction.

    In the case of RCA and Columbia, they had the weight of two of America’s biggest electronics manufacturers, with their associated TV and radio networks, behind them. RCA was the original owner of NBC; CBS owned Columbia.

    These two companies had massive research and development departments, to create specialty equipment for audio recording and broadcast for them. Currently, original RCA microphones are commanding exorbitant prices on the used market.

    RCA was originally a joint venture between AT&T and General Electric in the 1920s; GE still has shares of stock involved in their corporate descendants, like NBCUniversal, Sony Music and Universal Music Group.

    All this cross-ownership is like incest — it pollutes the gene pool, and creates mutations that can’t survive in any practical way. Companies “too big to fail” are bound to die, like the dinosaurs they have become.

    Liked by 1 person

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