You have many choices to make in your musical career. One of the biggest, whether to try and get signed by independent music labels or the major ones, will likely affect the direction and length of your career. There are advantages and disadvantages to signing with an independent music label, of course, and if you want to figure out which type of label is better for you, you should carefully examine them.
Defining the Indie Label
The definition of an “independent” music label varies depending on who you’re talking to. Some people consider it to be any label that isn’t one of the “big four” labels, and others only consider the grassroots, startup labels to be true independent music labels. They generally have limited budgets, a small number of employees who are all passionate about what they do, and a very down-to-earth history.
Advantages of Indie
Independent music labels pay more attention to individual artists. This means you won’t have to fight for attention from your label, as many artists who find themselves signed to major labels have to. There’s only a limited budget (even if it’s huge), and a limited number of staff members to help promote and retain artists, or groom them for success. Since independent labels are smaller, they have more of an interest in you as an artist and a person.
You can sometimes get better deals from an indie label than a major one. Again, they are more interested in you as a person, and they tend to have less of an interest in squeezing every last bit of money out of you. They love their work, and they want to see you benefit too.
Indie labels generally feature more continuity among their employees, as nearly everyone has been there since the start and will be there until the end. With major labels, there is more turnover in employees. This may not seem like a big deal until you realize that you may call the person who so loves your music and keeps the label interested in you, and find out that they are gone.
Disadvantages of Indie
The most obvious disadvantage, a limited budget, has many implications. There’s also a limited distribution in many cases, as they can’t send tens of thousands of copies of your latest album across the country.
There can be either very few acts or many acts, and some indie companies fall under each category. Those with many acts may be trying to find one that’s successful, leading to the same “fight for attention” as you find in major labels, and those with few acts may not have the pull of a major label or be able to find you another band to open for.
Limited promotion is another side-effect of this lack of funding, and you are going to have to do more legwork to get connections to the media, the general public, and other bands.
You Always Have Choices
In the end, the choice between an independent and major record label is yours. Carefully consider the pros and cons associated with independent music labels before making your decision.
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