Major Labels vs Independents

‚ÄčThis article, written by Doc Killdrums for 10 Extreme News, appeared in 1998


1. Let's talk about independent labels. In my opinion, there are two types of independents, true independents who rely on smaller independent distributors and themselves, and the independents that are a part of a major label that have major distribution through the "Mother Label". The smaller variety example would be "Stiff Pole Records". They have great distribution set up worldwide, but operate on a smaller scale with smaller promotions budgets and smaller support overall for the project. However, they are a launching platform for bands & artists they work with, and many success stories have derived from  Stiff's label. THis option if available, is a great way to lay a foundation for the future. You have to be in it for a long term, as you won't become a millionaire in the format. But who cares about money as a musician?

2. The other variety of Independents is derived from the greediness of the majors. They see the success of a small independent label , make an offer the owner can't refuse and they become the "Bastard Child" of the major. The reason many of these independents started to focus in on a small pool of talent and take chances on bands the majors would not touch in essence, when you're signed to this type of independent. you are really on a subsidiary of the major. The advantages are bigger promotional budgets and wider distribution with a bit more attention. Sometimes the majors form these labels in an effort to fool the kids into thinking the band is an independent and have not sold out to a major. 

3. The majors are an experience all to their own. They got the big bucks to do whatever they want, if they want. Ever wonder how they got those big bucks? That's another story... If you have management that knows how to work the label and there is a belief at the label in the band, you have a fair shot at being successful. The majors have hundreds of bands, but staffing to only focus on a few that "stick to the wall" . I heard recently that Atlantic records dumpt 200 bands. Yikes! Now who's going to get more attention? Your unknown band from your hometown, or Phil Collins' latest release? I think I can answer that one for you! Is there life on independents? Sure. look at Type O on Roadrunner Records, Marilyn Manson on Nothing Records. They all sell records... many of them! If some label is willing to take a chance on you and they have distribution and you don't have to give your first born away, what do you have to lose? Itr's better then putting a CD out by yourself and having them collect dust in the closet. As aleays, consult with an entertainment attorney before signing anything: it's your right!