Record Labels Vs Independent Artists
Record labels differ from each other depending on the intention of which they were initially set up for.
What do I mean by this?
Well, there are so many types of labels ranging from very small to very large and within each element of this, there are also several different types of labels. A record label is simply not just a record label, be all and end all. Each label has its culture, style/genre and limits.
An artist themselves may also have a label which is purely used just for themselves. Independent artists will use their own label as their trademark, business name and do all required admin, marketing etc. on their own.
Another label may consist of musicians who have a passion for music, have access to a studio and sign other artists under their label, giving other artists the opportunity to record and make use of the given studio, features and musicians time. They may even help with the songwriting process, but they would more than likely need to own the rights to the recordings, They may also arrange for photo shoots, graphic design/art work, uploads to digital stores, press releases etc.
Some labels may purely sign artists/bands based on their music and culture that fits. Artists could keep their recording rights as well. (Huge bonus)
Then there are the bigger labels, which work similar to a major record company who would like to own your recording rights and take a similar percentage to that of a major.
Lets not get confused between an independent major record label and an independent major record company. These are two different set ups.
Independent record companies, work very similar to that of a major record company, having the team and resources available on hand.
Some labels only have a specific genre of music in which they concentrate on. i.e. Electronic/Dance, Rock etc.
If you are wondering if you would like to approach an indie label, firstly, find one that suited to you and your music as well as their culture. Culture is vital, I believe, if you don’t agree or fit in to the way you would like, it can be very disappointing.
If you are an artist who has a large following, is active on social media and relatively well known, you may be able to negotiate a better percentage in your agreement.
Find out if your label has marketing experience or if they outsource their marketing. Either way, ask how and who they market to, and ask if you can also be involved in the marketing process.
I would strongly suggest putting aside some money for you to hire someone outside the label to market for you on top of that of the label. Discuss the marketing plan with the label, as two heads and working in collaboration is better than one.
Major record companies like their artists to be on social media now a days, so you will also have to engage with people and be active on social.
An independent artist is quite confusing now a day, as I believe, you can still be an independent artist while being signed to a smaller label.
As mentioned, some smaller labels may not have the funds to do everything, and the artist will be required to also do their bit.
If you are going it solo as an independent artist, this means you will need to make sure all your songs are registered with the relevant bodies, such as ASCAP, BMI(USA) APRA/AMCOS, PPCA(AUST.) COPYRIGHT.GOV (USA), SOCAN(CANADA)
If you are going to sell on digital stores, choose an online distributor such as ITunes, CDBaby etc. And upload your music. Or you can simply choose to only sell your music on your own website.
Organize your own photo shoots and video.
Create your press release and marketing plan, which includes organizing your interviews for radio and press at least 8 weeks ahead of your release date.
Are you going to tour?
Basically, you are doing everything your self, which entails a lot of work, but don’t forget to have fun in the process.