music in review. music in discussions.

With this question an important topic in our modern music manifesto, it seems it is a question that has been begging answers for years now.

With the work of singularity and independence coming into play in the music industry, less and less artists have had to rely on the demanding schedule and pay schemes of record labels. Whether it be independent or corporate, the feelings are mutual with record labels becoming less and less prevalent in our industry.

More so for financial support than anything else – and to merely shift the artists around on a spreadsheet to ultimately balance the books – record labels are not nearly as important for underground and bedroom music artists, who can distribute their own music themselves.

With artists fully in control of their music, their are fantastic sites out there that can allow artists to obtain 100% of all music royalties – without having to do unnecessary splits at the business table.

It is important to uncover that some record labels out there are sourced independently and the majority of them are musicians themselves. Keen, motivated and simply happy to be where they are, these more indie-sleuths of the corporate world are a far more dazzling prospect to keen up-starters and demonstrate a more creative side to the industry. Where investments, global value and profits are still important, these indie individuals like to take a back seat on such matters, and focus more so on the music.

Transgressive, Domino and Mind of a Genius Records are a few that do exactly that. But, with these still alive in our industry, many are far too hesitant with the prospect of incorporating contracts and verbal agreements into their music – when all they want to do is just play it.


So, what’s your view? Are record labels a dying breed? Should we leave them behind as we get our music industry back on track from lockdown? Or do we need them know more than ever simply for financial stability?


9 responses to “Let’s Talk: Are Record Labels Relevant Anymore?”

  1. I think they are still needed. If you want to really make it big you still need that connection and power that a label has. Can No Name band get booked on the Today Show with a label, probably not. If you want the big exposure, you will need a label. Doesn’t mean you can’t be successful without one, but it is a lot harder.

    I get dozens of emails everyday from non-label bands and there is definitely a difference in quality of a band that is on a label and not. It is pretty striking. For me, I’m not really going to give you the time of day on my site unless you are on a label. Look at Frontiers, Nuclear Blast, Napalm, smaller labels but they have bands with some production and quality behind them. Anyway, I am rambling now. Good question!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, that’s some glorious insight, my friend. Interesting to note the kind of professional stigma you get when you’re signed with an established label. I suppose it brings a whole sense to a band that makes you stop what you’re doing, with one eyebrow raised.

      Thanks for stopping by! Looking forward to some more of those bands review from you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m going to have to disagree with you a bit on this John, as there are some excellent artists and bands who are completely independent. A notable example is one of my favorite artists Two Feet. When he first became popular, he signed with Republic Records, through which he released his monster hit “I Feel Like I’m Drowning”, which went to #1 on the Billboard Alternative Chart. But after his suicide attempt in summer 2018, many in the music industry treated him like a pariah, and he eventually severed his ties with Republic.

      For the past two-plus years, he’s been recording and releasing his music independently, and though none of his singles have charted higher than #30 on the Alternative Chart, he’s charting his own path forward on his own terms, and his music sounds better than ever. For what it’s worth, six of his singles over the past two years have hit #1 on my own weekly top 30 chart, as I love his music as much as you love Matt Nathanson’s.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, but here’s the thing. Two Feet was on a major label. He learned how to make a proper album with the right sound. He picked up a lot of business sense from that short time. I’m talking about those bands that never have been on a big label. When Matt Nathanson was independent, I don’t think he was very good. I’m not a big fan of those albums. He hadn’t had a proper producer so his stuff sounds rough. Once he got on a label, he seemed to find his footing, discover who he really was and turned in to an extremely talented artist.

        Liked by 2 people

      • That’s very true! To be fair, both of you guys make valid points with this one. Labels certainly seem to help find artists their footing and overall approach to the industry. Suppose it gives you that professional flair that sets you aside to those ‘bedroom artists.’

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think labels are still relevant. They also need to change in a big way, if they want to remain that way. There will always be a place for independent artists, and artists on labels.

    As mentioned previously, the labels have connections. They can find the best producers, session musicians, book the choice gigs, etc. They have the advantages when it comes to promotion. The internet helps level the playing field, but it’s still tilted toward the big money of the labels.

    Their biggest problem now is they won’t invest in a band. There was a time when bands were given a few albums to mature and find their sound.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, that’s true – you’re spot on. I think bands have less of a time frame to show their prowess because time is money, and time is important to the folks who run these labels. Yeah most definitely. To take that next big leap into ‘professionalism’ as an artist, you may have to sign to a record label – independent, major or not.

      Still, fairly exciting that there are an awful amount of doors open in terms of the internet to get your name out there – in the same breath, it’s just as saturated and competitive with everyone going for that one connection, that one phone call. Exciting stuff!


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