Shortly after posting my last entry, I had a discussion with a friend about big record deals, modern trends, and general fulfillment in the creative world.
He pointed out that most musicians in fact do NOT want to get signed by a major record label, preferring instead to follow the grooves that are being cut by the powerful presence of independent labels. With a more level playing field, “indie rock,” for example, offers the artist more creative and financial freedom.
I rebutted with, “Why wouldn’t you want to be signed to a major record label?”
The Music Business Handbook and Career Guide by David and Tim Baskerville says about major labels:
“…[A]rtists are attracted to the large advances and prestige of being associated with a label such as Sony or Island Def Jam, the security of knowing there are sufficient funds for marketing, and the stability of an established company in a business where one of the greatest difficulties is getting paid.” [Baskerville, 276]
It’s funny to me how there seems to be a pervasive trend against the major labels. I’m not sure where this stems from – perhaps the fact that a lot of music coming out of major labels today is downright crappy. The “indie” musician naturally feels compelled to write, produce, and distribute his art, well – independently.
My friend also raised the point that the majors are not nearly as thriving as they once were, giving way to the strong currents of independent music brimming to the surface of consciousness through the web. True, but they are still out there, they are still signing artists, and they are still the driving forces behind most popular music… if one defines “popular music” as the music that is appealing to most of the music-listening population of the world.
By their nature, major labels tend to reach greater audiences and garner more profits for themselves and, when the sales are successful, the artists. That part at least seems to still be true, but then again, what do I know?
Baskerville, David and Tim. “Music Business Handbook And Career Guide.” 9th Edition. New York: Sherwood Publishing Partners. 2006.