In the eyes of an emerging artist, a record deal with one of the four major labels has always been the end goal. These four major labels Sony, Universal and Geffen are common perception of the good life with the majors having hundreds of millions of dollars behind them, allowing them to properly fund all of the worlds most renown artist. But, with the introduction of online social networks, and digital music retail stores such as I tunes, Spotify, Amazon, and the fact that more than half of major project releases in the past five years have leaked to the internet before their proposed release date, it has caused the major music industry labels to decline, and be forced into a transition phase. So there lies the age-old questions, should I go indie or strive to reach the major level, and what is the real difference between the two? Indie labels (short for independent) are privately owned and are a good way to get your music distributed, and grow a loyal fan base. Since they are smaller entities, they are more willing to make contractual agreements where they take less profit from your earnings. Indie label contracts have become the new goal for many and seems to be more attainable, and realistic. Indie labels have created such a reputation for themselves that major labels are starting to adopt indie label methods in hopes of achieving future growth as a company. While Indie labels cannot offer the kind of funding for artist that major labels can, they do offer many other benefits that may be more important to the artist.
Jason Jamz, CEO, and founder of Boston, MA indie label A-Star Entertainment LLC, tends to lean more towards the indie label route stating, “ I personally feel that the indie route is the best way to go, because it’s more lucrative financially, and you have one hundred percent rights retention and creative control.” Although Jason is an indie fan, he does see how a possible partnership with major labels could be beneficial for not only his company, but other indie labels as well. “ I think that if as a indie label you don’t have the resources to further your artists career, a partnership with a major label could be beneficial for further distribution.” Likewise Full Sail University’s Entertainment Business Masters student, and freelance indie artist manager Reggie Simmons, also sees how a major could be beneficial but feels that the indie route is best. “As an artist manager, you still have to do all of the work whether you’re on a major label or not, major labels want a part of everything that you do, so, as an artist manager if you know the right avenues and the right people, you can do everything that the label is trying to do yourself.” Back in May 2014 The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) Vs. Universal and Sony suit which claimed that the two majors formed a virtual “duopoly” with online services such as you tube, spotify etc. to extract a majority of the royalties because of their distribution clout. Same as in the Tony Braxton vs. LA face Arista Records There are many benefits to artist who sign with an indie label, it is just a matter of understanding the benefits of each type of label Major or Independent, and determining what aligns best with you as an artist.