Do You Really Need a Record Label? Find Out Now

Record Label

If you’re a new musician who’s just starting out, you might be wondering whether or not you need a record label in order to really succeed as an artist. You think of your idols, most of whom are artists signed to major labels. While there are definitely benefits to being an artist with a major label behind them, there are also a number of benefits that come with being an independent musician. If you’re struggling with deciding on whether to pursue the help of a music label, or to release your music independently, we’re here to help with a breakdown of the basics of releasing music with a label and independently. 

What is a Record Label? 

A record label is a form of music company that helps artists that they’ve signed to manufacture, distribute, and promote their music. In order to bring on a new musician, the record label will establish a recording contract with that musician. The details of each recording contract tend to differ depending on the record label. However, it’s standard for record labels to retain the rights to the masters of the music that the artist makes during the time of their recording contract. In addition to this, the record label will typically take a certain portion of the royalties that a musician receives from their music being released. However, while music artists may have to give up a portion of their music ownership and royalties in order to sign with a record label, they also gain a vast network of professional resources in terms of distributing and promoting their music. 

What is an Independent Artist? 

If you’re reading this article right now, chances are, you’re an independent artist. An independent artist is a musician who is not signed with a record label, and releases their music on their own. As an independent artist, you have to work extra hard in order to garner connections within the music industry, while those who sign with a label are typically introduced to others in order to network via their label. In addition to this, independent artists have to distribute and promote their music independently. 

While being an independent artist definitely comes with its fair share of hustle, there are also a number of benefits that come with releasing your music on your own. For instance, when you release your music independently, you retain ownership over it, whereas artists who are signed with a label don’t. In addition to this, when it comes to music distribution, you have full control over when and where you release your music, while record labels typically have final say over an artist’s music release schedule. 

How Do Independent Artists Release Their Work? 

Just like musicians who are signed with a record label, independent artists release their work via streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal. Record companies will release an artist’s music for them, typically as the final part of a lengthy roll out plan, which includes marketing and other types of promotions. Independent artists will often utilize the services of a digital music distribution company in order to release their music on streaming platforms. A digital music distribution company will usually charge independent artists a small fee (either monthly or per release), in order to get their music placed on the streaming platforms and apps that the artist would like their music on. Some digital music distribution companies take a portion of the royalties for the music that they release for an artist, while others allow musicians to keep the total profits made off of their work. 

Independent artists have also been known to release their music via physical means like CDs and vinyl records. However, the cost of mass producing these items can be quite high, so independent artists are likely to do so in more limited quantities than musicians from major labels would. 

In Conclusion: Do You Need a Record Label to Succeed in the Music Industry? 

For a long time, it seemed like the only way to have a stable career as a musician was to be signed with a record label. However, in recent years, it’s become a lot easier to make a living as an independent artist through the help of digital distribution companies as well as social media marketing techniques. As such, it’s up to you as an artist to decide whether you want to go the record label route, or if you’d prefer to make your own way in the industry as an independent artist. In either case, it’s essential to always stay true to yourself as an artist and develop an original and authentic brand that will draw listeners to your music. With a good dose of ingenuity, drive, and a sound that’s all your own, you’re sure to succeed in the music industry no matter which path you take. 


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