It’s our very special Indie Artists issue where we get to put the spotlight on the artists and bands that are taking their music out to radio by via their own record labels. In this issue we hope to feature and highlight many of these acts and to showcase just how well they are doing up against the major label artists. We were pretty thrilled with the response we received from the time we announced this issue to the time we actually went to press so let the party begin. In addition to recording artists and bands, you will also notice a good many independent record labels throughout that have stepped up in the indie arena.
The major labels continue to offer artists and bands some pretty bad deals when it comes to the major label record contract. With the 360 deals in place, they again want to be a part of your publishing, live performances and just about everything you do to try and earn an income from your music. By the time you have paid the label back from any and all record advances, there is really not much left for the artist at the end of their rainbow.
With these practices still very much in place, many of the new upstart artists have chosen not to play this game and to hold on to as much of their music as they can. Giving up publishing rights during the early part of an artist’s career has long been frowned upon. We have heard numerous horror stories of artists that sold their publishing out for a small fee, only to realize that as time went on and their music flourished that the move they made in the early days turned out to be a rather bad one indeed.
While speaking of bad deals, we often harken to the early days of Billie Joel. Desperate to make an album and unable to afford recording services, Billie made a deal with the devil that turned out to be a real nightmare. He was locked into a contract that followed him all the way to Columbia records where they were forced to pay out large sums to an early party for many years to come. It all stemmed from one early album that never really did much in the first place. That one “bad deal” followed him for almost his entire career.
While looking at the benefits of going independent and staying there, we are often reminded of the many acts that signed to major label contract only to be stuck over there with nothing really happening. If you are not a “priority” at a major label, many often found that their own label actually worked against them behind the scenes to give their top tier artists better positioning at radio. They would send acts on pointless regional tours and tell them that they have to go out and make a name for themselves before the label could actually do something meaningful for them. In many cases it was all about just keeping the act busy and out of their hair while they worked on their in-house favorites.
The control factor that is dealt artists at the major label level is also totally out of control. Many of the A&R pros have their personal favorites as far as songwriters or producers they favor and that’s what they want you to get involved with or you will not find much favor at the label. Some great songwriters in acts have been sidelined to use other song writers material. Could you imagine having an A&R person tell Lennon & McCartney that they needed to use other writers materials rather than their own. This sort of thing happens over and over again in the major label arena causing much frustration to a band or an artist that is more than self-contained. Sometimes be careful what you wish for.
New Music Weekly continues to offer the very best “tools of the trade” when it comes to helping to break independent music artists and bands. From our STS tracking systems, to a magazine that provides charts in multi-formats, we are here to help break a new artist regardless of what label they are on. Our panel of music and program directors also don’t care about what label you are on. If they like the music they will add and play it regardless. Just take a look at the charts in this issue and you will see so many indie artists right along with the majors. It’s our way of “leveling the playing field” & we do it weekly.