5 Reasons Why Independent is Better Than a Record Deal
Why is Independent Better Than Signing a Deal?
5 reasons why independent is better than signing a deal.
This has proven to be a hot topic in today’s artist-sphere so we decided to update the content to be sure that it is still serving today’s artist. Updated 10/10/2016
Today, being a successful independent artist is more achievable than ever before begging the question; why is independent better than signing a deal? Thanks to social media you now have the ability to reach the world; freelance tools like Elance and Upwork you can hire a graphic designer, web designer, or marketing team on a budget, combined with endless articles and resources on how to brand, market, and plan (which you can be found by simply using the right keyword combinations in a google search) all the tools you need are in your hands. So why would anyone need a record label anymore? Why would anyone sign a record deal that benefits the label more than the artist you ask? Impatience, confusing contracts, ignorance, and bad leadership are a few reasons that come to mind. In this post we aim to shine light on the top benefits to be had by learning the business side of things and remaining an independent musician.
Perhaps the most important quality to any musician. Chances are you chose music as a career path because it is the one thing you can do every single day and never feel like you’re working. If you’re like most musicians you had to (or currently are) working a full time job and juggle school, family, and a social life. If your persistent and labels start to want a piece of your market share they’ll offer you a deal in which they will put a lot of money behind you. Great things could come of this, but if you don’t have enough of a pull to keep your creative control, good luck. Sign that deal and consider yourself back in the work force. You only make the songs they tell you too, with the musicians they choose, with the look they create for you. Enjoy!
One of One Hundred
Most labels play the numbers game. They sign a ton of artists hoping that 1 out of 33 will make it big and they will get their return plus more. This means that if they don’t feel like you are the “one” your project may never see the light of day. You’ll be in contract limbo just waiting around until your agreement runs out so you can actually make music. What’s worse is at the end of the year, those artists that they signed but didn’t “push” will be claimed as a loss on their taxes and the label will get most of their original investment back.
Owning Your Copyrights
The benefit of owning your copyrights comes in the form of controlling how much of the publishing gets distributed. This means that you can determine how much of the publishing (or royalties that will be later collected) each person that took part in the song will get. Needless to say controlling who gets paid is incredibly good positioning. Most record deals for up and comers allow the label to control the “master” or own the copyright. Giving up your copyrights means giving up the ability to control how much you make, which is basically like being back at the 9-5 again.
Collecting 100% of your Royalties and Publishing
We always tell the artists we work with to never give up all of their publishing. That is your 401k, your IRA, your stock and bond investments, your retirement fund, all rolled into one. Every quarter, or 3 months, that check will come in the mail for as long as you live and as long as your kids live. Keeping your royalties means if you make that song that gets air play you can count on a HANDSOME check coming in consistently while you just sit back and do whatever it is that you please.
Being able to control the timing behind your project or song release is a crucial part of success. To be honest, it may be better to leave it up to professionals to decide when to release your work. However, that’s not to say that you should totally give up this virtue. Signing a deal will most likely force you into a certain number of albums in a given amount of time; time crunches that may cause you to sacrifice your musical integrity for a date. The best thing to do would be to remain independent and work with your small marketing team, or single person, to decide on a date and time to release. Totally do able.
We recently wrote an E Book for those looking to take this knowledge a little bit further and begin to apply it to their careers. You can learn more about it here. We hope this post has encouraged you to learn the business side of things. Knowledge is power. Be powerful.