Going Independent Vs. Signing with a Major Label: Which Option is the Best for Me?

Signing with a Major Label

The dilemma between signing with a major record company or going independent can be a tough one. Your decision will also have a huge repercussion on the rest of your career as an artist. Many will advise against signing at any costs, but when we look at the numbers, we can clearly see that signing can be a great decision in some cases. This depends on many factors; however, including some you may not have even imagined. Let’s take a look at a few things you should consider before choosing between signing or going independent.

How Good Are You with Commitments?

A record contract is just like any contract, but in this case, we’re talking about your ability to create. This is why this is much more of a commitment, and signing a contract could be one of the worst decisions for a particular type of artist.

Artists who like to create organically might not like the idea that they have to produce a certain number of records for a company. There’s also the fact that you may not even be able to create because of life circumstances or other issues. As an independent, you make your own way, release music when you want, and take breaks whenever you want.

There’s also the grim reality that being committed to a contract could influence important life decisions. For instance, Grammy-winning recording artist Lauren Hill once stated that she felt pressure not to have a baby so that it wouldn’t affect her contractual obligations. This is one of the realities of being tied up to a record contract, especially a long term one.

How Good Are Your Finances?

This will also make a big difference. If you’re just a struggling artist who was lucky enough to get discovered and you really have no plan of action, knowledge of the business, or resources to push yourself, then getting a deal might be a better option for you.

However, if you already have some traction, a fanbase, and generate revenue, staying independent could actually benefit you. You could get by with nothing but a booking manager and handle everything else yourself.

It also helps if you’re resourceful. One of the biggest expenses for recording artists is studio time, but there are tons of ways that you cut your studio expenses. Not only that, but many signed artists have to pay for their own studio time as well, but won’t necessarily get as much of a return on their investment.

You have places that have locations all over the world. Their London recording studio has seen some of the biggest recording artists in the world, but they still manage to keep their price structure affordable. They’re also a great option if you’re trying to hold some events, like listening or launch parties, for instance.

Do You Understand the Business of Music?

Here, you’ll have to take a long hard look at yourself and see if you have the actual skills needed to run a successful business because that’s what it will take for you to be successful. You’ll need to be able to balance budgets. You’ll need to understand how to draft contractual agreements. You’re the one who will be responsible for collecting money from venue owners. Then you have to deal with all the legal issues that come with it.

If you’re successful, you have to expect to be slapped with a lawsuit at some point in time. This can be stressful for anyone, especially if you’re just starting out. You also have to understand things like marketing, branding, merchandising, and more. Being passionate and having an independent spirit won’t make up for a lack of business acumen, so you will either have to consider getting some kind of formation, hiring someone, or let a label handle things.

How Good Are You, Exactly?

This one can be tough to gauge because everyone would like to imagine that they have what it takes to make it. The reality with a record deal is that you’ll be trusted straight into a competition with other acts on the label. This means that being good is not enough; you have to be good enough for you to be a priority. 

This also means that you’ll have to evaluate whether you’ll be able to deal with that competition and whether you’re good enough for it. And by good, we don’t simply mean raw talent. Image will have just as much of an importance, and a label might support someone who has more of a buzz over someone who’s actually talented. As an independent, you will be the one pushing yourself, and there will be no need for a green light from anyone at the label.

Going independent isn’t the solution to everything; just like record labels are not necessarily evil. However, there are some cases where one option could be a much better choice for you, so make sure that you weigh up both options and take your time before you sign anything.

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Mark Meets
Mark Meets
MarkMeets Media is British-based online news magazine covering showbiz, music, tv and movies
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