Journal

Label record deals Pros and cons

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I’m sorry I haven’t written for such a long time! I had a lot going on. I will share with you today some thoughts about one of my current concerns. For several months, I have been thinking of a recording project I feel very strongly about. Except the program, the studio, and all the little hassles associated with the recording itself, the question of the label came up. Indie label, major or running my own label, all these solutions have their pros and cons. Let’s do a quick overview of these very different options to grasp the situation clearly.

Your first step towards a recording is a good definition of the project. Clearly, why do you want to record? For promotion? To be a worldwide famous star? Every artist has different expectations about recording and the solution must be tailored to his needs. In my case, I want to record because I love working in studios, because I have a program that is close to my heart and deserves to be heard by a wider audience than the concert one. Of course, I also need a CD as promotional support, I do not deny it.

My current experiments with independent labels and those of my colleagues are not very successful. The music market is going through a crisis. None of them provides conditions satisfying my own desires and needs, and the ratio time and investment vs. benefits is quite inconclusive. I still have to produce the CD on my own with a lot less freedom than via self-production while promotion and distribution remain uncertain. Apart from wasting sponsors’ money, which is not in my interest, I do not really understand the advantage of such a system, especially since the days of many independent labels are numbered: if the label collapses, you must take everything from scratch once again.

Majors: not an option for me right now. While distribution and promotion are almost perfect, it is a double edged sword and can hurt you very badly. I’m not big enough to negotiate a fabulous contract with a major label : I’ll be “washed-up” quickly. It is indeed very interesting to record for DG, Sony and others when you have access to their premium service. Not when you are one of the thousands average artists who recorded for them. In short, you don’t call them, they’ll call you, if they fell in love with you or if there is business to be done, in brief if you represent a profitable investment.

If running his own label was a really crazy idea for an independent artist a few decades ago, today many are doing well running their own company. The advantages are numerous: you can keep control over your career, control product quality and have an opportunity to truly express your unfettered musical vision. But it’s no bed of roses. It’s a titanic task, and promotion and distribution are difficult to handle when you start from scratch. But the development of new distribution channels and growth of music downloads are pushing us in that direction and help us to realize such projects. So why not?

Recording is not (except in very rare instances) a source of income anymore, the industry has substantially changed, technologies have changed, but we, classical musicians, are still thinking as we used to years ago. It is time for us to move on, to get a different perspective on the recording industry and finally create a business model serving the artists’ and music lovers’ interests.