Is becoming an independent artist better than becoming a signed artist?
The answer is simple. Opportunities for independent artists have never been greater. You can thank social media for that. Social media has made the career of an independent artist more achievable than ever before. A common question we hear a lot is, “Who needs a record label anymore? Why would I sign a record deal that benefits the label more than the artist me?” Poor guidance, lack of confidence, ignorance, and/or financial constraints might be some of the reasons why artists think they need to be signed by a record label. Here, are reasons why being an independent artist is more beneficial than being a signed artist.
- Total Career Control. As an independent artist, you have total control over your career. Creativity matters the most for any musician’s career. As an independent artist, you have complete control over the direction and creative content of your music. You are able to explore lyrical content and innovative musical styles that are excluded from the mainstream. As an artist, take that opportunity to express yourself in your lyrics and your own individuality in your music. If you’re persistent, labels will start to offer you a deal. While they will put a lot of money on you, in return they want a piece of your market share. Generally, great things don’t come of this as they typically will mold your music to something it wasn’t originally. Their only objective is to sell music and gain their profit. You only make the songs they tell you to, with the musicians they choose, with the look they create for you. You have to release singles/albums when your label wants you to and are required to go on tours and feature on other peoples work. Being an independent artist means there is no pressure. You aren’t forced to sacrifice your artistic vision for the sake of chart success.
- Copyrights of YOUR music. Without a label, any revenue generated from things like album sales goes straight to your own pocket. Being associated with any major labels means the artist does not get to keep the rights or even the creative control over their music. The benefit of owning your copyrights is that you can determine how much of the royalties each person that took part in the song will get. It comes in the form of controlling how much of the publishing gets distributed. Most record deals allow the label to have control over the copyright of an artist’s original work. Giving up your copyrights means giving up the ability to control how much you make.
- Earn more! Another huge plus to being an independent artist is, you are your own record label. Which means you keep 100% of the profits. You make all of the profit from your live sales because you’re not buying them from your label. The label tends to profit 5 times the amount as you and take literally almost all your money from both album sales and touring. The concept of music streaming or Internet Radio enables you to get paid when your songs are played on the Internet. Even the karaoke tracks of your songs can be sold to make money. If your song happens to get featured in an advertisement or a film, you can license masters just the same. You may find opportunities to sell your songs nationwide as well.
- Be your own boss! No deadlines or contracts. Being associated with a major label requires you to meet the deadlines; your music is influenced by corporate demands. Whereas as an independent artist, you gain that freedom. You set your own schedule of work. This is one of the main reasons indie artists like to remain independent. You don’t have to sell out to what will make the label the most money. You can do what you want, perform where you want, and when you want.
- Horrible Turnover. Contrary to popular belief, major labels actually sign many artists. However, those of who are signed quickly get turned over and dropped by the label. Most labels play the numbers game. They sign a ton of artists hoping that at least one-third will make it big and they will get their return. Plus some. Pragmatically, it may happen that your project never sees the light of day. You’ll be entangled in the limitations of your contract, 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 promote will be claimed as a loss on their taxes and the label will get most of their original investment back, leaving an artist bankrupt and devoid of work.