Navigating Your Music Career – Stay Indie or Go Major?
Introduction Welcome to the world of music, where every decision you make can shape the trajectory of your career.
Welcome to the world of music, where every decision you make can shape the trajectory of your career. Here at VM Agency, having worked closely with some of the biggest labels and now as the main vendor for Sony Records, we offer firsthand insights into the intricate dance between independent artistry and major record label partnerships.
The Role of Major Record Labels
Imagine record labels as financial institutions with a vast network. They provide funding, albeit often with steep interest rates, in exchange for services like coveted radio play slots on channels like Hot97 and Z100. This gatekeeping is what sustains labels. However, the path to radio play is complex; it isn’t simply bought, as that would be payola, but is often the result of organic growth or strategic label partnerships. NEVER pay for radio play.
The Power of Independence
As an artist, your initial aim should be to build as much traction as possible independently. Why? Because the more developed you are, the less you have to rely on a label for growth. Remember, if a label invests heavily in your development, you could end up in a 360 deal where they profit from nearly every aspect of your career, often to a disproportionate degree.
Evolving Industry Dynamics
Gone are the days of the ’90s and 2000s when music alone could skyrocket an artist to fame. Today, it’s about creating a direct connection with your fans. Labels are seeking artists who can not only produce great music but also command an audience on their own. This is where your online presence, particularly on social media, becomes crucial. Engaging content that showcases your personality and directly speaks to your audience is key. Remember, your fans are your customers, and your music is just one part of your brand.
Look at Natalie Jane, A newly signed capital records artist who built her fame from scratch on TikTok. She has the perfect blend of fan connections, putting herself out there with confidence and constantly allowing herself to be transparent with the world while she’s in her element. She does it all from live performances, rehearsing, calculated social media posts, etc. It’s why the deal was able to take place.
Before You Consider a Major Record Label
Building Your Foundation
Before even thinking about signing with a major label, there are critical steps you need to take:
- Brand Identity: Create a unique logo and establish a consistent brand across all platforms.
- Trademark: You must trademark your artist’s name. This allows you to conduct business without the threat of another artist suing you.
- Single Focus: Identify your main single and build your brand around it.
- Online Presence: Develop a professional website, optimize your social media profiles, and collect data through newsletters and pop-ups.
Understanding Label Operations
Labels assign managers to each artist, focusing on one single every few months for new artists. This strategy allows for controlled budgeting and brand development. As an artist, your job is to understand and adapt to this approach.
Marketing and Engagement
The real work often lies in social media. You can’t just post for the sake of posting; your content must engage your audience. Whether it’s live performances, interactive videos, or contests, your content should resonate with and involve your fans.
Preparing for Label Meetings
To prove your worth to a label, you’ll need a solid track record. This includes having at least three successful singles and a well-prepared EPK. Music videos or, at the very least, lyric videos for your singles are essential. They demonstrate your commitment and readiness for the bigger stages.
The Final Audition
Remember, when you finally get that meeting with a label, be prepared to perform live on the spot. It’s not just about the music; it’s about your presence, your charisma, and your ability to engage an audience. Regular performances, rehearsals, and constant improvement in all aspects of your artistry are non-negotiable.
Your journey in music is uniquely yours. Whether you choose to stay independent or aim for a major record deal, the key is preparation and understanding the industry. At VM Agency, we prioritize educating artists over quick business deals. We’re here to guide you, whether you need an audit, a marketing plan, or just some honest advice.
Ready to take your career to the next level? Visit us at www.viewmaniac.com and let’s start a conversation. For those building their brand independently, our free resources and promotional campaigns are available at viewmaniac.com/free-music-industry-resources/.
Embark on your journey with confidence, equipped with the right knowledge and a team that believes in your potential. The stage is yours – how will you play it?