Lets start by outlining the Label model and then look at the things that are wrong with it.
Ok, a label signs a singer songwriter artist, gives them a contract which has been careful worded to protect the label and ensure that the label doesn’t lose, the label then encourages (aka forces them) to use their producer, their studio and the label to determines when and where the artist plays as well as when the artist releases music — after the label knows better, right!
What do you notice in this description — hopefully you saw what I see that the artist is the least considered part of the statement, but wait a moment isn’t the artist the one that writes the songs, plays the instruments and sings the lyrics.
Seems to me its time for a complete change — the music business seems to have become a funnel that is the wrong way around — artists by the score are pushed into the top of the funnel squeezed through a process that the label’s all supposedly call development (which means most things get changed rarely for the better) and through this process a ton of artists get “let go” by the label (another word for sacked) and out of the bottom of this funnel comes a few artists (not always the best artists but just the ones that have accepted all the changes) that get to have a music career (but in reality what they have a j.o.b. with the label as they have no control of their own career, they signed that away at the beginning).
As the mega star artist Prince says in an article in Rolling Stone “Record contracts are just like — I’m gonna say the word — slavery,” and he went on to say “I would tell any young artist… don’t sign.”
So how do we change it — first let’s look at everything through the lens of the artist and screen everything we do through the filter of “is it best for the artist” now lets return to the statement we started with and see how it looks:-
Ok, singer songwriter artist creates their own label, they select their own producer, they decide to record in the studio they like and they determine when and where they will play and more importantly the artist and only the artist will decide when to release their music. All this will be done with the help, support and advice provided by a new kind of music company one that seeks to nurture and enable the artist to grow as an artist.
Mmm, much better huh!
But this is only the beginning suppose there was also a way for artists to only ever play to people truly wanted to listen — instead of the artist having to beg promoters, club owners and venue managers to give them ab opportunity to play to people that didn’t all come out to hear the artist, many just came for a drink or see the other artists and bands playing that night.
Trust me there is also a way for the singer songwriter artist to get all the gigs they need without having to play in front of audiences that don’t care.
Trust me its possible
In the days ahead I will continue to outline what I consider to be the future of the music business one that is truly artist centric.