Every music genre takes time to evolve and it’s the artists plus labels who push them to new heights daily. Whether it be an artist or a whole music label, both are equally important for growth of an industry. Similarly the hip-hop culture in India is on a betterment mode. Initially there were just the artists who were pushing the culture, but as we all know, unity becomes the real strength. So in order to boost these artists and as a result of that pushing of the whole culture, music labels were formed. Music labels are a crucial part of not only hip-hop but other genres too, and sometimes a signed artist gets more recognition and even more money than an independent artist.
In this internet world it has become easy for an artist to survive independently. Modern marketing techniques, private studios, YouTube, and free distributors for other platforms have made it easy. And, 80% are doing the same in India, though it also has its own disadvantages.
Similarly, there are several music labels in India which are specially dedicated to hip-hop artists and are doing a great job. Most of these labels pick up the underrated names to show the world what their potential is which is absolutely a great job. But even with so many advantages, being signed has some drawbacks too.
So today in this particular blog we’re going to talk about the true difference between being signed to a label vs being independent, giving their advantages and disadvantages in detail. This article will be differentiated in two parts i.e Signed vs Unsigned, and further sub divided by pros and cons.
Being Signed vs Unsigned
Signed to a label –
An artist gets signed to a label in two ways, and the contracts done by labels with artists are given in two ways. First is the 50-50 on the royalty from all platforms or any percentage the artist and label bargains. The other one is where the label pays the artist a fixed amount and owns the whole song and 100% royalty.
So here are the pros and cons of being signed:
1. Good Budget and Equipment/Resources –
A music label can provide you with these things, as a music label has its own funding which means a good budget and the best resources for the artist. These include production, artwork, mix mastering, recording, video, their own marketing, and also the concerts. These are the things a music label can provide you, but again it all depends on how big the label is.
2. Fixed Pay –
The labels form a contract with artist where they pay a fixed amount to the artist and the label keeps the 100% royalty. This sometimes saves the artist from a big disaster; even if the artist’s songs don’t do well it does not impact the artist in any financial way.
3. Networking and Contacts –
Releasing the music independently will have the fan base of just the artist. But rather than that, throwing music under a label can get you new listeners from the already established label. Also if there is any kind of legal action taken on your music or any copyright, the label can get you out easily and as has much better contacts.
4. Better Marketing –
These reputed labels of course use better marketing techniques and have special teams for that as well. This surely helps your music reach ears.
1. Sometimes bad deals –
Sometimes these labels do a not so artist-friendly contract where they give a small percent of royalty profit to the artist and sometimes even trap them in a particular deal.
2. Not owning your own songs –
After a deal done with a music label, an artist no longer has the copyright on that track. The label has complete control of your song and can use it without your approval. This way they can make much more profit than the artist.
3. Music label scams –
Some new music labels even make misleadingly promising deals with the artist. These labels sometimes even have fake numbers, streams, and even subscribers. They mainly target small artists by keeping them in disillusion and earning more and more from their music. So, be aware of such scam labels and do proper research before signing to any label.
Releasing music Independently –
Nowadays an artist can independently do so many things. From releasing the music to marketing and doing all legal work. From producing to mixing and mastering, music videos, etc, everything can be done by an independent individual.
So here are the pros and cons of being unsigned:
1. Keeping all the profits –
Releasing the music independently gives you all the control over the profits earned by streams. An artist can keep it all without answering anything to anyone.
2. No limits to creativity –
When making music independently, an artist has all the control on what kind of music they want to make, what kind of music video they want, and everything else. They can produce any genre without needing any approvals. So, this helps artists to be at 100% creativity.
3. Ownership of your own music –
As an independent artist, owning your own music is the best part. No one else can use it without your permission, so there’s no danger of any legal action from signing any confusing contracts.
1. Less reach –
Your music will reach a smaller audience if released independently as opposed to the audience of a major label.
2. Smaller budget –
You won’t be able to fund songs or music videos of the same production value as those that a music label can pay for.
3. Uncertainty –
It is much harder to attain commercial success as an artist if you release all your music independently.
So, clearly being signed or unsigned makes a huge difference. Both have their own pros and both have their own cons, so make your decision wisely.