The Difference Between Independent and Dependent Releases
A common misconception throughout the music industry is that artists and musicians alike think they need to be signed to a major label in order to be successful. Fortunately, this couldn’t be more false. We live in a digital age; any piece of information we could ever need is at our immediate disposal via a smartphone, tablet, or computer. While these devices have their negatives, the pros outweigh those negatives instantly, especially when it comes to the music industry.
Simply put, any song, any where can be discovered by you via your mobile device. Gone are the days on waiting for a hard copy of an album to become printed in your country and having it released to record stores around the nation. We have streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud. These streaming services allow an artist or musician to upload a release, share it with their friends, and promote it, completely independently. This is exactly how an independent release works.
Independent releases are becoming the future.
The success of the major labels (Warner Music Group, Sony Music, and Universal Music) peaked years ago, and now they’re on a steady decline. Consumers, musicians, artists, and industry professionals are removing themselves from toxic relationships with labels, as they often restrict these artists immensely within their creative process. In fact, according to Digital Music News, Google is investing tens of millions into smaller labels to rid major labels. For example, Artist A might not be able to collaborate with Artist B because they’re a) signed to a different label or b) the label doesn’t want them to. Independent releases are the total opposite and allow for maximum freedom. If you want to release a track on Monday you can. You can do whatever you want with that track, so long you’re not in a contract with another producer, artist, etc, that prevents you.
Some artists who’re really starting to kickstart their music careers may find it difficult to get the exposure they deserve, which is why they’re spending hours and hours a week to appeal to a massive label such as Sony Music. The larger labels can certainly promote you and get you exposure, but you’re going to pay a price for that as well. An independent release is the total opposite. If you make $100, then you keep $100.
Ensuring your release garners the traction it deserves can be difficult, but putting together a release plan with your manager, band mates, etc, can really alleviate that headache. Put together the playlists, YouTube channels, SoundCloud accounts, labels, and blogs that you’re going to target. Reach out to them at least a month in advance and ask them if they’d be interested in sharing or supporting your track. Remember, the worst they can do is say “no.”
Fun fact: This year so far, over 300 of Jamvana’s independent releases have performed better than releases on labels at Jamvana. This is most certainly an indication that independent releases are becoming more popular.
Goodbye to label (dependent) releases.
Not all label deals are bad deals. They do have a lot of pros to them, but often times the cons end up being really strict rules, such as not being able to work with another artist, label, or even promotional company. Aside from the aforementioned freedom you get with an independent release, keep in mind that labels usually have an impressive network of people with various connections inside and outside the music industry. You never know where one of those opportunities will lead to. Use the connections that work within the label’s network as a springboard to learn as much as you can.
The label will also often have a tried and true methodology of releasing and promoting music, which is always beneficial in the track’s success. However, sometimes those plans come to a grinding halt when someone in the pipeline doesn’t own up to a mistake or gets overwhelmed with work. For example, if the mastering engineer is behind on his schedule, the release date will have to be pushed back. This can often happen two or even three times on one release.
It’s not all bad; it’s mostly good.
We’ve established that there are pros and cons to both independent and dependent releases. If and when you’re out searching to release on a label, it’s good to do your research and really weigh out the pros and cons. Which ones will have the most impact on your career or release? If you have the contacts to ensure a successful independent release, then go for it. You should try independent releases and dependent (label) releases once or twice to really get a feel for each and determine when it’s best to use each one.
Jamvana is always happy to help out and provide tips as to if or when you should release independently or through a label. We work with a plethora of independent artists and labels. We know exactly how the game works.