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Why You Don’t Need A Record Label, And Why You Really Do

Posted on the 17 December 2016 by Empire Music Promotions @empiremusicpr

Like most things in life it all comes down to timing, but how do we know what the right timing is exactly? The short answer is that we don’t.
Starting in the garage is almost a right-of-passage for musicians, a badge of honor, and the safest place to exist in the music industry. It takes nothing to be great in that garage, just you and a few others jamming out the music with dollar signs in your eyes and imaginary crowds to play to. It is wonderful and magical and won’t last long for a band serious about their musical journey.

So when is a good time to seek out a label? I would say not until you have created the necessary leverage to talk with that label, and what is that leverage exactly? Personal press, a powerful social media following, a history of successful shows, and a clear idea of what your bands deal-breakers are. Until you have all that you will find yourself on the losing end of deal signing.

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A label is a business not a charity, and you would do well to commit that to memory. They do not care about you nearly as much as you would hope they would. You are great, they know that, and you can make them money, they definitely know that too; but the question is, do you know that?
When you start off playing with your band you all might sense something great about you, and I hope that you do, but you won’t quite know the worth of what you are creating just yet. You might play a few shows and create some worthy local buzz, and who knows, maybe someone will try to sign you up way ahead of schedule; either way, you need to pace yourself and respect the process.

The industry has changed but many things have stayed the same, and one of those things is that inexperience and business deals generally hurt the artist in the long run (I’m looking at you 360 Deal). For the hell of it I suggest that you watch a movie called “Artifact” by 30 Seconds To Mars, it delves into the wickedness of a deal that turns on an artist.

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30 Seconds To Mars

Before the internet, file sharing, Spotify, Kickstarter, and all the other options now at the musicians disposal existed, labels were the key to door that opened up to your fans, but now the industry has been flipped over, kicked in the teeth, and left floundering around trying to figure itself out, because musicians do not need labels to succeed…well, not for the first leg of the race anyway.
This is where timing comes into play.
Where playing in the garage was great, tearing up the local clubs were exciting, and watching your Facebook likes add up exhilarating, the eventual plan of action is to tour the world and not just your back yard, and eventually you will want a three hundred person club become a stadium with thousands, right?

This is where a label holds the leverage needed to counter yours, so hopefully you can both meet in the middle and find a common ground.
Where once a scout had to come to your show and tell his label about you, they now sit back and watch the numbers to see who is talking about whom. Where they once had to gamble on greatness they now get to watch it grow online and reach out when you finally hit large numbers.
It is possible to Kickstarter albums, just look at the incredible Rishloo! They have proven that social crowd funding combined with professional dedication can produce incredible results (but perhaps this is an article for another time?). Moving on along shall we.
So you now know that seeking out a label is the last thing on your list, but why do you even need a label if you are great and you can crowd fund albums?

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The simple answer is that the record labels handle the larger than life complicated parts of your whole musical operation.
When the labels come calling it is usually because you are ready to tour, and touring is a complicated and expensive operation, ask any band that has toured across even their own country.
A label has connections upon connections (the larger ones do anyway), and those connections know about lighting, sound, gear, legalities, proper venues, and how to market you before you even see the stage with your own eyes. A label will be able to put in the type of money needed to make you some real money, and although they want a piece of your empire, a proper deal that works for both parties can ensure that you still get to keep the crown.

When it comes to timing, today is about the garage and about you, but tomorrow is about looking forward to the eventual handshake with a label, and all you need to do is make sure that your resume reads “we know who we are, now offer us something great!”.

Empire Music Promotions ( offers result based campaigns aimed at helping you build your own musical empire. Submit your music today!

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