While signing a contract might be your goal. Here are five reasons to be cautious before signing on the dotted line.
1: The Right Label? – Major labels, now more than ever are forced to split their focus between multiple acts. The doors closing at Jive, Arista and J Records are a prime example. RCA Records, now with the inclusion of the remaining acts after the takeover has a larger roster and now a smaller staff. Artists are often forced to compete for release dates between label mates and label execs.
2: Quantity over Quality – A record label’s main concern is the monetary return on their investment, but an artist’s main passion is the quality of the music being produced. Conflicting core values between labels and artists unnecessarily inhibit the creativity and uniqueness of the artists’ music.
3: Control – Lack of creative control? A portion of their own paychecks? Restrictions and inflexible deadlines? Binding obligations to labels leave much to be desired when artists can now rely on themselves to get their music produced, promoted and purchased. This is an anomaly in today’s low record-selling music industry. With the easy access to cheap or free music online, labels are rapidly losing their relevance for turning their focus more towards the importance of live performances. Even major bands like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails addressed their labels’ irrelevance by selling recent albums directly to fans online.
4; Compensation – Signing with a label big or small? What are you really getting in return. The 360 Deal is the new mandate of the majors, do you trust your future to a corporation you don’t control? Small labels, can be just as bad. Limited resources, combined with pages of legal red tape can put the brakes on a career for years
5: Taxation without Representation – Labels take a cut of the money earned by artists for performing tasks that the artists could actually do themselves with the right access to resources and guidance. A growing number of site and services including likeZEBRA.com and others offer recording and promotional tools to get the music directly out to an audience without being an expensive middle man.