For a long time, musical and commercial success depended on being signed up by a major record label. Independent artists were then confined to the underground music scene where finding commercial success and making a living out of your art was difficult, if not totally impossible.
The problem with this dynamic was that quite a lot of talent remained untapped, unrecognized, and, sadly, wasted. Most artists were desperate to get signed up with the few recording labels that were popular and it whose stables they had some of the biggest stars.
With the internet revolution, the music industry became more open and while being signed to a major record label had and still has its perks, it is no longer the only way to make it out as an artist or musician. Social media and video streaming sites have unveiled to the world some of the biggest stars in music today. Now independent artists like Chance The Rapper are changing the music industry.
That’s not to say independent artists didn’t have any challenges; they did. They still do.
To sign or to go independent?
Signing up with a major record label has its advantages including: access to superior recording equipment and a battery of producers to fine tune your work, marketing and promotion work is done by the label, and, more importantly, the cost of production and the associated works is catered for by the label.
Independent artists, on other hand, have to pretty much do all the work by themselves. You pay for the production and studio from your own, and market and promote your work all by yourself. You don’t even have to go the studio anymore. You can buy your own equipment and start your own recording studio and with a Music Production Software you are good to get started. While independent artists in 80s and 90s had hawk their CDs and cassettes, now you only upload your music online and you have done your bit.
Away from the financial aspect of the business, an independent artist usually has more creative freedom in their work since they are not tied down by contractual obligations like a record label artist that requires them to do as the label demands.
Back to finances, the money an independent artist makes, however much or little, is solely his or hers. For a signed artist, most of the earnings go to the record label.
Independent or signed, it is your talent and hard work and a bit of luck that will give you success in the music industry. Obviously, an independent artist has to work harder.
If you are to find success as an independent artist, you have your work cut out for you. You have to continually churn out quality music as you build your brand and start acquiring a fan base. More important, you must stay focused even when the shows don’t come and the fans don’t scream your name. All those take time. Don’t let self-doubt cripple your creativity.