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The Record Deal --
Do You Really Want One?  Do You Need One?

By Ken Cavalier

There was a time in the music business, and we are going back a bit, when the ultimate goal for musicians, artists, or unsigned bands was to obtain a record deal or recording contract.  Back then, we were talking major record label, there were little or few Independent Record labels to speak of.   This was the standard focus and quest.  It was my bandís quest at the time and we were lucky enough to get signed by Warner Bros. and they did a decent job on the marketing end. But if you are an independent artist today, a lot of you know that this obsession of getting a record deal may not be as prevalent as it was many years ago, and it probably should not be.


Most independent musicians today understand that the glamour of getting signed to a major record label or even a strong independent label may not be all it is cracked up to be.  First of all, with the state of the music industry and record labels today, it is even harder to obtain a decent record deal then it was years ago and many Indies today realize that it may not be worth the effort -- there is a good reason for this.

 

With the onset of the Internet and the way musicians market their music today, the playing field has been leveled.  Artists and bands have an equal opportunity for exposure, record sales, and awareness.  With the ability to start your own record label and publishing company, there is just not much of a need or desire for that matter, to get tied into an unfair record deal; provided of course you have the financial means, contacts, knowledge, and guidance to get all the necessary music marketing, promotion, publicity, and distribution.

 

However, if you are one of those unsigned artists or Indie musician that still believes that getting a good recording contract is the way to go please allow me to point out just a few of the many things you may be facing and getting yourself into:

 

  • When you commit to a record label you are essentially setting yourself up and locking yourself in for what inevitably can be years. 
  • You lose the freedom of choice regarding some creativity, song selection, arrangement, releases, and live performance.
  • You are giving up the lionís share of profits on CD sales and in some cases, depending upon what kind of deal it is, your merchandise.
  • You may have to give up all or most of your music-publishing rights which is where a lot of, if not most of, the income comes from other than touring.
  • You may sign a record deal with certain options and find that your recordings may never even get released at all.
  • Donít expect the record label to put much money into artist development.  They just donít do that any longer.  They expect you to be fully developed before they sign you.

 

Now, all that negativity about signing a record deal being said, there are still some advantages to signing with a record label.  Record labels will still in most cases put some money into marketing and promotion.  They have the necessary national music distribution channels you will need.  In some cases they will still offer some semblance of tour support.

 

This article briefly touches on the idea of getting signed to a major label or high profile independent record label, and what you may find upon that signing.  If the record deal is still an obsession with you, then you should read future articles where I go into far more details on different types of deals -- ďGood verses BadĒ.  There are many different types of recording contracts and I go through them all.

 

So with the ability and ease, in the today-world of the independent artist -- being able to release your music on your own record label, facilitate your digital music distribution, and collect all the song royalties from the publishing, you may want to think twice before worrying too much about not being signed to a record label and concentrate on doing it all yourself.   After all, you are an Independent Artist Ė and that is essentially the meaning of Indie.   Bottom Line -- You can do it without a label!    You are the label!  I have made this clear to all of my Indie Artists and have walked them though the process.  Donít be a slave to the labels Ė In the today world you just do not have to.  Do not ever forget this!   YOU ARE INDIE !!  Good Luck.

 

©2016   Ken Cavalier   All Rights Reserved Worldwide

 

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