Published on May 26th, 2016 | by FuNkwoRm


Artists: Indie Labels Can Be Worse Than Majors

Nowadays, being independent is the only way to go if you’re trying to break into the music industry. These days no one, and I mean NO ONE, is going to pay any attention to you if you haven’t built up some type of buzz independently.

This makes any artist investment low risk for any major label. If you’re hot then investing in your potential is less of a gamble to them. But you must know that going the independent route is not quite as easy as most artists think it is. Breaking an artist takes a significant amount of time, quality relationships, and money. And I’m not talking about the kind of money you spent buying those fake Instagram followers. Videos, marketing, tours, and recording, to name a few, all take the kind of investment that most artists, starting out, can’t afford.

This lack of financial resources makes artists very vulnerable to sign with anyone who promises to put up the cash to help launch their careers. There are production companies and indie labels with little more than a name, a logo, and a small budget that are willing to sign some of these artists to a contract if they believe in their potential.

Many artists sign these contracts with an “I’ve got nothing to lose”, attitude that they later discover was a huge mistake. Because in some cases the artist can’t afford an attorney, these contracts are signed with little or no professional counsel at all. The brutal unfairness contained in some of these contacts are like something out of a horror flick that can lock an artist’s career up for years. Artists soon learn that it’s very hard to get out of a bad deals and that takes hiring someone who is an expert on these matters to represent them.

One of the latest examples of this involved Young Thug. Young Thug signed an exclusive deal with Gucci Mane’s 1017 Brick Squad. Feeling trapped and cheated in the Brick Squad deal, Young Thug signed to a major label reportedly for just a $15,000 advance without letting them know that he was legally bound by contract to Gucci Mane. This of course resulted in a messy relationship with his new label.

I’ve seen artists afraid to hire an entertainment attorney because they were afraid that they would ruin an opportunity. And I’ve also seen these labels straight intimidate artists into not seeking one at all. It’s really not worth it. In most cases these small labels have no successful track record, team, or money sufficient enough to take an artist from obscurity to buzzworthy. Artist, if they’re lucky to break free from one of these relationships, lose some of the best creative years of their career and no rights to the recordings made while they were signed. But as depicted in Straight Outta Compton, guys like Suge Knight were known to use “alternative” measures to free artists from these uncompromising agreements.

Artist have to keep in mind that any person or company that suggests that you do not need the advice of counsel before signing with them is a definite red flag. And please don’t use your Uncle Charles to negotiate your contract because he haggles great at the flea market. This is serious business and it’s important to seek the advice of someone who is knowledgable about the music industry.

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About the Author

FuNkwoRm is a music producer, creator of the hip hop comic strip, Rap Ratz, and has a dope backspin.

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