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Why It’s Better to Steer Clear of Record Label Contracts


Thanks to the internet, and the rise of popular platforms such as Youtube, Myspace and Soundcloud, it is now easier than ever for independent artists to blow up into global superstars, without ever needing to sign a major record label deal.

In 2016, Chance The Rapper broke new ground, when his mixtape ‘Coloring Book’ became the first ‘streaming-only’ album to win a grammy. Since then, other artists in the industry are starting to realize that they don’t need to bend the knee to major record labels, just to get their music out there. If you’re an up and coming independent artist, here’s why you should steer clear of record label contracts.

Record Label Contracts Can Lose You A lot of Money

Some seem to think that signing record label contracts will guarantee them fame and riches, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, some artists have lost money by signing themselves to a record label. Make sure you don’t make the same mistake.

You might look at big artists in the industry like Kanye and Taylor Swift, and think that if they can make millions off each album, so can you. However, the average new artist only makes about $25 for every $1000 worth of album sales, that’s just over 2%. Most of the money goes toward production and marketing costs, and after that, the record label keeps the rest.

However, by staying independent, your album sales may not generate as much revenue, but at least you’ll get to keep a bigger piece of the pie for yourself.

They Don’t Approach You Until You’re Already Popular

You’ve probably heard stories of talented artists performing to a crowd of 10 uninterested people when a record label manager approaches them and hands them a business card. Such stories are few and far between. Most record labels aren’t willing to risk investing in a complete unknown. They want someone who already has their own online following of loyal fans that are willing to buy their music and merchandise.

But there’s the catch; if you already have a big enough social media following, you don’t need a record label. You can launch a successful music career online all on your own, using social media and music hosting platforms. As you grow your following, brands may even choose to sponsor you.

You’ll Lose Your Creative Freedom

All the biggest radio hits in a specific genre sound more or less the same, if you really listen to them. That’s because record labels try to pinpoint the exact sounds that people want to listen to, and then mass manufacture songs that sound exactly the same. If you want to do something experimental, or express your creativity in unique ways, a record label may not allow you to do that. They’ll take your work and hire producers and ghost writers to turn it into something you don’t even recognize.

Now That You Know

Hopefully, this article helped convince you that you don’t need a major record label contract. Just keep putting out music on your own, and you’ll develop your own audience in no time.