Record Labels


"Yeah, you have a label, but... What's the big deal?" - he asked me. I was so surprised that I didn't really catch the question. I mean - isn't that just obvious? "Well, you've self-released the previous albums as CD-R's, so what's the difference?" Oh. You really don't know.

It seems that people find easy to "know" why signing to a major label is good to an artist. It's easy in fact: "they'll be rich and famous"! Well, that's hardly true. Signing to a major label instead of an indie one has several advantages and disadvantages. As an advantage, a major label has more money to invest in the band. Oh, you didn't know? Having a band costs money, and the bigger the band is the bigger are the costs. You have to pay for instruments, reharsal studio, recording studio, the recordings themselves, producers, manufacturers, publicity, and another bunch of artists - for your artwork, for your image, for your video clips... Having that kind of money give you two direct things: better conditions (like access to the best producers) and better exposure (you need money - not talent - to get your music to air on the radio and your video on TV). Disadvantages are, for instance, the fact that your comissions are way smaller (on non-digital records major label bands usually make 15% while indie label bands usually get 30%), and that indie labels typicly care for you and your art - not seeing you as a product will surely make you feel better and also have better conditions to make your music the way you want, instead of being forced to do it the way it sells.

But, while this explanation fits on peoples minds (well, in fact they keep with the illusion that major labels makes bands rich and famous, and indie labels just make them with a nice sallary and well-known), when they hear about a CD-R label they can't stop thinking "who the fuck needs a CD-R label? What kind of label is that?" Well, since I've done three CD-R (not even CD-A) self-released (one for Mordor and two for Merankorii) I guess I'm entitled to say that even making a CD-R release your have to do an hell of an investiment. And I'm not talking about things like studio and stuff like that, I'm just talking about making the actual physical CD! So, in my case, for instance, this is going to be the first time I'm going to release a CD with the certainty that I won't loose any money by doing so, and I even get the chance to make some money... Adding to that, this is going to be the biggest release, with better quality and better exposure. Of course that having a CD-A instead of a CD-R would be way better, but it would also be more expensive. Way too expensive for most of those who chose to do a CD-R label... If you take a look out there, lot's of indie record labels started by distributors, then distributors and CD-R (and K7 tape) labels, and then finally grew up to be able to do CD-A releases... Take an example of a band I love from an indie lable: Scarling. has all it's discography (which I'm a proud owner of) on the great indie label "Sympathy For the Record Industry". The discography starts with a release of a single in vynil. When it's sold out, another edition of that single was out. And those two editions raised the money for... a CD edition of that CD. And all that was what payed Scarling.'s first CD. And hey, Sympathy has lot's of years in the business, with more than 700 records on stores!

Now, do you understand why CD-R labels are important labels too?