Ten Reasons Why Record Labels Are Still Important
1. Money. Good luck finding anyone else that will lend your band money to record an album that will only ask for that money to be paid back if the record is successful.
2. Time. Sure, with all the access the Internet offers and the general decrease in price of making and distributing music, these days you CAN do lots of the things on your own that only labels used to be able to do. Examples: publicity (contacting websites/magazines), getting your music on iTunes/Amazon/etc (distribution), finding and hiring a cover artist, manufacturing CDs, creating music videos, setting up a webstore, packing and shipping orders, etc etc etc. But do you really have the time to do all this stuff? And furthermore, to do it well?
3. Expertise. Let’s say you actually do have the time to do everything noted above in #2. Even then, do you really think you can handle an album publicity campaign as well as someone who’s been doing it full time for years? Are you going to do as good of a job dealing with artwork dimensions and specifications as someone who’s a professional graphic designer? Can you really do ANYTHING as well as someone who does it for living? Your job is to make awesome music: focus on that.
4. Team. The more people working for you and your cause, the better.
5. Connections. Sure, it’s possible that your unsolicited email to the MetalSucks inbox could land your band a feature on the site. But someone who knows us well, deals with us every day and is a source whose tastes we trust is going to have a much easier time of even getting us to read the email and listen to the music than some random name amongst hundreds of others.
6. Legitimization. Most metal fans are more likely to give the time of day to bands that have a record label’s seal of approval. We just do; it’s fact.
7. Touring. Good luck finding a booking agent to take on an unsigned band, no matter how popular. And while many smaller bands on metal labels don’t even have agents themselves, a record label’s request is sometimes all it takes to land the band an opening spot on a big tour.
8. Industry buzz. It might seem lame, but the bands who people within the industry are talking about are the ones who get the magazine covers and the coveted spots on the cool tours. And, unfortunately, it’s a lot harder (near impossible) to get anyone in the industry to buzz about your band unless they’ve got some financial interest in you. If you owned a record label, wouldn’t you sign bands that you like based on your personal taste, then push for those bands to succeed? Of course you would. Those who work in the industry are no different… in the end, they’re just fans.
9. Security. Most labels want to bands to sign long-term deals. While a long-term deal primarily prevents a band from walking away if they end up being successful from the start, it can also be beneficial for the band: unless your record(s) is a complete flop that shits the bed, the label is probably going to keep putting out your records for the duration of the contract because they’ve already invested a lot of money and time into your career and, ultimately, metal is a career-based genre (not one based on one-hit wonders).
10. Bands still want record labels. You’re in a band and you’re reading this, aren’t you?