The music industry has traditionally viewed signing with a major label as the ultimate achievement for artists. However, the rise of social media and the empowered "woke" generation has challenged this perception. In the past, signing one major contract could significantly expand an artist's reach, but now a single viral video can achieve the same effect.
Major labels enticed artists with upfront money, global contacts, and resources, but these advantages came at a cost. Artists were expected to sign contracts that often compromised their financial income, musical ownership, and creative control. Expenses such as songwriters, marketing, and producers had to be paid from the artist's share of profits, which was typically unevenly distributed. In essence, signing with a major label was akin to taking out an overpriced bank loan, providing opportunities without guaranteeing long-term success.
On the other hand, independent artists have embraced self-sufficiency. They build their own audience, market themselves, and retain creative autonomy. Social media platforms like TikTok have reduced gatekeeping and allowed artists to connect directly with consumers. Accessible information and data analytics enable artists to gauge fan preferences and make informed decisions about their careers.
Major labels have commodified artists, often to the detriment of their well-being and long-term success. Some artists have spoken out about mistreatment, while others have been signed without adequate support systems. False marketing through paid campaigns and manipulated streaming numbers also harm artists' careers.
Ownership and royalties remain key factors in the music industry. Major labels often acquire the master rights to recordings, affecting royalty distribution. However, the trend of self-made artists owning their music and leveraging social media has gained momentum. Artists like Raye have demonstrated the power of commodifying individuality and seizing creative control, achieving remarkable success without major label support.
In conclusion, major labels are still prominent in the music industry, but their relevance is being questioned. Adjusting deals and growing artist awareness indicate that major labels may need to adapt to survive. The future longevity of major labels rests on their ability to recognize the changing dynamics and prioritize artists' interests. Only time will tell how long major labels will maintain their hold on the music industry.
By: Stephanie G. ︎