Why I Think Artists Should Try The Independent Route Before Signing to Major Labels

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Macklemore and Dej Loaf have made quite the buzz in the Hip-Hop world. But what does a young Detroit female have in common with the 32-year-old engaged rapper from Seattle?

Well, to quote Dej Loaf "Bitch I'm independent." Well what does it mean to be independent? There's no middle man between the artist and their music, fans and money. They have control over what they want. Macklemore has won a Grammy and Dej Loaf just finished touring with Nicki Minaj. Both accomplished those goals independently.

Is this the new change in the music industry? Both artists seem to be doing respectively well. But is going independent really the way to go?

Over the years, artists signed to labels were always somewhat successful over independent artists, but as time changes; the labels aren't supporting artist as they should.

Real talented artists like Sevyn Streeter and Tank aren't supported verses Beyoncé or Chris Brown. Sevyn (Atlantic Records), Melanie Fiona (previously signed, now independent), and Tank (previously signed, now independent) are in the same boat. They're not getting the support they deserve. Tank doesn't even have rights to most of his old music.

Spotify, TIDAL, Apple Music, and other streaming sites are a major reason why independent seems to be the way to go today.

Artists signed to labels don't really have a say in what the label can do with their music (unlike Taylor Swift who pulled all her music off Spotify), and their income for each stream is less than a penny. The artists aren't really getting paid, especially since people always download music illegally. It's hard for most artists to turn a profit.

Even experienced artists like Ciara struggle to sell albums now verses when she first came out in 2005. Eve released her last album "Lip Lock", and although it didn't sell like her past albums; Eve said she did it for the fans, by herself, and she's happy.

Labels collect money from the artists for everything, and whatever is left over goes to the artist. So when people aren't buying music and with the current prices from streaming; the artists make very little.

Record labels today don't support you like they used to unless you have a hit single that gets radio play. But how can the artist have a hit single when the label isn't fully supporting them, and whatever money is collected majority goes to the label instead of the artist?

Social media plays an important part, which leads to self promotion, which is what an independent artist does.

So essentially artists signed to labels are independent artists (to an extent). A lot of artists that actually have talent are over looked by the current hot song (which will get the full treatment and video) verses an artist that will have longevity.

Independent seems to definitely be the way to go for artists in today's industry, Prince himself tells artists don't sign. Labels support you on the rise, then drop you at the sight of a decline. However, that's not the case for all labels.

Independent artists have more control, freedom, and money. They're essentially their own bosses, but to be independent requires a lot of knowledge so you don't play yourself at the end.

For example, many people don't realize or may not know that Iamsu is independent but, he uses major distribution channels to distribute his music at a higher level, like a major label artist, but he avoids the 360 deals.

A good book to read if you want to be in the industry and just be knowledgeable is "All You Need to Know About the Music Business" by Donald Passman. I

ndependent seems to definitely be the way to go, at least in the beginning to test the waters and believe in yourself. Independent artists are their own 360 deals. They provide for themselves and receive their benefits directly.