Indie Record Deals: Assesing the Pros and Cons

Elements to Consider When Signing With a Label

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When it comes to getting a record deal, finding the right "fit" with a label is critical - but are you likely to click better with an indie or a major record company? Let's take a look at the benefits and downsides of working with an indie, and check out the pros and cons of working with a major label for a full 360 view.

Pros

Respect for Your Music: Indie labels generally have the freedom to work with whomever they like.

There's no pressure like you'd find at major labels to sacrifice your tastes in favor of seeking chart success. When you get signed to an indie label, in almost every instance it's because the label is a huge fan of your music; that translates into dedication because they believe in what you're doing.

Close Working Relationships: Because indie labels have smaller staffs and tighter rosters, it's easier for musicians to develop a close relationship with the people working on their record. Although it's not always the case that artists can pick up the phone and get an immediate answer, the odds of closer communication are great than they are with a major label.

Artist-Friendly Deals: Some larger indie labels have relatively complex contracts, but smaller indies often do business on little more than a handshake and a profit split agreement. You seldom find indie labels demanding any measure of creative control over their artists, and most indies don't lock their artists into long-term, multi-album contracts.

Cons

Money: While money is the top reason to sign with a major label, it definitely tops the list of negatives for indies. While some indie labels are sitting pretty financially, most small operations are just trying to stay afloat. That means they usually don't have the coffers to fund an all out media blitz like the majors and they often have to get creative with promotion ideas.

They also can't afford big advances, fancy packaging, large recording budgets, tour support and other pretty perks a major can charm you with. With indie labels, you'll usually have to remain financially invested in your own music career.

Disorganization: Not every indie label is disorganized, but the informal nature of operations at many smaller indie labels means some elements can get a tad bit confusing. For you as an artist, you might find that sometimes details may slip through the crack, or it may be hard to figure out processes that aren't quite formalized, like accounting, for instance.

Size: The size factor is on the "pro" list for signing with a major labor. Although the intimate size of indie labels have their upside in terms of closer and more accessible relationships, there is also a downside. They don't have the purchasing power of major labels, and with a small roster, they have fewer strings to pull with the press.

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