Wiggling Their Way To Musical Success Without A Label

from the it's-not-needed dept

Again, no one is saying that there’s no place for music labels any more — in fact, we think there’s a huge place for them if they can help a band that doesn’t want to build a business by itself. However, for bands that are willing to go entirely without a label, it’s certainly possible to be a success (and, before someone misinterprets this, no one is saying success is guaranteed either). Tim Lash points us to a CNN interview with The Wiggles, the massively popular pop band for toddlers. The whole interview is interesting, but the most interesting part is the explanation of how the band went it alone. Two of the original members had been on a label-signed band before (The Cockroaches) and knew they didn’t want to go through it again — even though this was in the early 1990s, before the web and before all these alternatives had sprung up:

The model for nearly everything we do is self-financed. We own everything and create it ourselves.

We wanted to keep financial and creative control. The Cockroaches’ record label had taken some control over their work, and we wanted to avoid that type situation. With our background, we know what’s good for children and what’s best for The Wiggles. No one else had done what we were doing.

While it sounds like, early on, the band handled the business on an ad hoc basis, they later got help from some business managers who have helped to guide the band’s strategies over the years.

Of course, as with all of these examples, someone will certainly pop up in the comments and complain that there’s nothing new or different about this story. And that’s true. But that’s the point. All of this could have been done years before, but it was much more difficult. What modern technology has done is made it much easier for musicians to control their own destiny, if they decide that’s what they want to do.

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Comments on “Wiggling Their Way To Musical Success Without A Label”

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Chunky Vomit says:

There’s nothing new or different about this story.

There. Now that we got that part out of the way…

You are certainly right in that labels will never be totally out of place in this world. Not every good musician is also good enough at business to be able to make it without somebody helping them out.

At the same time, it is great to see those bands who are able and competent at going out on their own doing so without having to rely on a huge company.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wow, I can hardly believe the Wiggles don’t have a label. How many millions of dollars have they grossed with songs like Fruit Salad?

Every toddler enjoys this group, and I can’t get over that someone can have that level of success without having to sign away their rights to a corporate agency.

Great article. By the way, the Cockroaches?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The Cockroaches seem to have been mostly popular down under. You can get their best of on iTunes. 90’s era pop band 5 or 6 guys.

As a veteran of half a dozen Wiggles concerts I can tell you they put on pretty good show for the little ones with enough entertainment for the adults. I certainly preferred the Wiggles to Miley Cyrus as my daughters favorite car music.

They do quite well filling large venues like the Verizon Center in DC with the under 6 crowd and their parents. They seem to pass through DC twice a year with three to four shows a visit. Their concession stand sells all sorts of things beyond T-Shirts and hats including pillows, feather swords, dinosaur tails, octopus feet skirts, flashlights… It is no wonder that the Wiggles were Australia’s most profitable entertainers a few years ago and probably still are.

They just moved from Disney Channel to PBS’s Sprout this fall. The ABC in the refereced article on CNN is the Australian Broadcasting Network not that other one.

Joseph Durnal (user link) says:

Never knew

I don’t go around thinking much about how music, video, and other art is produced and distributed, but I guess we have been trained to assume that big acts have a big label behind them.

I’ve been to a Wiggles concert, my wife to a few, with our children of course. We also own several Wiggles DVDs and even some VHS tapes (I’ve had a hard time finding DVDs of some of their older titles), and they often appear on the TV in the play room.

The Mad Hatter (profile) says:

Tom Smith

You should check out Tom Smith. Tom is one of the funniest people that I know. And yes, this is an unashamed plug for a person that I really like, and who’s music that I enjoy. Tom used to work in a bank, but he’s now a full time musician, with no label. He does it all himself. Check out:


You can also find his music on ITunes.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:


I’ve always been interested in personality branding. Oprah, Martha Stewart, and the Olsen Twins have been some of the best examples.

In light of this thread and Techdirt’s position on trademarks, copyrights, and so, does anyone want to weigh in on this from the article?

I don’t see us over-extending the brand. It’s more a matter of getting into licensed products that are in keeping with what The Wiggles are all about, like eating healthy foods. We endorse yogurts and fruit juices in Australia. We stay with the preschool, family market. We really haven’t made any deals that have gone bad.

Yeebok (profile) says:

Go the Wiggles

The wiggles are very cool. They’re something of a national treasure in a way. I think the point whichever Wiggle was speaking is trying to make that they don’t go for the “Krusty the Clown” merchandising method – they will endorse fruit juices and healthy things.

I think if anything the Wiggles have worked hard and deserve any and all success they can get.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Go the Wiggles

I was curious about the Techdirt position on selling licensing rights as opposed to making them freely available.

The Wiggles, like other forms of branded entertainment, cut deals to use their name in association with various products. Celebrities do it all the time with Target, K-Mart, WalMart, etc.

Michael Ho (profile) says:

Re: Re: Go the Wiggles

I can’t speak for Masnick, but I’ll say that licensing deals are just fine… but the Wiggles or the celebrity who accepts those deals (or demands those deals) should know where the value is. If a knockoff sock-maker wants to put Wiggles faces on baby booties, the Wiggles should probably recognize that maybe there’s a market for authentic Wiggles baby socks and instead of battling a fruitless legal claim — try to create merchanidise that only the Wiggles can offer. Or if the Wiggles sock market isn’t really worth their time, that it’s actually a promotional benefit for someone else to be making Wiggles socks, even without their authorization….

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