Musicians Realizing They Don't Need Major Labels Anymore

from the hello,-kickstarter dept

Music reality TV has become a key feeding ground for the major labels lately. Shows like American Idol, the Voice, X Factor and the like seem to be where the labels have been picking up some of their bigger name stars lately -- allowing the shows to help build up an initial following and then picking off the stars with typical record label deals. Except... it appears that some of those musicians are realizing that they don't need the labels any more. Jordis Unga, a singer who has appeared on two reality TV shows (Rock Star: INXS and The Voice), has decided that she doesn't need to sign a label deal. While she didn't win on either show, she did build up quite a following, and she decided that for her debut album, she might as well just hit up Kickstarter, and ask for $33,000. Which she got. In less than a day. In the first day alone her project on Kickstarter raised over $50,000.

Now, perhaps some will complain that she is now beholden to her fans, but that seems a lot better than being beholden to a multinational conglomerate who claims all ownership and control of your work. Others, quite reasonably, will point out that she built up some of this following by being on two prime time network national TV shows. That's absolutely true. No one is saying that the trick to being a successful musician today is to just go on reality TV. But the point is that if you can build up a following -- in any way possible -- the need for a record label diminishes. And there are more and more and more ways to build up that audience today. If the labels aren't worried about these alternatives, they're not paying very much attention.

Filed Under: american idol, jordis unga, reality tv, the voice, x factor
Companies: kickstarter

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  1. icon
    Karl (profile), 15 May 2012 @ 3:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Celebrity Mentality

    The ones selling their own cassettes and CDs at shows were "making it" as much (or even more) than those who are "making it" now without a label.

    Suzanne, I've been making music since the 1980's, and I was doing exactly the type of things that you are talking about. I've also known many musicians over the years who have done the same.

    And at least as far as me and the musicians I know are concerned, you are mistaken. It is far easier to make money now than it was in the 1980's or 1990's.

    Certainly the process hasn't changed: get the word out, tour as much as possible, sell directly to fans, etc. And most musicians (myself included) never even broke even, and probably never will.

    But there is no way that someone like Amanda Palmer would have been able to get $200K for making an album without a label. Even I, who make almost nothing, have been able to get more gigs, with more people in them, than I ever could in even the early 2000's. And it's largely due to the internet.

    The internet doesn't just allow bands to connect with fans; it also allows fans to connect with each other - which is just as important. Especially with underground music, the ability for fans to connect with each other directly (and I include file sharing here) allows people from around the world to unite tiny local "scenes." This makes it easier for musicians to connect with those worldwide fans. But more importantly, that worldwide connection causes those local scenes to actually grow.

    I've personally seen this happen: bands that were drawing a handful of people in the 1980's-1990's retired, but are now coming out of retirement to play shows for hundreds or even thousands of people.

    I remember the shows in the 1980's. They were much smaller than they are now. For example, have you seen the crowds at the early shows of the classic punk bands, like the Misfits or the Dead Kennedys? They were tiny. Even I pull in more people than that at my own shows nowadays, and I'm nobody.

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