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
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 14 May 2012 @ 3:48am

    "Beholden to your fans"

    So making material your fans actually want, rather than just making what some drivel that hits a focus group flowchart just right?

    A short story by TAC...
    Band X started out posting videos on the internet. Their big success was being featured on The Promo Bay, where they uploaded all of their videos and previous tracks. They got international exposure and used Kickstarter to raise money for their new album and to film a "behind the scenes" special for people who donated. Band X gets triple what they sought to raise on Kickstarter.
    Band X is still touring today, they lack the flash and polish and don't get the blanket radio coverage of "the big groups" and somehow are still selling out venues. They are making more than they ever would with a label, because the fee's for travel and promotion aren't being billed against any revenue they might earn in the future that have to be paid back. They stay within their means and manage to keep turning out music the fans buy. Even the weird rock opera project they worked on did ok, but was a real departure.

    Band X will never be called a success by "the business".
    They are making music they like, making money, and are living well. But because they don't have a big label pushing them they can't be a success.

    I think alot of bands would prefer being "beholden" to their fans, instead of beholden to a corporation who is more concerned about their bottom line instead of keeping the fans engaged. Corporations who just want to own the copyrights and make sure that the corporate coffers are filled.

    The dream of being a "Rock Star" where you stay in hotels, fly on your own plane around the globe, own 5 homes is long dead. Look at what happened to the big acts of yesterday. They had all of this grand "success" until the label found the new younger version of them and moved on. Then we see them living in homeless shelters and can't understand why a "rock star" is now penniless and destitute. They wrote songs that are still being used on TV and in Films... how is it they have nothing?

    Success is should not be measured in how many exotic cars you can buy, it should be measured in how happy you are and if the fans are still happy with you. Bands now can make money just by being a "top band" being paid with money that should have gone to some up and coming artists... but they aren't big enough to deserve a payment for the collection society.

    Music, it works alot like a ponzi scheme. The new artists have to toil long and hard to make it to the top, but it seems to come at the expense of the new acts that come after them who are trying to claw their way up to. And somewhere there are a bunch of executives in suits who will make the same if not more money no matter who the "top act" is.

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