I am always curious about what artists expect from a relationship with a label in today’s environment. So I asked our artists a few questions – since there are different perspectives I want to bring them all to you. This makes the blog a bit long so I will break it up into 2 blogs with 2 questions posted today and 3 more next week. Thanks to the artists for taking their time to help me out here!
1. Why did you choose to partner with a label?
Jason Gray: I was an independent artist for about 10 years before I signed, and I suppose I grew up in the school of thought that you needed a label if you hoped to grow your career in a certain way – with radio support, distribution, and retail promotion. But having been an independent artist for so long, I was well aware that you can have a viable career without a label, too. Probably in the back of my mind I still held out hope that being signed to a label was kind of like the magic bullet that would solve a lot of challenges in my life – booking for myself, radio exposure, management, etc. I was kind of burnt out and was hoping for help. But at the same time I knew better than that – that there is no magic bullet, and so I was holding those two thoughts in tension as I entered into a relationship with Centricity Music. I guess the right way to describe it is that I was cautiously optimistic.
I had been relatively content as an independent, but was also ready for a new adventure. And so I thought I’d try this for a season. I probably work harder as a signed artist than I ever did as an indie -which is saying a lot! There are more opportunities, but they do require more sacrifice to realize their potential. There is more pressure, more people to answer to (and to disappoint!), but there is also more support, more focus, and it is nice to feel like I’m not the only one pushing the boulder up the hill, even if it’s a bigger boulder
But most of all, it’s just a great new adventure that I feel very grateful for, and if you go into it with that mindset as opposed to thinking of a record contract as a magic bullet that will make everything better, you’ll be able to enjoy the ride more. I think this attitude also helps to be content as an independent artist, too, if you know this. It’s mostly a different kind of scenery.
Brad Rempel (High Valley): We wanted to broaden our audience and take the opportunity to gain exposure to staff that had experience in various areas of producing, creativity, marketing etc.
Seth Mosley(Me in Motion): to have a team of people around me sharing the same vision for my career and my music. I realize that I am only one person and can’t do everything on my own. It takes an entire team of talented, persistent people to make things happen in this industry.
Jason Germain (downhere): A label is a multiplier in the whole music business equation with the exception of profit in which it is a divider. We choose to partner with a label because we take some elements of profit from out of the equation. The math only makes sense in light of the other streams of revenue the greater exposure brings along side. Even as exposure is concerned a label can only bring greater light to something already visible. That’s what I mean by labels being a multiplier.
Josiah Warneking (Sixteen Cities): being an indie band for over 3 years, we found we needed to partner with a label to reach a broader audience than we were able to reach alone. Some aspects of the music industry seemed “closed” to independent artists, such as radio possibilities, distribution, and access to funds for high quality albums.
2. What did you expect the label to do for your career?
Seth Mosley: not necessarily to be an end all, be all. There must be something there already before a label steps in, namely, great songs, and a model that works as it is. I expected the label to step in, and come alongside me in what I am already doing, providing the resources and relationships to further my platform and my ministry. As a byproduct of all these things, is increased visibility and exposure in the marketplace.
Jason Germain: I expected that a label would bring a larger audience to the table by finding a larger market for my music than I could find on my own.
Josiah Warneking: I’m not sure we truly knew what to expect when signing to a Centricity (our label). However, we were ready to see our band rise to a more professional level, and access parts of the industry we hadn’t seen before. Overall we knew our label would help us achieve new platforms for sharing our music with the world, especially in regards to recording, marketing, and being “legitimized”, so to speak.
Brad Rempel: We expected to become a little more “well known” and when given the opportunity to perform in front of larger audiences, have a much better product to give / sell both on stage performance wise and on our actual albums.
Jason Gray: I hoped for a team of people to partner with to see where the Lord might take my ministry, and that’s what I got. I guess, not knowing how the industry worked – and who does right now? It’s in a constant state of flux – I had hoped it would be like I could collapse at the end of the long marathon of being an indie, I had hoped it would mean I would finally get help with things like booking and management. But in reality, it was more like reaching what I thought was the finish line and discovering that I was in an Iron Man race and now had to start the 3 mile swim!
I still booked for myself for the next three years and couldn’t find management. It was like being an indie, but now I also had to answer to a record label and their whole new list of demands (like going out on the road for weeks at a time on radio promotion tours but with no income). So it meant much more work and sacrifice, but in return I also got a great team of people doing their best to maximize my efforts. And again, even when it was challenging, I was grateful to at least be on a new adventure and to be working with people I love and who helped give me direction.