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Indie Label Record Deals: Pros and Cons

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When it comes to getting a record deal, finding the right "fit" with a label is the most important thing - but are you likely to fit in better at an indie label or a major label? Here, take a look at the pros and cons of working with an indie, and don't forget to check out the pros and cons of working with a major label before you make any final decisions about which kind of label is right for you.

Indie Label Deals - Pros

  1. They Love Your Music: Indie labels generally have the freedom to work with whomever they like. There isn't the pressure that there is at major labels to sacrifice your tastes in favor of seeking out chart success, so when you get signed to an indie label, in almost every instance it is because the label is a big fan of your music. That means that they'll be working extra hard for you because they believe in what you're doing.

  2. Close Working Relationships: Because indie labels have smaller staffs and smaller 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 answer to whatever question is on their mind with an indie, there is a much better chance of it happening than there is with a major.

  3. 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.

Indie Label Deals - Cons

  1. Money: Money came in the number one spot on the "pros" column for the majors, and it definitely tops the list of the "cons" for indies. Some indie labels are sitting pretty financially, but most small indies are just trying to stay afloat. That means they don't have the money to fund an all out media assault like the majors and that 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 things a major can throw at you. With indie labels, you're usually going to have to remain financially invested in your own music career.

  2. Disorganization: Not every indie label is disorganized, but the informal nature of operations at many smaller indie labels means things can get a tad bit confusing. For you as an artist, this means that sometimes things may slip through the crack, or it can be hard to figure out things like accounting.

  3. Size: Size is another factor that was in the "pro" list for the majors. Although the size of indie labels have their upside - it is the smaller size that makes them more accessible to their artists - there is also a downside. They don't have the purchasing power of major labels, and because they have a small roster, they have fewer strings to pull with the press.

Learn More About Indie Labels and Record Deals

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