Small, independent, labels have been the traditional means for independent and new artists to attempt to get their music local and regional airplay, or penetration in certain target market regions. As with those who attempt to send tapes to record companies, this also has proven a disappointing approach for many young and aspiring artists.
As with the five (5) major record labels, independent labels are in the business to make money. At some point you will have made the original investments and assumed the financial risks. In many instances the artist pays to produce a legal union project and the indie label takes the risks on the promotion and marketing of the CD and the artist. If the artist pays for the production of the CD, they should have a copy of the union card for all of the recording sessions and control the master tape, which should be kept in a safety deposit box or similar storage.
You will want to visit the indie label’s web site to check out how easy it is to recall the company’s name, how much traffic the web site gets, and how many artists are listed on the website. If it is a website with a lot of artists, and a site where artists can post and create their own web pages using a template/wizard authoring tool, you may find you will run the risk of getting buried in the basket. This will not get you noticed by the general public, nor the major labels. Therefore, it will not help you to sell CDs, t-shirts, or took get bookings for live gigs, and other forms of promotion and revenue generation.
You should also have your own attorney and accountant/manager in these negotiation processes with an independent label. If you are also the songwriter, you may also wish to consider setting up your own publishing company and registering the copyrights to your ownership with the Library of Congress. It is also advisable to do research on your own regarding copyright and contracts law.
However, there are those indie labels who do try and with some results who help new artists achieve success by making some sales, getting bookings, and some airplay. A reputable indie label these days has their own web site, which isn’t the type that any artist can post their MP3 clips and a one page web site there. A professional indie site for an artists should have full feature, bio, contact/e-mail, audio clips, on-line CD sales, on-line order form, and other artist information and promotional items. These independent labels also have their own web site and domain name, such as Independent-Artists.com
In addition to hosting clips for their artists to help promote, they should also provide a custom web site at their site/server, arrange CD sales on-line (both direct from the artists and through outlets such as CDNow and Amazon.com), help build and manage mailing lists & on-line fan clubs, and to drive traffic to the artist’s web site, CD sales and contacts..