Monday, January 12, 2009

Artist-run own labels. Good idea or bad?

Question: what do you think of artist owned labels? are the way into the future or possibly a bad idea? I mean with a label being run by a band thats signed to it obviously there is conflict of interest firstly there is no quality control if a recording is rubbish and also if there are other bands signed to the label the owners can be seen preferencing their own band ( hence why isis are not signed to hydrahead even though aaron turner runs the label). Just wondering what you think being as shane and mick who are both former earache signees have formed their own label feto. From:

Answer: On paper, it sounds like a great idea for a band to sign with an artist owned label- they'd have the empathy and support from a fellow musician - but the fact is I cannot name a single successful band coming from an artist owned label.By that, I mean a new band which was discovered, signed and marketed by a label operated by a fellow high profile musician. For some mysterious reason, musician-run labels fail to deliver succesful career artists.Its positively weird if you think about it.
Looking back, some of the biggest star names in the metal biz have operated labels at one time- and none have had any lasting success.
Kiss' Gene Simmons had the much-trumpeted Simmons Records during the 80's- with an iconic logo depicting a bag of cash- did he deliver any long term artists? Nope.
Think about Lars Ulrich - one of the biggest selling artists of all time, and a real music fanatic- so he put his money where his mouth is, and during the late 90's he ran a label called 'The Music Company' releasing bands like Systematic and Goudie- ever heard of them? Nah.
Korn's Jonathan Davis ran his own Elementree Records for a while- Deadsy was a minor hit but nothing else springs to mind.
Even Ozzy Osbourne had a label- yes its true- his label was Ozz Records, through Red-Ant in the USA in the late 90's- it was notable for releasing the first Ozzfest compilation CD and lasted about 6 months.
Every Slipknot member has their own label it seems, Shawn does Big Orange Clown signing Gizmachi and the band has 'Maggot recordings' which released DownTheSun.Neither are household names eh?
Honestly speaking, I think that artist labels are for pure vanity at the end of the day.

STOP PRESS: Actually I forgot SST records the label run by Greg Ginn- guitarist of Black Flag- responsible for the careers of so many great punk/alternative bands in the 80's- its fair to say, SST was the defining, trailblazing, peerless Indie label of its time. Husker Du, Descendents, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, St. Vitus even Soundgarden began on SST. And Epitaph, the label formed by Brett Gurewitz, Bad Religions guitar player went on to break The Offspring NOFX & Rancid to worldwide acclaim.Ooops, so there goes my theory!

STOP PRESS 2: In my answer,I wasnt really discussing band's "own" labels, there are a zillion small bands who go the DIY route for their own debut albums- and even some huge bands like Radiohead and NIN, and soon Metallica, who have the fanbase in place to do the DIY thing now.I was only considering artist owned labels, and ones that show the ambition and scope to try to break other fellow bands.With mp3 files via the internet replacing the old fashioned CD retail distribution network, there has never been an easier time to do it- but its still a rare thing that an artist owned label has broken a new act through to major acclaim.


Anonymous said...

i can think of just one...Fat Wreckchords, O&O'd by fat mike from NoFX. pretty succesful label

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and what about Ian Mackaye's label Dischord, and Amphetamine Reptile run by the guy in Halo of Flies...

Anonymous said...

Statistically speaking artist labels don't do very well.

I am guessing the reason alot of them do it is that they've finally wised up to how much publishing money labels actually rump from their bands. This is unfortunately an 'industry standard'.

The average 3-4 minute track on a cd that comes with magazine having an ABC (Accredited Bereau of Circulation) of between 80 - 100k
can earn an artist a mechanical royalty of between 500 to 800 pounds. Most artists never know about this because they're never toldby their label.

This is because 'in house publishing deals rob the artist of any recourse where their publishing is concerned, by placing it in the hands of the label's publishing arm.

What ever % is agreed is never honoured. Mostly the artist will only ever recieve an statement showing how much tey still owe (the recoupables) so to all intent and purpose one ends up workgin for their label for 'nothing'. In todays market, with the 360 deal, the artist or band, more often than not, by signing with a third party is essentially consenting to
to all of the above.

P.s what about your man from Cathedral's labe, they do pretty well?

Digby said...

Suceessful band members nowadays are more interested to form T shirt/ clothing companies than help new bands.Atticus formed by Blink 182 and Famous Stars and Straps by Blink's Travis Barker.They know that file sharing and p2p means no one makes money from music anymore. Todays musicians are too smart.

Curt said...

Also, The Offspring runs Nitro which launched AFI. They are successful enough not to fold.

Anonymous said...

a few more ...

Alternative Tentacles - although originally formed by 2 of the DK members, has been run by Jello since the mid '80s.

Peaceville - Hammy was in some crust & punk bands before he founded the label; home to many well known acts.