Every artist's ultimate goal is to sign a recording contract with either a major record label or even with an independant record label. It reprensents success and accomplishments for many of them, but they don't really understand the true reason of why they want it and what a record label can do for them.
Market standards in the music industry created this false impression where every artists need a label at all cost and that you cannot be truly successful without one. The truth is each artist's career is different and all have different needs depending on the musical genre, your demographic target market, where you live, if you're a rookie singer/songwriter or a well established local artist etc.
First of all, you need to understand what you can benefit from a record label. If we are talking about a major or a big independant label, they have a lot of budget and it is most likely that if they like you and think you fit well in the overall market place, they will invest a lot in marketing and promotion cost. When I say a lot, I mean a looooooooot of money, enough to put you on the map.
But apart from the economic aspect, also think about all the connection those people have. They've been doing this for many years and are dedicated to their public relation because it is directly related to the success of their businesses.
In addition to that, there is also their own knowledge of the music industry and the business side of it. As a musician you can probably write amazing song but let's be real, you may have a difficult time to handle all the different aspect of your career as a business. From grants, marketing, strategic planning, effective social media communication to promotion, a record label can help you with a lot.
Now I hear you saying ''Yeah but if it can help me that much why shouldn't I try to sign with a record label?''. Well first of all because nowadays even though you might be hearing that the music industry is going bad it's not, it is changing that's all. That means there is a lot of competition out there, more than ever ; record labels, from the small to the big ones, will want to find the real gem that will stand out on the market. For that reason, you need to be ready when you approach a label because if you don't look like you are commited 100% to your career as an artist and are not professional, you wont generate enough interest.
Also, you need to be aware that when you are signed to a record label, they will assist you with artistic direction, will want you to deliver new music and be commited to your career as I said earlier. At the early steps of your career it might be good for you to work on your creative process and figure out what you really want because if you engage with a third party as a record label or even a manager, you might feel pressure if you're not ready to pursue this path as seriously as they will.
I think the point is that record labels can help you a lot with your career obviously. The only thing to remember is to ask yourself if you are at a point in your career that you really need one, or if you should focus on developing yourself as an artist. Know that you only get one chance for the first impression and when you will feel ready for this, try to generate as much interest around you as possible.
A & R at Father & Son Records
© Photo by Lee Campbell