PART 2: What my friends who are signed to major labels are telling me about the music industry

As I mentioned in part 1 of this blog, a lot of my friends are either signed to major labels or have been in
the recent past. I ask them for advice frequently, since they’re able to give me the inside scoop. So many people are chasing the illusive “record deal,” but we often don’t know what to expect once we get it. Like I did in my last blog post, I am going to
share some advice given to me by signed artists. This
is real insight, unfiltered. I won’t mention their names because it
might cause an issue with people who they work with currently. However, it is valuable information that everybody who is considering a career in the music industry should know.


“I am signed to the biggest label for my style of music, but the only thing is they handle bigger names than the group I am in. We have an album out right now and nobody even knows it. We wanted the single to be out by now because we’re playing at some pretty big festivals coming up, but so far I don’t know when it is going to be released. And I don’t want to just release other music we have to the public because our album is great and we really want to get it out there. I’m not saying I don’t want to be on the label anymore, because they do get us good work, we’re obviously not being ignored and all things considered, we’re doing well. So I would suggest when you sign, you have to learn to be patient in the beginning, or you will be feeling a lot of stress.”

That is a recurring theme among artists I know who get signed, things take time and it’s not always going to move at lightening speed like you’d want it to. So much has to be figured out before a project gets a big push. In this situation his album is already released and the single hasn’t been pushed yet, so I have to be honest, I don’t understand what’s going on. However, his group is getting some substantial work, and I think before this year is up they are going to be huge. Still, I can understand his frustration.

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“Really, I am glad I’m not on a label anymore. One thing that happened to us and a lot of people is artists get signed and spend too much time partying. You be thinking it’s all good because you got cars and you’re in VIP and you’re doing shows and kicking it, but that’s where they mess up at. ‘Cause while you’re partying, people are stealing. Next thing you know the money ain’t coming back to you, and you don’t know where it went or who took it. Now that I’m not on a major label I can actually do more than if I was signed and I can watch my money. Major labels aren’t bad, but for people who don’t know the business they might as well quit while they’re ahead, because this is a thinking man’s game.”

He raised a good point with this. So many artists are in the music game for the money and the parties and the prestige. That is the exact attitude that will leave an artist penniless. An artist can’t blame a label for their own lack of knowledge as it relates to the industry, it is the artist’s responsibility to learn. This is not a business built around the love of music, it is built around using music and brand to generate profit. If that does not make sense to you, go take a few music business classes at your local college. If it still doesn’t make sense to you after that, take a few days to find another line of work.

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“After being on a major for the first few years of my career, being signed to the one I’m with now is different, ’cause it’s like a major independent label. I have my audience who is real loyal, so the label keeps me touring and I’m pretty satisfied with them. It’s crazy though, because now I see more money than I did on the major label. You know, the level of exposure is different. But it’s working for me, can’t really complain. Would I recommend you sign with a major if you had the chance? Yes, because what you are doing is new, a label could market it right. You have to be ready to give up some control though.”

That concerns me. That is why I am not constantly chasing a label deal or jumping at the first offers that get thrown my way. I guess I’m afraid to relinquish control to an entity that might not understand where I am trying to go with my music. At the same time, would I love to have the input of professionals who know how to take a new artist and launch their career? Hell yes, I would! And also, there are quite a few independent labels who are having major success right now that do business differently than major labels do traditionally. Ultimately, when you sign a deal with any label you have to be ready to give up something. I guess it just boils down to whether the sacrifice is worth it.


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“For me, I didn’t chase my deal. They approached me. And the business that I was doing before we did a deal, they didn’t get a piece of that when I signed, it’s all separate. It’s different, everything has to be strategically planned. You can’t just make a song and then be like “This is hot! I’m gonna post this on Facebook right now” because you might have just leaked a song that would have been a your big single if the label had heard it first. But I like working with a major, it just makes all of your efforts bigger. I am still recording but now they pay for my studio time. I’m still touring but now I’m doing bigger shows. I’m still making a living, but now I am making money from more revenue sources than before. So you won’t have a bad time on a label, people who do are people who rushed into a contract or somehow got signed without an infrastructure in place first. I’m not like #1 priority with my label but my infrastructure is in place so that in time I can be. It’s a job. It’s not an alternative to a job like people think, it IS a job.”

I agree with that, I totally work my career like a job. This is the type of advice that makes me wanna hang in there and keep working, because it supports my belief that hard work pays off. And you know I am always looking for things to reaffirm that belief. LoL.

I hope you found these 2 blogs helpful. If you haven’t already, check out part 1 of this entry. My new mixtape Roses N’ Guns 2 is coming soon. Hope you’re ready for it. It’s gonna be a hell of a ride :o)


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  • Great blog entry Nikki. Call me when you get a chance. I'm starting a new show in 2 weeks on PBS.
    Love ya' babe.

    Garrard McClendon

  • In reply to GarrardMcClendon:

    Send me your number please, I had to replace my phone & lost a lot of important contacts, yours included.

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