Thanks to our good friend the Internet a lot has changed in the music industry. Seriously. A lot. The words “independent label” or “self released” or “major release” get thrown around a lot and I think some clarification is deserved on this topic. So the next few Music Lessons will be a series that will hopefully clear up any label confusion. This weeks lesson: Major labels.
It used to be that you needed to get signed to a major label to “make it”, so to speak. In other words, if you want to be able to schedule a tour, have proper marketing, record production, and decent recording facilities – you need money and the label’s resources. With the Internet, mp3’s, myspace, and blogs the power got shoved back into the hands of the artists themselves and suddenly getting signed wasn’t a necessity.
That being said, naturally major labels still exist. Today there are “the big four” – EMI, Sony, Warner, and Universal. If a band is signed to a “major” they are on the list with one of these four labels. Naturally, it isn’t exactly this easy. Each of these four labels owns an incredible list of labels within themselves, called sublabels. For example, if an artist is signed to Interscope records, that is a sublabel of Universal.
The big question is, are artists signed to sublabels then considered to be signed to major labels? Yes. Why? We’ll get into that next week.