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The music label brick wall: does it still exist?
It’s weird – twenty years ago, without a label or an agent, your music career was basically going nowhere big. You would wallow in obscurity, playing small concerts, and hoping for a break. In 2012, all you do is put up a great song on YouTube or somewhere similar, watch it go viral, release an album via iTunes (all set up by yourself, of course), and watch as your artistic dreams rapidly transform into a living.
So are music labels still a dream you need to pursue? Arguably, yes, but they are no longer the only viable option should you wish to turn the day job into a musical one. Some talented people keep what they’re truly incredible at as a hobby due to restrictions – location, publicity, and so on. But in the digital age, anything is possible. Don’t live in Vegas, but talented at cards? Head to partypoker and make your dream career come true. Making games? Newgrounds. But most importantly, making music? iTunes, Spotify, BandCamp, SoundCloud, YouTube, MySpace… being successful no longer involves a board room.
The best part is creative control – there’s no record label executive telling you that your album isn’t “pop-esque” enough, or that you’re going to have to go with the album design that you didn’t like. You are free and in control, and that is something that a label simply cannot offer you – they will always have to do right by their research. Unfortunately, that also means you don’t benefit from their expertise, marketing push, and all the services they offer, so you’ll be doing their jobs as well as yours.
If that still doesn’t put you off, then good for you – going down the indie route is more viable than it has ever been before. So don’t be afraid – just be driven and ambitious.