The Benefits Of Choosing An Indie Label Over A Major Label By Musicians Reed Louis Jeune, founder of the Trill Corporation independent label, outlines the possibilities
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According to Reed Louis Jeune, getting that all-important record deal has to be the primary goal of most aspiring musicians. Yet, while many imagine that they'll sign up to one of the top three major labels – Warner Records, Universal or Sony – in fact, those major labels on represent a small percentage of the world's musician population.
Indie record labels rank amongst the globe's top record labels and have their own significant benefits when compared with major labels. Of course, there are pros and cons of signing with an independent label, and here, Reed Louis Jeune – founder of the Trill Corporation independent label – outlines the possibilities.
"Over the past few years, a lot of artists have begun to change their aspirations and are now becoming increasingly interested in signing with independent labels", he says. "It represents a goal that is more realistic for many, but that's not all – signing up to a smaller label can actually come with a host of advantages."
What Are the Pros And Cons Of Signing With An Indie Label?
Reed Louis Jeune is open about the fact that there are downsides as well as positives to signing up with an independent label like his own, but he believes that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
"On the downside, independent labels tend to have a lower budget, and that may mean they can't promote quite as much as one of the major labels," he says, "but on the positive side, the deals can be far more artist-friendly, offer more diversity with greater creative development and freedom and a close-knit team that can give more attention to them as individuals."
What Are The Pros And Cons of Signing With A Major Label?
The major disadvantage of signing up to a major record label is how difficult it can be in the first place. As Reed Louis Jeune points out:
"You have to have your own fanbase before signing up to a major label – it's almost unheard of for a major label to invest in an artist that cannot prove they've got the potential and fans to make significant profits."
He does admit that, if an artist can demonstrate they have that potential, they can reap the benefits of a larger team to take care of all the marketing and administrative aspects of their promotion, and a larger amount of financial backing behind them.
Yet, getting to that position in the first place is considerably challenging, and it's a challenge that can result in many talented artists leaving the industry before they even get launched.
What Are The Differences Between Major And Independent Record Labels?
"Essentially," Reed Louis Jeune explains, "there are only three major labels out there today. Major labels can be defined as labels that are part of a conglomerate or corporate group and that have a worldwide reach with a larger team of staff."
He concedes that this global reach can make an enormous difference to artists who are lucky enough to get signed, but he points out again that a lot of artists fall at this very first hurdle, and even if they do manage to get signed up to one of the big three, the feeling of being a tiny fish in an oversized pond can lead to their failure before they've even begun unless they have a wealth of confidence and self-belief.
"Independent labels, on the other hand, are funded independently and often have smaller teams. They differ though in capacity and size, from individuals to larger groups." Reed Louis Jeune says. "Usually, indie labels will enlist a third-party company to supply their publishing and global distribution services too, since they don't operate internationally."
He also points out another major benefit of working with an independent label – artists usually are able to keep the rights to their music – something that's especially important these days when there's more opportunity than ever before to monetize money through syncing it via other media like video.
"Major labels take a big-business approach" he says "and that means they'll usually claim all the rights to their artists' music, collecting all the profits and giving just a tiny portion to the musician."
He also points to the greater influence an artist has over their own work when signing with an indie label.
"There's less of an agenda to adhere to with an independent label," he says, "indie labels sign you because they believe your brand and don't want to mold you into their own image."
Why Are Independent Labels Becoming More Prevalent?
Reed Louis Jeune has seen independent labels becoming increasingly prevalent over recent years, and this is one of the reasons why he has established his own label – in 2020.
"Major record labels have a traditional structure, and that's held them back since social media and digital music have come to the fore." He explains. "Radio is on the decline and less physical albums are being sold. That means the companies which once monopolized the music industry are currently having to adapt and change and that takes time. Meanwhile, independent labels have been pioneering modern methods from the start and they've been ready for the challenge."
So, should aspiring musicians aim to be signed to a major label or an independent one? The answer, of course, depends on the artist themselves. Yet Reed Louis Jeune believes that indie labels like his own Trill Corporation have a lot to offer the industry and are the way forward in the future.