Are indie labels as bad as major labels?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by rabid_granny, Dec 19, 2004.

  1. I was reading an article in the local paper about a band called "Spirit of the West". They were talking about releasing their latest album on an indie label. Quote: "The beauty of it is you actually get to see some see profits from your work. In seven years with Warner there were no profits shared with us and believe me, there were profits. They just weren't being shared. We know all about the voodoo accounting involved in pop music contracts."

    So we all know that major labels (ie. Sony BMG, Warner, EMI and Universal Music) do funny stuff but how about the other large indies like Matador, Ryko, Subpop, Epitaph...etc? Anyone got any stories?
  2. Against Will

    Against Will Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Big Sound Central
    Larger indie labels have generally solid reputations: Matador, Fat Wreck, Epitaph, Touch & Go and SubPop all have had oodles of praise laid on them by the bands who are on them. As far as I know there haven't been any stories of being screwed out of royalties or bands being forced into unfavorable contracts. The people who run these labels have a genuine love for the music they put out and aside from limited resources (despite their size, most of those labels can't compete with the marketing and promotion power of Capitol & co.) and questionable quality of some releases (bad bands), and nitpicky ethical issues (SubPop, Epitaph accused of 'selling out'). They're good places for bands to end up. I have heard of bands feeling they didn't get enough attention from indie labels of similar size, but most of those bands sucked.

    What you need to be careful of is some of the smaller indie labels. I know that some labels, like Mystic, has (had) a history of signing bands, getting copyright control of the bands songs and releasing the albums and not paying the band. Because the band's are so small, they don't have the resources to pursue legal action and they lose their music. Also, some indie labels have folded and the bands on their roster have lost their albums because the label's assets were frozen.

    Overall, though they don't have the vast resources that majors have, indies are a good choice if you're concerned by corporate skuldruggery and loss of creative control. But it is important to be cautious and do your homework in any case.
  3. Yeah, indie labels are usually better. But you can't rule out the possibility of the label folding or otherwise. And they don't have as much resources for your band, obviously.