More About Record Labels

Golden RecordsI’m still deciding what to do about releasing this album. I’ve been submitting demos and talking to record labels to see if there is any interest, and also to learn what a record label does these days. I gather there is a huge difference between large labels and indie labels, and what a label does for any particular artist can vary greatly. But I can do a lot myself. I can make the music, get it mixed, get it mastered, do the artwork, get CDs made, put it online myself, put it in online stores myself, sell it myself, tell people about it myself, collect royalties myself. What’s left for a label to do for the artist?

From my experience with Positron, a label has greater distribution, promotion, and licensing systems, knows different people than I do, and has a wealth of knowledge about the music industry. And many of those things I specified above that I can do myself, I learned from working with a label. I’m thankful for that, and wonder what else there is to learn. But is it essential for an artist to enter into a legal agreement over all these things? I get the impression that a label doesn’t generate sales for an artist, but handles accounting and organization that are beyond what an artist can handle on their own. In that sense I suppose an artist really “knows” when they need a label, rather than having all these questions like I do.

The flipside is, how does a label benefit from an artist, and what do they rely on the artist to do/provide? Not really a question I can answer, but I’m curious.