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Jakebert
02-04-2007, 10:48 AM
In the past, the distinction between indie label and major label was a huge difference. One stood for money and greed, and the other stood of originality and artistic expression in its purest form. I know people that were my age during the times when this was the difference was huge, and they said that buying an indie album was a different experience than buying a major, for many reasons.

But, now that indie rock is more popular than ever, and punk rock still dominates a huge part of the musical landscapes, do you really think the difference between label types matter?

It used to be that finding independent albums in a place like rural Ohio was near impossible. Now, all I have to do is go to the closest mall, go to FYE and find entire collections of bands like Pedro the Lion, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Rites of Spring. Hell, even my local Wal-Mart sells some indie label albums, even from some not-so-successful bands.

With all of that, indie labels are getting bigger. Dischord, Epitaph, and especially Vagrant have become what essential are smaller major labels, and even smaller ones like Jade Tree and Sub Pop are pretty damn big money makers right now. They have large numbers of employees, and are dealing with pretty large amounts of money. While obviously they’re still labors of love at heart, there’s still a huge part of it that’s looking strictly at dollar signs and trying to keep that money coming in.

Also, they’ve broadened out and expanded from being specialty labels for a certain crowd or genre. Dischord isn’t the “DC hardcore” label anymore. It caters to indie pop, emo, pop punk, and alternative fans as well. Epitaph has rap and trip-hop artists. Sub-Pop releases stand up comedy albums. This is a great thing, but one of the original appeals with indie labels was that you knew what you were getting from a new band on that label.

I’m not criticizing it in any way. Music is a business, and profiting from running a good business isn’t a bad thing. But, what I’m getting at is: is the appeal of the indie label dead?

I think it is in some respect, but I still think that indie labels for the most part still have one thing going for it: more consistent quality. Looking at Jade Tree’s roaster of bands, I see more bands that I would listen to than looking at any major. Even looking at one of the more diverse labels like Epitaph, I feel the same way. Or, looking at Vagrant, I immediately know not to listen to anything that they put out if I haven’t heard a substantial amount from that band first.

So, I guess aside from the questions I already asked, the big question I have is: do labels matter to you at all?

opivy21
02-04-2007, 11:07 AM
I think that lots of indie labels are getting bigger because indie is getting more popular. Like you said, Epitaph is basically a big label. It obviously doesn't have near as much money as a major, but it feels like the same sort of thing.

There's still small labels, and I have a lot of respect for them. Plus, they have a lot of the best music.

Jakebert
02-04-2007, 11:12 AM
I know there's still smaller labels, I just think that the difference between indie label and major label isn't as big as it used to be.

opivy21
02-04-2007, 12:17 PM
Yeah, I agree.

Endymion
02-04-2007, 12:41 PM
there's a huge difference between guys who run an operation out of their run-down apartment in a shitty part of town and epitaph, nitro, fat wreck, etc.

what i'm basically saying is it's not a two-class system.

DeAtHsTaR
02-04-2007, 01:20 PM
Labels don't mean shit to me, but I'm more likely to download from the Majors as they just steal the money from the band anyways. If I had the chance, I would never sign to a major, they just make you poor.

wheelchairman
02-04-2007, 01:28 PM
Labels don't mean shit to me, but I'm more likely to download from the Majors as they just steal the money from the band anyways. If I had the chance, I would never sign to a major, they just make you poor.

And yet this hasn't been true since the 70's..

DeAtHsTaR
02-04-2007, 01:43 PM
And yet this hasn't been true since the 70's..

Did you not hear what happened to RBF?

I wrote Aaron Barrett on myspace and he responded. He said they didn't even get a cent of royalties for the last two albums and actually owed Jive. It's true as ever.

wheelchairman
02-04-2007, 02:09 PM
No I don't know RBF. But that's one group. There are a lot more bands on major labels that aren't...you know...poor.

As opposed to Indie labels which don't have you know..rich bands.

DeAtHsTaR
02-04-2007, 02:41 PM
No I don't know RBF. But that's one group. There are a lot more bands on major labels that aren't...you know...poor.

As opposed to Indie labels which don't have you know..rich bands.

Look at Victory and Epitaph bands, they're all over MTV and they get a much larger percentage of the royalties. About 50-75 cents from a $16 major label cd goes to the artist. If it doesn't sell well, the artist ends up owing the record label.

Read this old write-up by Steve Albini (http://negativland.com/albini.html), it'll open up your eyes.

wheelchairman
02-04-2007, 02:47 PM
You're still not gonna convince me. Most empirical evidence just goes blatantly against your theory of Major Label = Poor, Indie Label = Wealth.

WebDudette
02-04-2007, 02:54 PM
Some bands are offered a million dollars or more just to sign.

DeAtHsTaR
02-04-2007, 03:12 PM
You're still not gonna convince me. Most empirical evidence just goes blatantly against your theory of Major Label = Poor, Indie Label = Wealth.

No, it goes like this.

Indie= poor.
Major, if not a big sucess= Worse off than you were before.

DeAtHsTaR
02-04-2007, 03:15 PM
Some bands are offered a million dollars or more just to sign.

Read the link I posted. Nearly ALL of that money goes towards recording, studio time, promotion, etc.

endlesst0m
02-04-2007, 04:00 PM
I can see how many indie labels seem less special now, because of how popular indie is getting. But it's nice that indie labels are still run by music fans, instead of tin-eared, graph paper brained accounts. And as long as indie labels still have thier own sound, then I guess they still "matter" and still serve a purpose. For example, I really do like Nitro Record's sound significantly more than Fat Wreck Chords or Epitaph, even though they sign pretty much the same genre of bands. I don't know that many people that really care about record labels though, or have certain labels that they trust to sign bands they'll enjoy.

Major labels, and now many indie labels, BOTH have a shitload of people who are interested in buying thier music. I guess it really wasn't like that before. Indie labels seem like more of a money-making opportunity now. Think about all those Hot-Topic kids...

Jakebert
02-04-2007, 04:06 PM
Read the link I posted. Nearly ALL of that money goes towards recording, studio time, promotion, etc.

But a lot of that is the band's fault, not the labels. I've always said that if those bands on major labels would just actually realize that spending millions of dollars to record an album is a waste of money, a lot of them wouldn't be losing the money they do.

Betty
02-04-2007, 08:54 PM
To prove that I don't care at all about labels, I'll admit that I don't know anything about labels. Back when I was big into punk I obviously knew the distinction between Epitaph, Fat Wreck, Nitro, and a bunch of the others (Alternative Tentacles, Kung Fu, Lookout, whatever). Nowadays, I have no idea what label any of the bands/artists I listen to are on, be they indie or major or what. Bands have been switching to major labels and I'm not even aware of it.

What I DO know is that I think it's great that the indie genre is pretty much exploding due to the Internet. It's cool being able to hear some of my favourite songs on the radio (which doesn't really happen, since I don't listen to it) or go down to the local music store and find at least a few of the CDs I'd like to buy. And if not, there's a big chance I could find a torrent, or find it on amazon. And still if not, I'm sure I could order it through their label over the 'net if they were really unknown.

So I suppose I'll agree that the bigger indie labels (not the somebody's basement ones) are probably losing some of their special touch, but not in a bad way, and like Tom pointed out, if they keep signing good music, that's even better.

Endymion
02-04-2007, 10:57 PM
why major labels are bad for musicians:

open a cd, find the copyright info -- who's the music copyright of? now do the same for a book.