A lot of producers sign tracks with labels without really knowing what to expect or look for, and end up not really evaluating if it was worth it to release with a label or not. Considering labels normally take a significant amount of your royalties and rights from your song, understanding why you’re pursuing a label is really important for you to maximize your gains and avoid any frustrations. A couple of thoughts on that:
4 THOUGHTS FROM ME
1. You’re signing to a label because you want to gain exposure from the label’s audience on Spotify and Apple Music. One really common reason why you should sign a song to a label is to gain stats on streaming platforms, and labels with bigger audiences will normally be able to bring in more streams and followers to you, which is especially important when you’re beginning to build your audience and social presence. However, for that to be something you’d consider on a label, you must check their previous releases on platforms like Spotify with other artists and verify if that happens with them as well. Therefore, before signing your track, make sure to do your research, as mentioned in this post about how to find your ideal label, and understand if that label can really deliver the stats you expect them to.
2. You should definitely consider labels that help artists with opportunities and costs. When you work with a label for a longer period of time or are committed to working with them exclusively, you’ll likely get benefits like (1) having vocalists paid for you, (2) remixing songs from bigger artists within the label, (3) participating on major compilations from the label, and (4) sometimes participating on live events from that label. Of course, this is all normally subject to their approval, but these labels are interesting because they give you the freedom to produce and have a budget to develop your tracks, which often is a bottleneck for producers. Take vocalists, for example. Many producers struggle to pay for a vocalist, but when a label provides you with amazing vocalists to work with that will be ‘free’ to you, it takes a bit of the pressure away from it. If this is something that interests you, you should definitely think about sticking with mainly one label rather than signing with multiple ones.
3. You should also sign to labels that will bring some sort of status / brand recognition to you as an artist. Signing to big labels is HARD, but if you can achieve that, it’s almost like a quality stamp in your musical resumé. If you have signed multiple times to Armada, for example, people will see you as a respected artist, and likely that you’ll also gain some brand exposure from this as well. This is different from the exposure mentioned in point #1 as this will be valued mainly by other artists and upcoming producers, but something you could later use to generate some income when living out of music, and also to promote yourself when trying to find gigs in your city. In addition, this can also be used when pitching to vocalists and to other artists for collabs, as they will respect you as an artist for having signed with these labels.
4. You should also value the marketing assets that a label provides to your release. Some labels will also provide a lot of marketing assets like canvas videos, cover photos, a release guide / schedule, lyric videos, and also ask for and do the editing of short promo videos of yourself to you. These should not be crucial for you to accept or reject a release, but they are certainly amazing bonuses if a label provides that because (1) it’s more content for you to post and (2) it’s less work for you to do, which will (1) increase your brand presence and (2) leave you more time to focus on creating more music. This can often be underrated, but for artists that also have a job outside of music, this can be a huge time-saver.
1 QUESTION FOR YOU
What are three other things that a label can offer you?
1. Flexibility: A label that allows you to choose your own release dates and/or your own cover photos can be extremely helpful when trying to maintain a release schedule and brand identity, something I’ve mentioned already in this post about branding.
2. Feeling part of a family: Some labels have such nice people working over there that it feels like you’re running your own self-release, but with the label helping you out on all fronts mentioned above. If you feel welcome working with a label, definitely value releasing with them.
3. Royalties: A label that can give you a big amount of streams and offer you a good royalties rate can be really useful if you want to gain of money a lot from your royalties. Something I often underestimate, but that could have a big impact in the long run!