Many independent artists choose to self-release their first single, LP, or EP in the hopes of drumming up press. Sometimes it is to appeal directly to their fan base if you’re an established artist. Other times, it is the get the support in order to be recognized by the major labels. The truth of the music business, as it stands right now, is that self-releases are not always the smart thing to do and they don’t always work. Here’s why.
Not having a voice to bounce things off of.
We get it. Having a record executive make key decisions on your music is not something you want as an artist. We understand that. The thing is when you don’t have a producer in there to bounce ideas off of, some artists don’t know the quality of the material they have oftentimes. Most artists need to be challenged to make their songs better or need to be shown the material that is worth releasing. Not having that choice can mean regret in the long-term putting out choruses that don’t work, sets of lyrics that could be better, or production that doesn’t meet industry standards.
Not having the inside knowledge on when or how to release.
If you do not know when is the best time to release your music, the best method to release your music, how to generate momentum for you as an act, and how to capitalize on that momentum, you are taking a big gamble on self-releasing. When you work with a label, they know these 4 key ingredients in how to generate success for an artist and will be able to assist you in navigating through these waters, maximizing all available opportunities surrounding your release. Timing is everything.
Not having your music heard by key industry people.
When most unestablished artists self-release material, they find themselves in a bit of a conundrum struggling to get it heard by anyone who isn’t already connected to them. Getting their material on radio, getting it reviewed online and in magazines, and getting your name out there is a lot more difficult than self-releasing. Anyone can put out a song on the internet.
Not having enough money.
This is the biggest issue. Saving up enough to record and self-release an album does not consider unforeseen expenses. No matter how well you are planning your release, there will always be unforeseen expenses. If you don’t have the financial support and the money you need to overcome these hurdles, they can sink your record release in a matter of seconds leaving you with a bunch of effort invested into something that never yielded a thing.
A record label gives you instant credibility, resources, and support.
The real value of a record label is that it gives you credibility in the industry and it gives you a team of people that are working for you. A record label will already have contacts in key industry positions, will be able to get your music heard, and will be able to promote your music in the most advantageous promo spots available.
This is not to say that self-releasing is a bad model or that it is not right for some people. If you already have an audience, already have a team in place, and are content being at the level of popularity you are at, self-releasing can help to sustain interest on the part of your fan base. What it won’t do however is build your fan base. You don’t need to sign with one of the majors to get the benefits of a record label. Signing with an independent can be just as effective. Look at any artist and they belong to a label of some kind.
If you want to be successful in the music business, self-releasing should be treated as a last resort and even then, should not be attempted if you do not have some sort of established audience in place. Otherwise you will invest too much of your time, effort and money into something that is not going to lead anywhere. Be smart. Do your research. Get your music out in front of the right people with the right label and team behind you.