Over the last few years this column has concentrated on issues related to promoting and marketing your career as an independent musician. The most important thing an artist can do to get the attention of the recording industry is to start your own label, and build a reputation for your music by showing the industry how popular your music is, i.e. how many people bought your record.
As the new year begins I wanted to give you some information about what can happen if you do get the industry's attention. Starting an indie label is really quite similar to starting your career as a musician. Your label needs to impress the music industry with its stories of success, just like you as a musician need to do the same with your creative talents. The reward for building a successful label is the possibility of doing business with a major label someday... on your terms. Major labels need to work with successful indie labels to maintain their viability in a ever-changing popular music environment, so they keep their eyes open for indie labels and artist who have had success with a certain musical genre or musical styles.
There are several deals that may come your way as you get more successful. The following short summaries of the most common kinds of indie/major deals are given to you as an introduction to them. They are discussed with far more detail in the book "The Musicians Business and Legal Guide" published by Prentice Hall. There will be a new 3rd edition of this book available in the spring of 2001 by the way.
I would like to thank Bart Day, my co-author of the chapter dealing with this topic, for his cooperation and help in preparing this information.
Throughout his fprty year career in the music business, FourFront Media & Music's Christopher Knab has shared his experience at many industry conventions and conferences, including the New Music Seminar and the Northwest Area Music Business Conference.
Knab was owner of a San Francisco music store, co-owner of the 415 Records label, and station manager at KCMU Radio in Seattle.
He currently provides a unique consultation and education service for independent musicians and record labels. His new book is entitled "Music Is Your Business".
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