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Labels for non-performing artists

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by purebloom, Jul 25, 2006.

  1. purebloom

    purebloom Guest

    It sounds funny I know, but does anyone know of any labels that cater to artists who don't perform live. For example an electronica artist that is signed, but that may not perform live (really it could be any genre, but that first comes to mind because of a lot of that music is programmed/sequenced).

    I imagine these exist, and if anyone knows of any please share. I'm hoping we can compile a list of these type of record labels. Any size label as well.
  2. _Mikael

    _Mikael Active Member

    Jan 15, 2005
    Portland, OR
    My response is, "why do you want to even be on a label"?

    Labels are in the business of making money from selling records. Performances are generally the #1 promotional tool for selling those records, and I can't think of a single label that regularly goes to the trouble and expense of pressing up and promoting a record from unknown artists that don't perform.

    Even most successful electronica artists are performing DJs and at the very least make "promotional appearances" in clubs in support of their release.

    In my own standard contract, I actually wrote in a clause stating that artist must perform x amount of times during the option period, where x is a negotiating factor. This is to ensure that the artist is willing to work just as hard as I am to sell records. There is a LOT of money and time at stake for each release. I personally won't sign any artist who won't work with me.

    In my experience, non-performing artists don't sell records.

    There are a few exceptions to this rule. 1) a posthumous release. 2) artist is very well-known with a large fan-base who will automatically buy any of the artist's releases or 3) the label doesn't want to sell many copies of that particular release.
  3. purebloom

    purebloom Guest

    Well, personally I'm not interested in looking for a label. I wanted/want to compile a list for those who may possibly create electronic type music but do not perform (if they exist). With the way technology is continuing to evolve and affect music distribution I can see more people turning towards online labels (and still being able to perform, but not necessarily having to). I think there is great music that can be/will be made by people who either won't perform or that aren't currently performing for the simple fact that they don't know how to on their own with music that is so textured and computerized.

    I do agree with you on performances being the number one marketing tool, but I was mainly curious if such a thing existed (labels for non-performers). I can see it not being as popular, but for some reason I thought there might be a niche for this group of artists.

    I dunno!

    Thanks for your comment though.
  4. MadMax

    MadMax Distinguished Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    As the probability of this "phantom" label even existing is rather small, why not consider starting "it" yourself?

    Just a thought...

  5. _Mikael

    _Mikael Active Member

    Jan 15, 2005
    Portland, OR
    That's a stellar idea. Go get 'em PureBloom! Detroit's got some hope left, even after losing Wallace :-? (Michigan native and Pistons fan here)
  6. purebloom

    purebloom Guest

    Hahah... Detroit can survive without Wallace.

    But about this label deal... maybe they don't exist because as you said it is a bad idea. I suppose that I've deduced that they must be "phantom" labels for a reason. I appreciate your input and thoughts on the subject though. Thanks!
  7. Effero

    Effero Guest

    Actually, there are many artists that do not perform but still sell their music online. I just released a remix under Undermine Records on beatport.com and will probably never perform it live.
    In my case there are a lot of DJ's interested in promoting and playing my music so everybody makes a little bit of money. But since this is my passion, I don't do it for the money anyways.
    Also, you could sell your music for commercials or similar, check out syncfree.com. There are tons of other websites like that.
    The 'industry' (god I hate that word) is changing for the better, and we'll see a good amount of great music available online in many different genres one track at a time...no more big label monopoly.
  8. _Mikael

    _Mikael Active Member

    Jan 15, 2005
    Portland, OR
    Well, that brings back to light my question of "why do you really want a label contract?" Making music part-time is fun, but for those who take the plunge and make it a career choice are faced with the problem of earning an income off of it. This means performing and selling records. Personally, I do it for the music, but I gotta eat, too. All the while keeping the company afloat so I can hopefully do better next year, the year after, etc.

    If you want to be on a label, chances are you want to make money from your music. So, what's the most effective way to do that??

    TV commercial producers want music people can identify with. If their clients can afford it, they'll license hits. If they can't, they'll settle for "sound alikes" or something "vanilla" with a broad reaching appeal. That's just the nature of what they do. Very rarely will someone in a niche genre get paid for sync licensing. Do producers surf around all day on these sites looking for music to license? NO. There are hundreds of music publishers with years of experience and shiny reputations that deal solely with placing music for video. That's about the only place artists will see real money made from commericals, TV or film. Not websites promising such.

    The club/electronic market is by no means my forte, but I know enough about it to say that the artists that sell the most records are indeed the ones who make public appearances. That's the case in any genre of the music biz (which incidentally IS an industry whether or not we like to admit it! :twisted: )

    From a dollar-for-dollar perspective, promotional efforts sell records, no matter how good or bad a record is.

    I'm personally very wary of the whole "e-label" phenomenon because of the ludicrous terms I've seen in some those contracts, and the promises of stardom without having to leave your bedroom. I almost liken them to a huge factory slaughterhouse, where the artists are the cattle. In addition to poor quality control from the label side, you're banking on the sale of downloads via iTunes or similar, which offers, on the average, artists and labels a mere 33.3% for every $.99 download. So even if the artist has a "50%" contract in place (normally an excellent indie deal), that's barely $.16/download. So 10,000 people download your song. $1600 before taxes doesn't go too far these days. But multiply that $1600 by, say, 100 artists on the e-label's roster, well, that's $160,000 for doing in reality very little. The music suffers as a whole, the artists barely see anything, and the cowboy running this operation drives off into the sunset in his Hummer. Now, those numbers are most likely WAY over inflated to prove a point: artists deserve much more than the money downloads afford them.

    Download stores on each respective label's websites are on the rise, but you have to wonder how many people purchase and download direct from the label. Not many right now. I also haven't seen any huge marketing pushes from e-labels that are going that route, at least not on the scale that could cause serious revenue.

    The best bet --economically-- for the independent artist is still direct mail sales of tangible CDs or Vinyl. The question is, can the average indie artist handle the marketing, warehousing, and order fullfillment? Not many can. Nor can many handle the up front costs of such. Hence, independent labels are still (and will likely continue to be) a powerful force in the industry for artists working within a commercially viable niche genre.

    The truth is there is no "big label monopoly". Did you know indies currently account for over 30% of the US market?? The Majors' only real advantages are in-house distribution and HUGE marketing dollars set aside for releases they believe can make that money back. A well-run indie label with decent cashflow and distro partnerships should theoretically and practically offer CLOSE to the same service as a Major all the while guaranteeing more money back to the artist (arguably sooner) per each unit sold.
  9. purebloom

    purebloom Guest

    Very interesting.
  10. AquaVita

    AquaVita Guest

    You should check out a project I'm part of


    We've sold almost a thousand CD's without ever playing a live show(or even meeting each other!)

    The internet is a pretty good promotional tool. :)
  11. _Mikael

    _Mikael Active Member

    Jan 15, 2005
    Portland, OR
    A thousand CD's is VERY commendable, Aqua. Especially with no (or very little) money spent on promotions. I'd guess you're netting what, $8 or $9 per unit? Nice job!

    However, from a label's (my) perspective, 9 months since release with only 1,000 units is a tank. If I don't see 5,000 in three months, I consider it a tank. Unless sales reach that point or have at least that momentum, the cost of doing business is more than the revenue generated. That's a relatively easy goal if you know your market and have good product. Thus, I stand by my point (but should avoid using absolutes in the future).

    When I was working in the audiobook world, it was a tank if we didn't sell 30,000 copies! Of course, much more overhead (but MUCH bigger margins). Apples and oranges, and I digress.

    If you were touring, I'd bet you could add at least one zero to the end of that figure. You've got some good stuff there. Minus replication, warehousing, and fulfillment, that'd be one tidy profit for an indie band selling purely over the internet (and shows :cool: )

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