Country Music : Independent Labels or Major Labels

Country Music : Independent Labels or Major Labels
Watching the award shows and hearing what gets played on the radio has brought a few questions to mind when it comes to country music. Are artists better off on a small independent label or a major record label? Can they still get the air play or win awards if they aren’t with a major label? I’m not just talking about the big stars, they have a following that demands they get airplay, I’m referring to the new artists that can’t seem to break into the genre or keep a career together if they don’t have hit after hit.

Major artists like Toby Keith have started their own labels because they didn’t want to play the politics that are required with a major label up to and including recording music they want to record. Major labels have more control over what goes onto a new CD than the artist. Look at what has reportedly happened to Tim McGraw, he left his label after many years and they released a Greatest Hits CD that he did not have much if any input into at all. With the genre so heavy with talent, it is hard for them to generate hit after hit and if they don’t many are released from their contracts. Who is to blame when a contract isn’t renewed or an artist is released from a contract? Is it the record label or is it the artist?

Award shows such as the CMAs and the ACMs are voted on by the members, ever wondered who the members are? The majority are record industry people that have been accused of block voting to make sure that their artist wins. Kenny Chesney is one of the artists that has come under heavy criticism because of these rumors. He has major backing from his label, both for his tours and his radio releases. I’m not discounting the fans at all, he works hard and tours most of the year to keep his self and his music out there for the fans. But so do other artists and they don’t have half the money behind them from a label yet their tours sell out just as quickly. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill both are very popular and yet when it comes to award shows they can’t seem to catch a break, when they tour either together or separately their tours sell out in a short period of time. Their CD’s are usually at the top of the charts, yet they don’t seem to get any respect from the industry.

The question becomes, if you don’t get the backing from your label, should you go out and start your own? It gives you more control over the music you record, but does it pay in the long run? What happens to the relatively new artist that can’t get the air play because radio is playing the “flavor of the month” so much that people are turning the radio off? Oversaturation becomes a problem for everyone, there are only so many times that you can hear a song before you get tired of it.

Now we have labels rereleasing CDs with “new” music on an old CD. So the fan goes out and gets the new CD when it is released, then a few months later the label decides to add a new song or two and they rerelease the CD and the fan is expected to go out and purchase another CD. Especially in this economy, who has the money to buy a CD for the second time just to get a new song or two? If this is the new trend, my question to the fans is, are you going to wait to buy a CD to see if they decide that it “needs” more new music on it? Or will you buy one and hope that they don’t do this to you? Who actually has the power, the fans, the artist or the label? I haven’t seen the smaller labels doing this (I could be mistaken) just the big labels. I understand it is all a business but at some time they have to learn that we are the ones that actually pay the salaries with our money at tours, buying the CDs and the merchandise, when is it enough? Stop by the forum and let me know what you think.

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