If there’s one thing the current musical climate has taught us, it’s that there aren’t as many gatekeepers as there used to be. A motivated artist can record a studio-quality album in their living room for the price of a computer and some time and get it on all major online music services for free. And while there are still many reasons to sign with a label, it’s not the necessity that it used to be to gain exposure. However, a recent study done in the UK says that 71% of unsigned artists are still looking for a label deal.
There are a handful of reasons why the 301 artists interviewed for The Unsigned Guide want label backing. “Marketing and promotional support” was the top reason, with 76% claiming that as the primary reason. Tour support and a record advance were the next two reasons, with 46% and 35% of artists claiming those would be benefits of having label support. So basically, the motivating factor of unsigned bands to want to sign with a label is money. But unless your band takes off, that’s money that you’ll owe to the label and might not recoup.
The article. which we first read about on Digital Music News, cites another study from BVMI, which represents the German music industry. There, 80% of unsigned artists wanted to be signed. It would be interesting to see how unsigned artists in America would react to the same question. Educated artists know that they’re probably not going to make a ton of money off album sales whether they’re on a label or not. And while there are certainly advantages to having a label throw their marketing and promotional support behind you, there are many bands talking the DIY approach and doing fine. We’d think that the number of artists claiming they need to be signed would continue to slowly decrease as time goes on.