The lesson is simple.
Selling your artistic freedom and independence as a “success” strategy can bring you lucrative rewards. But it’s not always the best move for your career, as you are also selling off important assets to the record label.
The record label doesn’t want to know your fans or connect with them. They want you to do it, so that the label can make money of that relationship and then pay you a percentage of it. And they do that by controlling your copyrights.
Sometime ago, you signed a contract that gave the label the power to own your rights. In the process they paid you a fee. If those songs went huge, guess who was making some coin. Yep, the label was, because they paid you that fee before and they need to recoup that fee along with some other creative accounting tricks.
But artists are finally fighting back.
In the U.S, there is a clause that allows artists to reclaim their copyrights as long as they serve the labels with a termination notice. Well, the artists are serving their notices and the labels are ignoring them. So off to court they go, as the labels are making money on Copyrights they don’t really own anymore.
And the labels fear this loss of power, because holding the copyrights of artists is what gives them a seat at the negotiating table with the techies and politicians.
The artists have the power to make the record labels redundant, or purely to be used as a distribution arm if needed. But with streaming you don’t need the labels at all as the streaming service is the distribution.
So in all of this chaos, who will rise and who will fall?
Time will tell, but if you compare music to technology, you will see only a select few rise to the top. Smartphones and tablets is all Apple and Samsung. Amazon has online shopping cornered. Google is the king of search. Spotify has won the streaming war. Facebook rules social media. Netflix rules television.
The music market/business is filled with acts trying to make it. It is going to take a huge effort to stand out amongst the rest. And the ones who do, understand that music is a lifers game.
Do you go it alone or follow the paths set in stone 100 years ago?