Record label
Overview
 
In the music industry, a record label is a brand
Brand
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a "Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers."...

 and a trademark
Trademark
A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or...

 associated with the marketing
Marketing
Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments...

 of music recordings and music videos. Most commonly, a record label is the company
Company
A company is a form of business organization. It is an association or collection of individual real persons and/or other companies, who each provide some form of capital. This group has a common purpose or focus and an aim of gaining profits. This collection, group or association of persons can be...

 that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production
Record producer
A record producer is an individual working within the music industry, whose job is to oversee and manage the recording of an artist's music...

, manufacture
Manufacturing
Manufacturing is the use of machines, tools and labor to produce goods for use or sale. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale...

, distribution
Distribution (business)
Product distribution is one of the four elements of the marketing mix. An organization or set of organizations involved in the process of making a product or service available for use or consumption by a consumer or business user.The other three parts of the marketing mix are product, pricing,...

, marketing and promotion, and enforcement of copyright
Copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...

 protection of sound recordings and music videos; conducts talent scouting and development of new artists ("artists and repertoire" or A&R
A&R
Artists and repertoire is the division of a record label that is responsible for talent scouting and overseeing the artistic development of recording artists. It also acts as a liaison between artists and the record label.- Finding talent :...

); and maintains contracts with recording artists and their managers.
Encyclopedia
In the music industry, a record label is a brand
Brand
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a "Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers."...

 and a trademark
Trademark
A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or...

 associated with the marketing
Marketing
Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments...

 of music recordings and music videos. Most commonly, a record label is the company
Company
A company is a form of business organization. It is an association or collection of individual real persons and/or other companies, who each provide some form of capital. This group has a common purpose or focus and an aim of gaining profits. This collection, group or association of persons can be...

 that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production
Record producer
A record producer is an individual working within the music industry, whose job is to oversee and manage the recording of an artist's music...

, manufacture
Manufacturing
Manufacturing is the use of machines, tools and labor to produce goods for use or sale. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale...

, distribution
Distribution (business)
Product distribution is one of the four elements of the marketing mix. An organization or set of organizations involved in the process of making a product or service available for use or consumption by a consumer or business user.The other three parts of the marketing mix are product, pricing,...

, marketing and promotion, and enforcement of copyright
Copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...

 protection of sound recordings and music videos; conducts talent scouting and development of new artists ("artists and repertoire" or A&R
A&R
Artists and repertoire is the division of a record label that is responsible for talent scouting and overseeing the artistic development of recording artists. It also acts as a liaison between artists and the record label.- Finding talent :...

); and maintains contracts with recording artists and their managers. The term "record label" derives from the circular label in the center of a vinyl
Gramophone record
A gramophone record, commonly known as a phonograph record , vinyl record , or colloquially, a record, is an analog sound storage medium consisting of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove...

 record which prominently displays the manufacturer's name, along with other information.

The music industry

Within the music industry, most recording artists have become increasingly reliant upon record labels to broaden their audience, market their album
Album
An album is a collection of recordings, released as a single package on gramophone record, cassette, compact disc, or via digital distribution. The word derives from the Latin word for list .Vinyl LP records have two sides, each comprising one half of the album...

s, and be both promoted and heard on radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 and television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

, with publicists that assist performers in positive media reports to market their merchandise, and make it available via stores and other media outlets. The Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 has increasingly been a way that some artists avoid costs and gain new audiences, as well as the use of videos
Music video
A music video or song video is a short film integrating a song and imagery, produced for promotional or artistic purposes. Modern music videos are primarily made and used as a marketing device intended to promote the sale of music recordings...

 in some cases, to sell their products.

Major vs. independent record labels

Record labels may be small, localized, and "independent
Independent record label
An independent record label is a record label operating without the funding of or outside the organizations of the major record labels. A great number of bands and musical acts begin on independent labels.-Overview:...

" ("indie"), or they may be part of a large international media group
Multinational corporation
A multi national corporation or enterprise , is a corporation or an enterprise that manages production or delivers services in more than one country. It can also be referred to as an international corporation...

, or somewhere in between. The largest 4 record labels are called major labels. A sublabel is a label that is part of a larger record company, but it trades under a different name.

Imprint

When a label is strictly a trademark
Trademark
A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or...

 or brand
Brand
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a "Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers."...

, not a company
Company
A company is a form of business organization. It is an association or collection of individual real persons and/or other companies, who each provide some form of capital. This group has a common purpose or focus and an aim of gaining profits. This collection, group or association of persons can be...

, then it is usually called an imprint
Imprint
In the publishing industry, an imprint can mean several different things:* As a piece of bibliographic information about a book, it refers to the name and address of the book's publisher and its date of publication as given at the foot or on the verso of its title page.* It can mean a trade name...

, a term used for the same concept in the publishing industry. An imprint is sometimes marketed as being a project, unit, or division of a record label company, even though there is no legal business structure associated with the imprint.

Major labels

Major labels 1988–1998 (Big Six)
  1. Warner Music Group
    Warner Music Group
    Warner Music Group is the third largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry, making it one of the big four record companies...

  2. EMI
    EMI
    The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...

  3. Sony Music (known as CBS Records until January 1991 then known as Sony Music thereafter)
  4. BMG Music
  5. Universal Music Group
    Universal Music Group
    Universal Music Group is an American music group, the largest of the "big four" record companies by its commanding market share and its multitude of global operations...

  6. Polygram
    PolyGram
    PolyGram was the name of the major label recording company started by Philips from as a holding company for its music interests in 1945. In 1999 it was sold to Seagram and merged into Universal Music Group.-Hollandsche Decca Distributie , 1929-1950:...



Major labels 1998–2004 (Big Five)
  1. Warner Music Group
    Warner Music Group
    Warner Music Group is the third largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry, making it one of the big four record companies...

  2. EMI
    EMI
    The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...

  3. Sony Music
  4. BMG Music
  5. Universal Music Group
    Universal Music Group
    Universal Music Group is an American music group, the largest of the "big four" record companies by its commanding market share and its multitude of global operations...

     (Polygram absorbed into UMG)


Major labels 2004–2008 (Big Four)
  1. Warner Music Group
    Warner Music Group
    Warner Music Group is the third largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry, making it one of the big four record companies...

  2. EMI
    EMI
    The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...

  3. Sony BMG (Sony and BMG joint-venture)
  4. Universal Music Group
    Universal Music Group
    Universal Music Group is an American music group, the largest of the "big four" record companies by its commanding market share and its multitude of global operations...



Major labels 2008-2011 (Big Four)
  1. Sony Music Entertainment
    Sony Music Entertainment
    Sony Music Entertainment ' is the second-largest global recorded music company of the "big four" record companies and is controlled by Sony Corporation of America, the United States subsidiary of Japan's Sony Corporation....

  2. EMI Group
  3. Warner Music Group
    Warner Music Group
    Warner Music Group is the third largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry, making it one of the big four record companies...

  4. Universal Music Group
    Universal Music Group
    Universal Music Group is an American music group, the largest of the "big four" record companies by its commanding market share and its multitude of global operations...



Major labels since late 2011, if approved (Big Three)
  1. Sony Music Entertainment
    Sony Music Entertainment
    Sony Music Entertainment ' is the second-largest global recorded music company of the "big four" record companies and is controlled by Sony Corporation of America, the United States subsidiary of Japan's Sony Corporation....

  2. Warner Music Group
    Warner Music Group
    Warner Music Group is the third largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry, making it one of the big four record companies...

  3. Universal Music Group
    Universal Music Group
    Universal Music Group is an American music group, the largest of the "big four" record companies by its commanding market share and its multitude of global operations...

     (EMI recorded music division to be absorbed into UMG, pending approval by antitrust regulators)


Record labels are often under the control of a corporate umbrella organization called a music group
Business group
A corporate group is a collection of parent and subsidiary corporations that function as a single economic entity through a common source of control. The concept of a group is frequently used in tax law, accounting and company law to attribute the rights and duties of one member of the group to...

. A music group is typically owned by an international conglomerate
Conglomerate (company)
A conglomerate is a combination of two or more corporations engaged in entirely different businesses that fall under one corporate structure , usually involving a parent company and several subsidiaries. Often, a conglomerate is a multi-industry company...

 holding company
Holding company
A holding company is a company or firm that owns other companies' outstanding stock. It usually refers to a company which does not produce goods or services itself; rather, its purpose is to own shares of other companies. Holding companies allow the reduction of risk for the owners and can allow...

, which often has non-music divisions as well. A music group controls and consists of music publishing companies, record (sound recording) manufacturers, record distributors, and record labels. As of 2005, the "big four" music groups control about 70% of the world music market
World music market
The music industry or music business sells compositions, recordings and performances of music. Among the many individuals and organizations that operate within the industry are the musicians who compose and perform the music; the companies and professionals who create and sell recorded music The...

, and about 80% of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 music market. Record companies (manufacturers, distributors, and labels) may also comprise a record group which is, in turn, controlled by a music group. The constituent companies in a music group or record group are sometimes marketed as being divisions of the group.

Independent

Record companies and music publishers that are not under the control of the big three are generally considered to be independent (indie
Indie (music)
In music, independent music, often shortened to indie music or "indie" is a term used to describe independence from major commercial record labels or their subsidiaries, and an autonomous, Do-It-Yourself approach to recording and publishing....

), even if they are large corporations with complex structures. The term indie label is sometimes used to refer to only those independent labels that adhere to an independent criteria of corporate structure and size, and some consider an indie label to be almost any label that releases non-mainstream music, regardless of its corporate structure.

Sublabel

Music collectors often use the term sublabel to refer to either an imprint or a subordinate label company (such as those within a group). For example, in the 1980s and 1990s, "4th & B'way" was a trademarked brand owned by Island Records
Island Records
Island Records is a record label that was founded by Chris Blackwell in Jamaica. It was based in the United Kingdom for many years and is now owned by Universal Music Group...

 Ltd. in the UK and by a subordinate branch, Island Records, Inc., in the United States. The center label on a 4th & Broadway record marketed in the US would typically bear a 4th & B'way logo and would state in the fine print, "4th & B'way™, an Island Records, Inc. company". Collectors discussing labels as brands would say that 4th & B'way is a sublabel or imprint of just "Island" or "Island Records". Similarly, collectors who choose to treat corporations and trademarks as equivalent might say 4th & B'way is an imprint and/or sublabel of both Island Records, Ltd. and that company's sublabel, Island Records, Inc. However, such definitions are complicated by the corporate mergers that occurred in 1989 (when Island was sold to PolyGram) and 1998 (when PolyGram merged with Universal). Island remained registered as corporations in both the US and UK, but control of its brands changed hands multiple times as new companies were formed, diminishing the corporation's distinction as the "parent" of any sublabels.

Vanity labels

Vanity labels are labels that bear an imprint that gives the impression of an artist's ownership or control, but in fact represent a standard artist/label relationship. In such an arrangement, the artist will control nothing more than the usage of the name on the label, but may enjoy a greater say in the packaging of his or her work. An example of such a label is the Neutron label owned by ABC while at Phonogram in Great Britain. At one point artist Lizzie Tear (under contract with ABC themselves) appeared on the imprint, but it was devoted almost entirely to ABC's offerings and is still used for their re-releases (though Phonogram owns the masters of all the work issued on the label).

However, not all labels dedicated to particular artists are completely superficial in origin. Many artists, early in their careers, create their own labels which are later bought out by a bigger company. If this is the case it can sometimes give the artist greater freedom than if they were signed directly to the big label. There are many examples of this kind of label, such as Nothing Records
Nothing Records
Nothing Records was an American record label, specializing in industrial rock and electronic music, founded by John Malm Jr. and Trent Reznor in 1992...

, owned by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails is an American industrial rock project, founded in 1988 by Trent Reznor in Cleveland, Ohio. As its main producer, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, Reznor is the only official member of Nine Inch Nails and remains solely responsible for its direction...

; and Morning Records, owned by The Cooper Temple Clause, who were releasing EPs for years before the company was bought by RCA
RCA
RCA Corporation, founded as the Radio Corporation of America, was an American electronics company in existence from 1919 to 1986. The RCA trademark is currently owned by the French conglomerate Technicolor SA through RCA Trademark Management S.A., a company owned by Technicolor...

.

Organizational Structure

Not all Record Labels follow the same organizational structure and can be slightly different as larger labels buy smaller labels, the organizational structure tends to change.

Relationship with artists

A label typically enters into an exclusive recording contract
Recording contract
A recording contract is a legal agreement between a record label and a recording artist , where the artist makes a record for the label to sell and promote...

 with an artist to market the artist's recordings in return for royalties
Royalties
Royalties are usage-based payments made by one party to another for the right to ongoing use of an asset, sometimes an intellectual property...

 on the selling price of the recordings. Contracts may extend over short or long durations, and may or may not refer to specific recordings. Established, successful artists tend to be able to renegotiate their contracts to get terms more favorable to them, but Prince's much-publicized 1994–1996 feud with Warner Bros. provides a strong counterexample, as does Roger McGuinn
Roger McGuinn
James Roger McGuinn is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. He is best known for being the lead singer and lead guitarist on many of The Byrds' records...

's claim, made in July 2000 before a US Senate committee, that The Byrds
The Byrds
The Byrds were an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964. The band underwent multiple line-up changes throughout its existence, with frontman Roger McGuinn remaining the sole consistent member until the group disbanded in 1973...

 never received any of the royalties they had been promised for their biggest hits, "Mr. Tambourine Man
Mr. Tambourine Man
"Mr. Tambourine Man" is a song written and performed by Bob Dylan, which was released on his 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home. The Byrds also recorded a version of the song that was released as their first single on Columbia Records, reaching number 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 chart and...

" and "Turn, Turn, Turn".

A contract either provides for the artist to deliver completed recordings to the label, or for the label to undertake the recording with the artist. For artists without a recording history, the label is often involved in selecting producers, recording studios, additional musicians, and songs to be recorded, and may supervise the output of recording sessions. For established artists, a label is usually less involved in the recording process.

Although both parties need each other to survive, the relationship between record labels and artists can be a difficult one. Many artists have had albums altered or censored in some way by the labels before they are released—songs being edited, artwork or titles being changed, etc. Record labels generally do this because they believe that the album will sell better if the changes are made. Often the record label's decisions are prudent ones from a commercial perspective, but this typically frustrates the artist who feels that their artwork is being diminished or misrepresented by such actions.

In the early days of the recording industry, record labels were absolutely necessary for the success of any artist. The first goal of any new artist or band was to get signed to a contract as soon as possible. In the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, many artists were so desperate to sign a contract with a record company that they usually ended up signing a bad contract, typically giving away the rights to their music in the process. To this day, standard recording contracts define record labels as the rightsholders of the music that the contracts cover. Entertainment lawyers can be used by some to look over any contract before it is signed.

Through the advances of the Internet the role of labels is becoming increasingly diminished, as artists are able to freely distribute their own material through web radio, peer to peer file sharing such as BitTorrent, and other services, for little or no cost. Bigger artists such as Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails is an American industrial rock project, founded in 1988 by Trent Reznor in Cleveland, Ohio. As its main producer, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, Reznor is the only official member of Nine Inch Nails and remains solely responsible for its direction...

 have announced an end to their major label contracts, citing that the uncooperative nature of the recording industry with these new trends are hurting musicians and the industry as a whole, and most of all hurting the fans. Radiohead
Radiohead
Radiohead are an English rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, formed in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke , Jonny Greenwood , Ed O'Brien , Colin Greenwood and Phil Selway .Radiohead released their debut single "Creep" in 1992...

 also cited similar motives with the end of their contract with EMI
EMI
The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...

 when their album In Rainbows
In Rainbows
In Rainbows is the seventh studio album by the English rock band Radiohead. It was first released on 10 October 2007 as a digital download self-released, that customers could order for whatever price they saw fit, followed by a standard CD release in most countries during the last week of 2007. The...

was released as a "pay what you want" sales model as an online download.

New Label Strategies

With an increase in file sharing and music sales plummeting in recent years, labels and organizations have had to change their strategies and the way they work with artists. New types of deals are being made with artists called "multiple rights" or "360" deals with artists. These types of pacts give Labels rights and percentages to artist's touring, merchandising, and endorsements. In exchange for these rights, Labels usually give higher advancement payments to artists, have more patience with artist development, and higher percentages in CD sales. These 360 style deals are most effective when the artist is established and has loyal fan base. For that reason, Labels now have to be more relaxed with the development of artists because longevity is the key to these types of pacts. Several artists such as Paramore
Paramore
Paramore is an American rock band from Franklin, Tennessee, formed in 2004. The band consists of lead vocalist Hayley Williams, bassist Jeremy Davis, and guitarist Taylor York...

, Maino
Maino
Maino is an American rapper from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York City, New York.-Early life:...

, and even Madonna
Madonna (entertainer)
Madonna is an American singer-songwriter, actress and entrepreneur. Born in Bay City, Michigan, she moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance. After performing in the music groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, she released her debut album in 1983...

 have signed such types of deals.
A look at an actual 360 deal offered by Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records is an American record label best known for its many recordings of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and jazz...

 to an artist shows a variation of the structure. Atlantic’s document offers a conventional cash advance to sign the artist, who would receive a royalty for sales after expenses were recouped. With the release of the artist’s first album, however, the label has an option to pay an additional $200,000 in exchange for 30 percent of the net income from all touring, merchandise, endorsements and fan-club fees.

Atlantic would also have the right to approve the act’s tour schedule, and the salaries of certain tour and merchandise sales employees hired by the artist. But the label also offers the artist a 30 percent cut of the label’s album profits — if any — which represents an improvement from the typical industry royalty of 15 percent.

Industry consolidation

In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a phase of consolidation in the record industry that led to almost all major labels being owned by a very few multinational companies. CDs still flow through a handful of sources, with the majority of the sales going through the "big four" record labels.

Resurgence of independent labels

In the 1990s, as a result of the widespread use of home studios, consumer recording technology, and the Internet, independent labels began to become more commonplace. Independent labels are often artist-owned (although not always), with a stated intent often being to control the quality of the artist's output. Independent labels usually do not enjoy the resources available to the "big four" and as such will often lag behind them in market shares. Often independent artists manage a return by recording for a much smaller production cost of a typical big label release. Sometimes they are able to recoup their initial advance even with much lower sales numbers.

On occasion, established artists, once their record contract has finished, move to an independent label. This often gives the combined advantage of name recognition and more control over one's music along with a larger portion of royalty profits. Artists such as Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton
Dolly Rebecca Parton is an American singer-songwriter, author, multi-instrumentalist, actress and philanthropist, best known for her work in country music. Dolly Parton has appeared in movies like 9 to 5, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Steel Magnolias and Straight Talk...

, Aimee Mann
Aimee Mann
Aimee Mann is an American rock singer-songwriter, guitarist and bassist.-Early life:Aimee Mann grew up in Bon Air, Virginia, graduated from Open High School in 1978 and attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, but dropped out to sing with her first punk rock band, the Young Snakes...

, Prince, Public Enemy, BKBravo (Kua and Rafi), among others, have gone this route. Historically, companies started in this manner have been re-absorbed into the major labels (two examples are Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra was an American singer and actor.Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became an unprecedentedly successful solo artist in the early to mid-1940s, after being signed to Columbia Records in 1943. Being the idol of the...

's Reprise Records
Reprise Records
Reprise Records is an American record label, founded in 1960 by Frank Sinatra. It is owned by Warner Music Group, and operated through Warner Bros. Records.-Beginnings:...

, which has been owned by Warner Music for some time now, and Herb Alpert
Herb Alpert
Herbert "Herb" Alpert is an American musician most associated with the group variously known as Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass, or TJB. He is also a recording industry executive — he is the "A" of A&M Records...

's A&M Records
A&M Records
A&M Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group that operates under the mantle of its Interscope-Geffen-A&M division.-Beginnings:...

, now owned by Universal Music Group). Similarly, Madonna
Madonna (entertainer)
Madonna is an American singer-songwriter, actress and entrepreneur. Born in Bay City, Michigan, she moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance. After performing in the music groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, she released her debut album in 1983...

's Maverick Records
Maverick Records
Maverick Recording Company is an American record label owned and operated by Warner Music Group, and distributed through Warner Bros. Records.-Company history:...

 (started by Madonna with her manager and another partner) was to come under control of Warner Music when Madonna divested herself of controlling shares in the company.

There are many independent labels; folk singer Ani DiFranco
Ani DiFranco
Ani DiFranco is an American Grammy Award-winning singer, guitarist, poet, and songwriter. She has released more than 20 albums, and is widely considered a feminist icon.-Biography:...

's Righteous Babe Records
Righteous Babe Records
Righteous Babe Records is an American independent record label. It was created by progressive folksinger Ani DiFranco in 1990 to release her own songs in lieu of being beholden to a mainstream record company.-History:...

 is often cited as an ideal example. The singer turned down lucrative contracts from several top-name labels in order to establish her own New York-based company. Constant touring resulted in noteworthy success for an act without significant major funding. Ani and others from the company have spoken on several occasions about their business model in hopes of encouraging others.

Some independent labels become successful enough that major record companies negotiate contracts to either distribute music for the label or in some cases, purchase the label completely.

On the punk rock
Punk rock
Punk rock is a rock music genre that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in garage rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock...

 scene, the DIY ethic
DIY ethic
The DIY ethic refers to the ethic of self-sufficiency through completing tasks oneself as opposed to having others who are more experienced or able complete them for one's behalf. It promotes the idea that an ordinary person can learn to do more than he or she thought was possible...

 encourages bands to self-publish and self-distribute. This approach has been around since the early 1980s, in an attempt to stay "true" to the punk ideals of doing it yourself and not "selling out
Selling out
"Selling out" is the compromising of integrity, morality, or principles in exchange for money or "success" . It is commonly associated with attempts to tailor material to a mainstream audience...

" to corporate profits and control. Such labels have a reputation for being fiercely uncompromising and especially unwilling to cooperate with the big record labels
World music market
The music industry or music business sells compositions, recordings and performances of music. Among the many individuals and organizations that operate within the industry are the musicians who compose and perform the music; the companies and professionals who create and sell recorded music The...

 at all. One of the most notable and influential labels of the Do-It-Yourself attitude was SST Records
SST Records
SST Records is an American independent record label formed in 1978 in Long Beach, California by musician Greg Ginn. The company was initially called Solid State Transmitters through which Ginn sold electronics equipment...

, created by the band Black Flag
Black Flag (band)
Black Flag was an American punk rock band formed in 1976 in Hermosa Beach, California. The band was established by Greg Ginn, the guitarist, primary songwriter and sole continuous member through multiple personnel changes in the band...

. No labels wanted to release their material, so they simply created their own label to release not only their own material but the material of many other influential underground bands all over the country. Ian MacKaye
Ian MacKaye
Ian Thomas Garner MacKaye is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, musician, label owner, and producer. Active since 1979, MacKaye is best known for being the frontman of the influential hardcore punk bands Minor Threat and The Teen Idles, the post-hardcore bands Embrace and Fugazi, as well...

's Dischord
Dischord Records
Dischord Records is a Washington, D.C.-based independent record label specializing in the independent punk music of the D.C.-area music scene. The label is co-owned by Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson, who founded Dischord in 1980 to release Minor Disturbance by The Teen Idles...

 is often cited as a model of success in the DIY community, having survived for over twenty years with less than twelve employees at any one time.

Internet and digital labels

With the Internet now being a viable source for obtaining music, netlabel
Netlabel
A netlabel is a record label that distributes its music through digital audio formats over the Internet...

s have emerged. Depending on the ideals of the net label, music files from the artists may be downloaded free of charge or for a fee that is paid via Paypal
PayPal
PayPal is an American-based global e-commerce business allowing payments and money transfers to be made through the Internet. Online money transfers serve as electronic alternatives to paying with traditional paper methods, such as checks and money orders....

 or an online payment system. Some of these labels also offer hard copy CDs in addition to direct download. Most net labels acknowledge the Creative Commons
Creative Commons
Creative Commons is a non-profit organization headquartered in Mountain View, California, United States devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. The organization has released several copyright-licenses known as Creative Commons...

 licensing system thus reserving certain rights for the artist. Digital Labels are the latest version of a 'net' label. Whereas 'net' labels were started as a free site, digital labels seek to give the major record industry a real run for their money.

Open source labels

The new century brings the phenomenon of open-source or open-content record label. These are inspired by the free software
Free software
Free software, software libre or libre software is software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with restrictions that only ensure that further recipients can also do...

 and open source
Open source
The term open source describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product's source materials. Some consider open source a philosophy, others consider it a pragmatic methodology...

 movements and the success of GNU/Linux
Linux
Linux is a Unix-like computer operating system assembled under the model of free and open source software development and distribution. The defining component of any Linux system is the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released October 5, 1991 by Linus Torvalds...

.

Publishers as labels

In the mid-2000s, some music publishing companies began undertaking the work traditionally done by labels. The publisher Sony/ATV Music, for example, leveraged its connections within the Sony family to produce, record, distribute, and promote Elliott Yamin
Elliott Yamin
Elliott Yamin , born Efraym Elliott Yamin, is an American singer known for his hit single "Wait for You" and placing third on the fifth season of American Idol....

's debut album under a dormant Sony-owned imprint, rather than waiting for a deal with a proper label.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK