So you’ve been dropped by your record label. Now what? Explore the best next steps to take after losing a record deal.

As an artist you get used to rejection. But signing a record deal feels like you’ve finally made it. Your music is set for success, and nothing can stand in your way. If you’re dropped by your record label and that security is taken away, it feels like a huge blow to your music career – not to mention your ego.

For most musicians, getting signed to a label is The Dream. Especially if you score a major label deal, with a famous name that everyone knows, and money behind your releases.

The thing is, you have power as an artist in your own right, even though it doesn’t always feel like it, and losing a deal doesn’t have to be terrifying.

Record labels make you feel like they’re the only option for your music. But that’s not the case. Don’t give up on your music – read on to get inspired about what your next steps should be.

Learn from your record label experience

You may no longer be under the care of a record label but you can still act like you are, albeit on a smaller budget! Even though you’ve been dropped, the experience of being signed can still be a valuable one.

What did you learn? What did you find most impressive behind the scenes of a label, beyond the clout of being signed to a big name, and having someone else handle the admin for you?

One of the biggest pluses about being signed to a big label is the amount spent on an artist or band’s PR and bookings. You might not be able to match the recording studio budget, but you can think objectively about how the marketing and promotional techniques the label used could be applied to your future as an independent artist.

The seemingly bottomless label money pot may be out of reach, but the key elements of successfully promoting a release are the same. Find tips for DIY marketing here in our three-part How to Market Your Release video series:

Equally, think about the mistakes you don’t want to repeat, whether the label’s errors or your own. Was there money that could have been better spent elsewhere? Creative decisions that didn’t fit your music?

Time to try and face some harsh truths, too, for example if you were the one who was difficult to work with. Learn from your mistakes, regroup – and move on.

Don’t give up on your music career

The time to bounce back is now! Don’t let losing your record deal put you off music completely.

When the label signed you, they saw something in your music that they believed in. There are lots of underlying reasons an artist is let go by their record label. Circumstances like the individuals you worked with, and the state of the wider music industry at the time, could have played a part.

Don’t forget – sometimes it’s the artist who is the one to walk away, not the other way around. There’s many reasons why an artist can want to leave their label. They might feel they’re not being managed in the right way, or that the label is taking an unfair cut of their earnings, or they’re being neglected.

Making and playing music was what led you to being signed, so keep that fire alive!

You can finally take control of your music

That particular dream may be over, but your ambition and talent is still your own to do with what you wish. Take control of your own music career, and set out to prove everyone wrong.

Independent music distributors like RouteNote let you release your own music for free without a record label.

routenote stores distribution

At RouteNote we give you all the tools you need to send your music into the world without the need to be signed to any label. We’re all about simplicity and flexibility, with no hidden fees or small print to trip you up. You’ll own your masters, so all the rights to your songs are yours forever.

We cover 95% of the digital music market, from Apple Music to Tencent Music, giving your tracks worldwide reach. You can take your pick of stores and services, monetise your music on social media, and you’re free to leave or switch to a different distributor whenever you want. Choose between free distribution, keeping 85% of revenues, or check out our Premium option to keep 100% of earnings for a small fee.

Other record labels exist!

Being dropped by one label isn’t rejection from them all, for eternity – even though it might feel that way. If you miss the structure of belonging to a label, why not look into submitting your music to other indie labels?

The availability of DIY music distribution means there are more fantastic independent record labels than ever, always on the lookout for new artists and bands to sign.

Start your OWN record label

Why wait around for someone else to call the shots? Setting up your very own label and selling your own music has never been easier or more accessible.

RouteNote’s unlimited distribution for independent labels is for an unlimited number of artists – it doesn’t matter how many artists you have on your record label, there’s never any extra charge for uploading their music.

It’s a shock to be dropped from a record label, but it doesn’t have to be the end for your music career. Find out more about what RouteNote can do for you and your music here.