How a DIY label can help an independent artist

Image credit: Kieran Webber

There are now more DIY labels operating successfully than perhaps ever before but how do they help artists?

DIY scenes are popping up all over the world and with that comes a wave of fantastic DIY labels, but how do these labels help independent artists? 

Recently we caught up with a wide range of labels from across the world who all work with a variety of genres. The interviews helped give us an insight into the DIY scenes as well as how they operate, most importantly how these labels help emerging and underground artists. 

A lot of artists will do most of the leg work themselves by creating their own music, touring, emailing, marketing, and everything else that comes with being an independent artist in the modern age. However, at some point a DIY label will be interested in working with them, some times it’s a friend or even another DIY artist. When approached by these labels there is much to think about, what’s their cut, why do they want to sign me, and how will this help me grow as an artist. 

It’s very much a partnership for most DIY labels as Angus (of Double A-Side) explains: “We try to have a meeting with bands we like in order to show interest and see what their plans for releases are.”

This idea of a partnership is backed by Callum of Copper Feast Records who says: “One of the key things we try to do is offer a deal to our artists which are balanced on both sides and gives them fair compensation for their work while still allowing us scope to grow and release more music.” Adding: “We offer a fair share of profits on physical releases with our artists which entitles them to half of the profit on a release with no expectation for them to stump up money upfront for a pressing, nor to buyout any unsold stock.” 

However, it’s not all about the money, most DIY labels want to help you and their scene grow, Callum explains: “We’re trying to foster something of a community spirit within the label to try to allow the bands to support one another, both domestically and abroad, and for fans to find more of a link between all the artists on our roster, in an attempt to bring new fans onto bands they otherwise might not have listened to.” 

It for this reason that many artists are looking to be signed to DIY labels, the idea of working together as opposed to the traditional big label ethos of them owning you and your music. Callum elaborates: “I’m also looking for artists that are willing to get stuck in on their end and be an active part of the decision making and release process to make it a truly collaborative experience between the two parties, rather than perhaps a ‘typical’ artist/label relationship where the label is calling the shots on various aspects of the release and the artist has no choice but to follow.”

DIY labels are carrying a new ethos and a new wave of thinking within the music industry, laying a path for a different way of getting your music heard. Not to mention bringing a much-needed shakeup in how label-artist relationships work. Joe Booley of Beth Shalom Records explains that working with artists is more than releasing their music: “We cover a wide range of services. Our main role across all campaigns is distribution, manufacturing and press, but we also offer tour bookings/promotions (when possible), some artists we work with on a management levels, and look to secure as many opportunities for our artists as possible. If there are certain things that maybe we can’t offer at that point, a lot of the time we know people we can either outsource it to, or even looking moving into that field ourselves.” 

As the industry changes it’s more apparent that DIY labels will be imperative for independent artists, working with them and molding their service around them. A bespoke experience that would be hard-pushed to be found in any major label. Easy distribution has also led to these labels providing a better, fairer experience and RouteNote is proud to serve as a tool for a wide variety of DIY labels across the world. 

Music journalist and photojournalist based in Cornwall.

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