Why are artists wanting to be signed to a DIY label?

Image credit: Kieran Webber

As the popularity of DIY labels continues to expand so does their roster, so why are artists wanting to be signed to a DIY label?

In recent months we have spoken to a large array of DIY artists and owners of DIY labels to delve into how the operate, their experiences, and much more. Through the interviews we have learnt a lot about both sides of the DIY community, all of it fascinating.

One thing we were keen to know more about was why so many independent artists are wanting to be signed to a DIY label. It became abundantly clear that as an independent it made total sense to join a DIY label, mostly for the same reasons you’d become an independent musican. Control and freedom.

As Fil of Blitzcat Records explains: “Freedom, really. All labels like us want to do, is amplify what artists are expressing to as many people as possible. The majors try to shape the artist to their liking I guess, with all the pressures that come with that.”

With Blitzcat Records co-owner ‘Chris adding: “It’s a super tough industry, and ultimately I think artists are looking for all the help they can get. Whether that’s through a DIY label, management, booking agent, etc. DIY labels, a good one anyway, can satisfy all roles in one – so from that perspective it’s a well-rounded leg up.”

However, some independent can decide to go it alone, which many have done successfully. However, Callum of Copper Feast Records explains: “It’s definitely true that independent artists can go it alone and self-release their record and that’s something I’d definitely encourage bands to try, but I think a lot of them soon realize that there’s so much work involved in doing a release justice when putting it out. They recognize that the value a label provides in managing everything and arranging press, paying for and distributing physical copies, as well as all the other stuff, is well worth it.”

Adding: “Of course, there’s also the element of being able to link up with other like-minded artists under the same label with that added notoriety and visibility which may come with being signed onto a certain label, compared with self-releasing, which may seem like more of a lonely road to travel on at times. Working with an indie rather than a larger label, at least in our case, offers the artist far more of a say in how they want the release to go and what they want a vinyl package to look like.”

Again, reiterating the importance of freedom for an artist and the ability to dictate the general feel of the release overall. Releasing a record is part of the artistic process and if you’re not in control of that then your message or aesthetic could be lost.

Joe Booley of Beth Shalom Records sums this up brilliantly: “I think the main thing nowadays is that artists are able to hold as much control of their music as they want which I think is amazing!! You hear horror stories of artists signing with majors or bigger labels which pump a load of money into a record and get dropped, and by the end of that, the label still owns all the copyrights to that recording etc. But living in a day and age where artists can record themselves and distribute themselves is amazing, so working with smaller, independent labels makes the most sense to that type of artist.”

Joe taps into something really important with that last comment, an artist today can record and distribute their own music. Services such as ours, which is used by DIY labels can help distribute your music to all the major streaming services and social media channels, such as TikTok. So, as the internet has empowered DIY labels and artists you can sidestep pushing for major labels, this way retaining all your publishing and mechanical rights and keeping 100% of your royalties.

I feel it’s safe to say that DIY is the future and the best way for an artist to not just grow but thrive. As DIY artist Milo Gore explains: “As an artist, you want to own your art. Being DIY & independent gives you full creative control and ownership over your work. I think that is really important. As the artist, you should be the one profiting from your work. Another reason I think more and more people are going DIY, is because they can..! Technology and equipment these days are so much better, you can record and create almost anywhere. So why not do it yourself!”

Music journalist and photojournalist based in Cornwall.

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