Posted: 15 November 2018
The music industry is constantly changing and evolving, resulting in it now being easier than ever to record and mix your tunes without the backing of a record label. However, with an estimated 150,000 albums and singles released on Spotify each year1 it’s getting increasingly difficult to stand out and be successful. We’ve crunched the numbers to help answer the question... just because you can self-release does that mean that you should?
When putting your music out independently, you decide when, what and how to release it. Promotion plays a huge part in determining how successful your release is, and self-releasing means that success (or lack of it) is laid directly at your feet.
As well as keeping full control of your music, self-releasing your music means you also get full control of the proceeds from it. The more people involved, such as labels, managers, agents, PR and so forth, the smaller your piece of the pie.
Self-releasing means you keep full control of your creations. For example if you’re approached to provide a song for a TV sync then you can weigh up the extra income and publicity against the potential impact to your credibility. Sell more or sell out, the choice is yours!
Self-releasing means all the costs will be down to you, and not covered by a record label. A label will in theory have greater resources and be able to provide a decent amount of backing. On top of this labels will be able to lean on existing relationships with manufacturers and at reduced rates, so its not just a case of more resources but cheaper prices too.
It’s worth bearing in mind that all this self-releasing business takes you away from actually creating music. If you do manage to pull out all the stops and make your release a success you will want to capitalise on this momentum, but may have been so busy that you won’t have any new music to follow up with.
Over the past 10 years the number of record labels has declined yet the amount of music released has risen by 150%. This means more and more people are choosing to go it alone yet it's becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd. When you take into account the level of promotion required to attract attention, as well as booking launch shows, doing PR, organising the logistics of the release and you soon realise why this is a full-time job.
Joan Jett, Ed Sheeran, A$AP Rocky and lots of other huge artists first got recognition after self-releasing their music. On the other hand, Radiohead, Eels, Nine Inch Nails and many others have self-released after making a name for themselves. Then there’s the thousands of artists who have released their music on all manner of labels big and small.
Whichever path you choose to drop your music, there’s lots of different factors that play a part and no guarentee of success. Ultimately you know your music and audience best.