Indie Record Labels - Yes? Or No?

Major Labels, Minor Labels, Signed/ Unsigned Independent Artists… what’s all this about and how does one make sense of this madness?

Major Labels, Minor Labels, Signed/ Unsigned Independent Artists… what’s all this about and how does one make sense of this madness? Also known as an Indie Label, an Independent Label is a record label that is self-funded/ financed (hence the name Independent) through personal or private financial resources. These financial resources have no connection to the three major operating labels: Universal, Sony, and Warner. Depending on the popularity and quality of the Indie label and its operations, these labels can range from being a small home-based operation to a highly profitable and professional business. The defining line between an indie label and major label began melt into an ambiguous category in the early 90s. Large Indie Labels have now transferred distribution operations to the three major labels.

To clear the air on understanding the definition of a Major and Minor Record Label, here’s an excerpt from an article published on Oct 4, 2017 by jamesghanzanfar explaining the differences between Major and minor record labels.

Major Record Labels: There a three music labels that are classed as major labels – Sony BMG, Warner music group, and Universal music group. This is because they make up 80% of the music market. They are mainly major labels as they own their own distribution channel. Key features of major record labels:

  • High amounts of funding make these labels able to control the industry and have a large income

  • Able to help artists get worldwide recognition

  • Artists can lose their personal touch through the labels being focused on marketing and money making

  • Easily distribute their artists songs or albums through a plethora of platforms

Minor Record Labels: Minor labels or indie/independent labels do not get the same funding as major labels and artists often start out with these labels. They often do not own a distribution channel and have less funds meaning they have a harder time gaining recognition. There is a focus on the music and minor labels look for more individuality rather than just money. An example of a minor record label is NY based Fool’s Gold, London based Rough Trade, and NYC British Owned XL Recording

  • Minor record labels normally look for unique, individual talent.

  • They mostly care about the music and the talent of the artist.

  • They are a lot more careful with their budgeting as they have less of a budget and they have to be careful with the money they spend on distribution.

  • They work less with main stream radio stations as they are very expensive to get onto. Meaning their promotion is not as successful.

  • You’ll be posting loads of engaging content, so be sure to keep your blog organized with Categories that also allow visitors to explore more of what interests them.

You can also reference the short slide clip for this information (

Most Independent Labels have varying challenges to overcome when trying to get their music heard. These challenges surround the fact that most labels operate on fewer financial resources for marketing and promotion of their music than do those labels who depend on support from the big three labels. Despite these challenges, the Indie Labels have found several successful ways to survive and thrive in this competitive industry. Some Indie Labels may not have had much success but the impact on the growth and development of the creative music art and business has definitely left a lasting impression. We’ll dive more into the 411 on Indie Labels in our next article. In the meantime, keep the hustle going and stay true to the game!!!

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