The major reason for this paper is to determine the importance and impact of independent Record Labels in the music industry. First, the paper will examine in depth what music industry is, what an Independent Record Label is, and discuss the importance and impact of the Independent record labels in the music industry. The study will also consider Gennett record label, its importance, and contribution to the music industry. We will learn how the creator, producer, and artists developed a viable business and music channel as Gennett record label. We start by defining the music industry.
The music industry comprises of the distribution, sale, and performance of music in a variety together with the promotion of live musical performance. In other words, the music industry comprises of all the people, who take part in music from its origination to the final destination of music. These include the distributors and manufacturers, who are the recording labels, the suppliers whose image are the artists and ultimately the customers. The music industry dates back in time, starting from the mid 19th century where the only product of the field was the printing of sheet music. In simple terms, the music industry represents companies that record, produce, publish, distribute, and market recorded music (Kusek and Gerd 134). Music refers to the art of organizing sounds in years to come up with a continuous, unified, and evocative composition, via harmony, timbre, rhythm, and melody. Music can be of different types and examples include jazz, classical, blues, rock, reggae, country, gospels, hip-hop, pop, punk and many more. During the start of the recording industry, the most controlling forces have been from corporations. In the year 1940, only three record companies controlled the music industry. The introduction of more African Americans to the urban areas saw an increase in the number of record labels and the music going to the market. The beginning of 1950s saw the emergence of six outstanding record labels, which had to accommodate the independent music experience of the market. With time, the labels increased in numbers, and there was categorization of the record labels.
Record labels refer to companies, which manufacture, distribute, and promote recorded music. There are two kinds of record labels prime labels also known as colossal four labels and independent labels (indie labels). The Big Four record labels include Sony BMG, Music Group, EMI, Universal and Warner Music Group. They represent the majority of the music on sale comprising three quarters of the music market. Any artist working to a Big Four record label has allocation to either a subsidiary of the label or to the central label.
This command review will focus more on the Independent record labels, their importance and the impact they have on the music market. An independent record label is one that organizes for funding alone, and in addition, it has no connection, to any of the Big Four key labels. The Independent labels can be true independents, mini majors or major distributed independent label. True independents labels indicate that the owning and distribution of the products is different while mini majors are labels with no distribution systems of their own. The leading distributed independent labels provide the utmost label with recording, and the rest is up to the label. This difference is not majorly given consideration as all these labels still fall under the category of Independent record labels. They range from large, highly profitable businesses to home based labels. Independent labels face the challenge of supplementary financial resources, and this makes them flounder in promoting their music, and getting their music to be heard unlike the leading record labels whose finances are at their disposal. Despite this challenge, the Independent record labels has survived and thrived in the music industry for several years, and this is viewed in terms of trade and terms of creativity (Kennedy and Kennedy 234).
In the current changing music industry, Independent record labels keep on having a positive impact and everyone seems to be appreciating the importance of these labels. In this paper, we will look at the impacts the Independent record labels have on the music business and focus on its importance. First, Independent record labels work in line with what the artist’s vision. Unlike in leading record labels where an artist has to go with what is already in the book, Independent labels provide an artist the chance to express his plan and consequently the labels come up with what he had envisioned.
Independent labels over the years have taken the risk of developing artists with unique sounds. Due to this, the Independent record labels have the greatest share of the music market, holding about 18% of the entire market. The impact this has on the music industry is that music consumers learn to recognize the charm of these labels in vast numbers. The most significant impact of Independent record labels in the market is the way in which they operate as a business. Less people who write, grow, and closely work with every artist on the label premier independent labels. This is unlike their fellow prime labels, which its power is by business executives and they in most cases far from the creators of the music they intend to promote. Artists working with leading labels lack the close relationship they want from their agency heads. Artists prefer the shorter way they have with their mentors, and in the end, the artists’ initial plan is upheld, and their talents realized.
On the business aspect, the managing of independent labels is as small businesses and this means having lower expenses and fewer employees, unlike major labels. This arrangement enables them to earn more money by selling fewer record sales as compared to the Major record labels. The fact that they are viewed as small businesses, independent labels take more risks on the number of artists they work with in music production. This will mean that Independent labels end up bringing better musical variety and diversity to their music customers which the Major record labels fail to do. This makes the music business competitive, and contemporary artists can have a choice to make on which title to work with, keeping in mind of the name that will improve their talent and expand their vision.
Independent labels represent the jack-of-all-trades role, and through this, they support their clients to develop, and get every part of their career. The Major labels have started to incorporate this idea, but it originated from the Indie labels. They do this informally the artist incurs no additional cost, and this makes their clients realize that they want to spend their all in the label. Another impact is on the contracts in the music industry. While Major labels have complex contracts because they are corporations under supervision, Independent labels offer their clients straightforward contracts. This is enlightening every person in the music industry that your deals do not need have to be too complicated. Another impact the Independent labels have is a virtue of believing in your artist. This is a trait Major labels are learning from their counterparts. Artists need to be encouraged and if their producer believes in them, working with them will be much enjoyable and easier.
Since Independent record labels have the challenge of lesser financial resources, they have to come up with new and better ways of promoting records. Independent records do not have the capital that the Major labels have and this makes them lack better global distribution networks that are helpful. This disadvantage pushes the Independent labels to find ways to survive in the industry. In their struggle to remain in the industry, Independent record labels introduce new methods of music promotions, and this helps in bringing in new things to the industry. This is a positive impact to the music industry as new ideas and better innovations keep coming up to strike a balance. These innovations are in terms of music production, marketing, recording, distribution, and development of talent.
Another powerful impact that Independent record labels depict on the music industry is on technology in use. Artists in the current music industry have the ability to succeed despite the lack of support of a Major record label. Constant improvement in recording technology has made studio rates cheaper, and there are several distribution options for the artists. Independent artists take every opportunity of competing with those from the Major labels especially in the digital music stores and internet stores. The traditional ways of distribution that are majorly in use by the Major labels are no longer relevant. The digital distribution of music is accessible, and cheap and almost any person can record, and release music. In addition, this in turn reduces the dependency of most artists on Major record labels (Macy and Hutchison 67). Gennett record label is a subsidiary of Richmond’s Starr Piano factory. Initially, the owners of this record were the Gennett family that was living, in a stately mansion, in East Main Street. This was by the appointment of Henry Gennett as the secretary-treasurer to the company. Gennett’s entrepreneurial ability gave the company a substantial boost and by 1906, the company had over six hundred employees. In 1934, the Gennett family abandoned the record label. The Gennett label is popular by collectors of popular music especially blues, jazz and country recordings. Gennett label came to be in October 1916, after music stores refused to sell any labels promoted by Starr pianos. At first, Gennett had to sue the vertical method of recording because many customers had gramophones.
In the year 1926 to around mid 1921, Gennett’s offices location was at 9-11 East 37th street, and this is where all recordings took place. Gennett was the first Independent record label to record its music laterally. They won a case where Victor had sued them for patent infringement. The lawsuit saw the end of monopolization of lateral recording and forming a stronger bond between the smaller recording companies, which were in support of Gennett in the legal battle. There was the organization of leases between the companies, which involved Gennett’s works. The recording of Richmond studio included several electric and acoustic recordings, featuring jazz, ethnic, blues, classical and many more (Barnett and Burriss 156).
Gennett saw the recording of many famous names in Richmond and studio in New York. Among these people, we have Friars Society Orchestra, Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, Bix Beiderbecke and many others. There were several performances organized for these artists by the recording label.
Gennett’s contribution to the music industry is still being appreciated to date. It was Gennett legal battle with Victor that made small recording companies realize that they needed to come together to fight the monopoly of the Major recording labels in the music industry. This has seen a considerable increase in the number of Independent record labels in the music industry. Gennett also contributed to the growth of jazz music. Many recording artist at Gennett was focusing on Jazz music, and there are some famous names linked to the Jazz music. The likes of Jelly Roll Morton, Joe King Oliver, Sidney Bechet, Original Dixieland Jazz Band and many more realized their talents at Gennett and got their fame their too.
In conclusion, the Independent record labels have a substantial impact on the music industry. We have seen from the above discussion that the emergence of these Independent record labels put an end to the monopoly that Major record labels were commanding in the music industry. The Independent labels have brought diversity in the music industry, and consumers and future artists have a wider selection to choose from when it comes to music. The area of music technology has also grown giving artist a wider variation on how to distribute and promote their records. Gennett record logo on its part played a significant in the early years by uniting the small recording companies. This has led to the Independent record labels to be different and work together without having to rely on Major companies. Independent companies have also made the music business be more competitive and more creative ways of marketing and producing music keep coming up because of these record labels.
As much as Major record labels still control the music industry, the general appeal of Independent labels, artists, their style of managing, and their musical apt will in the end with upcoming of digital marketing and reducing stress on traditional methods of endorsement, result in the disrupting of corporate-driven music. This is great importance of Independent record labels in the music industry.