The Miseducation of The Independent Artist

Had an interesting conversation spark when I asked the question “Whether major or independent; Does the MidWest need a record label?”

Obviously record labels do exist in the midwest, but I was talking specifically about another label whether Indie or Major. There was an overwhelming amount of “Yes” responses which kind of threw me for a loop, considering the new buzz word/phrase throughout specifically the rap scene is, “You don’t need a label anymore” and “labels are just banks”. However, with that diatribe, there is a lot of miseducation.

Many feel that artist like Mac Miller, Chance The Rapper, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis did nothing but create there music by themselves, put it out on a few social platforms, did some shows and built their solid supportive fan bases with no foundation of support, solely off of the fact that they did it without a major label backing them.

This isn’t a breakdown of pocket watching, but I think what artist need to know is that even these Indie artist aren’t making waves with just a literal dollar and a dream.

Many people don’t know that Chance has a great supporting cast of well off people that helped fund some of his major career moves.

Jon Connor was backed by Mateen Cleaves before the Aftermath Deal.

Mac Miller was financially backed by Rostrum Marketing

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have a major distribution deal

In regards to companies like RocNation, a entity that runs as a management company more than a “Record Label”, People forget that it was Founded by a 100 millionaire named Shawn Carter, who goes by the rap stage name Jay Z and he started RocNation after leaving his executive seat for Def Jam records. There’s a hint and a half that he has enough money and knowledge to know how to maneuver through the music industry as an artist.

What about Tech N9ne? Glad you asked. In October of 2013, I asked Tech N9ne, What are the 2 things that every artist needs when going independent? This was his answer.

If you know his story, you know that he too had a well off business owner as a business partner and they made the financial and product efforts to get them to the empire they have today.

Is the Indie game still a great game to be in? Yes. It’s all about money and work ethic though. Whether you are signed to Universal or “Ugandan Giant Records” studio time, beats, features, mixing and mastering, plane tickets, videos and merchandise still need to be paid for. Add that in with the amount of social media marketing and ad space needed now to reach cities to be in demand for a show; It’s hard to understand how anybody thinks the successful Indie artist are getting things done with next to nothing and nobody around.

A great point was brought up by Kevin Baker of

We definitely need a major label here [in Chicago] as well as a publisher. Indie is cool if u got money and can leverage deals. Artists sit on shelves for a number of reasons. If u are a major, why would u want to invest in someone who doesn’t invest into themselves? This is why most artists go indie bc they lack work ethic. Even these “management” companies are all old label executives. I’d rather have a good lawyer than management.

@BehindTheRhyme Be Safe. Be Humble. Live Hip-Hop.

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