The summer is winding down and so is the 116 Days of Summer Guests feature. There are a couple left including this post by Tataetano about whether to work with a major record label or not. Please welcome Tataetano to the blog.
Earlier this year I had a meeting with the Global Vice President of one of the big three major labels. This individual was responsible for greenlighting every signing for all subsidiary labels, including signing and producing records for this one. I felt I could share this unique experience and discuss a new perspective resulting from it. I won’t disclose which one at this time since I still have a working relationship with them. I went in naïve and starry-eyed and came out with a positive but more realistic perspective.
I can recount every moment of that meeting as it was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve had to date. One comment still loops in my memory just because I still am not completely sure how to interpret this statement. At the end of my meeting, one of the last things he told me was this: “Remember that I get sent and listen to a hundred songs every day, sent to me by the best singers, producers and songwriters in the world. If you want to compete be sure you are only sending me your best.”
I thought about this a lot. I still think about it. Extremely discouraging and inspiring at the same time. On the one hand, this reassures my notion to always do your best work. No matter what. You never know who or when your material will get into the hands of someone or something that can allow your art the exposure it deserves. On the other hand, music is subjective. I may love a song which you are indifferent. That is part of the beauty that is music. The part of this statement which was contradictory was this: The last artist he signed was not a songwriter. Not a performer. Not a singer. Not even an artist. It was just someone who said something on a daytime television show and it went viral on the internet. The label saw an opportunity to cash in on this fleeting moment. So, in that respect, that individual is not the best at anything. They did not work on writing a song, rehearsing a show or spending time in studios.
My takeaway is this: If you want your art to be received on your own terms, a major label is not the answer. Their business is selling units, not art. If your goal is to sell units than by all means pursue. Do not get discouraged or by any means stop creating. All of your favorite artists who are not pre-packaged pop acts expressed their art their own way and built a following well before they got the attention of a major. The majors want to do the least work possible. They want to throw some money at something that has some traction already, and if it hits, they make their return and go on to the next thing. Think of it as a venture capitalist investing in a startup. I say, find your niche market, write music you love, develop a following organically, work harder than anyone else. Don’t ever stop creating, learning and loving what you do.