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Dan Le Sac ponders the pros and cons of label versus self-release

By | Published on Wednesday 6 May 2015

Dan Le Sac

“Just because artists can now self-release their own records, should they?” That’s the question Dan Le Sac asks in his new column for CMU, he facing that very dilemma himself has he preps his first new record since completing his deal with Sunday Best Recordings.

“Depending on what you read”, he notes, “you might find yourself believing that the record label model is dying, and the rise in self-released records might be seen as proof of that. I don’t really believe that the label will ever truly die, it will evolve for sure, but ultimately a good record label brings more to your album than just a budget and a route to the shops. So what I want to ask is, what do we lose when we take record labels out of the equation? And what do we gain by doing it ourselves?”

While recognising that going the self-release route gives an artist complete creative control, and not just over the music, Dan counters: “[But] bear in mind that by choosing to self-release you are in practice becoming a label. So while you’re busy being a band, touring or whatever it is bands do once they finish a record, you have to ask yourself if you have the energy or discipline to spend weeks chasing the artwork dude for that final CMYK file”.

“Or the video director lady for that edit where the drummer doesn’t look quite so much like someone who isn’t allowed within 50 yards of children. Basically, losing a little creative control outside of the record itself might not be the worst thing if it saves you from administrative hell, or if it frees you up to actually enjoy your potentially fleeting time as a band”.

Though having more control over where you music ends up is attractive. “Often artists have final approval on advertising and movie syncs and suchlike through their record deals anyway, but having control over how your music is sold and distributed direct to fans is less common. So whether or not your music is on Spotify or Deezer etc is rarely your decision”.

“This may not sound greatly important but with the streaming model yet to solidify its foundations, and the industry itself shifting all the time, being able to make the choices that suit you and your audience best is huge. With an uncertain future, retaining ownership and/or control of your intellectual property gives you dexterity when reacting to that future”.

Find out what conclusions Dan reaches in his full column here. And look out for Dan’s address to the new government as part of the #VoteForMusic session during CMU Insights @ The Great Escape in Brighton next week, which also includes a whole full-day strand looking at the artist/label relationship, and how the partnerships between artists and labels are evolving. Full details on that here.