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Labels, Indie Labels, and the Anti-Label – Oh My!

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

How do music labels correlate to the artist’s creative work as well as their displayed image to the public eye? Particularly, to what extent do labels exert their creative control over the artist?

So, what exactly does a label do?

We all know artists from each of the major labels, but how do they function within? What makes the traditional record label differ from that of the independent label? Or more importantly, how has the emerging idea of the anti-label (coined by Brain Candy Management) impacted the industry? To begin, let’s start out with a rudimentary definition of what a record label is. Record labels are companies that are able to sell the artist’s content, music, and brand to listeners.

The Majors

The Majors vs. Indie: What to Consider

An Indie label may sound more appealing to an artist who is passionate about the content they create and possessing creative control, rather than being a part of a label that dictates their career. The label is therefore able to designate more time focusing on an artist individually due to the fact that there aren’t as many clients that a major label may have (read more about the majors here). Such indie labels include Mom + Pop (artists consisting of Tash Sultana and Caamp), as well as Dead Oceans (Phoebe Bridgers and Mitski).

Dead Oceans Label

The Anti-Label

So, where do we go from here? We have the majors, the indies, and more recently, the anti-label – a vision and service that Brain Candy is solely dedicated to. Yet, you might ask, who exactly would benefit from the anti-label? The clear answer is everyone but also those who are fairly new to the industry, such as entry-level artists. This can also be applicable to independent artists who are responsible for their own merch, photos, album art, etc. For example, Chance the Rapper is a well-renowned artist who entered the industry as an independent rapper to have the ability to own his rights fully.

Brain Candy’s anti-label is rooted in offering à-la-carte services that set reasonable price points for artists, while they are still able to own their rights. Brain Candy is redefining the role of a label. Their motto is to “go beyond the traditional” with the three laws being:

  1. Safeguard Creatives’ Control

  2. Inspire Human Camaraderie

  3. Encourage Industry Collaboration

Not only does Brain Candy create a space in which the artist fully possesses the autonomy to discover their image and voice, but they also protect the artist’s vision and respect it. In this way, Brain Candy stresses that sacrifices of an artist’s time, control, and creativity are not being risked. With the anti-label, there are no stakes; all are treated the same, whereas, within a major label, some artists may receive more attention if they are a mega-star versus a newer artist who just joined, thus being stuck in a hierarchy.

Down the Line

Moving forward, the image and strict definition of the “label” has been challenged. The gradual transition originating from the majors to indie labels, to the anti-label has reconfigured what creativity can look like, and how ownership is purely in the artist’s hands.

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