Redefining "Independent" Music

Updated: Feb 23

If there is one element of the music industry that remains consistent over time, it is that of change.

There is no question that entering the music industry feels like playing a game where the only rule is that there are none. One minute, signing a record deal is the only way to become successful, and the next it changes to needing a viral TikTok. It feels like madness. And it is.


THE MAJORS VS THE INDEPENDENTS


Industry changes can be even more difficult to navigate when the definitions of important players are constantly changing. In the past, the definitions between "Independent" labels were clear and distinct in contrast to "The Majors." So long as a label was not owned by Warner, Universal, or Sony, they were considered to be independent.


But, the lines between the independents and majors are drastically blurring. Looking at today's record labels, there is only a handful that could be considered truly independent. Most labels are either directly owned by a major, or they work as close partners.


THE CASE OF 300 ENTERTAINMENT


The case of 300 Entertainment serves as a prime example of how the definitions between Independent and Major are blurring.


In a recent acquisition by Warner Music Group, the "independent" record label 300 Entertainment got its new parent company. Despite this new position under a major label, 300 Entertainment remains adamant about defining itself as an independent.


"Independence is in our DNA" - 300 Entertainment Motto


The Independent nature of 300 Entertainment could have also been questioned in the company history prior to this acquisition. The company utilized Atlantic Records (another subsidiary of Warner Music Group) as its partner for distribution. Furthermore, each of the company's four founders have been highly employed by Warner, prior to 300 Entertainment's inception.


Kevin Liles previously served as an EVP for Warner. Lyor Cohen as CEP and President, Roger Gold as VP, and Todd Moscowitz as a previous Co-President and CEO.


300 Entertainment's tactics of aligning itself as an independent while having such close ties to Warner Music Group bring to question what companies can or can't be considered "Independent."


REMAINING QUESTIONS


The story of 300 Entertainment and Warner is not unique. Countless other record labels have been developed and bought by the majors, and countless more are closely affiliated.


Because of this, finding a truly independent record label, one without any influence coming from the majors, becomes almost impossible.


So, what comes from this? Whether we like it or not, this pattern of calling companies that are owned by majors "Independent" changes the definition of "Independent" itself. Artists, professionals, and companies alike must become increasingly careful as to who they choose to partner with, and how they choose to market themselves.


If one wishes to stay truly independent from the majors, perhaps "Independent" is not the way to go.


Now Entering: The Age Of The Anti-Label


With the change in defining who is or isn't "Independent," an entirely new kind of record label has emerged - The Anti Label.


The Anti-Label takes the ever-changing nature of the music industry and uses it as an advantage. This new kind of record label focuses on restoring creative control to all artists and fights against harmful practices that have been made commonplace in the industry.


As the line between Independent and Major becomes blurred, the line defining the Anti-Label becomes clearer. Placing itself in opposition to common practices of the industry, the Anti-Label's position becomes increasingly clear.








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