September 17, 2010

Good Old Days

(photo via Ching Chiao)

They don't make them like they used to... records, that is. True or False?

Back when you had to pay $$$$ to use a record studio, if you were lucky enough to have one in your local area, you would only do so if you thought that you had something really worth working on. A label (even independent dance music labels) would only sign your record if they though it was worth them spending $$$$ on mastering and then pressing 3000 pieces of vinyl, and then distributing those promos nationwide and overseas for premium exposure.

Now, you can buy an entire software studio for $500, email your track to a digital label, who will likely release it because it often costs them nothing upfront and only a small percentage to their digital distributors.

This creates a cycle of chasing hits, and it is almost a numbers game of scooping up as many 'maybees' as possible, in the hope that one of them will stick. The ways that digital labels can now cut corners extend to not bothering with mastering a track, badly pasted together 'artwork', and, in my experience, rarely paying the artists, producers and remixers.

Does this mean that every digi-only label sucks? Not at all. It may mean that you have to pick your labels well. Research those in charge of it, who they distribute to, who they master with, do they take out online advertising to help you stand out from the 3000 other digital tracks in your genre being uploaded that week.

Labels that take 15 years to reach 130 releases, such as Freerange Records are real gems - they nurture artists, work on follow-up EPs and albums, and grow organically, thus producing loyal artists and fans.

Maybe they do make them like they used to, but the 'noise' of so many other songs being released by so many labels and artists (on scores of websites) makes "them" harder to find.

Sometimes, less is, often, more. Probably.

Lee Jarvis

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