This week, likeZEBRA.com released 5 reasons an artist or band should ditch record labels:
- Competition for Attention - Music artists are already forced to compete for the attention and interest of fans; they shouldn't have to compete for that attention within their own record label. Labels divvy up their focus between multiple signed artists. Whereas an artist may be giving 100% to developing their music career, a label can only allocate a fraction.
- Quantity over Quality - A record label's main concern is the monetary return on their investment, but an artist's main passion is the quality of the music being produced. Conflicting core values between labels and artists unnecessarily inhibit the creativity and uniqueness of the artists' music.
- Taxation without Representation - Labels take a cut of the money earned by artists for performing tasks that the artists could actually do themselves with the right access to resources and guidance. Web sites such as likeZEBRA.com offer recording and promotional tools to get the music directly out to an audience without being an expensive middle man.
- Out of Touch - Labels have a toxic fixation on record sales. This is an anomaly in today's low record-selling music industry. With the easy access to cheap or free music online, labels are rapidly losing their relevance for turning their focus more towards the importance of live performances. Even major bands like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails addressed their labels' irrelevance by selling recent albums directly to fans online.
- Trade-Offs of Contracts - What does an artist really get in return for signing with a label? Lack of creative control? A portion of their own paychecks? Restrictions and inflexible deadlines? Binding obligations to labels leave much to be desired when artists can now rely on themselves to get their music produced, promoted and purchased.
likeZEBRA.com caters exclusively to independent and unsigned bands. Bands can upload their albums and retain 100% ownerships of the material. The site is marketed to music fans as “the voice of the underground” and they claim to have the largest database of undiscovered talent. I’ve played around with the site tonight and have noted some positives and negatives:
|+||You can discover songs by track name, artist name, genre or by checking out what other people are listening to.|
|+||You can then listen to the tracks in the player while continuing to browse the site (something Last.fm does not allow).|
|-||But if there is a way to make playlists or add multiple tracks to the player then I certainly can’t find it.|
|-||And if you click on a song from the search above, it should start playing immediately (or at least queue to be added to the playlist. It doesn’t and you have to still go start the song on the player.|
|-||My very best way of discovering new artists is by genre and to do this, you need quality control. There is little quality control on the site and heavy rocks bands have managed to add themselves to the house and techno genres.|
|+||There are charts which include the Top 10, Top Downloads, Most Loves and Popular tracks. If you click on one of the charts then you can play the whole playlist.|
My verdict is that with slightly more focus on the fans and a greater degree of quality control, this could be a powerful site that could change the face of music forever.