Independent, Artist-Owned Labels Surge

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Update (1/9/12): Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon is launching his own label, Chigliak Records.

As the presence of major labels has begun to dwindle, a surge in independent, artist-owned labels and publishing houses has taken place to fill in the missing piece still needed to fulfill the many tasks and operations involved in releasing a record. Following suit with this trend is Brendan Benson – songwriter, producer, and co-founder of The Raconteurs – with the launch of his new Nashville-based record label and publishing company, ReadyMade. Having plenty of experience under his belt after multiple solo releases over the years and producing 5 albums in 2011 alone, Benson teamed up with manager Emily White to make the dream label he envisioned back in the 90s into a reality. In creating ReadyMade, Benson and White have focused on creating an outlet for well-tailored and creative releases. As White stated, “We wanted a way for Brendan to be able to create music when and how he wants and be able to put out the music sans any barriers. The answer to what we were looking for is Readymade.” With the 2012 slated releases of Benson’s new album What Kind of World, Young Hines’ Give Me My Change, and the Benson produced album from The Lost Brothers under the ReadyMade name, you can expect to hear a lot from ReadyMade in the coming months.

Benson isn’t the only one taking the DIY approach to releases these days though. Artists all over the world are following suit. But what is the point of a release if your music isn’t getting any attention? That’s where Jay Frank comes in. On February 1, 2012, Jay Frank –- music industry executive, blogger, and author –- will be releasing his newest book, Hack Your Hit: Free and Cheap Marketing Tips for Musicians in unison with the launch of his own record label, DigSin, which will be implementing all of the “hacks,” tips, and tricks outlined in the book to create buzz and attention around the label’s releases. With Hack Your Hit, readers can gain insight on ways to not only successfully market new music in the digital age, but to do it quickly and efficiently by utilizing online tools, maximizing social media, nurturing fans, and using other unique marketing techniques outlined throughout the book.

Also hopping aboard the DIY train in 2012 is Ben Kweller. Having spent the last 15 years working with various major labels as most artists of his stature have, the singer-songwriter has announced he will be releasing his latest album Go Fly A Kite on his Austin-based label, The Noise Company. Partnering with Alternative Distribution Alliance, Kweller is set to release his album on February 7.

“There’s a lot of geeky stuff involved, but as a die-hard music junkie and record collector, these things get me excited!” says Kweller. “It’s the real deal, not just an artist self-releasing his music. We have a real staff, real funding, real distribution, and I look forward to eventually helping other artists achieve their goals too.”


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