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  1. 1. Independent music companies<br />On a simple level, independents are seen as being at the opposite end of the institutional spectrum from the Big Four music majors<br />majors<br />independents<br />EMI<br />Sony Music Entertainment<br />Warner Music Group<br />Universal Music Group<br />
  2. 2. Some independents<br />Beggars – includes Beggars Banquet (Charlatans), 4AD (Pixies), XL (White Stripes, Prodigy, Dizzee Rascal)<br />Rough Trade – The Smiths, The Strokes, Belle and Sebastian, The Libertines, Arcade Fire, Antony and the Johnsons<br />Domino Records – Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys<br />
  3. 3. Independent music companies<br />Differences from majors:<br />Defined as not being owned by another (larger) company<br />Definitely not part of a major music company<br />When an independent company becomes very successful, it may well be a target for takeover by a major music company<br />
  4. 4. Independent music companies<br />Similarities to majors:<br />Some indies are bigger than others:<br />may be just one music label, but may own a range of music labels<br />Will have artists / bands signed to them, just as majors do<br />The process of production, distribution and exchange is similar to that of the majors, but on a smaller scale<br />
  5. 5. Independent music companies<br />Independent / indie labels are often thought of as <br />producing more authentic music (in contrast to mass-produced, manufactured music from the majors)<br />seeing music as creative art, rather than commercial product<br />giving their artists more artistic freedom to produce the music they want, rather than fitting into an existing music formula that has been proven to sell<br />
  6. 6. Perceptions ofmajors and independents<br />Have very little money<br />Produce obscure music by artists that no-one has heard of<br />Their music is hard to categorise, so gets called “alternative”<br />Are not so motivated by profit<br />Have lots of money<br />Promote mainstream artists <br />Produce standardised, formulaic music<br />Sole aim is to make more money<br /><ul><li>But how accurate are these perceptions?</li></li></ul><li>Domino Records<br />Visit to consider Domino Records as a case study of a UK independent:<br />How is the label structured? <br />Consider the range of artists signed to Domino and the styles of music<br />Do they fit into one genre<br />Do they fit the stereotype of ‘alternative’?<br />How does it distribute / allow its music to be consumed?<br />How has the internet helped the success of the label?<br />
  7. 7. majors v indies MYTHS <br />MYTH: artists on indie labels produce “alternative” (non-mainstream) music that will not sell<br />Arctic Monkeys<br />Franz Ferdinand<br />The Strokes<br />Oasis<br />
  8. 8. majors v indies MYTHS<br />MYTH: artists on indie labels are all “breaking new ground”<br />It can be argued that the most successful artists are just recycling past musical styles and images<br />
  9. 9. majors v indies MYTHS<br />MYTH: the output of the Big Four majors is all standardised, formulaic material.<br />All of these have an indie image, but are / were contracted to the majors:<br />Radiohead - Parlophone - EMI<br />Sonic Youth - Geffen - Universal<br />Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Funeral for a Friend - labels owned by Warner Music Group<br />The Kaiser Chiefs - Universal (after indie start)<br />
  10. 10. majors v indies MYTHS<br />MYTH: the majors do not allow “alternative” artists creative control, and do not really support them<br />It can be argued that the majors can allow more risk-taking, because they can cover any losses through their more profitable mainstream artists.<br />“Alternative” artists can draw on the strength of a major music company to market and distribute their music<br />
  11. 11. majors v indies PROMOTION<br />The size and strength of the majors means they can<br />put more money into promoting their music (advertising campaigns, appearances, radio airplay etc.)<br />secure better distribution of their music (getting it stocked in shops)<br />Awards ceremonies, like The Brits, act as a promotional vehicle for the majors.<br />
  12. 12. majors v indies PROMOTION<br />Independent labels can be swamped by the power of the majors in promotion and distribution.<br />However, awards like the Mercury Music Prize, that are based on musical performance rather than production budget, advertising hype or sales, can help promote independent labels’ artists<br />XL’s Dizzee Rascal, 2003<br />Domino’s Franz Ferdinand, 2004<br />Rough Trade’s Antony and the Johnsons, 2006<br />