When Is A Label Or Artist No Longer Independent?


Award-Winning Recording Artist 21 Savage

OringiWorld Community Report!

#IndependentLabel #IndependentArtist #MusicIndustry

#CommunityReport #OringiWorld #E40 #21Savage #EllaMai


Written By - Mr. Oringi


“Me and my Label just got signed to Warner Music!” says Underground Recording Artist Lil Dappy as he joyfully reads the latest text from his manager.


“After all of this grinding and sacrificing I’m finally on, and now I’m going to put you on with me!”


Sound familiar?


Lil Dappy doesn’t exist, but his story is shared by many artists around the globe.


The question is simple: When is an In-dependent Label or Artist no longer Independent?


In a growing industry that is constantly changing due to technological advances, new business practices, and a forever evolving musical soundscape, it is easy to overlook one of the most successful models in the industry of business; the Independent Music Industry.


The now well known idea that an artist can create and record his or her own music is widely accepted in today’s industry, but it wasn’t always perceived with the chagrin it currently enjoys.


Many early record companies positioned themselves to control the majority interests over their artists by providing all of the tools needed to record, or cut, a successful song, then collecting royalties from the artist later on the back-end to cover the initial costs of production and distribution.


As artists continued recording, and then eventually touring, it become evident that artists weren’t being fully compensated for their work, or even worse, were signing deals with record companies that gave ownership of all the artists musical works to the record company.


As time moved forward, technological advances became more prominent, especially within the music industry.


These advances ranged from cutting-edge production processes, to modernized outboard (hardware) equipment capable of capturing sound like never before.


The day that artists were able to record their own productions using the 8-track was the day the independent music industry was born.


No longer did artists have to sign record label deals that didn’t benefit them.


Now, If the artist was savvy, they could cut their own songs and could release them directly to their fans. This new approach to creating and delivering music changed the music industry business model forever.


Bay Area Rap Icon & Legend E40

For the first time ever, artists had the power and control over the content they created, and even became their own record labels.


The San Francisco Bay Area witnessed the earliest incarnation of the Independent Music industry through artists such as Too $hort, E-40, And JT The Bigga Figga now known as Figg Panamera.

These early innovators and trailblazers set a precedent in the industry that hadn’t been seen before, but there were some serious hurdles that had to be overcome.


For starters, the early success of the Independent music industry highly depended upon an artist’s ability to connect with his fan base where they were.


This meant that the artist had to travel to each city and neighborhood in order to connect with the fans and make sales.

Many times an artist would pull up to a certain neighborhood block bumping his music, hop out of his ride, pop open the trunk, and begin selling his available products to the community.


This would take place in every city until the product was sold out.


Marketing themselves as recording artists capable of making a music sale without the need of a major music imprint backing them got the attention of all kinds of business people.


It was immediately realized that although these early independent artists had successfully sold their products to the communities in regions near their geographical focal point, the need to reach a greater audience was extremely important.


Distribution became the new focal point, and many artist made whom were once truly independent began relinquishing that independence in exchange for nationwide distribution.


Many of the distribution deals that were leveraged by artists early on were instituted by major record labels.

These labels had figured out another way to tap into music industry dollars that weren’t making it back into their coffers.


By signing the artists who were selling the product in the streets, the major labels were able to ink deals that traded interest in that particular artist’s album for nationwide distribution.

It was at this moment that a truly independent artist lost his or her independence.


You see, this arrangement has little to with popular opinion and everything to do with how the artist’s company is structured.

Many artists realize that it was financially difficult to facilitate orders for their products, which would’ve been placed by record stores, media production houses, etc,. on a consistent basis.


Partnering with a major label then gave the artist the financial backing that he required, while also giving him the space create his artistry freely, without having to conform to music industry executives production requests. At the same time however, aligning with the major label removed the “Independent” moniker the artist enjoyed by default.



Today, much of the industry landscape is still the same, but their are some noticeable changes that deserve to be highlighted.


Artists are still signing exclusive deals with major labels in exchange for the labels control over the artist’s name, image, and content.


These types of deals are called 360 deals because they give the label legal access to the artists earned income over many different platforms, while the artist receives nationwide exposure and industry connections.


If an artist or label signs a 360 deal or something comparable with a major record label, they by default can no longer be considered an “Independent” Artist or label.


Companies like OringiWorld Global Digital Distribution offer an alternative solution.


OringiWorld Global Digital Distribution is the solution for artists and labels whom seek to maintain true industry independence while also delivering their content globally.


By providing artists and labels with global digital distribution, the need to sign 360 deals has been almost eliminated. Now artists can produce content they love, and retain ownership over that content indefinitely while getting paid directly.


The game has truly changed. You can choose what team is best for you, and move accordingly. It’s important to take your time when making any career or financial-based decisions.


Now that you know the definition of one of the most used terms in the music industry, which side of the fence are you on?



If you have a music opportunity you’d like to be featured in the OringiWorld Newsletter or OringiWorld Artist Spotlight!, please email mr-oringi@oringi.org with your information and details about the artist or event.

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