I Signed to a Tiny Label Before My Album Blew Up--Should I Stay?

Categories: Fan Landers

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist, and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Fan,
I'm an artist who put out a debut pop record last year that did relatively well. It sold enough to put me in the black and ended up with a good deal of great press. However, when I signed my initial deal I was relatively unknown and signed to a small subsidiary of a UK label with options for more records. Since then the smaller subsidiary is dissolving and the larger label would like to take me on. Lots of this is good, I enjoy working with the label people for the most part and I know they will go to bat for me. However, I don't feel like I especially fit in with the roster on this larger label and there is a part of me that would like to use this opportunity to find an even larger worldwide label with more reach and artists I feel akin to. Do I stick with the people I have a decent working relationship with or do I take the risk of jumping ship?
L'Artiste

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Dear L'Artiste,
Congratulations on the success of your record! Fan is a fan; I am psyched for you. It's not surprising that you are scanning the horizon for other opportunities--where you started and where you are now are leagues of stardom apart. Given that you are, in some regards, still in the launch phase of your career, there are some things to weigh in this situation. The people you are working with "get" you and you have a good rapport; they've helped facilitate you getting this far--these things count for a lot. The rub is they are about to be subsumed into a larger corpo-entity, so their power to push through projects on the reasonable, indie, we respect your work terms you've had with them before is likely to be greatly diminished. They are also going to be learning how to navigate and work within a larger bureaucracy for at least another six months. Where you are right now you don't want to be aligned with people that low on the totem pole, because best case scenario, it'll mean a whole lot of hustling and maybe a little ass kissing to get in with the people who do have the power to help make things happen for you. I don't think that is going to be a good use of your time.


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6 comments
PeterKasen
PeterKasen

@jesshopp Having got pr myself for four albums, I must respectfully disagree. Some mags only work with pr firms, not the artist directly.

ILPS9000
ILPS9000

Jessica...

Your correspondent says "I was relatively unknown and signed to a small subsidiary of a UK label with options for more records.". It's unfortunate that we don't get info on what label(s) are involved. If I knew, I might be able to speak to this more directly.

Do you know? The reason I ask is that if what she says is accurate - 'subsidiary' - then for all intents and purposes she singed to the same company as the major label, and may have little recourse. It's one thing to be signed to an indie distributed by a major, it's another being signed to an 'indie' that has been set up by a major label to make it look cool, and like a real indie (which it's not). It sounds like the latter to me.

In any case, I wish the artiste luck...

xtremetoaster
xtremetoaster

@jesshopp Where is this mystery "why a band shouldn't hire a publicist" portion of your column? Wasn't at your VVoice link...

PhilipsFlicks
PhilipsFlicks

@VoiceStreet #1 - Prepare to be called a "sell-out" by jealous competitors. :)

WesternPub
WesternPub

@jesshopp Can't wait to read this, but it doesn't appear to be live.

gentlemanstimes
gentlemanstimes

@jesshopp I don't see it in there. Also, huh? If nothing else, a publicist makes sure your interviews happen & handles guest list.

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