In the music business it is easy to equate success with being signed to a major record label, but in a lot of cases this isn’t always the best path for a musician. There are a number of benefits that the unsigned artist has in terms of flexibility, creativity, and identity.
When you are signed to a contract with a record label you will be subject to a number of terms that can be as broad as reaching deadlines when expected to as narrow as how you act on your social media or in public. A label is a great way to get your name out there, but you will be putting in a lot of work that will end up likely benefitting label owners and heads as much as if not more than it benefits you.
These restrictions often feel like they can hinder a musician’s creativity, and so for some, being unsigned means that they are free to explore their craft the way they want to. When you have a hit on a major label, it is likely they will push you to craft similar songs on your follow up in order to build on commercial success, but this may mean that you don’t get to fully express your creativity.
The biggest benefit to staying unsigned is that you get to control your brand. Artists and musicians are their own brand, and often label heads will have a “mold” to fit you into when you sign a contract. Are you a young attractive lady? It may not matter that your passion is heavy metal; a label may think you’re the next pop sensation, and will require you to move in that direction. An unsigned musician is free to make their career decisions on their own, rather than being told what to do.