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Record Labels As Musician Services

A friend of ours did some promotion work at CMJ recently for a new record label called UFO. UFO’s model is very musician-centric; it moves much more to the side of being a service for musicians rather than having musicians as ’employees’. This flips the pyramid that usually puts the artists at the bottom, working as “employees” of the label. Here’s what our friend reports:

So, I took a job I saw in a bulletin on Myspace. I had to hand out
fliers at CMJ (the big annual music industry conference in NYC) for a
new record label called UFO. I felt a bit weird since the fliers
weren’t ‘my project’, but it was easy money, so I grabbed a friend
and did it.

The idea was to hit up artists and record industry types entering and
exiting the various panel discussions and booths with fliers and tell
them a brief synopsis of what UFO is about so people start buzzing
about it and visit their website. (www.ufomusic.com) The idea with
UFO is; artist friendly label backed by industry expertise. They
split all profits on album sales 50/50 with the artist, the artist
owns the masters (like prince!), 3 year contract (with option to
break) and complete creative control. UFO lets you log in to the
website and view sales reports, inventory and expenses. The band does
provide a finished master, but this isn’t completely absurd in this
day in age when everyone seems to know someone who works at a
recording studio. So you get a real record label pushing you, putting
you in stores and marketing you, without signing your life away and
making dirt off the record sales. It’s a good idea that could work
out really well for certain bands.

CMJ was pretty interesting. Everyone that’s in attendance is involved
in the music industry to some capacity (the badges are $600, I snuck
in) and since they’re there on business, they’re willing to listen to
you. It is weird knowing there’s a bunch of people (music industry
people that make a living off other peoples music or reactionary
artists) attending lectures about what new twist is going to come next
in indie rock or hip hop so they know where to bet their chips. But,
the existence of panels on indie labels, file sharing and satellite
radio made CMJ not all bad. Unfortunately I couldn’t sneak into the
actual panels.

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