CELABELS: Anyone Can Have a Music Label.
What are the requirements of owning and operating your own music label? Apparently having a recognizable name and a healthy checkbook and/or ego are prerequisites. Recently, Perez Hilton announced the launch of his label Perezcious Music, then David Letterman through his hat into the ring with Clear Entertainment and just this week, the most qualified American Idol judge, Ellen DeGeneres, joined the fracas by forming ElevenEleven Music.
So these media moguls who have worked very hard for a long time to reach their respective level of celebrity recognized the same thing that we have been writing about for the past few years: Major Labels are dying. There is a wide gap in the industry where well funded and well publicized projects can have a real impact and make real money.
The independent model (self funded, self produced, self released) has fizzled a bit over the best year or so. The glut of content and ease of production has made it harder to get noticed. But the labels remain in disarray and the old multi-album record agreements are not coming back. So is the only way to get your music out and actually noticed partnering with a celebrity?!? We’re here to say…not necessarily.
What do these new Celables (I want credit for this new moniker) s have that attracts musicians? 1. Money (in Letterman’s case, a whole lot of it); 2. Celebrity/Fame/Recognizability and 3. Easy Access to the Public.
Each one of the above three examples has enough money (or access to money) to fund a “major label” like push for an artist. (Notice that they are starting modestly with one or two artists evidently learning from the failed major label model of signing every artist and hoping one hits) That means that they can afford to pay for the production and recording of an album, pay for the marketing and advertising prior to and during the release of the album (including paying to get music in the right places, on the radio, on MTV, etc.), pay for a distribution agreement and pay tour support to get the artist out on the road in front of his newly purchased fan base. The obvious HUGE plus with being part of a Celeb label is the instant recognizability that it gives to the artist. Any piece of press that talks about Ellen’s new label will inevitably mention her new artist as well. Finally, what better way to push the artist in front of an enormous audience than to promote him or her on your own show or website. The Celables will push (as all of them already have on their own shows, websites, and other appearances) their artists to their previously established enormous fan base. Think how hard it is to get to perform on Letterman. Now think how easy it is to perform on Letterman, in front of millions of potential purchasers of music, if you are on Mr. Letterman’s label.
So how can an indie compete with a Celable? Well, there really is no replacement for the first requirement: Money. However, as we have consistently written here on L4M, if you push your music to the level where an investor may be intrigued enough to partner with you, you may be able to get a regular old rich guy to take care of this need. Now, your rich guy is probably not David Letterman, but with the rich guy’s best asset, money, you can purchase a lot of what the Celables have. Buying the right marketing, or better yet, partnering with the right marketing and public relations firm can get you the placements you need, the buzz you deserve and even land you on the Ellen show. Paying for an experienced management team can also get you that access as well as get you bookings at big shows or on legit tours.
The point, the model of a musician investor partnership can work. Does it work better if that investor is uber famous? Probably. But, putting the right team together and using money in a smart and creative way can get you to the same point as Runner Runner (never heard of them? they are Letterman’s band).
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