Indy Labels – New York Times

Posted by: mike on December 28, 2005 @ 4:48 pm
Filed under: Music

Great article in yesterday’s New York Times on the topic of current and future prospects for independent labels. People always look at me like I’m nuts when I say this but I think it’s a really exciting time to have a small, indy label. Who knows where it’s going to go, certainly not me, but this article affirms why I feel positive.

Seems the Internet has given music fans the power to search for music that truly excites and moves them. No longer can an industry pummel us into submission with their latest formulaic, overly produced, second-guessing concepts without there being a cost. The playing field is being leveled some, good news for independents.


After all, for people like me, and no doubt some like minded people working at major labels, this is about making and releasing music into the marketplace that we sincerely believe in with the hope that others will see what we see and hear what we hear. The current system, designed by the major labels, restricts access to listeners for all but the well funded. If a label cannot access the listeners, put its music in front of them, how can it hope to turn people on to its music? Now, through the Internet listeners are accessing us! And this phenomenon is not reserved for rock bands. Jazz labels, such as this one, are feeling the love more and more.

I guess I’ll sound a little naïve with this story but it truly illustrates what is happening as far as I’m concerned. It involves our band Kneebody and an early December show here in Chicago.

It was Kneebodys debut in Chicago. They had no right to have a big crowd. It was a Wednesday night. Not much airplay for them here and really not a whole lot of coverage in the press either. Also, we had a hard time doing other types of traditional marketing. It was frigid cold, street marketing was ineffective, in-stores were not a possibility, etc. I went to the show thinking I was going to be embarrassed for not having been successful in publicizing the gig very well. And in fact I was. They did not have a big crowd — 50-75 people — but it was who showed up that struck me.

A group of about 4 or 5 people were there who were recognizable to the band although not one band member could figure out why. Honestly, they looked out of place in a jazz club but were welcomed with open arms of course. They seemed to be having a great time. They were way into the music, hanging out, having fun, etc. One couldn’t help but notice then, they were 10% of the audience after all. After the performance, they walked up to the band and introduced themselves as “friends

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