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Let's Prove That Artists Don't Need Major Labels To "Make It"

WHITEFIELD, NH (Hypebot) – During every interview, convention panel, startup negotiation or conversation with an industry peer, there is inevitably a moment when someone says something like, "All this talk about social networking, new media and digital marketing is exciting, but does it work? And if it does, where are all the successful artists that have made it because of music 2.0?"

They're not interested in stories of Trent Reznor, Radiohead and Jill Sobule who have maintained and even grown careers using all the 2.0 techniques after leaving a record label who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to break them. These skeptics want to know about artists that have "made it" without ever having the help of a major or even larger indie label.

I usually point out that in an era when only 950 new releases sold more than 25K copies in the U.S. last year, we need to redefine success. Touring, merchandise and direct to fan sales all are part of modern artist income streams. But even after that re-calibration of expectations, the doubters understandably want examples.

They Want Proof? Let's Give 'Em Proof

To answer the skeptics, I'm starting a list of artists that are growing and sustaining real careers in what I like to call the new musical middle class (or above) without label largess. I've included links to articles on Hypebot about each act or to their web site. This very short list is just to get things started.

  • Jonathan Coulton
  • Cory Smith
  • Umphrey's McGee
  • Ani Defranco
  • Doctor Dog
  • Metric
  • Gaelic Storm
  • Hot Buttered Rum

    By way of full disclosure, these last two artists are from my own Skyline Music agency roster, and I know firsthand how they've achieved and sustained their success. – Bruce Houghton