Updated: Aug 4, 2021
The long debate that’s been in discussion probably as long as music has been distributed. What’s the benefit of owning your catalog versus sharing your catalog with a label? If we were to take a spin down to the days before current time we would see a lot of information that would give a lot of insight on this topic. In the 80s there weren’t any streaming platforms let alone a cell phone. So where would fans listen to their daily favorites? No need to dig far in your head it would be the radio of course, Also if you really love that artist you would buy their physical copies to play in your own system. Big difference from 2021 where artists can literally upload from their phone or their home studio. With that perspective in mind it would fairly be safe to say that music technology back then would require more resources and help. Distribution is one of the main key factors anyone even hears music. It costs a lot to get a vinyl pressed and a cassette pressed, and it requires a certain expertise. Not only are these products being made they have to be in a store to be brought. No online stores at all, so from this perspective labels pulled a lot of resources together including MONEY. Therefore the way Labels would make their investment back from sharing all these resources, they would simply own a part of your catalog. I wouldn’t argue and say that isn’t fair for an up and coming artist without that many resources to even make that type of distribution work. Only thing that really gets crazy is where artists feel like, “hey I made this music why should somebody own more of a percentage in my catalog than someone that didn’t even write one lyric.” Of course it gets even crazier when labels not paying you enough with all the hard work you get into. In today’s time it’s way more easier to sell and. hey even distribute. The control is going back into the artists hands. People still buy physicals. I’m a consumer myself, but I would be lying If I didn’t say music is way easier to consume nowadays. So with all this technology we are starting to see a decline in Record label sales according to statistics 38 billion in 1999, and by the time 2000 hit it plummeted to 20 billion.
Where is all that money going? I have an answer for sure, the ARTIST, artists are now doing research and conducting themselves as labels. Not only are artists conducting themselves as labels, they’re getting more educated on what owning their masters means. A lot of artists are making the decision to own their masters, which simply means more money and control. So what can someone possibly take from this writing? A couple of things but what it boils down to is, the artists need to make the decision whether or not it’s “too much” to distribute music? This all comes with a price, and it is definitely more than distribution, it’s also making the right connections to be able get your music heard. Not to limit this paper to what labels offer or do not offer but to simply look at the pros and cons of what it meant then to own your masters and what it means now to own your masters.