The Future for Independent Record Labels
by Eugene Brooks

Small independent record labels are facing a different fight today to obtain a share of the music industry. The best possible means in which small labels were able to get their CD's sold vanished in 2003 when Southwest Wholesale Records and Tapes closed the doors. The ability to have their music placed in a position to be sold along the same shelves as the major record labels is becoming increasingly more difficult. The absence of competition on the shelves has generated an increase in profits for the major labels. What can smaller more nimble labels do to compete with the major labels?

Promotion and Radio

The major labels have a tight grip on the radio, for example, it is probably the means in which to promote and break in a new artist. (Maybe the hold is a little tight and illegal: Eliot Spitzer, New York's attorney general, is investigating whether the majors bribe radio stations to play their music.) The amount of money and influence that the majors have cannot be matched by a smaller record labels. They cannot fight this battle and often songs that are deservingly good enough to be played will not be played. Play lists are generated in a single office and downloaded to the station managers to every part of the country. The station managers have no choice but to play what the corporate headquarters have instructed them to play for the day. What then can smaller more nimble labels do to compete with the major labels?

The Future — The Internet

Battle lines can be drawn in this vast market. Smaller labels can have attractive websites for their acts at a relatively cheap price. Hosting of these sites will not be an unmanageable expense either. The smaller labels can promote with banners and not have to absorb the cost of printing and manually distributing flyers and post cards to a smaller scope of potential buyers. The buyers on the Internet that can be reached are the same as that of the major labels.

What about radio over the Internet? It is still developing and today would be a great time to develop an artist over the Internet. Major labels have no control over the stations on the Internet yet!! Developing a radio station over the Internet is viable option for a small label. The cost associated again with doing so is not prohibitive.

Investigate and do your homework about the Internet and promoting on-line. The market is open for smaller companies as much as it is for the bigger companies.

Eugene Brooks has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and a Juris Doctorate Degree that he earned from Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Mr. Brooks is the President and CEO of the Texas based, independent label "KMJ Records." KMJ Records can be found on the web at http://www.kmjrecords.us and features chopped and screwed CD's by Z-Ro and various other Dirty South Houston Rappers.