In the recently-published Forbes article “Why Independent Musicians Are Becoming The Future Of The Music Industry“, MIDiA Research reports that independent artists generated over $643 million in the music industry in 2018, representing a 35% increase over 2017.
I know a couple of artists who have written and recorded albums independently, raising money by crowdfunding rather than seeking an advance from a record label. There are several reasons an artist might decide against working with a label: they might want to retain creative control over the content and distribution of their music, maybe they don’t want to sign a multiple-album contract, or maybe they don’t believe a label would be interested in their music.
Whatever the reason, leaving record labels and publishers behind means that some of the work they would have otherwise taken care of now falls on the artist. This includes setting up recording, distribution and marketing, of course, but also seemingly administrative tasks such as registering copyright, licensing use of works, and collecting royalties.
While there are plenty of services that will handle these tasks (for a fee), independent artists can do it themselves with a little bit of know-how and patience. Even if they do engage the services of third parties, having a familiarity with copyright and licensing will help them understand the process and policies, and avoid mishaps and mistakes and being taken advantage of. My goal is to encourage and help musicians (whether independent or signed) to understand their rights and responsibilities as artists and users under copyright law.