In the “new music industry,” independent artists are breaking through more than ever and have become a billion-dollar market. For perhaps the first time in history, it’s possible to break through without signing to a major label.
“It’s a great new world out there with the emerging music services and technologies,” agrees DJ and remixer R3HAB, who’s had over 200 million streams since going fully independent with AWAL 18 months ago.
“We’re leveling the playing field,” said Kobalt Music Founder & CEO, Willard Ahdritz. “For too long, artists have had to go through the gatekeepers to make a living out of music. Today, artists can own and control their music, have a real share in their success and work with a global partner without the hangover of a traditional label deal.
“We have hundreds of artists on AWAL that are making over $50,000 a year and many earning in the millions without signing away their rights. We are also helping dozens of other independent labels do the same for their artists. It’s a new concept — paying artists!“
Over the next few months, we’ll be featuring different AWAL artists talking about what it really means to “be your own label.” Here are our first three.
“It’s really important to connect with what you represent as an artist and to figure out your story. It’s so important to really succeed in not just making great music, but understanding the business of it and understanding what you represent and what you want to say. Knowing who you are, it helps you to get your point across a lot cleaner. It also makes for a more interesting output as a whole.”
- After joining forces with AWAL in April 2015, Michael Brun has earned over 28 million streams to date.
- Streams on his two most popular tracks, “All I Ever Wanted” and “U,” account for more than 237,000 and 154,000 plays respectively.
- Brun averages around 500,000 streams per month.
Find out more about how Michael Brun shifted his focus from pursuing a career as a doctor to becoming a global DJ — while still maintaining his independence and striving to help his native Haiti.
“If you’re getting offered a deal where you have enough leverage to negotiate and get enough money and get enough control and guarantees, go for it. But if you’re an independent artist who’s really grappling with that, I’d say probably the deal you’re getting offered isn’t that. Because they’re much more rare... so don’t do it. Understand that if you get [money] from a major label, your creativity is no longer yours.”
- Among her most popular tracks, VÉRITÉ’s cover of the 1975’s “Somebody Else” has earned over 90 million streams to date.
- VÉRITÉ’s music is currently included on at least three Spotify playlists with over half a million followers each: Women of Pop, Impulso Creativo (Mexico), and Trabajo Relax (Mexico).
- Over two million people per month stream VÉRITÉ’s music across Spotify and Apple Music.
Want more? Independent artist VÉRITÉ shares how she earned 135 million digital streams after releasing her first single on AWAL in 2016, her touring mindset, and the importance of keeping the bottom line in mind as a musician.
“The thing that people don't understand is that a lot of this talk is driven about record labels. How'd you get a deal? How'd you get a record label? How'd you do that? You don't need any of that. You really don't need any of that. You need to meet other bands. You need to tour relentlessly. You need to prove that you are an important artist.”
- After releasing five albums on major labels as a member of Gallows and Pure Love, Carter released Blossom, the debut album from Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, via Kobalt/AWAL. He says it’s the only one that’s recouped.
- To date, Carter has earned over 35 million streams in total across Spotify and Apple Music.
- Currently, Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes are on tour in Europe throughout March.
Discover how Frank Carter finally broke free from major labels and now enjoys total freedom and control as an independent artist.
“I am my own label” is more than just a mindset — it’s a revolution. Independent artists around the world are joining the rallying cry, empowering themselves to take control.
“Four years ago, I couldn't make an album, because one, I was dependent on having a record deal, and two, it was dependent on me getting on the radio,” says fast-rising British singer/songwriter Bruno Major. “Now, you can make whatever music you want, and it will fit into its place in the streaming universe. And that's a much healthier way of doing it."
"As an independent artist, I get to decide which things matter,” says Melbourne, Australia-based singer/songwriter Angie McMahon. “It gives me a sense of what my music can accomplish, and has allowed me to define my own ideas and values while my career is kicking off. I love making up my own mind and trusting my gut, and being independent has allowed me to believe in myself."
See for yourself how AWAL is helping today’s artists be their own label. Apply to become a member.