Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Ryan Murphy 

BA [Hons] Creative Music Production

I have been passionate about music from a young age and love to be creative in general!

Project Description

The project consists of a thesis accompanied by an EP which consists of 5 songs. To compare releasing music as an independent artist to releasing music with a label, I carried out the process of an independent artist which includes writing, producing, mixing and mastering all of their own songs, researching the best methods of self release and digital distribution and a dive into album artwork.

Interviews with industry professionals such as artists and those working within labels were carried out to gain another perspective for the comparison. These interviews were key to the final comparison and gaining more of an understanding into the music industry.

Project Outcomes

Independent artists struggle with many things that a record label can help with such as funding, marketing, audience reach, resources and timelines. Record labels can provide artists with money to pay for mixing services and mastering services to take their music up a level and give them a more professional sound. They can pay for artwork and visuals or a music video to give the artist a more professional and credible look. Record labels also have more of an audience reach and are able to market the artist better using social media following and using other artists on the label to support their music. Artists signed to a label also have more time to work on their music as the label is funding them, unfortunately many independent artists do not earn enough from their own music and must work on the side. One of the biggest upsides of a record label comes with the network they can offer to a potential artist. They can give an artist a whole network of musicians, sound engineers, label professionals and venue owners/ event organisers.

An in-depth comparison of releasing music as an independent artist versus releasing with a mid or large sized label

The question that this study aims to answer is what are the key differences between releasing as an independent artist versus releasing with a small to mid sized label. The reason this research question is important is because of the ever increasing number of independent artists and the lack of knowledge music artists have in terms of how music labels work, the benefits of music labels and why a music label is or is not right for a particular musician. With the age of social media taking over the artistic world, artists have more freedom than ever to become successful on their own. This thesis aims to give an answer to artists who want to know if they should or should not sign for a label.