Originally Posted by Etch-A-Sketch
Not true. The venture capital firms did not come into play until AFTER the business was already showing signs of success. It was always self funded in the beginning... no different than an artist in the music business. In the end, if your write "good" (subjective, I know) music, or lets say music that appeals to an audience, and you can find your way to that audience, your music will sell with or without a record label.
You are wrong, unless by "self funded at the beginning" you mean on a very low, serious hobbyist level. Sure, Steve Jobs sold his VW bus to fund the initial run of 200 Apple I kits, but it wasn't until investor Mike Markkula joined the company that they had the funding to incorporate and become a real business. Kinda like a rock band buying their first set of gear or an EDM guy buying a DAW. It takes more than that to be successful. Without Markkula Apple would never have got out of Jobs' garage.
There are similar stories to be found in the other cases. Gates, famously, was able to con investment out of IBM by promising them a product he did not actually own. The myth of the self-funded tech startup is exactly that - a myth.
Then look at bands like Deep Banana Blackout and Ryan Montbleau Band. No third party labels. No outside funding. All done on their own. All very successful.
Originally Posted by Wikipedia/Deep Banana Blackout
Because the band was reluctant to sign with a large record label, fearing that artistic expression would be undermined by terms and conditions stated within a contract, they disbanded in 2003 for financial reasons. All four DBB albums were locally produced and distributed, with Live in the Thousand Islands selling well over 5,000 copies.
Doesn't sound "very successful" to me. 5K sales is respectable for an indie but it's not enough to turn a profit.
Don't know anything about Ryan Montbleau besides a very sketchy Wiki article that doesn't mention sales. He does appear to gig a lot, though, and has won a local award.
EDIT: Found his website - it appears to me that he probably has serious professional management, which can make up for the lack of a label. You don't get coverage in the N.Y. Times without somebody representing you.
It seems to me that both of these acts are regional
. (Montbleau less so than DBB.) Again, not what I'd call "very successful". As a matter of fact, they appear to illustrate my point - both acts are certainly enough of a regional success that with appropriate* label backing they'd have a good chance of breaking nationally. Montbleau in particular seems poised to break. If he's signed to a national management company he could conceivably do it without a label.
I know a number of Northern California bands in the same position. Privately funded (some have investors), very strong regional followings, not a whole lot of traction right now. It's possible that Pandora may help such bands, and placement of music with jukebox companies also looks like something useful, but without national promotion, how do you get people outside your home region to play your stuff on the box?
One of the very important functions that larger labels have is the ability to place newer acts on big tours as opening acts, exposing them to a larger, national audience. In order for self funded acts to get on such tours they usually have to "buy on" - pay the management of the headliner a sum of money to get on the tour. Or be signed to the same management company as the headliner.
Labels do not ensure success. Look at Valeria (her song "Ohh La La"). She was signed to Interscope and had a very large contract ($ wise). Did it help her achieve success? Nope. Look at Javier Colon. He was signed to Capitol for a lot of $$$. He was actually the largest signing of a new artist up to that point. Did Capitol help him? Nope. That's why he went on The Voice, AND WON!
Again, you are wrong. As you pointed out, BOTH those artists received significant investment and support from major labels. Having that investment and promotion enabled them to build their careers in a way they would not have been able to do on their own. That they did not recoup for the label but were able to use the investment as a stepping stone to their own success doesn't contradict what I'm saying. It merely illustrates that the labels in question were for one reason or another (probably internal politics and mismanagement - labels of have regime changes where the new bunch suffers from "not invented here" syndrome and drops a lot of the old bunch's investments) unable to follow through and profit on their own investment. Artist wins, label doesn't. This does not mean that the labels assistance wasn't crucial to the artist's success. It just means the label blew it.
My point being, labels, even the biggest labels in the world, do not guarantee success.
Dig it, kid - this is LIFE. There are no guarantees. You want a guarantee, go back to school, become a doctor. Even that isn't ironclad but it's certainly more reliable. And yeah, you'll end up paying off a student loan instead of a recording advance.
*- Note the use of the word "appropriate". Not all label contracts are good contracts, that's why we have lawyers