Is Bad Racket a Record Label? No.
Bad Racket is a recording studio that sometimes does things to help bands that might classify us a label, but we really don’t know. We’ve asked the question “What is a record label?” to a thousand people or more, and no one really seems to have a consistent definition.
A record label helps to distribute.
Ok, makes sense, but this begs a new question of what is distribution? The answer to that is awareness. Any product you know of is available for purchase within a few seconds. Music distribution means that people know about you, that’s it.
Since awareness is the only thing that qualifies as distribution the above answer would mean that bloggers, DJs, and anyone with a spotify playlist and helps spread awareness is a record label.
A record label invests in artists for financial gain.
What about music managers or PR professionals who are working with artists to further their careers? Many times these are people who believe in an artist and take them in and provide real value to help make the artists commercially successful. They usually only take on projects that they believe in, but are also hoping that one day their hard work will be rewarded financially.
A record label gives you industry connections.
I’ve actually heard this as a description of a record label. Talk to your booking manager. Talk to the bands you meet when playing out. Talk to the bar tenders. Talk to the door guy. Talk to record shop owners. There are lots of people out there that can help you meet other people, and they’re not all record labels.
A record label helps to finance and produce an album
Well hell, now you’re talking about anyone who has ever made a record pro bono or discounted… which is sort of arbitrary to say. We’ve made records for free (please don’t ask, we’ll say no). We’ve made records for less than our standard rates. I don’t think that makes us a label, that makes us a recording company that sometimes works on projects because it’s artistically fulfilling.
A record label sells music and/or owns rights to recordings.
Have you ever seen a movie soundtrack for sale? Or maybe a compilation of songs for sale which benefits a charity? In these cases music is sold by the production company or the charity and a portion of the sale goes to the respective organization based on the copyright agreement. Point being, you might sell music or even own rights to recordings, but that doesn’t make you a label.
The new record label is just an affiliation. Musicians are affiliated with stuff…
There’s an Interview with Seah Parker (Napster/Facebook) from last year’s web 2.0 summit about spotify and the changing music industry…
“The digital revolution has removed barriers to sharing music. It doesn’t cost extra to create another copy of a song anymore and it’s easier than ever to get recommendations for music from friends.”
This is exactly why record labels have struggled for the past 10 years, and also why it’s hard to even understand what a record label is anymore. I think a label is 90% an affiliation that helps build awareness, and 10% bridge capital for tours and production.
A record label is an affiliation.
You have a booking manager. You have a manager. You have a PR Manager. You have another PR manager. You have a collective you belong to. You have been featured on some great websites. You have played certain festivals. You have played certain venues. you have been played on certain radio stations. You have albums for sale in particular music stores. You have recording studios that you work with . You have recording engineers you work with. you have mastering engineers you work with. You have a hometown. You have cities where you’ve been streaking, twice.
All of this stuff ^ helps to define who you are. Maybe the lack of some of this helps define who you are. The important part is that you’re out there and people can understand your particular brand of awesome.
Getting signed to a record label affiliates your band with the label’s brand. You’re now part of a curated group of bands. It’s not unlike receiving an award, or being inducted into a hall-of-fame. Much of the desire to get signed is for the chance to be associated with other awesome bands.
This is a long winded answer for those who want to know if Bad Racket is a record label… We answer all of the questions above with a bold “yes, we do that and some more”. We don’t really care what you call us.