Do Record Labels Drop Artist’s?

Getting a record deal for the musical artist usually means an open door to either a successful career or an unsuccessful one.

Most artists that sign to record companies usually do see success in their journey being affiliated with those labels while other times, the artist may be unfortunate and find themselves dropped from the label.

Being dropped from a record label is simply being let go as an artist which means you no longer have dealings with the label. Record labels drop artists when it’s no longer worth it to have them as part of their roster of artists.

This is a common issue in the music industry and this post will walk you through the various reasons why artists may get dropped….therefore read as I explore these various issues so you get good understanding.

Band/group splits

Record labels are known for signing bands and this has been going on as far back as the 50s.

Bands work as one individual brand consisting of more than one member that all work together to make music as a group.

One of the reasons why artist’s may be dropped is due to the breaking up of bands that they’re in. This is quite a common theme in the music industry and usually results because of a number of reasons.

Some band splits result from individual members wanting to pursue solo careers, member disputes etc.

Record labels handling bands can easily drop the band when they decide to break up or split…. this is for the reason that pushing a band with missing members could be bad for business.

Band fanbases are usually connected to each individual member of the band and the record label capitalizes on this very fact.

They market the brand of the band as a whole, which means that when some members of the group decide to leave the band.

The record label faces a challenge of remaining with an incomplete group which makes if harder for them to do their job.

It’s in rare cases that a record label may choose to keep a band with a some of its members not part of the group anymore. Most situations will have the label cut its losses and distance itself from the band.

A&R’s

Record labels operate just as any other company operates and they have various staff handling their own dedicated responsibilities.

One department that is crucial to record labels is the Talent department that usually consists of talent scouts, talent managers as well as A&R’s

Record labels work with A&Rs and rely on them to bring in talent that the label can work with. The A&R usually works on a commission/percentage basis.

Which means  they may get remunerated percentage wise depending on how well the artist they recommend pans out for the label.

Record labels may choose to drop artists when the A&R that got them a deal decides not to work with the record label anymore.

Labels may choose to get rid of the artist that was brought in by the A&R looking to no longer work with the label. This is to avoid any legal claims that the A&R may raise with regard to the artist they helped sign to a label.

Unmarketable albums

The music landscape over the years has certainly changed and we’ve seen the emergence of various ways in which an artist can make money.

This is true for all genres and has been the main reason why 360 deals have become a key part of the record label playbook. With artist’s having various ways in which they can make money, the labels do their best to get a piece of the pie.

While we can agree that musicians now have diversified earning capabilities aside from the music itself. Record labels still heavily rely on the music aspect as a major if not the main focus for business.

Which means artists they sign will have to make musical albums and this will be explicitly stated in record contracts.

Therefore record labels will drop artist’s that cannot make marketable albums because they make it difficult for the record label to operate and realize income from the music.

Record labels spend lots of money in marketing the artist and their music… Plus, they also give advances to the artist’s as a show of good faith and a way for the artist to settle down and polish their lifestyle in order to impress upon their brand.

The record label therefore has to recoup all its costs in marketing the artist as well as the advance which is usually in the hundreds of thousands and in some cases millions.

If the artist cannot therefore make music that can sell, the record label will have no motive to keep them as part of their roster of artists.

Bankruptcy

Music is a business just like any other. Which means it can succumb to negative effects just as any other business would.

Sometimes, a record label may become bankrupt. This would result in them not being able to carry out business.

Therefore, the solution in this case is usually to cut their losses while they figure out a way to get back to full operational status.

This will usually result in dropping certain artists from their roster. Especially ones that have proven not to be good for business.

These artists will usually be the ones that failed in terms of record sales etc. The fact is, the record label will have a criteria of the artists that they can keep and the ones that have to be let go.

Therefore, bankruptcy of a lable can easily have musicians out of job especially if they’ve proven not to be worth keeping.

Voluntary Drop

We’ve gone over various reasons as to why record labels may choose to drop an artist. But it’s not always that the label will choose to get rid of an artist.

Sometimes the artist themselves will choose to exit a record label deal and it could be due to a lot of factors.

One of the factors could be the artist deciding to pursue music independently without having to share their proceeds with a label.

In other situations, the artist may feel like they’re being taken advantage of by the label which would then result in them looking to get out of the deal and start afresh on their own.

This is very common in the music industry today and this is because the internet makes being an independent artist quite easier.

The artist can easily make music, package it, and be able to distribute right in the comfort of their own home relying only on the internet…. therefore this is one of the reasons why labels may become irrelevant for an artist resulting in them leaving and taking on the indie route.

Final Thoughts

Record labels will indeed drop artists when circumstances no longer allow the two parties to work together due to things like band/group splits, record label bankruptcy, failure to make marketable music on the artist’s side aswell other factors.