Like many other genres, EDM is growing at an increasingly rapid rate, and much of its growth can be attributed to the success of its innumerable record labels. Each label serves as a platform for artists to promote themselves and develop their careers with, and each label is unique in regards to its methods and long-term goals. However, many artists and fans alike have questioned the importance of labels today, particuarly with the role social media has earned in advancing an artist's career. So what is the role of a record label today?
According to Tim Ferrone, CEO of Good Game Records, "Record companies have developed through a process of evolution. That means that a record company today, and everything that underpins it, has evolved from a model that started out many decades ago." The relationship between the label and the artist has developed to serve the demands of both parties, but in many cases it seems that the balance of power has been tilted to benefit one side more than the other.
"Back in the day, with no other means to market whatsoever, the artist signing to a label was knowingly entering into a servant/master relationship, accepting that the label would take the dominant role. Everything reflected that - from the contractual elements, right through to the approach from the executives, who often operated like they were the stars." However, thanks to new marketing and promotional strategies on social media and music streaming platforms such as SoundCloud, labels are no longer the almighty power they once were.
Good Game Records will take an alternate route, serving as not as a standard label, but as a place where artists can thrive without the restrictions of a common label contract. "...the exclusive recording agreement places golden handcuffs on an artist regardless of the performance of the label, ensuring that the artist cannot work with anyone else. The label can woefully under-deliver with near total impunity, and that's just not fair. We take a non-exclusive approach with our artists, encouraging them to work with other artists and labels, confident that they'll come back to work with us in future."
Allowing an artist the freedom to release on whatever label he or she sees fit is an incredible virtue not often seen in the music scene today. If an artist is bound to a label through a contractual agreement, it can be incredibly tough for them to thrive if the label doesn't deliver on their side of the bargain. If an artist tries to relieve themself from the clutches of the label, it can be near impossible to work around the commitment set in place. Ferrone wants to avoid this master/servant model, "...aiming for [Good Game] to be recognised as a true partner for great artists. And I say 'partner' and not 'label' very deliberately, because that is what we are, and what we should be - a partner in the process of making great records. Won't it be fantastic when a major artist recognises that for the first time, and opts to work with us over the traditional alternatives..."
Good Game Records launched with the release of KDrew's Signals EP, a multi-track EP that provided exclusive material such as video interviews, custom graphics, and even an exclusive preview of track off of the release. Delivered to fans via BitTorrent Bundle, the package provided a direct path of communication between KDrew and his fans, and redefined the way that we receive music from our favorite artists. When asked about their non-traditional launch, Ferrone explained "We're certainly not the first to utilise the platform, but we were the first to actually launch a label via that route, and the uptake has been phenomenal. Why wouldn't you want to create and engage with your artists' fan base? If the answer is because its not monetised, then consider how many artists are retiring early off the back of royalties from other 'new' platforms that do pay a percentage through... The answer is very few!"
EDM.com also spoke with KDrew, the first artist to be featured on Good Game Records, about coming together with the label and releasing his newest EP through Good Game. "The EDM Network has been really supportive of all my music from the very beginning. In many ways they are like family, so we’re always looking for ways to work together. For myself and Good Game Records this project was a great opportunity to bring something awesome to life."
KDrew has achieved more than most in his career as a producer, singer, songwriter, dj, and overall musician. Working with the likes of Zedd, and providing official remixes for Lady Gaga, Nelly Furtado, Far East Movement, and many more, the multi-talented artist has produced a broad variety of music from electro house, to dubstep, to everything in between. When asked about his creative process in making his EP Signals, "Truthfully I wanted to do something that was full circle for myself and where I’m at in my career. A lot of people don’t know that I sing, so implementing that on the EP was definitely important to me. Also, I think the scene is in a place where listeners are open to different things, so trying new stuff can resonate a lot more than if you didn’t."
Good Game Records is undoubtedly taking a new approach to the way that labels manage their artists, and KDrew is a shining example of what is to come from the unique and untraditional method. As 2014 soon comes to an end, Good Game Records will be working with even more artists to prepare for a stellar new year. We plan to follow the label's fruition and further growth each step of the way, and we hope that other labels will take a step back and follow suit in this new direction for our scene.
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