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In too deep: When signing to a major label goes very, very wrong

A handful of artists share their major label horror stories

  • Patrick Hinton
  • 22 March 2017
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Kissy has now launched his own independent label Stepper Man, which has put the wastefulness of majors into stark perspective. “The reality of advances can hit you like a cold shower,” he says, listing off the lengthy list of costs that see the money squandered “without you realising”, such as “first class travel to get your A&R person to the studio each day”.

“The label even began to insist that I should spend £30,000 on getting my album mixed-down by the engineer for Kanye West at one point, and threatened to drop me if I didn’t reach a compromise,” he adds. Now working independently, the costs for the latest release from Sirmo titled ‘Badman’ on Stepper Man amounted to the electricity of two computers. And a video he knocked up in two hours on Adobe Premiere amassed 2.9 million views in a week on Facebook. “That is what being an independent label manager means to me – it’s a passion.”

Pursuing his passion for music is one of the factors that contributed to Colin Bailey recently droping his Drums Of Death alias and launching his new independent project Austin Ato. “I realised I’d fallen into the industry too deep, it wasn’t for me. My heart definitely wasn’t in it,” he tells us. “I love weird, beautiful records and I don’t care about poppy ‘crossover’ tracks. Austin Ato is me reclaiming my love for obscure house, disco and afrobeat. I don’t need majors, they’re good if you make that music but I don’t, my friends don’t. I’m much happier now.”

Kissy Sell Out says much the same. “My music means everything to me, and I have learnt that working with people who believe in what I am doing is the only way to be happy,” he states. “If you can get that from a major label, then good luck to you.” For artists wanting to make music that is fresh and true to their personal vision, evidence suggests keeping it independent is the only way to go.

Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Staff Writer, follow him on Twitter

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