Major Labels & Creative Control

Major Labels & Creative Control

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This is a discussion on Major Labels & Creative Control within the Book, Music, & Movie Reviews forums, part of the Topics of Interest category; After doing much research and watching interviews over the years, I have found little to nobody talk about the affect ...

  1. #1

    Major Labels & Creative Control

    After doing much research and watching interviews over the years, I have found little to nobody talk about the affect major labels have on bands..

    I'm not talking about "megastars" like Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus; that plastic music is obviously directed by the record label, written by others etc..

    No, I'm talking about legitimate bands like Rise Against, Avenged Sevenfold etc who were on underground indie labels and made the switch to major labels about 10 years ago.

    Take Rise Against for example... most people are familiar with them as they are currently on Interscope Records, a major label and have been since 2005.

    I am very selective with the music I like and don't listen to many bands on major labels, yet I enjoy them immensely.

    I actually prefer their major label releases over the ones from the indie label.

    Do you think bands at their level have full creative control? Or are they kind of told by the label, "write your music, but go in this direction (more radio friendly etc), and if any songs aren't so, I won't release the album until it is how I want."

    I am very untrusting of bands at their level, what do you think?
    Last edited by FreeSpirit777; 09-10-2015 at 07:18 PM.

  2. #2

    It depends on the band. It's slightly different if the band was already writing their own music prior to being signed. They can set the terms of creative control upon signing. It also depends largely on the producer. Some producers like the hands-off approach, but most of them do try to push a lot of their own ideas on the artists according to what the label wants from them.

    Here's an interesting read on bands switching to major labels, written by the producer Steve Albini:

    The Problem With Music :Negativworldwidewebland

  3. #3

    I doubt there's anything that can be said as a general statement here. It really varies from one label to the next, the exact terms of the contract and the people who are involved.

    There certainly have been bands who got full creative freedom on a major label: Mr. Bungle is a fascinating example of that... they were utterly unmarketable to a mainstream audience, but nevertheless they were on Warner Bros. and were relatively successful, without WB interfering with their creative process AFAIK.

    Sadly though, there are also plenty of examples of records being shelved, bands being pushed to do things they don't want to do, lawsuits, etc. But even if you end up being put under pressure by some shitty record company, it's not like you're stuck with them forever... worst case scenario is you're stifled for a while, maybe release a shitty album you didn't really want to make and then look for a more suitable label, or self-release the material you actually like. It's not the end of your career as a musician, it's a waste of time and a financial setback at worst... and if you're not prepared to waste time and be poor, you shouldn't have become a musician :^)

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  5. #4


    Cool! yeah with Rise Against, they wrote everything before they were on a major label... in an interview, the singer said they had a song or two written from the indie label that got put on the major label debut.

    They have also had the same exact producer and recording location since their indie days, even on a major label, which is cool!

    If you don't know, Rise Against writes very me info music, about personal life as well as problems in the world with greed, power etc.

    I wish I could know for sure! Thanks, I'll check that out :)

  6. #5

    @Cephalonimbus that's awesom! That band is wacky ha... what do you think the case is with a band like Rise Against? It would bum me out to see such idealistic guys who are true to themselves be controlled by a label.

  7. #6

    It isn't something that's limited to just major labels but a few independent labels have been criticized for these practices as well. If I'm not mistaken, Kevin Shields and Thurston Moore have been outspoken about the corporate influences on the music industry. But then again Kevin was described as a control freak in the studio and therefore was difficult to work with.


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