Record labels are dead. Beyonce killed them.

If you haven’t heard, last week Beyonce Knowles, aka Mrs. Carter digitally released her self-titled album to little fan fare.

And in less than a week, the Beyonce album was certified platinum, with over 1 million albums sold.

You heard me right.

She pulled a Prince.

All with no marketing or promotion.

No radio.

No street teams.

No promo tour.


She dropped her album on the strength of her name alone.

And that move has everyone (or lots of folks) rethinking the whole music game.

If you know me, you know that I think that record labels are the devil.

They’ll loan you money to produce, market, promote, distribute and sell your album.

They may even give you a nominal advance because they “believe” in you.

If you’re lucky, your hard work will pay off, you’ll sell millions of records, and pay back every dime the label ever lent you.

And then they’ll give you your masters and everything’s even Steven, right?


Even when you’ve paid back the record label, satisfied your recording commitment, fulfilled all of your contractual obligations, the label will own your masters in perpetuity, and continue to make money well after their initial investment has been satisfied and concluded.

Long after you stop doing business with them or they drop you, they will still own and pimp the music you created (and essentially paid for).

Sounds pretty shitty right?

Which is why I’ve always recommended that artists go their own way sans label.

Now lets rap before you get all “But she’s Beyonce, she already has a name for herself.”

‘Cause that’s a cop out.

Almost everyone starts out as an independent before they get a deal.

That means getting on your grind.

You hit the studio, the streets, the internet and get your music out there.

Remember, every artist is a nobody before they’re a somebody.

But you have to be committed to becoming a somebody.

No one else can do it for you.

No publicist, producer, agent, manager, attorney, or stylist can get in the booth for you and spit (unless you’re Milli Vanilli).

No one can get on stage for you and perform.

No one can hit the road for you and tour.

But if you’re committed, you put out music and videos and your core audience will support you.


And it won’t happen overnight.

Beyonce wasn’t an overnight success.

Lets be real, she was in a few groups before Destiny’s Child broke.

And a few albums before she went solo.

And a few albums before she became the Beyonce we know today.

Today’s Beyonce has a cult following of loyal Beyoncettes, who would buy farts packaged as air fresheners if she sold them.

The success of her self-released album has a lot to do with the fact that she established herself as a brand before she made this jack move.

Beyonce has serious work ethic and a serious track record.

The phalanx of paparazzi is not by happenstance.

It doesn’t hurt that she’s also married to one of the most influential men in Hip Hop of all time.

She calls herself “Mrs. Carter” for chrissakes.

But that’s besides the point.

The real point is that you can write, produce, master and distribute your own music.

You can shoot your own videos and release your music directly to iTunes, without every Tom, Dick and Harry in your pocket.

And if you’re really bout-it-bout-it, you can create your own band of rabid followers to buy your packaged farts.

At the end of the day, labels are becoming less and less relevant to the making and discovery of new music.

So all you artists out there stop looking for a record deal and do for self.

Do a Beyonce and be the master of your brand!


Filed under branding, music

2 responses to “Record labels are dead. Beyonce killed them.

  1. patrice

    Does Beyoncé own her own masters?


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