Record label

What does “independent label” mean?


There is more room than ever in the music world for successful independent labels. But what does an independent label do?

Each year, the number of independent artists continues to grow. Independent record companies offer artists a new way of making music on their own terms, far from the domination of the majors.

Independent labels are part of a basic DIY section of the music industry that continues to grow. Through independent labels, artists can discover unique opportunities and join a vibrant DIY community.

What is the difference between an independent label and a major label?

The main labels are Sony Music, Warner Music and Universal Music, often referred to as the Big Three. These three music companies all dominate the mainstream music market, with countless ramifications of small labels and publishing branches. The majors have huge budgets that they put into promoting artists, studio time and touring, and they often have big teams.

Any label that is not under the umbrella of one of the major record companies is considered an independent label, regardless of the global reach of indie. Examples of independent labels include Spirit Goth, The Latest Sounds, and Soave Records.

What do independent record labels look like?

You will generally find less “mainstream” music released by an independent record company. Often the label signs artists based on a genre of music. There will be niche artists that the big labels aren’t willing to take a risk for and who don’t want to be locked into a complicated contract with a big company.

Independent record companies are often founded by resourceful musical artists who are responsible for their own success. Artists can start as an “artist label” – structuring themselves as a one-person, one-artist record company; release the music themselves; organize their own tours. They could sign or form an independent label themselves once they are established and more successful.

What are the advantages of signing or running an independent record label?

Independent labels usually work closely with the artist at every stage of the release. Check out our interviews with labels and DIY artists here to learn more about current life and independent label release.

How do independent record companies release music?

Like the major record labels, there are a variety of release options for independent record labels, from vinyl records to CDs online. The advent of the digital age means that there are more promotional opportunities for independent labels than ever before, and more space in the market for independent artists.

To stream their artists’ music online, independent record labels can use a digital music distributor like RouteNote. Since 2007, RouteNote has been helping independent labels and independent artists to stream their music for free on streaming services and digital stores such as Spotify and Apple Music.

Music distribution for independent labels with RouteNote

RouteNote offers unlimited music downloads from unlimited artists on one label. We are an independent company with indie music at our heart. Independent record labels are not obligated to release music with RouteNote, free to quit or change their distribution plan at any time.

With Free, the labels keep 85% of the revenues. We also offer a Premium distribution, which means that the label keeps 100% of the money earned; something that established labels might be more drawn to.

We also help labels and artists distribute their tracks on social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, as well as monetize music on YouTube.


Create an independent label? Learn more about RouteNote music distribution here.


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