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Home Jazz Recordings Why I Decided to Release My First Album Without a Record Label

Why I Decided to Release My First Album Without a Record Label

I am getting close to finishing my first jazz album, a collaboration album entitled “Introspective.”  New York tenor saxophonist Thomas Hutchings and I have been working on the project for approximately 16 months so far, and we intend to self-release the record in June or July this year.  By self-releasing, we are basically acting as our own record label.  Here are 5 reasons why we plan to self-release.

Why do we plan to self-release the album?

1.  Control of the Royalties

By not turning our product over to a label, Thomas and I will keep control of the publishing of the album.  We will not have to worry about the album going out of print, and we have control over where the album is available.  We plan to use, which makes it easy to get your music on iTunes, Amazon, etc.

2.  Higher Percentage of the Proceeds

By not using a label, we will see a higher percentage of the sales from each album.  Record labels have to take a percentage of each album sale in order to stay in business.  It isn’t necessary to pay a record label, so why should we?  We paid for the album to be made, and so unless the record label really does something special for us it doesn’t make sense to give them a cut of sales from an album they did not produce.  If the label actively promoted the record, or paid for a tour, then we might consider joining a label.

3.  Don’t Have to Pay Back a Record Label

Sometimes record labels give the artist a certain amount of money to make an album.  The artist is then responsible for paying back the record label.  Depending on the details of the business arrangement (yes, it is a business arrangement!), the artist can be taking a risk by being on a label.

4.  Don’t Have to Go Through the Hassle of Searching for a Label

Searching for the right record label can be a big process.  It is easy enough to be your own record label these days, and so unless the business arrangement is very favorable, just being on a label is not necessarily the glorious thing it is sometimes cracked up to be.

5.  Don’t Have to Pay to Get on a Label

Some record labels these days require a financial investment from the artist in order to be on the label at all.  We paid enough to produce the album already, and we don’t feel the need to make a further investment.  Many record labels do not require a financial commitment, but some do.  Again, it’s a business arrangement, and the label needs to make money to stay in business.  Sometimes the money comes from an artist as well as from the consumer.

Anyway, these are a few reasons why we will most likely self-release our new album “Introspective” unless a compelling label pops up that makes sense from a  business perspective.  Since we paid for the album, it doesn’t make sense to share the profits with a label unless there is a good reason to believe that we will ultimately make more money by being on the label.  If a label was going to invest heavily in album promotion and marketing, for instance, that might be a good reason to join a label.  We haven’t found a favorable arrangement thus far, and so at this point we will be self-releasing.  Stay tuned for more!  “Introspective” will be available on iTunes this Summer!

-Camden Hughes

Camden Hughes
Camden is a working jazz pianist, multi-instrumentalist, and music educator currently living near Boise, ID. He teaches music at the Idaho Arts Charter School, and is the jazz adjunct professor at Northwest Nazarene University. Check out his music at


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